Grand Design or Expensive Mistake - Is Your Website Bad For Business?
by Jo Shaer, on June 12, 2017
It's that horrible moment of truth - the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. You suddenly realise that the website you invested so much time and money into is not performing as you had hoped.
And yet, you think it looks great. The designer promised that a stand out design was all that was required for success and lots of customers.
But how much value does your sexy website have? The design and images may look cool but, rather than a 24/7 sales tool that is actively attracting people who are ready to buy, it's turned into nothing more than a static online brochure.
And like all marketing literature, you physically have to give its URL to people. No one actually finds it online unless they search for your business name. You might as well have left it in a box under the table with your leaflets.
But it's performing even worse than your leaflets because, even when you get people to the site, they are leaving again.
If, by good fortune, a visitor does find your site, that dramatic first WOW! may buy you a little time. Sadly, if that visitor cannot find what they are looking for FAST, they will leave.
Here are a couple of examples that we have seen where a poorly executed website design has stopped a business from getting the enquiries that it needs.
When a bespoke website is a bad design
One of our B2C clients had a funky, state of the art website with an amazing design that was completely different from the traditional layouts.
It looked fantastic BUT did not fulfil on its main purpose - getting local yoga students to attend classes at the studio.
There were two problems:
1. there was no SEO on the site so website traffic was very limited; and
2. any visitors that did manage to find their way there could not find the answer to the two most important questions - what types of yoga classes are on offer and when do they run?
The "arty" layout was a grand design but no one knew how to use it.
Because the pages were not displayed in the traditional navigation strip across the top, no one could find or view the class timetable.
Result: the studio was running classes that were almost empty.
Once this issue had been identified, the design was replaced with a simple optimised Wordpress site that made it easy for visitors to find both the website and the class timetable. The yoga studio now has waiting lists for its most popular classes.
How to test the usability of your design
A simple user test will help you here. Invite people who have never visited your website to do some informal testing for you. Get volunteers to complete a specific task; download a particular product brochure or find the class timetable.
Make sure you monitor them as they try and take note of any frustrations. Ask them about their experience afterwards; you will learn loads from this exercise.
When an eye-catching home page image is a bad design
An engineering client came to see us about their website because they were only receiving telephone calls from engineering recruitment companies.
It turned out that the beautiful image on their home page was huge, so their website wasn't loading properly. All any visitor could see was the name of their business and the phone number at the top. Hence, no real enquiries, just recruitment companies offering candidates.
It was a beautiful-looking website, but a bad design. Changing the size of the home page image and those on the other main pages plus getting better quality hosting has resulted in an engineering workshop where the machines are now kept busy.
How to check the image sizes on your website
Images need to be optimised for the web, otherwise they slow the load speed of a page. That alone is enough to cause many visitors to leave. You can check whether there are issues with the image sizes on your website's pages here.
Does your website give you that horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach? Are you asking yourself why your website visitors are not becoming leads or customers? Find out how a bad user experience can stop your website traffic from trusting and choosing you as their supplier.