10 Website Conversion Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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Ultimately, every website has a goal, whether it is to get more sales, downloads or subscribers, it’s function is to convert a visitor into a subscriber, lead or customer. Optimising website’s conversion rate can significantly increase return on investment (ROI) on your marketing efforts.

conversion mistakes header

What is conversion and why you should care about it?

Conversion is a process of changing or causing something to change from one form to another. In marketing language it’s turning visitors into customers. Important metric in measuring conversion is conversion rate.

Conversion rate = the percentage of visitors to your site who take action you desire them to take, whether that means filling in their information to become a lead or buying a product or service to become a customer.

Many factors contribute to a successful or unsuccessful conversion rate. In this article I am sharing top 10 website conversion mistakes and potential solutions to fix them.

Website speed test by Pingdom analyses how your website loads from different places in the world.

Website speed test by Pingdom analyses how your website loads from different places in the world.

1. Slow Loading Time

Good conversion rate is closely tied with great user experience, usability and accessibility. Loading time is one of these crucial factors that may lead your users to abandon the site even before seeing it.  In the information-overload-age we live in, it’s absolutely necessary to cut down the waiting time as users are more impatient then ever before.

If your page takes more than 3 seconds to load 4 out of 10 of visitors will abandon it not even seeing it.

“After 3 seconds, 40% will abandon your site.” – Lara Hogan, Engineering Manager at Etsy

Fix: Design for Performance

Optimising your website for all browsers and for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets will naturally increase your conversion rate. Invest in a good hosting service they will ensure that your information loads quickly. Make sure that all pages on your website load properly and that all links work.

  • Pingdom Website Speed Test – tool for testing the load time of any page. Check here, if you need more.
  • Compressor.io – compress and optimise your images up to 90% in file size reduction.
  • TinyJPG – compress JPEG files with a perfect balance in quality and file size.
  • WP Smush – WordPress plugin designed to reduce image file sizes, improve performance and boost your SEO.
  • MaxCDN – content delivery network provider that emphasises reducing latency of rich-content delivery.
  • CloudFare – another content delivery network that automatically optimises the delivery of your web pages.

Lara Hogan, Engineering Manager at Etsy shares valuable tips in her keynote on Speaker Deck. I’ll quickly summarise it for you to take immediate action:

  • Optimise images and use as little graphics as possible as it adds to the loading time.
  • Cut down the number of typefaces you use, are different fonts you’ve chosen help make a conversion?
  • What metric are you hoping to improve with sliding carousel?
  • How will images you use affect the page load?
  • Which font weights (if any) do you really need?
  • What can be repurposed?
Tesla has been clearly working on making that first impression an incredible one.

Tesla has been clearly working on making that first impression an incredible one.

2. Bad First Impression

Visitors form an opinion about your website in less than a second, research conducted by Google reveals that visual content is perceived in milliseconds and form general opinion of your website.

“Users perceive and form design opinions even in 17 ms.” – Research conducted by Google

Fix: Define Style Guide

Make sure to avoid outdated design. Stop chasing trends as trends come and go and leave you in a potentially risky situation where your brand might look outdated.

Establish brand style guide by choosing color palette, typefaces, spacing rules, brand voice to unify your future design outputs. Style guide will ensure that you are consistent across different channels, including your website, email and social media.

Duolingo is a perfect example of a clear and prominent call to action (CTA) button.

Duolingo is a perfect example of a clear and prominent call to action (CTA) button.

3. Unclear Call to Action (CTA)

Website’s function is to ultimately serve as a communication or presentation tool. It’s by no means an end product so you have to define its main action user can take which is widely known as a call to action or CTA. Lack of clear call to action button on a website wastes opportunity of turning visitors into potential subscribers, leads and customers.

Fix: Be Prominent

The success of your website is highly determined by the conversion rate and prominent call to action goes a long way ensuring that visitor sees it and has an urge to take action. When it comes to purpose of your website, you basically have three strategic options:

  • Sell products or services
  • Generate leads
  • Establish credentials and build authority

Very simple but golden rule can be applied here. K.I.S.S. – keep it simple, stupid. Make your content easy to understand and provide obvious next step you want people to take.

