Website Content 101: Why Ugly Websites Finish LastBy Zack Meredith
Websites are important for every business. In today’s digital age, having accessible online information is crucial for success. Just having a website isn’t enough, though. What matters is what’s on your website. An ugly website can be a great way to shoot your business in the foot when people are searching for you online.
Your website content needs to be geared toward making the consumer want to interact and engage with it. So, let’s take a look at what not to do when creating an appealing website, and I’ll show you what you should do instead along the way.
Websites that have these problems may find trouble with traction. Believe it or not, the biggest problem is:
Having an ugly, hard to use website
You’ve read this far for one of three reasons:
- You want to learn how to optimize your website for the best consumer engagement and interaction
- You’re worried that your website is ugly and came here for peace of mind that it isn’t
- You had nothing better to do and the catchy title of this article made you blow a little air out of your nose, which, in today’s digital age, translates to one “lol”
No matter the reason, you’re here for a solution, so let’s dive right in. Before we discuss any more, let's take a look at some of the worst websites out there so you know what not to do.
The ugliest websites that will make you cry
Are your eyes bleeding yet? I wouldn’t blame you.
We know your website can’t possibly look this bad, and we also know that these websites are TRYING to look bad. Now, what are the chances you scrolled down to see what was listed on the first site? If they gave out a million dollars at the bottom for clicking a link, chances are that you wouldn’t have walked away with a penny.
Why is this? 38% of consumers will stop engaging with content that is unattractive. Think of your own website content for a moment, or your clients’. If somebody looked at it and felt the same way you just felt, do you think they would stay and interact with it? Probably not.
How to avoid having an ugly website
Start by thinking of all the things you’ve hated on websites you’ve visited in the past. Chances are, one or more of these was on your list. If they weren’t, they will be now. To avoid your own website appearing on a "top ugly websites" list, you'll want to be aware of these key factors contributing to website terribleness listed below.
1. Ugly domain
A big problem with ugly websites is an ugly name. Do you find it easier to go back to a website with a simple domain like website.com (an example), or do you prefer to type in randomwebsite123.org/data0=184/net%/ (another example)?
You may be saying, “But hey, I just Google the name and click on the link!” Sure that might work for you usually, but would you be happy having to find your favorite and most visited websites by Googling them every single day? You’re better off having a website that people can remember if they choose to. A consumer’s first impression of a website is 94% design-related, so don’t you think some of the people in that category want to see a neat and tidy domain? Of course they do!
2. Long loading times
I considered leaving a bunch of blank space here so you would have to scroll down and waste your time to prove my point, but I decided to make you read this sentence instead.
Consumers hate waiting. This is the digital age of instant information. It can take consumers 0.5 seconds to form an opinion about your website. That tiny amount of time shouldn’t be spent on a blank loading screen! Even worse than that, if there is a long loading time every time a consumer tries to interact with your website or navigate the different pages, they are going to get increasingly annoyed.
Here is the worst case scenario: You have a consumer who is ready to buy from your online shop, they start gathering up products into their cart, then they get fed up with waiting and instead buy from your competitor. Want to avoid the tragedy? Keep it fast!
3. Complicated or overwhelming interface
Does your website have too many buttons on it? Are people being bombarded with information? People are being trained to ignore huge amounts of website content due to websites crawling with ads. Keep it simple and focus on important topics or focal points that they can engage with. With 85% of consumers abandoning a site due to poor design, you can’t afford to hide your crucial information in text-garbage. Don’t lose consumers because your ugly website makes it hard to find where you hid the crucial information on your jumbled page.
4. Automatic music or videos
I. Hate. This. Many people listen to music while they work or surf in their free time. If you’ve ever noticed a little speaker icon on the right side of your internet tabs, it means that sound is coming from that page. Many people’s first instinct is to kill that tab because it’s forcing disruptive sound onto their experience, and 33% of consumers said that auto-playing video/audio on a website annoyed them or caused them to leave.
