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Top 5 Mistakes Businesses Make With Their Website

by | Apr 14, 2011 | Website Management

Here at DirectiveGroup we’ve done thousands of website redesign projects for businesses. We refer to them as website revitalization because we take out-of-date, brochure-type websites and turn them into sales and lead generation machines.

The first step in our website redesign process is reviewing the business’s old website. As a result, we’ve seen lots of poorly designed websites. There seems to be certain missteps that businesses make over and over so we thought it would be helpful for you if we shed light on them to help you recognize if you are making one (or all!) of them.

Here are 5 of the top mistakes that businesses make with their websites:

No Clear Call-to-Action

A call-to-action is a request to the visitor to perform some act on any given page of your website, and these calls-to-action are usually related to the major conversion focus of your site. A call-to-action may be to make a purchase or to generate a lead (in which case you would ask them to fill out a form to get on your e-newsletter list or download a white paper). A good call-to-action is supported by a clearly communicated problem and good description of how your products or services will benefit the visitor or solve that particular problem.

Having a call to action is an essential element of any website. Not only will it result in an increase in purchases or in gaining new sales prospects, but it also is a great way to measure the success of your website.

Poor Navigation

Most businesses fail to give navigation the proper amount of time and consideration that this very basic, but critical, part of their website deserves. Navigation can be the difference between a website that converts and one that doesn’t. If a person is not able to navigate your website easily and in an organized manner they are likely to get frustrated and leave.

Think of navigation as the table of contents of your website. It should flow in a logical manner and take users through the education and purchasing experience in a step-by-step process, with each level of depth providing a richer level of content detail.

A good navigation process should be developed with the goal of keeping visitors on the site as long as necessary to get to the conversion action. You’ll want them to stick around long enough to gather the information they need to ultimately make the purchase, fill out your registration form, download your white paper, or whatever call-to-action you are requesting.

Inconsistent Design

You’ve probably heard the statistics indicating that you have about 5 seconds to grab the reader’s attention before they leave your site. It is really more complicated than that. You actually have about 5 seconds for people to learn enough about the purpose of your website and whether they want to stay around long enough to figure how to find what they are seeking. If they stick around, they will click a link to take them to another page on your site. If the design of the next page is very different than the first page, you will make them figure out the process all over again.

One of two things could happen if you have inconsistent design. One is that you will force them to waste valuable time that could have been spent consuming content used instead to figure out how your site design works. Two, and worse, is that your site could annoy them enough that they leave.

Be sure that you are consistent in terms of navigation, colors, text formatting, and layout. Don’t make your prospects “re-read the map” every time they go to a new page on your site. Let them instead focus on consuming all of your wonderful content that moves them along the call-to-action path.

Unorganized Content

It turns out that ‘content is (still) king’ in the online world. Both visitors and search engines reward content-laden sites. The problem is that website visitors consume information much differently than do readers in the offline word. Instead of a linear approach, movement on a website is much more organic and multi-directional…and thus unpredictable.

The good news is that you can still help guide people through levels of content by recognizing using cueing devices and by organizing in a way that meets their needs. For instance, you will want to use headlines and sub-headlines effectively. This provides a way for your readers to easily scan your website to find the information they are looking for because the sooner they find this information the better your website will convert.

The bottom line is that while you will need to provide original, timely and relevant content, make sure you spend time organizing and presenting in the proper way for the online world. You will see your measures of visitor engagement skyrocket and you will be rewarded with more conversions.

Inappropriately Complicated Registration Forms

These days registration forms are on almost every site. Registration forms allow businesses to gather information about prospects who may be interested in their products or services. People typically do not like to fill out forms, but they are willing to do so in exchange for valuable information. Too many businesses make the mistake of asking for too much information.

Only ask for the information you need to take the action they are requesting. For example, if you are asking them to sign-up for your e-newsletter, you might consider just asking for their email address. If you are offering to get in touch with them to provide information by phone or by mail then obviously you will need their phone or physical mailing address.

You’d hate to have gone through all of the effort to get people to take action, only to lose them at the end. Solve this by asking only for the information you need, and no more.

These 5 mistakes are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to issues we typically address during our website revitalization process, but since they are so common and have such an impact on your success or failure, we offer them to you as ways to improve the conversion rate of your website.


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