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23 Reasons Your Website Sucks

Written by Taylor Hawes

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

bad website

Not to be harsh, but the reality is that plenty of businesses out there are running websites that do a serious disservice to their brand images.  Whether it’s because their designs haven’t been updated in the past decade or that their sites don’t render properly in a mobile environment, it’s important to be aware of the pitfalls that affect both beginning and more experienced website owners.

Let’s get right to it: here are 23 reasons your website sucks – along with recommendations on how to fix the specific issues that are currently plaguing your site:

 

Your Website’s Design

1. Your site’s design is outdated – It isn’t 1996 anymore!  If your site is packed full of frames, beveled-edge tables and animated gifs, it’s time for a redesign.  Given the number of website templates and website building programs that are available today, this redesign doesn’t have to break your budget!

2. Your design elements are distracting – Your website’s design should complement its content, not overpower it.  If you’re concerned that your message might not be getting through, ask test subjects to take the “5 second test” to determine whether or not your design elements are too distracting.

3. Important information is buried beneath the fold – The average new visitor only spends a few seconds deciding whether to stay on your site or to browse elsewhere.  If your site’s most important information is buried beneath the fold, there’s a good chance it’s being missed.

4. You’ve used too many ads – When used tastefully, ads can generate extra revenue streams that support your web business.  But when they’re abused, they become a visual assault that turns off visitors and prevents them from engaging further with your website.

5. Your site lacks white space – Adequate white space provides the visual relief needed to make website text readable.  If you’ve crammed too many elements into a single page – whether it’s too much text or too many design elements – the absence of white space frustrates users and causes them to click away before they can engage with your business.

6. Your text is difficult to read – Using fonts that are smaller than 12pt or that are printed against a background color without sufficient contrast (as in the case of black text on a red background) is an easy way to annoy your visitors by making your site’s information harder to consume than truly necessary.

flash intros

7. You still use a Flash intro – Yes, I know your Flash intro looks “fancy,” but the reality is that these splash pages annoy users and complicate site access on mobile devices that don’t support the animation program.  Get with the times, and get rid of this unnecessary website feature!

8. Your color choices don’t support your site’s goals – Different colors evoke very different emotions in website visitors, which is why it’s important to utilize the principles of color science in your website’s design.  As an example, your personal finance website shouldn’t be built using reds and purples – instead, for best results; it should feature the color green, which is mentally associated with both wealth and money.

9. Your site auto-plays audio or video clips – Nothing pisses off website visitors quite like audio or video clips that start playing unexpectedly.  While clips without auto-play run the risk of not being viewed, sites that use automated multimedia stand a much greater chance of having visitors click away before engaging in their content.

10. You have no clear calls-to-action – If you want your website visitors to do something (for example, buy your products or sign up for your email newsletter), you’ve got to tell them to do it!  Adding calls-to-action to support your site’s primary goals is an important part of running a profitable website.

11. Your design elements prohibit proper search engine indexing – In order to get your website listed in the natural search results, it needs to be accessible to the search engines’ indexing programs (or “spiders”).  Because plenty of different coded elements can prevent this from occurring, it’s a good idea to check your website against the Search Engine Spider Simulator.  If your site’s content doesn’t appear, analyze your code to determine what’s preventing the search engines from properly accessing your website.

12. Your site isn’t cross-browser compatible – Don’t just build your website in one browser and assume it’ll work well in all the others.  Instead, check your site using a tool like Browser Shots to ensure that all viewers see the same thing.

 

Your Site’s User Experience

bad user experience

13. Your site’s content isn’t well-organized – Finding information on your site shouldn’t be some sort of “Where’s Waldo” scavenger hunt.  Spend some time making sure that your page organization is intuitive and well-thought out so that your users don’t have to spend time bouncing from page to page looking for the information they want.

14. Your website is slow to load – Simply put, long load times irritate users.  There are a number of different things you can do to speed up your site, but if you don’t take the time to implement these techniques, chances are you’ll continue to lose visitors over your modem-like load times.

15. Your site contains too many broken links – Broken links aren’t just a disadvantage from an SEO standpoint – they’re also hugely frustrating for users who rely on your site’s internal links to find the content they want.  Depending on the platform your site is built on, there are plenty of different broken link checking tools available; give one a try today and clean up any broken links you find.

16. Your content contains grammatical errors and misspellings – Nothing says, “I’m a trusted authority figure in my industry,” like a website that’s chock-full of errors…  If you aren’t able to effectively proofread your own content, ask a trusted friend or family member to give your text a once-over in order to uncover any damaging mistakes.

17. Your content brings nothing new to the table – Ideally, if you’ve built a website, it’s because you have something new to offer the world – whether that’s a new product or a new idea to share.  If you’re only regurgitating what you’ve seen on other sites, there’s no reason for visitors to come back time and again in order to engage with your brand.

18. Your site hasn’t been updated in months – Website visitors don’t trust sites that haven’t been updated in months.  So if your sales or traffic are sluggish, it might be time for a new blog post, news update or other new article.

19. Your navigation is confusing to visitors – Your site’s navigation bar should help visitors to more easily find the information they’re looking for – not send them on a wild goose chase of disorganization.  To figure out whether or not your site’s navigation is effectively helping visitors to peruse your content, ask a friend to try to find a specific piece of information on your website.  If it takes more than a minute or two of searching, you’ve got navigation problems that need to be resolved.

confusing navigation

20. You haven’t installed social sharing tools – Having visitors share your articles on social media websites is a great way to promote your brand and drum up new visitors.  However, readers aren’t usually willing to go out of their way to do this, so make the process as easy as possible by installing social sharing tools that appear alongside your individual articles.

