We all know the importance of first impressions, right?
You only have about 15 seconds to hook someone in to your website. (Yes, people now officially have the attention span of goldfish.) Your website not only has to be visually appealing, but it’s gotta answer 3 things right off the bat: what you do, who you service, and how you can help that viewer. Otherwise, they’re gonna say sayonara to your site.
So how do you get them to stick around longer? Let’s take a look at 9 mistakes you may be making on your website that are literally causing users to bounce—and how to fix them.
1. Your website’s visitors can’t tell what you do.
The #1 priority for your website is to make it crystal clear exactly what you do. And fast. Be overly obvious and don’t assume people will just “know”. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who has never heard of you and has no prior knowledge of your industry. If they asked “sooo... what do you do?” in a face-to-face conversation, what would you tell them? What’s your elevator pitch? We call this a brand statement or tagline.
Once you come up with your brand statement, put it above the fold on your website. “Above the fold” is an old-school newspaper term that nowadays refers to the first snapshot of website content that fills a device’s screen. It could include your logo, navigation bar, and a hero image...but also make sure to include that snappy statement about what you do and who you serve to hook the viewer in immediately.
2. 1995 called. They want their website back.
The most important thing you can do to bring your website into the modern era is optimize for mobile. Over half of all website users are checking out your website from their pocket-sized phones. And Google is placing serious weight on how well your website is optimized for mobile devices. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, stop reading this right now and get that taken care of. (Yes, it’s that important.)
Now, I want you to clear your mental cache and review your website with fresh eyes. (And not just on your desktop—on your phone, too.) Give yourself the good, hard truth to the following questions:
- Is my website design outdated?
- Are my images small, dark, and grainy?
- Am I using garish colors for the background or text?
- Is it super slow to load?
- Do I use flash anywhere?
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you need a website overhaul—stat! If you’re down to DIY, there are tons of website templates out there that offer a fantastic framework for non-designers. But if this all sounds overwhelming, I strongly recommend hiring a professional web designer to help!
3. Your website’s interface is confusing.
We have a little phrase in the web design world – "easy to navigate". Think of your website as a road map that leads users to a specific destination. The signs along the journey are so clear and plentiful that you don’t even need to turn on your GPS to get there. Like a well-plotted course, you want your web design to flow in a logical, intuitive way.
My top tip? K.I.S.S. Give each page on your website a clear focus. Give each page one main call to action (see #9 below). Omit any unnecessary fluff. What information does the user need to take the specific action you want them to take? Only give them that information—and omit the rest until they actually inquire. (And bonus! Streamlining your content makes it easier for search engines to understand your website, too.)
4. We can't see your gorgeous, smiling face anywhere.
We buy from people we know, like, and trust, right? Potential clients want to feel a connection with you even before they reach out with an inquiry. Especially if you're a service-based business. If your website viewers aren't "introduced" to you via a friendly website photo, reaching out to you is kinda like going on a blind date. They don't know who's on the other end of that bio!
I insist on plastering some photos of your sweet, smiling face on your website. The caveat here is that they need to be high-quality and ideally professional shots. If I see a clean, modern website then navigate to the About page only to be greeted by an awkward, dimly-lit iPhone photo of the business owner's face, it's a total womp-womp moment.
5. There's too much text.
Unless it's a blog post, you need to edit the shiz out of your website's text. Less is more, people! Only give your users the information they need to actually make a decision. And dear God, please format! Most people are only going to skim your text, so be sure to make the most crucial information big and bold and bullet point any long sentences that would better serve as lists.
You also want lots of high-quality images throughout your website. Breaking up blocks of text with fun imagery will keep your audience's visual interest and keep things flowing.
6. You're hiding important info.
Umm, where are you located? Umm, how much do you cost? What's your email address? What's included in your packages?
You can't make your users search for things. Because they won't. There are too many services or products just like yours vying for that same customer. If a user isn't getting the information they need to make an informed decision—quickly!—they'll find it somewhere else. Hard truth. Be forthcoming and transparent. Offering up important info right off the bat provides a good user experience—and also builds trust!
7. You clearly haven't updated since 2013.
Sometimes you can actually see in black & white how out-of-date a website is. Examples: The copyright in your footer says 2013. The last blog post you wrote was from 5 years ago. Your most recent testimonial mentions finding you on MySpace (eek!). This is a huge bounce factor. It leaves your users confused. Are they still in business? Have they moved on to something else? Have they not done any projects/weddings/consultations in the past few years?
Your dated website means one thing: You're no longer relevant. To potential clients and to Google. Updating your website regularly lets potential clients know you're still in the game, and helps you rank higher in search engine results. Commit to posting regular content to keep your website fresh and up to date.
8. You haven't built credibility.
If people don't trust you they won't buy from you. How do you earn their trust? By being honest and authentic about your mission. By posting and linking to real reviews. By showcasing your incredible portfolio and showing off the press features you've landed. By linking to your social media where they can see your engaged tribe. By sharing free, valuable content. By being consistent.
Users will stay on your website—and be more likely to buy from you—if they believe you're credible, trustworthy, and an authority in your field. Adding some social proof to your website is key!
9. You don't have a clear call to action.
For each page of your website ask yourself one simple question: What do I want my website visitors to do? Sign up for my newsletter? Grab this freebie? Schedule a call? Fill out an inquiry form?
You need to be your own website's guide. Lead visitors exactly where you want them to go. There should be no dead ends. No wondering what to do next.
Create one main call to action on each page of your site—and make it compelling! Normally on websites, calls to action (or "CTAs") come in the form of a button that says something like "Get in Touch!" or "Sign up!". It's important to give these buttons a consistent look, so you can train your visitor's eyes to find them. For example, make all the buttons on your website green rectangles. That way, on every page, your user will know what they're "supposed" to click.
You have mere seconds to make a good first impression on your website's users.
By keeping things clear, concise, credible, and calling users to action, you'll engage your website's viewers—which will increase the likelihood that they'll convert to clients.
Hey...I think I just came up with the Absolute JEM version of the 4 C's!