How can mistakes in web design cost sales?
Well, pushing sales forward in the digital era has brought new challenges. Maybe, it all was easier before when a salesperson simply had to meet a prospect, pitch a product, and have his/her fingers crossed for a positive outcome.
Right now though we have so many more things to consider. You can drive sales via email, social media, phone calls, and so on and so forth. Conquering all of these channels with the same magnitude is hard.
So, priorities should be on board as well.
Let’s take a look at statistics.
Source: Marketing Survey conducted by Ascend 2, 2017
As you can see, the majority of companies find websites the most efficient digital channel to drive sales.
Why are websites killing the game?
- A customer can get an answer to his/her questions without ever needing to contact a sales team. So, when a prospect approaches you, you can easily know what he/she wants to buy.
- A trustworthy website helps generate leads as well. If a visitor sees that a company is mentioned by industry leaders, has honest testimonials on the website, and all kinds of contact information, the odds of him/her contacting you are higher.
- Searching websites is a strategy of gift-shoppers. Present-buyers look for inspiration by researching what’s out there on the web. According to data collected by “Virtual Goods Mean Real Money This Holiday” report, 21% of gift-shoppers already trust websites for research rather than physical stores.
- Everything is in one place. There’s hardly another place on the Internet where you can find or store all the information about a company a customer might need. In a social media group page, important information can get lost in time and you can pin only one post.
However, you can sort all the information you need by placing it on your website: costs, testimonials, lists of services, portfolios, blogs, contacts, news, resources, products, and so on, and so forth.
- Having a website is your way to know the audience. There’s Facebook Insights. There are a ton of email marketing metrics. You can go and see a prospect personally or take dozens of calls per day.
Still, nothing can give you such a global picture of your audience as your website. Here’re but a few of the metrics you can track in website analytics:
- bounce rate
- average session duration
- sessions by channel
- goal conversion
- page views
Via Analytics, you can get all kinds of reports that will help you know your audience better. Knowing all of that, you get an idea of how to target those people via email or social media, talk to them on the phone or behave at meetings.
Websites for sales – underrated?
You’d think there’s so much hype about e-commerce and selling online that everyone should have a flawless website. After all, compared to yearly phone bills or fuel costs for transportation, hiring a developer and building a small website won’t cost much.
Yet, google whatever service you can think of, browse through the rankings — and you’ll still find a website that looks like this:
There are dozens of websites that look like this one. That kind of sets a tendency — companies don’t really care about their Internet page. Thus there are a few easy to avoid yet common mistakes e-commerce websites’ owners make quite often.
Here are the 15 most common mistakes in web design
Often the most visited page of a website. Are you making any of these mistakes on your homepage?
1Lack of clarity
A homepage is basically your website in a nutshell. If a visitor stumbles upon it, make sure you’ll give them a clear vision of what the company does.
- Make sure your positioning is on the first screen and it’s visually separated from the body text.
- State the offer loud and clear in one sentence, a phrase, or a few words.
- In the offer, try to define target audience who’d be interested to keep exploring the website. That means you can include the region you are based in, the specific interests or the nature of work of your prospects.
If you are working for the B2B market, it can be harder to create a compelling offer while keeping it short and brief. Yet, not entirely impossible. Take a look at how it was done by this roofer company.
Here, you can see everything you need to know about the company’s positioning: the area where it’s located and the main service it offers. That’s not much, yet enough.
- Don’t put your offer next to a big text block even if it’s separated by a different font and text size.
- In the offer, avoid loud and senseless adjectives like “best”, “most professional”, or “efficient”. They mean nothing for a client but will take more space on the screen.
- Though your offer has to differ from all the other content on the page, don’t use more than three fonts in more than three colors. Remember about aesthetics, not just grabbing attention.
In the example above, the offer is hard to distinguish from the other content on the page.
Takeaway: the homepage is your website in a nutshell. Make sure that if your customer has a chance to visit only this page, they’ll still get enough information to trust a company and ask for a deal.