21. Your site isn’t mobile-ready – Mobile web usage is booming, and if your website doesn’t display properly on these devices, you’re needlessly frustrating visitors and likely losing business as a result.  Thanks to tools like GoMobi, creating a mobile-ready website has never been easier.   Talk to your web developer about the various tools that can be installed to make your site more device-friendly.

22. You aren’t enrolled in Google’s Webmaster Tools program – The Google Webmaster Tools program offers a wealth of information to participating site owners, including the ability to receive messages directly from Google should your site violate the engine’s Terms of Service.  It’s free to enroll in Webmaster Tools, so get signed up today!

23. Your site’s platform and plugins are out-of-date – Platforms and plugins that are out-of-date not only represent potential user experience issues, they can bring about major security risks as well.  Do both your site’s performance and your users a favor by periodically checking to be sure any scripts you have installed are up-to-date.

If this list sounds overwhelming, don’t panic.  Many of these issues can be solved with a single change – as in the case of upgrading your outdated design to a responsive website template whose colors better suit your brand and enable easy mobile access.

But whether or not your site’s issues are the “easy to fix” kind or something a little more complicated, it’s important that you regularly address all of these concerns and make updates as needed.  The process may be time-consuming, but it’s a vital part of maintaining your brand’s authority and your site’s overall performance.

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Comments

14 Responses to 23 Reasons Your Website Sucks

  1. Call us, we can help with these 21 items and more! ;-) All within Host Gator’s insanely awesome hosting environment.
    http://www.omahamediagroup.com
    402.218.4423

  2. Alex Johnson says:

    I’d like to add:

    24. Your lists are walls of text with no headers, and generic un-related stock photgraphy.

  3. Mike Becvar says:

    If itis a business website, it really shouldn’t have any ads, especially ones populated by another service or you may find yourself advertising your competition. The only ads should be for sales or special offers from the business. It is OK to use limited ads on blogs, newspapers, reference sites, and forums. But, the ads should NEVER popup, cover content, or require a person to view it for a minimum amount of time before seeing the content they wanted to view.

    Video or audio with auto-play set are two of my biggest complaints about websites.

    Something else that I find to be a problem are the websites that have animated items floating around the page and following the cursor. Not only are they distracting, but they can prevent a person from clicking a link or trying to copy/paste content.

  4. Totally agree with your sentiment about flash intros :) This post couldn’t have come at a better time. We’re about to update our website http://wphostingreviews.com/ which will be a pretty big number of changes.

    1. We will be going responsive
    2. We will be implementing twitter bootstrap to standardize some of the prominent uses of css on our site.
    3. We’re also going to add take away unnecessary color that can be distracting and add more white space around text.

    Those are just a couple items, but this is a good subject to cover. Hope to see more in the future :)

  5. Waqar Bhatti says:

    Totally agree with you

  6. Islam Gamal says:

    that is a good artical i copy it to my website forum

    http://www.yourserv.com/vb

  7. Guest says:

    You have a decent blog here. I would encourage you to keep writing and posting as often as you are inspired to do so. In the long run, it will really pay off as more and more people will begin to visit, read and refer others.

  8. fjpoblam says:

    You should compare this page, particularly as regards point 6, on an iPad.

  9. Mark Corpuz says:

    Thank you for the good article. I also suggest you start with your own content (hostgator). Add space in between your steps (paragraphs) and add a bit more line-height on your content to make it easier to read.

  10. Nick Pierno says:

    24. You don’t use headings and formatting to break up walls of text.
    25. You’re using lots of stock images (there are exceptions)

  11. Bob Eager says:

    1. Your website sucks because it uses stupid stockphotography.

    Nothing screams untrustworhy, uncreative cheapskate company more than lame run-of the mill stockphotography from the one dollar-bin.

    http://goo.gl/nLRBR
    http://goo.gl/0jv2q
    http://goo.gl/GGU5R

  12. itsalexg says:

    Great tips! So is it safe to say the host gator website sucks since it looks like it hasn’t been worked on since 1996?

  13. jjthejj says:

    web ads suck because of many reasons; here are a few:

    – they interupt the users experience in negative ways (popups, roll downs, etc, that actually block the content the user was trying to access- wtf? I will punch you in the face!!!)

    – the links themselves direct users to products thaey don’t need/want/care about

    – many links are merely portals to invasive sites

    – and finally: no one likes marketing except the companies doing the marketing. We hate it on TV, the radio, the telephone. Here is proof- what do YOU do when a commercial on TV/Radio comes up? thats right! you pause/change channel/ record shows so you can skip, OR you look for media without said advertising. For telemarketing? You are rude to the salesperson, you tell them to remove you, you hang up or you put in for do not call status.

    Now, what do you do when it occurs on a website? I’ll, tell you- you go somewhere else for your content, while muttering what effing retard created this bullshit and you wish you knew who they were so you can punch them in the face. Because in the end, those you market to hate your product, hate the way you push it, and ultimately hate your (sales) profession. If you dont believe me, tell me why there are so many negative euphamisms about the marketing industry and the people who work in it? Yeah, hurts, but there it is.

    Good luck.

  14. Leave Comments says:

    When the owner of HostGator, Brent, sells a formerly awesome company to a trashy horrible company named EIG who is methodically buying up all the smaller web hosts and ruining the business in general. My 200 websites and I are looking for a new home before another weekend outage from your Provo datacenter takes down sites all over the internet from multiple web companies that are now all owned by EIG.

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