Be bold and straightforward. Make your CTA as obvious as you can. create an attractive, easy-to-see button to advertise what you have to offer, and be sure to place it prominently.

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Spotify has a super clear unique selling proposition, “Music for now.”.

4. Too Many Features

Vague unique value proposition (USP) and lack of clear target audience can seriously ruin your business at any stage. By pleasing everyone you will end up serving no one and will ultimately fail. Many beginners don’t know how to package their product or service so they make it look good for as much people as possible. It’s totally wrong.

Fix: Define Your Target Audience

Sit down and get to know your user, define your target audience and build a typical user profile also known as user persona. Design for your end user and focus bringing value for your customer. Do not provide features to please everyone, provide just as much as needed to provide value.

Check out this guide on Entrepreneur on defining unique selling proposition.

Unsplash provides stunning high-quality stock photos for free.

Unsplash provides stunning high-quality stock photos for free.

5. Low Quality Images

Imagery is one of the most used asset in website design and no wonder why picking great imagery can make or break your conversion rate. Cliché looking and studio-shot stock photography has been around for too long and industry disruptors like Stocksy, 500px Prime, Offset have succeeded due to the fact that people are seeking for genuine looking imagery.

Fix: Use Brilliant Photos

There are numerous of websites that provide free stock photos that don’t suck. Unsplash, Death to the Stock Photo, PicJumbo, Jay Mantri, just to name a few. Simply by utilising these natural looking photos you will instantly be perceived as more welcoming and trustworthy brand as your website will not look that generic. Check out my list of 15 Best Free Stock Photo Websites.

Groove has been growing their user base mostly by driving quality traffic to their valuable blog.

Groove has been growing their user base mostly by driving quality traffic to their valuable blog.

6. Mediocre content

Mediocre content is one of the things that doesn’t attract traffic. Lack of great content on your website will lead to lack of potential leads or customers so try to rethink your content strategy and focus on quality. Listicles and simple roundups don’t add much of a value to your audience as they can probably find the same thing elsewhere.

Fix: Serve Your Audience

Invest time and money in producing a superior content, even if you will be posting less frequently you will still be targeting right people and achieving a better conversion rate.

There is no tool or strategy that will make your content get shared and consumed if it doesn’t provide value and genuinely serve a certain audience. Consistently create helpful and engaging content related to your business and keep showing up over and over again.

Buffer has grown mostly because of their kick-ass content strategy. You can simply copy their model and process of creating content and implement it into your strategy.

Check out the The Anatomy of a Perfect Blog Post: The Data on Headlines, Length, Images and More by Buffer’s Kevan Lee.

Swipes use top rated reviews and press mentions to create a trustworthy brand image.

Swipes use top rated reviews and press mentions to create a trustworthy brand image.

7. A Lack of Proof

People buy from people or organisations they already know about. When starting out it’s incredibly hard to be perceived as trustworthy and get these first customers without having big names associated with your brand. However, not providing any social proof goes against you.

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” – Warren Buffett

Fix: Provide Social Proof

As humans, we’re constantly seeking for approval or reassurance from other people before we make a decision or invest our trust in something. Make sure to provide some proof of what you’re preaching. If you are just starting out you can utilise following:

  • Customer testimonials
  • Quotes
  • Case studies
  • Social media shares
  • Press appearances

Even writing this article I am backing up my decisions by linking to other articles, quoting research results and using quotes from famous people such as Warren Buffet.

SquareSpace has a nice, mobile-friendly website with a clear call to action button.

SquareSpace has a nice, mobile-friendly website with a clear call to action button.

8. Failure to Optimise for Mobile

It’s the middle of 2015 already ignoring responsiveness is simply stupid. Responsive design is a must, not a nice to have anymore if you don’t want to lose potential customers and money. According to Business Insider, the number of people using mobile devices outstripped people on desktop computers in 2014.

“The number of people using mobile devices outstripped people on desktop computers in 2014.” – Jim Edwards, Business Insider, April 2014

It is a big fact to skip when designing your website strategy and should definitely consider providing an engaging website experience for your visitors as they move from one device to another.

Fix: Rethink mobile strategy

Human behaviour has changed significantly since mobile devices entered our lives. People use their smartphones or tablets in their beds, on the go, even in the bathrooms. Start with mobile-first approach and then expand to desktop.

