18 things people hate about your website
Jana Haecherl |June 15, 2016
I have bad news: your website could be annoying everyone. I know you started out with such big dreams for your website, and you created it with the best of intentions. But if you haven't improved it since launch, you're behind! You know it’s really a good website on the inside, it’s just going through a phase right now. I’m here because this is an intervention, and it’s time to do something about it: fix these 18 things about your website now or risk losing customers, revenue and your sanity.
1. It doesn't work well on smartphones.
Mobile users now officially outnumber desktop computer users. So basically if your website isn't optimized for mobile, you are now officially annoying over half of your customers. I can attest to this statistic: If a website doesn’t work well on my smartphone, it is pretty much nonexistent to me. Sites that aren’t optimized for mobile are even more frustrating when you’re trying to use online bill pay. What is the point of even having online bill pay if customers have to migrate to a desktop computer? At that point it would actually be easier for the customer to just call and pay over the phone. Your website needs to play nice with mobile in order to be relevant and competitive in today's market.
2. It has crappy pop-up ads.
Pop-up ads are not inherently evil. Evil pop-up ads are evil. Let me explain:
A great pop up ad is intuitive. It’s almost like it knows your heart’s deepest desires. Here’s an example relevant to my life: I’m window shopping for designer bags online and wishing they were cheaper somehow, when a pop-up ad appears offering me 20% off my first purchase if I just sign up for their email list. Cha-ching! I just signed up for that email list and saved $60! It would practically have been irresponsible of me not to sign up, right?
These intuitive types of pop-ups are awesome and don’t feel at all spammy. And they definitely don’t need to insult me to keep me from opting out.
3. It doesn't have a widget for online reviews.
Online reviews of your business should be a big deal to you because they are definitely a big deal to your customer. Search Engine Land found that a whopping 9 out of 10 people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Every year, more and more customers are looking to “expert strangers” when making decisions on where to spend their money.
Data also shows that 79% of reviewers enjoy writing reviews as a way to reward businesses they had a great experience at. Your website should support this by including a review widget, tab or pop-up to make it easy for customers to read and write reviews of your business. Plus, it also boosts your organic search rankings and helps develop your SEO. Having trouble getting enough reviews? Here’s some helpful tips to get more customers reviewing your business.
4. It sounds too "market-y"
Nobody wants to go to your site and feel like they’re reading generic marketing copy. Bad copywriting can seriously discredit your company’s trustworthiness. Using a conversational tone when writing on your company website or blog always sounds more authentic. Promotional content doesn’t have to sound stuffy. Try using these tips:
Be specific. Too market-y: Many university students use our self storage facility for their self storage needs. Way better: 200+ State University students store their extra stuff at [Your Business Name].
Get rid of clichés. I’m sure your “world class service” is great and all, but a concrete example or testimonial would be a lot more convincing.
Use active voice. Be bossy with your call-to-action statements: “Click here to rent” beats the heck out of “If you are interested in renting, please click here.”
Be candid. Customers do their research: if your prices are higher than the competition’s, your site needs to prove your value. Tell them exactly why you’re worth it.
Get rid of superlatives. Too market-y: We’re the most convenient self storage facility for university students. Way better: We’re located just two blocks from State University. We offer ground floor storage units and have extra-wide aisles to make it easy for you to drive up and unload your stuff.
For more tips on writing conversationally, check out this blog post.
5. It has annoying autoplay content.
My hatred for autoplay ads runs deep, and this is why: imagine you’re at work enjoying your morning coffee when someone shares a news article with you. Suddenly your computer is attacked by a loud autoplay ad with a half naked model eating a Carl’s Jr burger. You desperately try to mute your computer as your co-workers laugh at you and your boss gives you an angry look. You melt into a puddle of embarrassment and your day is ruined. Okay, maybe that is a bit too dramatic but you get the point: EVERYONE HATES AUTOPLAY ADS. They are awkward at best, alarming and intrusive at worst.
