If your website is underperforming — or if it’s truly bad — it could be tarnishing your professional reputation, hurting your relationship with prospective clients, and costing you sales.
Here, we explore five potential ways your website might be turning users off. If any of these things are true for your site, there's a good chance you’re noticing the effects through metrics like lagging conversions, high bounce rates (the number of users who leave the site immediately), and low repeat traffic. The good news? These are common pain points, which means that experienced digital agencies have encountered them before and have proven methods for fixing them in a way that can drastically improve your digital experience.
Let’s take a closer look at each problem and what you can do to fix it.
1. It’s slow and unresponsive
According to Google’s Core Web Vitals, your website should load in 2-5 seconds — and every second above 2 significantly increases the bounce rate.
The first step to solving this issue is to pinpoint exactly where the problem is occurring. Is it poor coding? Cheap hosting? Or is it because your site is getting too much traffic and experiencing a high volume of requests, which are overwhelming the server?
Once you have identified the root cause of the problem, you can take steps to address it. For example, if your site is poorly coded, you may need to work with a developer to perform some code optimization to speed things up. On the other hand, if your traffic levels are too high for your server to handle, you might consider upgrading or switching providers — or introducing a caching layer — so that you have more bandwidth and speed at your disposal.
2. The navigation doesn’t make sense
Your website's navigation is one of the most important aspects of its user experience (UX). If your visitors can't find their way around, they're likely to get frustrated and leave rather than waste their time trying to figure out where to go and what to do next. There are a few key things you can do to make sure your navigation is up to par.
Keep menus simple — Don't try to cram too many links into your navigation bar, and if it includes dropdown or mega menus, make sure they have a forgiving movement path — unlike the example illustrated below.
As you can see, the user in this scenario has to trace a very specific path in the menu to get what they want, or else the menus will disappear just as they are trying to click on an item.
Use clear and concise labels — Avoid using links featuring jargon or technical terms that are based on internal structures, rather than common words that the average user can understand.
Make sure navigation is consistent — A reliable and cohesive experience will help users feel confident and in control as they move through all of the pages of your site.
3. It lacks clear conversion funnels
Too often, websites are treated as simply repositories of content instead of a directed UX. As a result, site visitors are left to their own devices to find what they want, and the pathway through the sea of information is not clear or compelling.
Avoid this mistake by encouraging users to move through a specific set of steps to get to the information they want — and toward the action(s) you want them to take through clearly marked and strategically placed links and calls to action. Approach your content strategy as a journey that leads the user from an introductory phase all the way through to the decision-making phase. Keeping this “conversion funnel” in mind, establish or reorganize your information architecture (IA) accordingly.
Sample conversion funnel
4. The content doesn’t resonate with your audience
Many organizations are stuck in an echo chamber when it comes to their brand messaging and the content on their website. Often, information is created and organized by stakeholders who are out of touch with the wants and needs of actual users.
It’s important to craft a content strategy centered around who your audience is and what their motivations are if you hope to influence their decision-making. This process starts with creating user personas — like the one shown below — which are fictional archetypes of “typical” customers that make up your target market. By interviewing stakeholders and talking to your actual customers through focus groups and 1:1 interviews, you can develop these valuable profiles and gain an understanding of the content and solutions they care most about. There are even free online tools like Xtensio and Hubspot to guide you through the process.
A sample user persona we created for a potential job candidate.
Keep in mind that your site’s audience is probably composed of many different personas, each with different needs and unique styles of browsing. Some users will prefer video content, for example, while others are drawn to reading long-form text. In all cases, you need to strike a balance between the types of content you’re delivering to users in order to effectively meet their needs, influence decision-making and offer a fulfilling UX.
5. You never tested it with real users
If you never tested your site on your actual end-users, its effectiveness will be based largely on luck. You need a solid mix of quantitative and qualitative data in order to gauge whether your site is performing well, or if you’re missing out on opportunities for conversion.
Usability testing comes in many forms, including:
- Sitemap testing — Users are offered a version of your navigation structure and asked to complete certain tasks/find certain pages.
- Card sorting — Users are asked to categorize information by theme/topic to show how they think about the content.
- Video testing — A moderator walks users through live scenarios as they use the site in real-time, speaking aloud their thoughts and intuitions.
- Session recording — Tools like FullStory or Microsoft Clarity are used to play back real user's sessions in order to determine where users might be getting caught up.
Read more about these tools on our Usability Testing page.
As you can see, if you suspect your website is turning users away, there are plenty of solutions for you to consider. The strategies listed here will help you improve the results you’re getting from your online experience — turning browsers into buyers, and first-time visitors into loyal return users.
Need help turning your website pain points into opportunities? Let’s talk!