6 Reasons Websites Fail

July 17, 2014 Dennis McGuire

Much like marketing or sales campaigns fail to drive the desired results, sometimes websites can fail too.  The reasons why a website or specific web pages don’t succeed can be complicated, ranging from design flaws to poorly conceived navigation or an utter lack of search engine optimization maintenance.  Whatever the cause, a website failure is especially painful because in today’s world a significant amount of revenue is dependent upon what happens online.

Here are a few of the most common reasons a website fails plus ways to fix these challenges:

  • Dated look and feel:  Much like fashion evolves and certain trends go out of style, the same is true of websites.  Framed pages, narrow layouts, lack of dynamic elements, etc. can make your website look as modern as an 80’s Hair Band.
    Solution: Make a point of budgeting for a website redesign at least every two years to ensure you are giving your online presence a new, current look.  Even if you cannot afford to overhaul the entire site, a new header and fresh images can liven up its look.
  • Unclear calls-to-action:  Website visitors should be guided to performing the actions that are most desirable, whether it is filling out a contact form, completing a transaction or some other response.  Yet, many websites suffer from vague calls-to-action, or they overwhelm the visitor with too many options.
    Solution: Streamline your calls-to-action by focusing on only one or two.  Also, consider using technology such as a digital character that can interact with visitors and guide them to complete the most preferred calls-to-action.
  • Confusing navigation: It’s hard to imagine a more frustrating scenario than having website visitors leave your site because they simply cannot find what they are searching for, how to contact you, etc.
    Solution: Begin by identifying whether this problem is affecting you by looking at your website’s stats, in particular the exit pages.  If certain page stats are trending higher than your site-wide average, visitors could be getting marooned on a page(s).  Consider changing the site structure so it is intuitive and consistent on all pages.  While such a fix may be costly in the short term, it is nothing compared to losing a high percentage of would-be buyers.
    Make sure to watch bounce and exit rates for pages that need optimizing.
  • Outdated copy:  Nothing says, “I’ve given up on this website,” like a copyright date that is eight years out of date or a blog that hasn’t had a new entry in more than 18 months.
    Solution: Perform a copy audit at least every six months, where you update company information, copyright dates, etc.  If you don’t have the time or resources to maintain your blog, consider taking it offline or outsourcing the copy writing until you can devote more time to it.
  • Lack of credibility:  First impressions matter.  If you offer online shopping but website visitors get a message that your security certificate is expired or you don’t use a certain level of encryption, they will likely leave your site quickly…and without making a purchase.
Solution: Employ a reputable web master or consultant who is responsible for overseeing your e-commerce and shopping cart security.  Even something as simple as regularly scheduled, quarterly maintenance can do the trick and eliminate such concerns.
    Make sure your website security is up to date.

These problems and solutions represent strategies to do more than simply improve the way your website looks and functions.  Once implemented, they can also provide viewers with a more pleasant and memorable website experience which can help you gain and retain customers. The most important aspect is to know what is happening with your online visitors, whatever your analytics tool may be. This is the fastest indicator that something may be wrong with a page, a message or a link. Keep it fresh, people!

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