Please stop setting videos to autoplay. Seriously.
6. It doesn't have a blog.
Maybe I’m a little biased, but I think your business needs a blog. No matter what industry you’re in, blogging is one of the best marketing tactics to drive customers to your website. Plus, if your website doesn’t have a blog, you aren’t getting new content out there very often, which means you’re missing out on a lot of organic search opportunities.
Blogging doesn’t have to be intimidating - there are plenty of blogging platforms (like Wordpress and Hubspot) that are easy to use and don’t require advanced graphic design skills. It’s also a great way to give your company a voice and some personality. You can use it as a platform to talk about things that are trending in your industry and show off your expertise in your field.
Whenever you write a blog post, you create content that can be shared on social media and viewed by a new audience. Blogging is much cheaper than paid advertising and can be shared over and over again. Even really old blog posts can continue to bring in new visitors to your site through the magic of compounding blog posts. When traffic comes to your website via your blog, you have the opportunity to turn those visitors into leads. Your blog also helps establish authority on your topic - making it easier for customers to trust salespeople and be more educated about the industry and services you offer.
7. It uses lame stock photos and has no native images.
The world would be a better place without cheesy stock photos. High-quality images bring your website to life - websites with compelling images get 94% more views. Viewers of your site have a tendency to glaze over and return to search when they see basic stock photos on your site, which hurts your bounce rate and does nothing to convert leads. Your photos actually matter even more than your content - user engagement online is 37% higher with images than with text. High-quality images help convert leads by:
- Decreasing bounce rate
- Increasing user views
- Enhancing your SEO
- Promoting your brand
- Showcasing your facility or product
Also, keep in mind that all social networks are image-centric. So if you want people to share content from your site, you have to have great photos to share with it. In the meantime, enjoy these extra-cheesy stock photos of Vince Vaughn and Dave Franco doing all of the business things.
8. It is slow as molasses.
In 2012, the average web page took 2.45 seconds to load. You would think web pages would be loading faster in 2016, but you would be wrong. Now the average web page takes 5 seconds to load. Cheap hosting services, large page sizes and websites that aren’t optimized for speed or UX have caused the slowdown.
When it comes to UX, there are no good reasons for your website to be slow. Google has identified ideal load times for web pages to be between 500 milliseconds and 2 seconds. If you are using your site for bill pay or e-commerce, 2 seconds is the max before time starts to cost you money. This study found that Amazon was losing 7% in sales for every one second delay their web page had online.
The new Think With Google tool is one of the easiest ways to test your website speed and mobile accessibility. Pingdom, GTmetrix, and WebPagetest are also great ways to test and increase your site's speed.
9. It has broken links.
It’s no shocker that users favor sites that work, but did you know broken links can also hurt your SEO? When Google's search engine crawlers discover broken links on your page, it decreases your site's search rankings in favor of sites with active, working links. It is common for links to break from a site migration, page update, change in site architecture, or even just a typo.
Broken links interrupt the user experience and ultimately translate to lost revenue for your business. A good web developer can do wonders in helping you fix your site’s broken links. You can also make sure your links are all working by crawling your site with a program like Screaming Frog or SEMrush.
10. It has weird navigation.
It doesn’t matter how great your website is if users can’t find their way around it. Website navigation connects every important thing on your website for the user, and it is usually the first thing people see when they come across your page. Having too many items in your navigation (seven at most!) or drop-down menus that aren’t optimized for mobile will make it harder for people to use your website.
Just like everything else on your website, navigation affects your SEO, traffic and bounce rate. Your navigation bar should be in a standard location, have working links, and be simple, clean and easy to use. A good web designer can still be creative and make your website stand out from the rest with these guidelines in mind.
11. It has typos.
Nope. Just don't do it.
12. It doesn't highlight key, up-to-date information.
Nothing is more frustrating to me as a customer than having to investigate the likelihood of your actual business location across multiple addresses online and Sherlock Holmes my way to your storefront. Your contact information needs to be up-to-date and match your information from social or other directories.
