When a new user comes to your site, you have just a short amount of time to make a good first impression. If you don’t succeed, that user may never read a single word on your site. If they don’t like the feeling they get, they will hit the back button and move on to a competitor’s website faster than you can blink. Web users are savvy. They’ve experienced the best the internet has to offer. And while it may seem unfair, your site is measured against newer, updated, and trending websites. If your site doesn’t instantly meet a user’s expectations, they’ll say “thank you, next” without hesitation.
Websites are a major investment and play a starring role in the success of your business, so it’s important to be proactive. It’s time to get real about the pitfalls of your site and the reasons you’re losing users. Let’s discuss several reasons why your website is failing and how to improve your website design.
You’re Still Not Responsive
A website that was built even four years ago, was designed before the introduction of the iPhone 6, Google’s Pixel phone, or Galaxy’s Surface Pro. This means there is an entire generation of screen sizes and resolutions on which your website may not load properly, which is a major sign of poor website performance. And if that’s the case, a responsive website should be a top priority.
“But I have a mobile-friendly site,” you say. Mobile-friendly and responsive, however, are not the same thing. Mobile friendly refers to a website that has been altered to work on a mobile device. The site may look exactly the same on a phone as it does on a desktop, just smaller. A responsive website, on the other hand, has been designed to adjust the display of information to clearly fit any screen size — those that exist today and those that the future will bring. A responsive site is still the same site as the one on your laptop or desktop, but it adapts to the size of the screen it is on. For smaller screen sizes, this may mean reducing text, simplifying menus, and shrinking images.
When your website is not responsive, elements of your site will be off-center, cut-off, overlapped, or missing altogether when viewed on a mobile device.
You’re in the Slow Lane
All websites are built upon images, fonts, animations, videos, forms, links, eCommerce platforms, and plug-ins. Each and every one of those elements affects the speed at which your site loads. Site speed can make or break the success of your website because users have the need for speed. Here’s exactly how important it is for your website to load quickly:
- 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less.
- 40% will abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load.
A quick way to improve website performance is to address your site speed. You can test your site’s load speed by using Google PageSpeed Insights or Varvy. If your results come in higher than user expectations, you may want to take the following actions on your site:
- Reduce server requests and server response times.
- Condense images and media.
- Prioritize visible content.
- Enable browser caching.
- Minimize redirects.
You Ignore the User’s Experience
A cutting edge website design that features all the latest development tricks can be visually stunning. But what about the user experience? There’s nothing more frustrating to a visitor than not knowing how to get to the next step, get the information they come to your website to find, or contact you. A good UX design will always spotlight ways to improve user experiences and cater to what the user wants to do on every page of your website.
A pleasing design will leave your visitors feeling like they can breathe inside it. Their eyes can flow easily from one object to the next without feeling overwhelmed or confused. Spacing things out and leaving intentional areas of open space make your visitors feel more inclined to keep going through your site, ideally to your contact page.
Your Content is Ineffective
Content is a key component of your website being found in Google searches. Another way to improve poor website performance is to craft keyword-optimized content for your most important web pages, including your homepage, main landing pages, category/product pages and About Us page. And that’s at a minimum. You might also consider adding a blog or other resource pages that users can explore for additional information.
Keyword optimization is crucial for creating effective content. When you take the step to evaluate the keywords and phrases that people are using in their online searches, you can incorporate them into your content and tailor it to the information that users are seeking.
Web users have notoriously low attention spans. The content you provide on your website needs to address this. But many people incorrectly believe that they need to force every detail into the top of their website — above the invisible “fold.” Their reasoning is that users won’t know that there is more information below. But, this does nothing to improve website design. It’s time that we give web users the benefit of the doubt — they will scroll. After years of internet use, they’ve been trained to scroll down for additional information. So yes, make sure the most important information is readily available at the top of the page, but also know that you can space out details and they will still be found.
You Still Depend on Stock Photos
The quality of your photography can make or break a good design. Having shots that look like plain vanilla “stock” shots, blurry photos you took on your phone, or photos that don’t reflect your brand can immediately turn off a user from going any further.
Photography that’s thoughtfully selected and well done can instantly improve your website design. For professional, modern photos, consider outsourcing to a professional photographer. In addition to high-quality product photography, you may also want to build a library of lifestyle photography that highlights your company’s culture. It’s always recommended that you use original photos, but if you don’t have the time or money for a professional shoot, you can turn to online stock photos. But be picky about the images you choose. Avoid photos that look staged and cheesy (at any point in your career have you seen four co-workers gather around a desktop, pointing at the screen with concerned faces?) and opt for images that look and feel natural. Stock photos sites such as iStock, Unsplash, and Pexels offer a fresh variety of moderns images to choose from.
No matter where your images come from, they should be high resolution and properly cropped for visual appeal.
Your Fonts are Uninspired
For years, the only font options were the system fonts everyone had on their computers. Problem was, it made everybody’s website look the same. Sure, you could create a custom font by making it artwork, but then search engines couldn’t read it, and we can’t have that!
With the introduction of web fonts, we now have the best of both worlds. You can use any font you want and have it indexed by Google. The time for Arial, Verdana, and Times is over. Web fonts are a series of custom fonts that allow you to expand beyond the system fonts that are readily available on all computers, but web fonts can be still be viewed consistently on any device.
There are plenty of web fonts to choose from, but you might have to pay for the use of them. When choosing a web font, always read the license that comes with it. Some are only allowed for personal use, while others allow both personal and commercial use.
A few web font resources that we recommend include:
- My Fonts
- Google Fonts
- Font Squirrel
You’re Still Utilizing Flash
And the final reason you may be struggling with poor website performance, you’re still utilizing Flash. For all those that don’t know (and hopefully there aren’t many anymore), we’ll say it one last time… Flash is dead. But sadly, 5% of websites still incorporate Flash or are built entirely in Flash! That number might seem low, but let’s consider that less than 1 million websites account for over 50% of web traffic. Five percent of 1 million? Still a lot of Flash!