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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

If you’re like most website owners, chance are you’re losing a large percentage of your visitors before they complete a desired action on your website. Although the number of factors that drive potential consumers away can be varied, I’ve noticed many common mistakes in my work of optimizing websites for optimal performance. Here’s where many sites go wrong:

1. Lack of a Clear Purpose

Why was your site designed? What is the purpose of your site? Are you selling a product or service? Are you sharing information or serving as a forum to aggregate ideas and comments? Are you providing social benefit?

If your website doesn’t communicate purpose in 3 seconds or less, you’re going to lose visitors. I’ve seen this numerous times- especially among companies who don’t know what they want their site to be or communicate. Make sure you site has a clear purpose and everything else will follow.

2. Making it Long-Winded and Complicated

Today, individuals have less time than ever before. As a result, time is their most precious asset – don’t waste it. The majority of people using the internet today still prefer brevity over verse. Try to say what you need to say in as few words as possible. If users have to scroll through 2 screens or more to get all of the information they’re seeking then it’s too much.

When writing for your site, keep things brief and highlight things of importance. You can use bulleted lists, short paragraphs, bold and underline. Some of you may be asking about the marketing websites with long copy. If you know what I’m talking about, these are generally marketing pages (squeeze pages) that have been developed to promote a single product or service. This is not what I’m referring to here. For websites, copy should be brief and to the point.

3. Giving Web Visitors Too Many Irritating Distractions

Websites should be designed to direct visitors to the information they want and that information should be the content you want to deliver.

You cannot sell someone a product or service they do not want. A real prospect is one that needs the same information you want to provide; the art of sales is directing potential clients to relevant information, and presenting it in a way that visitors see your product or service as fulfilling their needs.

On the surface, third-party advertisements and banners may seem like a good way to make some extra cash from your traffic, but these ads become so distracting, visitors either get fed-up or click on one of the links that takes them away from your site. Whatever few bucks you earn from these ads, you are loosing by chasing real customers away; this of course assumes you are a real business with something legitimate to sell and not a website that's an excuse to deliver advertisements.

Other nonsense like favorite links and silly fluff-content merely distracts visitors from investigating your site to find what they are looking for.

4. Giving Web Visitors Too Many Red Flags

Website visitors are constantly looking for red flags that tell them that the site they are visiting should be skipped as soon as possible.

If you want to make sure visitors won't deal with you make sure you don't provide any contact information: no contact names, no phone numbers, and no mailing address is a sure sign that you won't look after any problems that arise from a website transaction.

Your website must be designed to build trust and foster a relationship, not scare people away.

5. Giving Web Visitors Too Many Decisions To Make

How many decisions do you demand from your visitors in order for them to do business with you?

Take for example the seemingly simple task of purchasing a new television. Do you purchase the inexpensive but old tube technology, the newer Plasma technology, or the LCD technology? How about all the various features to choose from like picture-in-picture, commercial skip-timers, and on and on? All you really want to do is relax with your spouse and enjoy a good movie - is that on a VSH, DVD, Blu-ray, or HD-DVD?

6. Give Web Visitors Too Many Stumbling Blocks

Do you make people go through the order processing system before they can find out how much something costs, or do you demand potential customers read a ridiculous amount of small print legalese that only a lawyer could understand?

If you want to drive traffic away from your site make sure you build in as many stumbling blocks as possible.

7. Give Web Visitors Too Many Forms To Fill-in

Do you attract your visitors with special offers or free white papers and then demand that they fill-out complex forms, surveys, and questionnaires before you give them access to what they came for? If you do, you are probably losing a lot of people you attracted, and you are guaranteeing that your next email promotion will end up in the trash.


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