Unless you want customers calling you all day long asking where you’re located, make sure your business information is consistent across online maps, apps, directories, social networks and search engines. Audit the accuracy of your contact and location information across the web frequently and establish website maintenance routines to quickly correct wrong information. Check out these tips for keeping your website content fresh.
13. It doesn't work on all browser types.
There are currently over 300 browsers out there. You probably know the big guns: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Opera, Maxthon, Netscape Browser, and of course, good ol’ Internet Explorer. With access to modern browsers, legacy browsers, and combinations of both, users are constantly testing your website’s compatibility across various web browsers.
The good news: You don’t need to be a designer or web developer to make sure your website looks clean and displays perfectly across multiple platforms. Check out these tools to check your website’s user functionality across various browsers.
14. It doesn't give me any free stuff.
Otherwise known as, “I went all the way to your website and all I got was this lousy contact form.” 60% of people surveyed in this study on the effect of digital coupons said they love to receive coupons online, and 50% said they were more likely to visit a store in-person after receiving a digital coupon.
There are lots of ways to offer a promotion online. You can use discount codes through social media shares or likes, email coupons, or one-time invitations for signing up or entering your email. Yelp check-in offers are also a great way to get your customers in the door for the first time and get a review at the same time.
15. It doesn't have a "FAQs" page.
Don't skip this. Your website FAQs page is like the Cliff’s Notes of your business. A great FAQs page is skimmable, clear, and concise. It is really easy to include on your website and it benefits everyone: it saves your customers time by answering their questions all in one place, and it saves you time by not having to answer those same questions over and over again with every customer you meet. Also, linking customers back to other areas of your site from your FAQs page will help your conversion rate and of course, boost your SEO.
16. It doesn't let me pay my bill online.
In the past year, I have written exactly 1 check. It was to a friend who fixed a piece of jewelry for me. That’s it. Do I know where my checkbook is right now? Nope. Maybe at the bottom of a drawer in my kitchen somewhere. I rarely use it - I select the "paperless notifications" option every time I can.
77% of Americans now prefer to pay their bills online and it’s obvious why - it’s faster, easier and more organized than paper mail. You can automate the payment every month so you don’t even have to think about it. The set it and forget it mindset of online bill pay fits perfectly with the business model of the self storage industry. And businesses no longer have to be tech savvy to utilize online bill pay - banks, apps and credit card companies are constantly make it easier for users to go digital. So please, don’t make me go find my checkbook. Read these reasons why your business should be accepting online bill payments if you're still not convinced.
17. Its most recent content is from last year.
This is where having a blog helps out again - your blog keeps your content current. There are only so many times you can update your “about us” section. Without adding new content frequently, your website will start to rapidly drop in search rankings. Blogging also helps to establish a feeling of trust - no one feels safe entering their credit card information on a website that hasn’t been updated for three years. Blogging is one of the easiest ways to keep your website fresh, and it sends a message to your customers that you’re watching over your web presence while maintaining and improving your site.
18. It doesn't highlight ways your company is involved in the community.
The feel-good quality of having your company’s name on the jerseys of your local little league team may be hard to quantify, but it should not be ignored. You can highlight these kinds of grassroots marketing campaigns on your website. If your company is giving back to the community through sponsorships or fundraisers, make sure you have a high quality image of your involvement featured front and center on your homepage. Your customers will remember where they’ve seen you before, and updating the photo to reflect your most recent sponsorships will help keep your content current. Boom: you’ve got brand recognition and an awesome web presence.
Now you know the truth. That wasn’t so bad, was it? Someday we’ll be able to look back on this and laugh. Leave me a comment! And if you liked this article, you may also like: How to Clean Up Your Website's Content, Website Hygiene: Does Your Site Structure Stink?, Why You Need to Introduce Mobile Technology at Your Facility, The Importance of Adding High-Quality Images to Your Website