I’ve seen a fair few websites in my time. And yes I admit I look at websites slightly differently to most people. I notice things. Good things and not so good things…
And there are a lot of not so good things I see time and time again. They’re remarkably common. They’re things that mean visitors leave without becoming clients, signing up to your email or remembering your business. And they’re very easy to fix.
1. Logos taking up too much space
Yes, you have spent a lot of money on a logo. It has taken ages to get a logo you love. You want to show it off.
But, when it comes to websites, your logo has a supporting role. It’s not the reason people have landed on your website. Visitors don’t say “oh look at that amazing logo this business must be perfect for me”
Your logo is not interesting to your visitors. It doesn’t show them much (unless it is completely out of sync with the rest of your website – in which case it is a negative). And your website is for your potential clients, not you. It needs to give them what they need. It’s not a vanity project for you (or if it is you won’t get many clients from it).
When someone lands on your website what is going to give the best impression – a large logo or a large image showing your business as you want it to be seen?
An image that shows your business in the light you want it to be seen in gives the “right” first impression. Think about how you want your business to be seen. The first image on my home page is (at least as I write this) an image of me with my laptop smiling and looking friendly (that’s the aim anyway!). Would a large logo be better? I don’t think so.
Logos are very corporate and impersonal. They’re deliberately faceless. And if you’re John Lewis or Marks and Spencer that might work (although if you think about their ads they’re all about individual people and families).
When I look back through websites I have built almost all of them have one large image across the screen at the top of the homepage. And there is good reason. I was doing some research on designs recently. I showed a few people some potential designs for a website I’m designing for a coach. One of the designs had a smaller image at the top with his name and what he did more prominent. Everyone I showed the designs to preferred the one with the image of the coach across the homepage – because they’re buying the person.
Some website templates have a large logo alongside a menu with the result that a significant portion of the top of the homepage is white space. I’m a big fan of white space on a website but not at the top of a page. That is “prime real estate” and should be working hard to give the right impression of your business…
Logos should be large enough they can be read, but otherwise be unobtrusive. Let your branding photos be the stars of the show.
I blog (and talk) a lot about branding photos and they really do make a difference. The investment is worth it (especially for that first image). You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression as they say…
2. Not being clear on what you do
When someone lands on your website it needs to be immediately clear whether you can help them or not.
If you land on our website looking for a kitchen table or recipes it will be immediately obvious you have come to the wrong place. We make it clear that we provide websites for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Think about when you’re searching for something. Do you have time to wander around, enjoying the website before you know whether they can help you? I know I don’t.
There’s no point trying to be clever here. If you’re not clear upfront you will lose visitors who don’t have the time (or energy) to work out whether you’re the right person to help them…
It’s the “bridal hair and make up artist covering Dorset, Somerset and Devon”, “personal trainer for mid life women”, “baby and child sleep consultant”, etc
I’d encourage you to take a look at the top of your homepage and see if it is clear what you do and who/how you help. Would a six year old understand it?
3. Making it hard for visitors
Like being unclear on what you do, don’t leave visitors to just wander around your website with no clear path.
If you want visitors to your website to buy you need to make it easy for them to do that and you need to give them the information they need to know, without the opportunity to get distracted or bored with a whole lot of stuff they don’t need. You need to think about them.
If you only offer one product or service to one kind of client this is easy to do. If you have multiple products or services which solve different problems then you need to make it easy for people to find which ones relate to them and send them down that path (because if they are left to their own devices and go down the “wrong” path they won’t buy). Signpost them.
And once they’re there you need to help them with the information they need to know (not what you want to tell them). People are busy and don’t have the time to hunt around.
4. No Calls to Action
When websites first came out they used to have hyperlinks that were in blue and underlined to indicate that you could click through to another website page, like “contact us”.
In 2022 we have moved on. If you want someone to take a course of action you need to make it easy and obvious. Use buttons that they can’t miss. They don’t need to be bright (unless your branding colours are bright in which case absolutely go for it), but they do need to be obvious.
We’re all time poor and thinking of a million things. Make it easy for your website visitors to follow the path you want them to take and to take the action you want them to.
It should be as frictionless as possible.
5. Too much text
When we’re writing copy for our website you have to remember that visitors are not going to read an essay.
Large blocks of text are a big turnoff. They just don’t get read.
Think about the information someone needs to take the action you want them to take. Make it concise.
You’re not in your school english class now. You don’t need to write 3,000 words of your life history using long flowery descriptive language (sorry Mrs Parker)…
And when there does need to be a lot of text, break it up using subheadings, highlighted text and images. Keep people engaged as they move down the page.
Text should also be properly spaced on a page. Don’t be afraid of white space – it balances the text and makes it easier to read (as well as coming over fresh and contemporary).
6. Inconsistent pages
When you move from one page on a website to another it should be seemless. But I see so many websites which use very different layouts and even colours and fonts.
And I know that people add to their websites over time. They have a new service, want to redo their About page etc. And websites are always a work in progress – you should always be adding new things. But when you do, make sure it looks like the rest of your website
Of course a contact page is going to have a different layout to an about page but the menu at the top should be the same, size of the logo the same, header style the same. It should then use the same font, same colour font and the same size font. Icons and buttons should be the same colour and size.
It’s to do with trust. Your website pages build trust. Trust leads to clients potentially buying from you. It’s a good thing. If they find the next page looks completely different their brain wonders if it is the same business or do they need to rebuild that trust.
I’m not a fan of carousels.
Your website visitors don’t have the time (or interest) to sit and watch carousels go round. So if you have a carousel of say four images, chances are they will see one or possibly two. And the one or two they see will be random. They might not see the best image. What if all four images are really good and you can’t choose between them? Then use all four throughout your website. They’re far more likely to get seen that way.
Also if you have four images on a carousel your website has to load all four which takes four times as long as loading one (assuming they’re all the same file size). No-one is a fan of a slow loading website.
Testimonial carousels are the same. Most people will only see one or two in a carousel. I love testimonials and think they make a big difference in whether clients choose to work with you or not. But instead of having a single carousel of testimonials on a page choose three or four testimonials and have them all on that page. It’s much more effective.
What about logo carousels? You probably only have logos (either of clients or press you’ve been in) in a single place on any page. If your logos are all of equal value and you want to show you have worked with many clients or been mentioned in lots of press, then a carousel can work. But if you’ve been in the Times, the Entrepreneur and on BBC News then you want to make sure those logos are seen rather than the local free advertiser and your friend’s blog who no-one has heard of…
A website is more than just a logo, some text and images thrown together.
Carefully thought through your website should help convert visitors to clients.