If you have videos on your main page, great! Just make sure you let people click the play button on their own. At the very least, it will give consumers a chance to silence their other music and video sources before they listen.
5. Website doesn’t scale
Do you always look at a website on your computer, or do you sometimes use your phone or tablet? Don’t you hate it when you’re interacting with website content on your phone and you have to scroll all the way to the right to read the full line and then scroll all the way back for the next line? It’s terrible!
Make sure your website bends and twists to fit every screen—this is called responsive web design, and it’s very important. If people don’t realize your website actually operates differently on their smaller screen, you’ve done something right.
Now, let’s talk about a few other things that may not relate to the attractiveness of the website, but that can turn off your consumers just the same:
6. Website doesn’t have contact info
Remember your client’s website purpose. If they have an online shop, part of their goal is to drive sales there. The other reason, of course, is to get customers to contact them! If you go to somebody’s website and find their product or service interesting, you want to take the next step and buy, right? What do you do if you can’t find a phone number, address, etc? Simple; you look somewhere else.
There is a bit more to this. 65% of consumers want to see contact information on the site’s home page or even on every page. Tons of people will be viewing your client’s website on their phone, so they’ll want to click right on the phone number to dial the second they want it to. Finally, your client will need their contact info and address in written text. You may be thinking, what else is there?, and here’s the thing: Search engines scan your client’s page for every time search terms show up. This is called SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. Taking advantage of this can raise your client’s website higher and higher in the search results and therefore, get them better engagement.
7. Website doesn’t have an opt-in newsletter
No opt-in newsletter form? You have a bad website.
Without spending too much time talking about inbound marketing, having people sign up for your newsletter or flyer means they have opted into your marketing strategy. E-mail subscribers receive an average of 416 commercial messages a month, so make sure yours stand out! This will save you tons of money instead of serving ads indiscriminately online to every random person. There are plenty of resources online to teach you about growing your e-mail subscriber list, too, so look around!
8: Website doesn’t have a blog
Blog doesn’t mean what it used to. Before I worked with Vendasta, I thought blogs were still just opinion pieces by the unemployed, usually showing their distaste with society. Since you’ve read this far, you already know this isn’t true. Companies of almost every sector can benefit from writing their own blog. What it says depends on what you’re offering, but we live in the age where people Google the answers to their questions. If you write a blog for a roofing company and someone Googles, “How often do my gutters need to be cleaned?”, think of how much of their business you can get when your blog comes up, gives them the answer, and then finishes off with a call to action!
I’ve got a little project for you. Take a moment to Google a question pertaining to one of your clients’ businesses. If they’re a dentist, Google something like, “Which toothpaste helps protect enamel the best?”. If they work in HVAC, Google something like, “Do I need to clean my ducts?”. If you did this, how many of your questions led to your client’s website content? The fact is, most of their local customers who are looking for answers will find them from one of your clients’ competitors. Your clients need to be the first one to answer their question. Writing a blog customers will find is crucial.
Bonus: website lacks a clear message or "About Us" page
What is your website saying to your consumer? Usually near your logo, people should be able to see what you’re all about. This could be a company slogan or mission statement; basically anything that will stop people from having to dig for what you or your client is trying to sell them.
“TreeCutters - A Residential Tree Pruning Service”: Would you have known that they prune trees just from the name, or would you have thought, maybe, that they were in the deforestation business? Use your message to clear up any of their confusion. The consumer has to know what they’re looking at.
Next, your About Us page is a must. Over half of consumers want to see this information on your client's home page. Local business is growing and thriving. What gives your client’s website a more local feel than an About Us page? Tell their story! What does the company do? Where did it come from? How many generations of your client’s family have been running the company? This will distinguish their local business from a faceless corporation.
Your website is one of your most important marketing tools, so make sure you're not showing an ugly face to your prospective clients online. Whether or not people engage can mean the difference between one dollar and one million dollars in revenue. With Vendasta’s launch of Website Pro, we are here to help you maximize the success your clients have with their websites.
Have any particularly ugly or bad websites bookmarked that you want to share? Let us know in the comments below!