2No lead magnet
There are dozens of companies on the Internet. Everyone’s websites look familiar. Quite frankly, can you tell the difference between the websites I’m about to show to you right away?
It’s hard to tell them apart right away. Now imagine that you are a customer, who’s researched dozens of offers? And, mind you, not everyone has a backlog of their search. Eventually, it all ends up being: “I saw a good website but I don’t remember which one that was”.
In order to stand out from this extremely tough crowd, make sure you offer something for free to start building customer’s trust right after the first session.
Those free offers are called “lead magnets” because when a customer needs a deal, he/she is more likely to contact a familiar company than a new one.
These are the types of free bonuses you can offer website’s visitors:
- free content (an ebook, a checklist, a cheat sheet, etc.);
- a free estimate or a choice of a fit product for a client;
- a promo code for the first order.
Here’s the way to offer a free bonus: a content marketing agency, for instance, can develop a free strategy for its clients.
Takeaway: as there are a lot of websites, you have to stand out. One way to do it is to build trust by providing free value. It’s important to take into account that you don’t have to offer a free service rather but a bonus.
3No logo at all
Or too much of it
No matter what branding or marketing classes you take, every instructor will eventually end up saying: “The logo is a huge branding element. Make sure your clients remember your logo”.
That wouldn’t be wrong. The logo is indeed important. Also, if we hired a designer to create it or spent a few hours doing it ourselves, it’s only logical to be proud of the result. Still, it doesn’t mean you should dedicate the entire first screen to showcase your logo.
Where to put a logo?
- Statistics tell us that a left corner is a better place for a website logo than a right one. Brands are also quite actively placing their logos on the left. Think about Facebook or McDonald’s, for instance.
- Another cool way is to natively put your logo into the pictures in the slider or portfolio items. Take a look at how a design studio in LA has done it.
A lot of companies don’t have any logo whatsoever. However, that’s not a good practice. Even if you don’t print any visual materials and not many people might see your logo, don’t neglect it.
One of the biggest purposes of a logo is a favicon — an icon associated with a website that shows in browser or address bar. The websites with no favicon are not half as appealing as those that have it.
Takeaway: on your website, there has to be a logo. Yet, it doesn’t have to disturb the navigation purpose or distract a user. So, put a logo in the left corner or at the center of the page.
4No social proof
It’s no secret that social proof doesn’t work as well as it once was. Almost every customer is aware of the facts that companies write testimonials by themselves and not every company in the list of clients is a real client of the company.
Nevertheless, there are ways of social proofs that are still efficient and can help you gain a client’s trust. Let’s go over some of those:
- Video testimonials: One thing is when there’s a stock picture and a pile of text. Yet, it’s completely different when there’s a real person speaking in front of the camera about his or her relationship with a company.
- Certificates and awards: We might not entirely trust all this stuff. Still, out of a no-name company with no achievements whatsoever and the one that has been certified or awarded, customers will evidently choose the second one.
- Mentions by famous media outlets: If someone wrote about you, be proud to showcase it on the homepage.
Take a look at how it was done by a dumpster rental company:
They mentioned their partners and media outlets that have written about the company. It makes an impression, doesn’t it?
Takeaway: ensure that your visitors know about all the cool things that happened to the company — a fancy award, a new certificate, a brand mention, or a big number of followers on social media. It’s all social proof. It matters.
5Same old selling points
It seems marketers have been discussing positioning and unique selling points like forever. However, as it takes quite a lot of creativity to come up with good selling points, a lot of salespeople prefer to not bother.
So, no matter what you google there will be at least 1-2 websites that still offer professional and efficient service. Or 10, or 100 of those. Case in point:
How to come up with unique selling points:
- Think of something that matters to you while getting a service. Perhaps, you can only feel safe when the manufacturer is willing to sign a written deal? Maybe, the warranty will break the tie between two offers? Could it be that you bought a smartphone only knowing that a lot of shops in the city can fix it if needed? Think of those features in terms of your customers and your product. What do people really want? What features among those can you offer? Write them down — you’re golden!
