You’ve probably invested quite a bit of thought, effort, and possibly money into your website to make it look as appealing and professional as possible. Are you wondering why you’re not getting more positive feedback from visitors and customers? It’s not always easy to be objective about your own website. We recently published a post called “How Great Accounts and Profiles Get Customers Invested.” It’s also instructive to look at the other side of the coin: what drives customers away. (We even have an awesome infographic)
Many website issues that may seem trivial to you can be a real turnoff to visitors. Fortunately, such flaws are usually easy to fix once you’re aware of them. Here are five ways that your website design could be alienating your customers.
1. Low Quality or Generic Images
Images play a greater role than ever on websites. Visitors’ eyes naturally gravitate to photos, infographics, and other visuals. However, it’s important to use the right kind of images. Otherwise, you undermine your efforts and give the wrong impression. Here are some of the most common mistakes to avoid.
- Lack of visuals. If your web pages are mostly text, you risk overwhelming your visitor’s attention spans.
- Low-quality or generic images. Using stock photos that are similar to those on thousands of other sites doesn’t help you build a unique brand. Even if visitors don’t consciously realize it, they’ll notice on some level that they’re not seeing anything new. It’s worth it to invest in original images.
- Irrelevant images. Some sites put up images that are funny or appealing, but that aren’t relevant to the brand. It’s fine to do this once in a while, but, in general, you want your visuals to match your business. Unless your brand is pet-related, for example, there’s no real point in posting lots of cute cat or dog photos.
2. Lack of a Personal Touch
No matter how technical, intellectual, or scientific your business may be, your customers want to feel like individuals. Website design can either support this feeling or make visitors feel like mere numbers.
Tracking Transactions by Order Number
It’s simpler to look up a number than a name. However, this is an example of a practice that’s likely to turn off customers. No one likes to be categorized as a number, even though this is getting fairly common today. It’s fine to ask for order numbers to look up or verify an order. However, it’s more personal to start by asking the customer’s name.
A Boring or Impersonal Contact Page
Your Contact page plays a vital role in your website. After all, for someone to turn from a prospect to a customer, he or she first has to contact you. Yet many websites have a generic and impersonal page that simply asks for details. This is a wasted opportunity to begin a friendly interaction with the visitor. Here are some ways to make your Contact Us page warmer and more appealing. Here are some of the BEST CONTACT PAGES on the internet.
- Use images. There’s no rule that says you can only put contact fields on this page. Dress it up with an eye-catching image. Don’t make the page so busy that it distracts from the intent (i.e., get people to actually fill out the form). However, an image gives the page some personality.
- Use color. You don’t want to overwhelm visitors with too many colors, but a monochrome design is rather boring.
- Include a message box. Aside from asking for name and email, let users explain what they need. Some forms have a checkbox to narrow it down (i.e., “Sales,” “Tech Support”) but it’s also good to give people a chance to write an actual message.
- Segment visitors. Rather than a single contact form, provide a drop-down menu with multiple options. Another option is to include different contact options, such as emails and phone numbers for different departments/issues.
3. Insulting the Visitor
It’s become fashionable to use insulting, passive-aggressive humor to discourage visitors to click away from a website without leaving contact information. For example, a popup might appear that provides two options:
Yes! Send me updates on the latest industry news.
No, I prefer ignorance.
That’s a fictional example, but many websites actually use this kind of tactic. It’s a form of bullying that’s more likely to turn off prospects than get them to succumb to the pressure. If you want to apply a little pressure, make sure you do it in a good-natured way that doesn’t imply someone is a total idiot if they don’t sign up!
You also have to be careful about offending or insulting customers in less obvious ways. It’s one thing to recognize your audience’s challenges. It’s another to look down on them. For example, a company selling weight loss or fitness solutions wants to help clients achieve their goals without making them feel bad about their current condition. For example, the gym Anytime Fitness just recently got into trouble by body-shaming prospective clients. They committed this faux pas in emails, but the principle is the same on websites, social media, and all your marketing channels.
4. Targeting the Wrong Customers
Are you mainly focused on getting traffic to your website? This is a natural goal, but it’s really too broad an objective to be useful. What you really need are visitors who truly need or want what you have to offer. Make sure that your content is a good match for your visitors. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:
- Lack of clarity about your topic or niche. If your topic is very broad, consider getting more specific. For example, there are millions of websites about health and fitness. Consider specializing in something such as Paleo diets, bodybuilding, yoga, etc.
- Failure to do keyword research to find topics and phrases that your audience is searching for.
- Using clickbait-y titles that don’t deliver what they promise.
If you’re having trouble attracting targeted traffic, consider investing in paid traffic. Use a platform such as Facebook ads, which allow you to target your audience using many criteria such as age, gender, income, interests, and geography.
5. An Account Dashboard That’s Difficult to Navigate
When people sign up for your services, you want to make the experience as user-friendly and intuitive as possible. Make sure the account dashboard is simple to navigate and informs rather than confuses users. Some practices that are likely to alienate users include:
- Inconsistency. If you use different terms, colors, icons, or types of metrics (e.g., monthly totals in once place, annual in another), it will confuse users.
- Terms are hard to understand. Avoid jargon or company-specific terminology that the typical user might not be familiar with.
- Not flexible enough. Consider when you look at products on Amazon. You can choose to see product listings sorted by relevance, price (Low to High or High to Low), brand name, and other criteria. Users may want to view the information differently at various times. Provide similar flexibility for dashboard users.
- Not responsive. Make sure your dashboard is accessible to people using different devices and operating systems. Mobile-friendliness is especially crucial.
The above isn’t an exhaustive list of website design issues. Each site is different, and you have to know your own audience and industry. However, these are some issues that frequently plague business websites. These problems all, in one way or another, constitute a failure to consider the visitor/customer’s point of view. Your customers want to be treated as intelligent, discerning adults whose time is valuable. Keeping this in mind goes a long way towards designing websites that attract rather than repel your target audience.
Bianca Frank Design provides Web Design Anchorage Alaska, Logo Design, Brand Strategy and Content. We are a brand design agency providing holistic brand, marketing and design for small to medium sized businesses. We love what we do. Give us an opportunity to show you what we can do for your business!