10 Signs Your Website is Underperforming

Posted by Corey Smith on Mar 15, 2020 11:04:00 AM

viewing underperforming website data

After building and marketing websites for over ten years and working in technology, marketing, and visual design for many years before that, you can imagine that I've seen my share of the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Perhaps my mental frame is skewed a bit because of what I know, but I see consistent problems with websites.

What's interesting is how many websites are close to being great but miss by a few key elements. I see this problem across websites both large and small. It doesn’t seem to matter how much companies spend. This issue is present on websites that are less than $1,000 and websites that are more than $100,000.

Take a look at your website and see how you stack up against the following issues. Note that these issues are in no particular order. So, don't place more weight on one because of where it sits on the list.

1. No clear call to action

When visitors come to your website they need to know what they are supposed to do. Too often we make the assumption that if we build it, they will come. Then we assume that when they come, they'll know exactly what to do.

I promise you, if you don't indicate what they should do, they won't know. If they don't know, chances are very high that they won't do it. Consider asking someone to buy something from you but you never tell them what you are selling. You simply launch into a series of features and benefits.

If you make them work too hard to buy from you, they won't.

2. No visual interest

Imagery is considered to be content.  We seem to forget the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words and so we end up talking too much. Great imagery can make all the difference. I'm not necessarily talking about great backgrounds and lots of colors. I'm talking about images on pages that make the page interesting. The imagery must match the text. It must mean something. A big banner for the home page and concept graphics in appropriate locations make all the difference when it comes to the effectiveness of your website.

3. Too many moving elements

I get so tired of seeing so many rotating images. Ads that move, banners that rotate, elements that change. Calm your website down a little. Don't think that everything has to move. In fact, sometimes the most effective approach is to have little-to-no movement at all. Sometimes just a bold statement or one perfectly-selected picture is all that you need. As you learn to focus your message better, you'll find that you can do more with less.

4. The Content is not compelling or Distinguishable

I'm sure you've come across the blogger or the business that is saying the same thing that everyone else is saying. In fact, there are many out there that seem to simply regurgitate everything that everyone else says. This is not only boring to read, but it's completely ineffective. If you can't write in a way that engages your readers, you should hire someone to do it for you. It's more important than you realize, even for SEO purposes.

Think of it this way. If you want to be found at the top of the search engines, ask yourself the question, "What are people searching for?"

The obvious answer should be, "Content that answers their questions."

If you don't write content that answers questions and provides compelling solutions, then why would search engines or people care about you?

5. Video and audio start automatically

I don't know who ever thought this was a good idea. When people go to a website and a video starts playing or music starts, it instantly creates a feeling of frustration.

Video and audio are good. Playing it automatically is bad. Give people the option to watch and listen. That provides a better user experience.

6. Irrelevant Pop-up ads

Pop-up ads were invented because they catch your attention. The problem is that most people hate pop-up ads. So, if they are so hated, why do we keep seeing them? At some level, they can be productive- like when they offer something relevant to the page a user is viewing. 

Websites that use irrelevant pop-up ads – often are simply showing a lack of respect for their website visitors. If you use these, please use them sparingly and have a purpose for them. If you don't you'll just annoy your potential customers away.

7. Broken links and error messages

Broken links and error messages can indicate that you are not properly maintaining your website. Because these issues can pop up out of seemingly out of nowhere, this is a difficult one to avoid- unless you have someone monitoring your site for these (like an SEO specialist). 

When you see broken links and error messages, get them fixed ASAP for the sake of people visiting your site and for your search engine rankings.

8. Generic branding or Use of an obvious template

I think that templates are a perfectly appropriate way to go for many businesses and organizations. In fact, I think that too many people use custom designs when a template would be most appropriate. What this really means is you should never use a template because it looks cool but instead take into consideration how it applies to your brand identity. Just because something looks cool doesn't mean that it's going to look cool with your logo pasted at the top. And, just because it's a template, doesn't mean it has to be obvious that it's a template.

When you are getting your website built, make sure that the designer at least takes the time to change the design to fit your brand.

9. Misspellings and grammatical errors

It's important that you try to catch and fix all misspellings and grammatical errors. We suggest using a paid version of Grammarly. 

Proofread everything, and then have someone else proofread it. Then when you see an error, be proactive in fixing it. 

10. Obvious stock photography that Doesn't Fit Your Brand

If you want a professional website, hire a professional photographer to take photos that you can use on your website (especially if you are a B2C business). Alternatively, hire a designer who knows how to choose appropriate images that aren't cheesy stock photography. Some stock photography can be a great choice if it's tasteful and fits your brand.

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**Note: This post was originally posted 03/2015.**

Corey Smith

Written by Corey Smith

Corey Smith is the founder of Tribute Media and serves as the Digital Marketing Strategist. He is also the author of "Do It Right: A CEO's Guide to Web Strategy" and "Tweet It Right: A CEO's Guide to Twitter."

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