- Dedicate some of your time to think of different ways to say the same things.For instance, there’s but a ton of ways to say “professional”. By replacing it with “responsible”, you’ll emphasize the particular traits of your team members (always on time, do their job quickly). By saying “friendly”, you’ll have an entirely different vibe about your team. Describing your services, try to avoid cliched phrases by emphasizing particular qualities of the product.
Sometimes you can create a neat selling point by simply describing your product. Here’s a good example of that:
Take a look at the selling point. The company doesn’t say that it’s professional, efficient, unique. Instead, a copywriter uses understandable terms and definitions. Let’s break it down:
- Everyone has a mailbox. Millions of people use Gmail. So having a CRM integrated to your Gmail account speaks to a customer’s heart.
- Then, instead of saying that NetHunt is “multi-functional”, a team simply lists all the functions of the extension.A customer can see: indeed, I can do email tracking, follow-ups, integrate a CRM with Zapier. That’s multi-functional.
Takeaway: the best approach to create good selling points is perhaps “show — do not tell”. If your team is so professional, show us the fruits of their work — don’t bother talking. If a product is multi-functional, list all of those features, not just both about it.
Design speaks to common elements and styles across your entire site. What are you conveying about your brand?
Apart from the homepage, the design is quite an issue on most websites. Even if you, as a sales manager, don’t have a practical way to change a design on your own, make sure your marketing team knows what’s what.
Let’s go over a few most common mistakes in web design that cost you sales and prohibit from doing your job as a salesperson to the best of your ability.
6Using old-fashioned gradients
There were times where more was more. We loved whatever advancement and filter that was thrown our way. For that reason, everyone loved gradients more than regular colors. As a result, you might quite often see those as a website background.
As you can see, with gradients, it’s easy to overdo. That’s why you shouldn’t put them as a main background. Still, there are cases where designers use gradients to create quite appealing banners for their websites:
Takeaway: make sure gradients and basic colors work well with one another. By percentage, the page looks cool if it has 70% of a one-colored scheme and only 30% of a gradient.
It’s such a basic rule that one might wonder why it is still such a big issue.
However, the thing is, the font sizes we normally use to write documents are not okay for web pages. Also, it’s important to remember that not all fonts are alike.
So, how to choose the font size?
- To start with, choose the font itself. A lot of websites choose Arial as a regular practice. To imitate the newspaper page, media outlets like the Guardian choose Georgia as their main font.
- Google a recommended font size to a particular type. Here are those numbers for a few most popular fonts:
|Font||Recommended size for the web|
|Times New Roman||18 pt|
Takeaway: use fonts like Arial or Verdana that are easy to read. Remember that smaller fonts than 14 pt. are very difficult for a visitor to read. It’s also better to find out what font size is recommended for a particular family.
8No search bar
For the sake of SEO, website owners are advised to create as many pages as possible. To every category, there has to be a sub-category to target specific keywords more precisely. But as far as usability goes, finding a right category in a three-level menu is quite a piece of work.
That’s why there has to be a search bar on the websites. There are a lot of reasons to that, but I’d like to emphasize those I find important for salespeople:
- With a search bar, it’s easier to navigate a prospect. If you get a call with a question and want to direct a customer to a particular website page, it’ll be way easier to say “type this and that in a search bar” than looking for the right sub-category in the menu.
- A search bar often comes in handy while preparing for a sales pitch. You can, for instance, easily find the main information about the product, all the statistics, or a product testimonial you need.
Where to place a search bar?
Traditionally, the best place for a search bar is the top right corner of the page. It doesn’t complicate the entire navigation process and is relatively easy for a visitor to find.
Takeaway: if you don’t have a search bar yet, ask whoever is in charge to set it up for you for the sake of your sales.
