I have built successful websites in markets ranging from travel to personal finance, but my sites won't look like many of the websites you see. They aren't beautiful, elaborate works rich in media and videos. But they are websites that convert.
So while they may not win design awards, they will deliver more customers and earn revenue for my business. If you would like your website to do the same thing, then allow me to share nine ways most websites don't convert the way they should, along with some fixes.
1. Conversions aren't your number one priority. Your website is simply another tool for growing your business and if your top priority isn't converting visitors into customers, then you're doing it wrong. If you're ready for your website to step up its game, then you have to focus on conversions, landing pages, split tests and copywriting.
2. You've never heard of direct response. If you haven't heard of direct response copywriting, then it's time you do. Websites that focus on writing copy that converts get more business. Additionally, studying direct response copy and high-converting sales pages will help you understand your customer better and improve your writing abilities.
3. You don't build an e-mail list. This is the biggest error that most websites make. When a visitor comes to your website it is very unlikely that they will ever come back. Unless you get them to sign up for your e-mail list.
When I started The Credit Card Fly, a website about traveling for less and flying for free, I built an e-mail list of more than 1,600 people in the first week from just 5,515 unique visitors. How many of your visitors are slipping away after their first visit?
4. You don't have enough opt-in forms on your website. If you're running a blog or a content-heavy website, then you probably need more ways to sign up for your email list. One opt-in form in the sidebar isn't going to do it.
For example, I already had half a dozen opt-in forms on Passive Panda when I added another one at the bottom of the page right above the footer. What happened? Over 200 people signed up using that form the next month.
Where were those 200 people going before that? Maybe they were signing up with a different opt-in form, but you can bet that many of them made it to the bottom of the page and then left. Give your audience more chances to join your email list and you'll get more people to sign-up.
5. You don't have a clear first action for your visitors. When you visit the Panda homepage it's pretty clear what you should do first. I have a massive sign-up box above everything else that urges the visitor to join the email list. That's the number one thing I want every visitor to do. It's a very clear first action. Your site may be different, but you need to be just as obvious. Decide what the most important action is and make it easy for your visitors to do just that.
6. You emphasize social media at the expense of something more important. I don't even have social media icons on Passive Panda and yet I have a Facebook page and a Twitter page with thousands of fans and followers. Take your social media profiles off of your site as well, or at least give them less prominent real estate. The goal of social media is to drive people toward your website, not to give them icons and links that take them away.
Instead, I propose that you give your users fewer options and highlight more important things (like signing up to your email list).
The funny thing is that this will actually help your social media profiles as well. You want to know the quickest way to get 1,000 people to like your Facebook page? Send an email to 10,000 people and tell them to like your Facebook page.
7. You have way too much going on. I frequently receive comments from readers who say that they enjoy the clutter-free look of Passive Panda. Compliments are great, but that's not the only reason I designed the site that way. Think about the last time you had way too much to do. How did you feel? Your emotions were probably somewhere between overwhelmed, stressed and confused.
Well that's how your website visitors feel when you have your blog, social media profiles, email newsletter, logo, popular articles, tags, recent comments, recent posts, Twitter feed and your products all on one page. Clean out your sidebar and remove the social media junk. Fewer options means more clarity and more actions.
8. You don't make yourself accessible. Most websites make it far too difficult to communicate. This is a shame and it hinders your business because your customers actually want to talk to you. They will tell you their problems. They will tell you what they want to buy.
Even better, they will feel a connection to you and indebted to you as time goes on. I try to respond to every comment on Passive Panda and I tell each email subscriber that they can reach me by replying to any email. People appreciate this.
9. You haven't learned about typography. You can have all the fancy logos you want. You can have a beautiful color scheme. You can have stunning photos. But user engagement on websites still comes down reading.
Video is becoming more prominent, but the vast majority of the time we read websites. That means you better have a good handle on your website typography. This means font styles, font sizes, line heights, characters per line and letter spacing.
James Clear is the founder of Passive Panda. He is an award-winning writer on business strategy and entrepreneurship and has delivered speeches in the United States, the UK, and Switzerland.
Image by OPEN Forum