In early 2014, the executives of British retail stalwart Marks & Spencer found themselves in quite an embarrassing situation.
After having spent three years and nearly $200 million on a complete website relaunch, the company reported a shocking 8.1 percent drop in its quarterly sales!
Marks & Spencer’s new website was supposed to increase sales by making it easier for customers to purchase products from the website. And yet, the opposite happened.
Subsequent testing revealed a number of usability and performance issues that ranged from merely frustrating to critically inhibiting the ability of customers to actually buy anything.
Retail analyst Neil Saunders noted that:
“[I]t falls down in the more critical function of making it easy for customers to make a purchase. Indeed, there are some parts of the site where it is extremely difficult for customers to understand the path they need to take to buy product.”
The main takeaway from all of this?
Designing (or re-designing) a website is no small task. There are several factors that need to be taken into account — aside from mere visual appeal.
For businesses, especially online businesses, the most important of these is conversion. How does your website facilitate, or inhibit, the sales process?
In the remainder of this blog post, I want to go over five different design-related reasons why your website is not converting and how to fix them.
Your design is not focused
Don’t give your users too many options to choose from. Choice paralyzes. When confronted with a lot of choices, most people find it easier to just do nothing.
Every single page on your website should have one clear goal.
If you have multiple main calls-to-action on each page, then your design is unfocused. Break down complex pages into multiple, simple pages that are easier to navigate.
By the same token, people are much less likely to convert when faced with a myriad of visual inputs.
Focus your users’ attention on the most important action by minimizing such distractions as unnecessary menu bars, side bars, and other extraneous information.
Less than half of all websites display a clear call to action that can be located in less than three seconds.
Imagine that all of the words disappeared from your website. A user should still be able to identify the most important elements on the page from their design alone.
You’re not regularly reviewing your analytics
Legendary management consultant Peter Drucker said that, “What gets measured gets improved.” This is as true for your website activity as it is for anything else.
Among the variety of web analytics tools, Google Analytics is far and away the most used.
It is free to use, and it provides users with tons of in-depth data while allowing them to calculate conversion rates by setting goals.
Your bounce rate is a measure of the percentage of users who visit your website and take no further action. This “bounce” might be due to users returning to search results, closing their tab, or following an outbound link.
Ideal bounce rates vary widely among industries and types of websites — blogs, for example, regularly experience extremely high bounce rates.
However, a good target bounce rate for B2B websites is typically anywhere from 25 to 55 percent.
Your website isn’t optimized for search engines
More than half of all web traffic now comes from mobile devices. No business wants to lose out on potential leads who happen to access their websites on their phones, rather than desktops or laptops.
What’s more: Google also rewards responsive websites with higher search-ranking positions, resulting in greater organic traffic.
According to Google, there are three things to avoid when ensuring mobile responsiveness for your website:
- Text that is unreadable or pictures that are indecipherable without zooming or scrolling;
- Tap-targets that are inadequately spaced; and
- Unplayable content.
Another important, and often overlooked, reason for high exit rates among business websites is poor page load performance. Your site should load quickly from all devices — including desktops, laptops, and mobile devices.
According to one recent study, nearly half of all internet users expect a website to lead within two seconds and will begin to leave your site if it doesn’t.
Another found that 75 percent of users would not return to a website if it took longer than three seconds to load.
Google’s own Page Speed Insights will provide you with a detailed description of how quickly your site loads on both desktop and mobile devices as well as basic strategies to reduce file size and server calls.
Your website is not aligned with your overall goals
It’s not enough to just have an aesthetically-pleasing website.
In order to effectively compete in 2019, your website needs to be focused on your users and your overall business goals.
You’re not regularly conducting tests
The single biggest mistake you could be making is not testing your website on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to UX design that will convert at 100% for all websites, all industries, and all businesses.
That is why all designers and business should regularly test any changes made to their websites while continuing to track KPI metrics.