9Too much color
Having a bright, juicy design is, in most cases, an advantage for a website. After all, those plain websites with no cool color schemes are boring. So let’s bring as much color on board as possible. Right?
As “plain” as minimalistic websites might be, the main goal is still readability. So, having a tone or two of bright colors is totally fine. A color overload is a completely different story. To understand more precisely what I mean, take a look at the following interface.
Sorry. That must have hurt.
Anyways, as much as I love a shade of red or blue, having them together doesn’t play the game for this webpage. How to achieve some sort of healthy balance?
- Don’t ignore white. Having some white space on your website gives it a sense of freedom. Also, white makes a good match to any other color so you cannot go wrong.
- Use the shades from the same palette. As much as we might want to see red and purple together, it might not be the best idea in the world. Red and pastel, on the other hand, work just fine.
- Except for colors, remember, that there should be a font balance as well. Make sure you use no more than 3 font modifications.
Discussing homepages, I’ve said before that a homepage is your website in a nutshell. For that reason, it might be tempting to put as much information in there as possible. However, like at a crossroad, it’s easy to get lost on a cluttered homepage like this one.
The amount of blocks is overwhelming. I don’t have the slightest idea about what to do next, where to go or what the best option is for me. There’s a lot of information, at no doubt. But will a visitor have all the necessary courage to stay on the cluttered page?
How to sort the information on the website?
As a salesperson, it’s hardly your job or a professional duty. However, you can ask a developer to prioritize more important blocks over those that don’t matter that much for lead generation. Here’s what should stay on your main page:
- The list of your biggest clients and/or partners;
- The list of your services;
- A brief description of the company;
- Contact information;
- Portfolios (if there are any).
Everything else is optional and, quite frankly, not all that needed.
Takeaways: cluttered pages don’t do anyone any good. Instead of putting everything there’s to know about your company, make sure that only the most important details are emphasized. Also, there has to be white space between text blocks so that a page doesn’t seem cluttered.
If design is about what you’re saying, navigation is all about what you want users to do on your site.
As a lot of users do product research via mobile devices, navigation now needs to be easier than ever. Yet, as if they still target a PC user, many companies don’t have time or desire to adjust their navigation. As a result, common mistakes appear. Let’s take a look at some of them.
11A drop-down menu
A drop-down menu was essentially designed to save space on the website. If a page has a lot of blocks, using this type of menu bar might only seem logical. Yet, there are quite a lot of reasons to not use the drop-down menu on the website.
- Needs high precision. It’s no secret that a drop-down menu requires a cursor to be in a particular position. Once it goes off at least slightest bit, a drop-down menu will disappear.
- Glitches on mobiles. A drop-down menu can hardly be called mobile responsive. Tapping on a particular block requires even more precision than conquering its PC version.
- Too many choices. If you have a drop-down menu, chances are, the homepage will be overloaded with information — not all of it needed. For that reason, it’s better to think of few things your customers need the most and let go of everything else.
Takeaway: don’t overload your menu with blocks. Rather than doing this, put some info blocks as sidebars on the page.
12Too many buttons
Statistically, you still can find data stating that buttons boost conversions. Still, looking forward, we can tell that users prioritize text links over buttons. Website designers are yet slow to accommodate themselves to the change.
Here are a few reasons to stop using buttons and start putting text links instead:
- Links are easier to edit and are visible on all devices;
- Links load faster than buttons;
- Buttons are not search friendly as their text is not recognizable for search engines.
Takeaways: buttons do add a stylish effect to your website. However, try not to use buttons for important calls-to-action like “Register” or “Order”.
13Overloaded menu blocks
Almost every company has a lot of information that is important or feels that way. Not wanting a customer to miss out on something important, website designers and owners often put ALL the information there is to know about their business.
The result is sad though — an overloaded page that looks this way:
It’s hard to find your way around the overloaded navigation. So the visitor leaves instead of painfully struggling to find the right block.