If you don’t have budget or time to rethink your whole strategy for mobile make sure you set aside resources to optimise for mobile devices as soon as possible as it may have already affected your traffic. In April, 2015 Google rolled out mobile-friendly update, that simply put favours mobile-friendly websites by boosting the ranking of pages on mobile search results.

Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool – This test will analyse a URL and report if the page has a mobile-friendly design.

9. Ignoring A/B Testing

You can’t simply assume something, build it and expect people to like it. However, this is how many people think and build their businesses. You have to be very critical with every decision you make and back everything up with data. You have to continuously test website elements like the copy, buttons, colors, and format to ensure that everything your website employs is working towards your overall goal, not against it.

Fix: Run Regular A/B Tests

By conducting regular A/B tests, you will get rid of the assumptions that comes with optimising your website for the user. There are numerous blogs that share best practices on running effective tests and dozens of tools that can help you with that. I’ve written earlier about automating your website conversion and mentioned quite a lot of tools you can utilise.

“The biggest mistake is to make an assumption without data – either basing a decision on a personal belief, or assuming that a part of the process is ok, without seeing the data to prove that.” – Al Mackin of Formisimo

However, it’s important to keep in mind that you should only focus on altering one element at a time to avoid clouding the validity of your results. For example, If you want to compare the performance of two headlines, don’t change anything else on the page but the headlines to ensure clear outcomes.

Wake has extremely clean layout and uber clear navigation with prominent call to action.

Wake has extremely clean layout and uber clear navigation with prominent call to action.

10. Confusing Navigation

Navigation on your website is the only way to reach your products or services once visitor opens it. Too many options can paralyse the visitor to take an action and will frustrate them that will eventually end up in abandoning the page. Using slang or technical jargon in your navigation doesn’t help either, it has to be as clear and as obvious as possible so visitors can quickly find what they need. We’re all busy, right?

Fix: Review Information Architecture

Review your whole information architecture and determine what are the most important parts you need to link to. Eliminate secondary and tertiary options as they just create bigger mess and delay user making a decision. Keep menus simple and clean, use understandable wording and once again, test.

Here are some practical ways to improve your website’s navigation:

  • Keep it consistent across every page and homepage.
  • Obvious navigation titles. Use simple and straightforward language to avoid interpretations.
  • Include search. People search a lot, make sure to implement search feature into your navigation.

Conclusion

Conversion optimisation is a long and never ending process that requires a lot of research, hypotheses and tests to see positive results. I hope the top mistakes I’ve identified will help you avoid wasted time and money on your marketing campaigns. I’d like to hear your thoughts and experiences on website conversion optimisation.

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Comments

  1. I am pleased with this information. It turns out we have to improve the look of the blog is technically, including loading speed. Of course, this is not related to the content and everything related to it. Thank you.

  2. I havent tried MAXCDN but I have tried Cloudflare and it does not seem to. Our hosting provider partnered up with cloudflare and we can activate cloudflare right from cpanel but so far the site doesnt seem to be loading any faster.

  3. AkoiWeb

    Great article here. Though, sometimes customers refuse to listen to advise. They sometimes seem to be stuck in their own design ideas, then wonder why their site is not performing as well.

  4. Vannak Eng

    I’m also a web developer and have never notice these. Thank you very much for making this post.

  5. Adding to that first point about loading times. I use Feed the Bot a lot when I’m working on websites. One thing I always try and do is keep within Google page guidelines. While the full algorithm they use for ranking remains a mystery, following their guidelines is probably a good idea.

  6. These are some very good points. I especially agree with the part on confusing navigation and to many features. Users should be able to find information very easily on your site. Also less is always more when it comes to a good website.

  7. Thanks for this great article! This is all we keep teaching our clients about during the project life cycle and it’s great to see it all in one article. I will from now and just direct them to this page :D

  8. Thanks for including MaxCDN in this article.

    For any web designer, recommending CDN to clients is definitely a value-add. It makes the web designer look smart, plus it helps client pages load seconds faster. Anyone interested in taking MaxCDN for a test run can get a free trial here: https://www.maxcdn.com/one/test-account/

    Here’s to designing cool shit!

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