Many older and traditional websites are full of problems which masquerade as warning signs to your website visitors and can affect your brand credibility to a huge extent. There can be more than one root cause of some of these problems, but first impressions count online just as much as they do in the real world, and if you want to make sure your website doesn’t ultimately go on to damage your brand credibility beware of these 9 fatal signs.
Under 3 seconds is best
Site speed is first on the list with even a couple of seconds of delay negatively affecting your sales conversions and customer traffic. Did you know that Google now uses site speed as one of its many ranking factors which play an important role in assessing where pages from your website should place in search?
Poor loading speed increases bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who leave without interacting with your website) however, the good news is that you can make simple adjustments to enhance it. 3 seconds is the time to aim for, in which you can grab your customer’s attention. Only 3 seconds! And according to recent surveys, 79% of online shoppers said they would not return to the site where they encountered slow site speed and 44% said they would even tell their friends of the bad experience they had.
Tools such as Pingdom and GTmetrix can be used to monitor slow websites and provide you with a list of changes to speed up performance. Pingdom will show you your best case scenario in terms of page loading speed, aim for under 3 seconds, and it also highlights which types of content are your biggest overheads. While GTmetrix goes into a little more detail and shows you your time to 'fully loaded' which is a worst case scenario, aim to get this under 4 seconds although the average is currently 6.7 seconds.
It's important to remember that aiming for perfect in all of these areas is a futile exercise for most companies. Serious technical expertise needs to be possessed or paid for on an ongoing basis, so companies any smaller than enterprise level should aim for a 'good enough' factor. Fast enough site speed that it isn't affecting your conversion rate, but slow enough that you haven't had to reinvest most of your profits into reaching website speed nirvana. This is changing more recently, and even startups can have access super fast website speeds due to the introduction of a Google originated open source project called AMP - Accelerated Mobile Pages.
Lastly, the biggest cause of slow websites is by far the images and scripts. Images are discussed further down this article however scripts are normally from the flashier elements of a website, think social media feeds, autoplay video and complex widgets which include popular price calculators.
The take home message? Even if your site has the perfect look, flashy gizmos and great brand alignment, bad site speed will take your business down. Small to medium business aim for 'good enough', while enterprise should aim for perfect.
Avoid this message at all costs: Your connection to this site is not secure
The next big problem is website security. For beginners, not having an SSL Certificate is like leaving your website wide open for hackers to intercept communications to and from the website. This means that visitors who head to your website and enter any of their confidential and sensitive details (think filling out forms and making purchases) will be warned that this information is not secured on transit. Now, let me quickly address one response we've heard a lot in the past. "We don't take any money on our website, we're not eCommerce, it doesn't matter".
Ask yourself, do you like email spam? Want more of it? If the answer is yes, head over to a website which isn't secure and fill out their lead form.
Now, as mentioned an SSL Certificate is needed to help in the encryption between a web host and a web server. This will prevent third parties from eavesdropping and interfering in your business. The web browser community asked for a universal encryption. It began in January of 2017 when sites with uncertain password fields were named and shamed as "Not Secure."
Any website without an SSL is not only termed as “Not Secure” but whats worse is today's most popular web browsers actually suggest that people don't visit them. Don’t let Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox & Apple Safari term your web property as unsafe digital real estate or you’ll miss all the action, visitors will flock to your competition and your digital ROI will suffer.
Let's build a safer internet together, SSL has now become mandatory and is not a choice anymore. At the risk of overdoing the metaphors, not having an SSL certificate is like committing website traffic Harakiri.
Poor Quality or Oversized Images
Another sign which will damage your precious brand credibility are poor images. Often coming in two flavours,
- Pictures taken from any mobile camera which haven't been optimised
- Stock images which have poor relevance to the topic being discussed
... Ahem, er well... these poor-quality images scream of a brand which simply doesn't understand what it's core audience wants to see. While I'm not one to prescribe to the often stated 'stock images look fake' rhetoric, (In fact, secretly I love a cheesy stock image) I do think that website owners need to consider the message being portrayed in the stock image, and leaning on the default 'people smiling into the camera' can often miss the mark when trying to emphasise a point.