So, how to build a menu that has just enough information and is comfortable for a visitor to work with?
- Do an A/B testing to know which menu links matter most for a visitor. After you get an answer, put those important menu tabs to the top of the block.
- Make sure all the links that are needed to make a purchase are easily accessible. That includes the list of services, contact information, payment methods, and “About the company” tab.
- Always take a look at competitors’ pages. If your company is new and there isn’t any way for you to know your audience well enough, go to more experienced companies in the field and see how they build their menus. Perhaps, it’ll give some valuable insights.
Takeaway: in menu building, less is totally more. It’s better to have not more than a dozen blocks that are easy to manage and get to than try to keep up with few dozens of tabs which neither you nor your customers are comfortable with.
A lot of website owners have a template-based webpage. As a result, the names of menu tabs quite often don’t change. You think: “Services” is an appropriate tab to describe the work we do, so I’ll leave it”.
However, those generic names like “About us”, “Services”, and so on, bring no clarity to a user. Instead, for the sake of easy and comfortable navigation, it’s better to specify your tabs. For instance, instead of “Services”, put “Website design” or “Roof repair” so that a user knows what he’ll see on the page.
Here’s how it could be done:
Takeaway: while being descriptive, remember about keeping menu names short and precise.
15Contact information is tough to access
To see that this issue is still pressing, try to go to any website and find the email of the company. While doing that, time yourself and see how much time it’ll take. It’ll turn out, quite a while.
Perhaps, not wanting to be bothered by spam or people who don’t really want to buy anything, companies choose to hide their contacts far away from a human eye. Still, as a frequent online shopper, I find this tendency particularly frustrating.
Where to put company’s email?
- “Contact” tab. You can have a general email like “[email protected]”. Yet, it’s better to provide a few emails for different matters — PR, advertising, partnership, inquiries about the product, etc.
- The top right corner of the page. That’s a good approach — even if a user has seen a website for the first time, they’ll see right away that the company is easy to contact.
- In the footer of the homepage. That’s a good place for contact information for the sake of logic. It makes great sense — after reading all the info on the main page, a user might want to contact the company — an email in the footer comes in handy.
Takeaway: when you are shopping, do you want to see contact information within your reach? Well, so does your client. Make sure a company’s email is visible even without having to choose “Contact” tab.
How to make sure your website is not killing your sales?
Even if you have all the recommendations in place, wouldn’t it be nice to have some real proof of whether or not your website is doing its best in conquering, not killing your sales.
Here are 5 tools that’ll help you test your website:
- Weboptimization.com — a tool that will test the level of your website’s optimization and give you tips on improving it.
- Google page speed online — this Google-powered service will help you test the page speed on your website.
- Webpagetest.org — another useful tool that’ll help you see your website the way a user will. The service can also give recommendations on improving your website’s interface.
- Pingdom’s web monitoring service — the gist of this service is that you can see the way users react to changes in your website with time.
- Google Chrome Developer Tools — the tool that helps you manipulate the layout of your page and Java Script. Also, you can know which pages take most time to load and find the way to optimize it.
A website is an important lead generation channel — ignoring it is totally not the best idea in the world. However, if your Google Analytics account doesn’t show the number you would want it to show, some small yet important mistakes could be blamed.
If you are a company owner, changing your website is not that difficult for you. However, if you are a sales manager, you’ll have to talk to your supervisor and ask for some minor changes. It might take some stamina, but at the end of the day, all the struggle is worth the result.
There are SO many mistakes that can be made building a website and this is a good collection of them, and it’s shocking that #15 is still an issue. It was such a big issue back in 2011 that we launched our website builder, SiteSwan, with a hard-coded contact area that every site was essentially forced into having appear on every page of the site. People need to be reminded whose site they’re on from every page, especially because of what was mentioned in #2 above – with lots of sites starting to look the same. Great in-depth piece, though!