Looping back into the issue of site speed, we often find at Xune Solutions that optimising our clients poorly performing website starts with image optimisation and reducing the size of frankly ridiculously big images which bottleneck page loading speeds and provide a thoroughly unenjoyable experience on mobile. Fancy doing it yourself? Check out Squoosh which can reduce the size of your images greatly without reducing the visible quality.
The image below is 92% smaller than the very same image above. Can you tell?
Poor Product Descriptions
A problem often found on eCommerce websites, poor product descriptions can tank a websites conversion rate and put a cap on your company's online revenue generation. Your visitors find their way on to your website, to be fair you could even be paying for this traffic, and your product descriptions are your 'always on' sales pitch which needs to convince your prospective purchaser in the validity of transacting on your website.
In spite of this fact, numerous online business stores think little of the intensity of their message or take the time to carefully review the quality and effectiveness of their product descriptions. Your customers want the answers to their questions, sound logical reasons why they need your product in their life, and gentle reminders of the good feeling they're going to get to enjoy. A good feeling mind you, which is only a couple of clicks away.
As per a survey taken by the NN Group, when looking at Amazon's item pages, for instance, "just 18 percent of the page time [is] spent on the photographs, while 82 percent [is] spent on the content." obviously, quality photography is vital for your customer to consider committing to the purchase. Yet that 82% of time can't be ignored and merchants which lean into creative, educational and emotionally charged product learning experiences enjoy much higher visitor to add-to-cart rates than those with poorly written or absent product pages.
Worst of the Rest
Now that we've covered the main causes of brand credibility loss, let's rattle through the remaining miscreants.
Significant Information last
Significant data like your telephone number, email address and live chat ought to be conspicuous and readily available. Nobody has time to go on a scavenger hunt for that returns address and customer service telephone number.
The site isn't Mobile Friendly
Nobody likes to zoom in and out attempting to see all the important information, worse yet? Horizontal scroll on mobile. Google currently indexes your website using the principle of mobile first, and sites which take this into account enjoy greater exposure in search than those which don't. Another reason to go mobile friendly is that the mobile usage some years ago surpassed desktop usage worldwide.
The design and content don't relate
Often, we see this most in established businesses which try to pivot into a new vertical or the well meaning startup that hedges their bets by providing all services to all people. The pattern begins with you including additional content offerings, services and cross-sells that were not initially part of your initial business model, and unless handled correctly it can begin to look unorganised, confusing to the website visitor and distracting. You're effectively trying to make 2, 3 or 4 different 'sells' at the same time, on the same pages, making it much harder for your clients to process this content and make an effective choice. It is critical to your success that you correctly prepare for any new pivot or content redesign, get that stage right and you set yourself up for massive online success.
An easy trap to fall into, to avoid it make sure to monitor the use of different fonts and colours used on your digital assets. Keep to the same style and you'll start creating a familiar touch for the emotional attachment thinking of your brand creates in your website visitors.
For example, you could use two different fonts, one for heading and the other for descriptive text. When it comes to colour, chose a primary, secondary and tertiary colour. Want to see brand consistency done well? Take a look at some popular Instagram pages to get a better idea of this as a concept.
I am not a Robot
The irony of all this of course is that while we all move ever increasingly towards interacting with each other via more and more online methods, we all still want to consume content that demonstrates the human part of life. And brands which recognise this need, include staff photographs, customer reviews, testimonials and star ratings.
Health Advisory Warning
If you or anyone you know has been affected by anything you've read in this article, don't suffer in silence. Act fast and get in touch with your friends over at Xune - we just may have the solution you've been looking for.
I believe in creating time. Time for myself in the form of a business I can run from anywhere. Time for our clients and potential customers who seek to avoid decision fatigue and know that they have a team of enthusiastic marketers who are in their corner, fighting just as hard to make their business as successful as they are. Simply, I take complex marketing techniques, simplify and then automate them.