Do you ever feel like the internet is a big popularity contest? Well, it is! For a website, there are few things worse than being a ‘boring wallflower’ online. From Friendster to MySpace to Facebook, social web communication tools will come and go, but promoting your business on social media has to lead somewhere though, right? Your website is your permanent online business residence and is now more important than ever. If you think your website might be a yawnfest for your visitors, here are a few tell-tale signs that it’s boring, and some ideas for how to fix it.
1. High Bounce Rates
Your website could be boring your visitors because they’re unable to engage with the content the way they want to. If your analytics reveal a large percentage of visitors are leaving before engaging with any content on your site, you need to investigate to discover the possible reason(s) why you have a high bounce rate.
It's Not Responsive
A responsive website is basically a requirement in today’s digital world. And considering the first iPhone was released more than 10 years ago, it’s time to get with the program! Seriously. A website should be designed to fit any screen or device. Whether it’s a tablet, mini tablet, smartphone, (or even flip phone) a responsive website design will shift the elements around as needed for the optimal user experience. According to Smartinsights, a much larger percentage of users worldwide access the Internet on mobile devices than on desktop. So if your website is not responsive, this may very well be the cause of your high bounce rate.
People are impatient and slow page load times can be a real turn-off. Many visitors will leave if your site takes longer than about 4 seconds to load. Using today’s coding techniques, certain measures can be taken to improve webpage load speed: Optimize images Optimize CSS delivery Minimal use of custom fonts Minimize HTTP requests Reduce server response time Enable compression Enable browser caching Minify resources
A Soft Landing
So, you launched that beautiful homepage a while back... here’s why you should keep going: because one landing page does not a website make. It’s a good start for a new business, but not recommended as a long term solution. A single landing page with limited content can be, well, a very boring user experience and a reason the visitors quickly say “Au Revoir.” According to copywriter Susan Greene, no matter what size your business is, your website should have these essential pages:
2. Low Time Spent on a Page
Leaving so soon? It’s a sure sign of a boring party when the guests leave early. It works the same way for web pages. When your analytics reveal that your visitors are spending lower than average time on a page, it usually means the content is boring.
The Content Stinks
I mean, it’s not fresh. Did you know your website is a living, breathing entity on the internet? It needs fresh content on a regular basis to survive. When the content on your website is not frequently updated — and when best practices for content structure are ignored — search engines consider it ‘deceased’ and so will your visitors. Why would they stick around to experience the same old thing again? That’s one of the truly great things about building a website with Drupal - you can choose to completely control the content, update it whenever you want, have it feed in from other sources (like social media), or even schedule content posts in advance. There is no longer a valid excuse to not update your web content regularly.
A Thousand Words (and no Picture)
We’re all visual creatures, and some of us absorb content even better with images or video. So not only do images (and video) make your web pages more visually appealing, they’ll help break large blocks of text into more easily digestible blocks of information. Stock imagery can be a good start, but whenever possible, custom shots are best – especially when you’re trying to convey a more personal or branded message. And remember to also paint that picture for those with disabilities and always include alt tags for your images and videos, along with video transcripts.
3. Low Conversion Rates
Low conversion rates are a bad sign that your visitors are not being convinced to buy what you’re selling, or they're too bored to stick around to find out. Even if your website pages are getting lots of traffic, the end goal is to get the highest percentage of that traffic to sign-up for your latest offering. So, what do you have to offer? An engaging web presence begins with careful attention paid to the things that encourage the user to understand what you’re trying to convince them to buy: the message. The way it sounds and the way it looks.
The copy on your website should be written with care to inform and persuade your visitor while appealing to their emotions. Be sure to always double check for misspellings or bad grammar, because there is no bigger turnoff than to read about how much a company cares about quality, yet can’t take the time to remove the typos. When written with purposeful intent, words have the power to convey the meaning and the message behind your brand, and should be carefully chosen to speak clearly to your visitors.
Take Time to Redesign
So all those visitors are hanging around a while, but they still never sign-up, buy now, or donate? When is the last time you revisited the customer journey? Experts say that an average lifespan of a website design is 2.7 years, but that of course depends on factors including industry, audience, and your digital strategy. Focusing on keeping your website design fresh with a flawless user experience will boost conversion rates, because you’ll be improving how your site performs on the latest device as you successfully convince them.
4. You Don't Stand Out from the Competition
Some industries struggle more than others with looking and sounding the “same old, same old.” Standing out from your competition is extremely important in today’s competitive world. A competitive analysis is a great way to figure out who you’re up against, what they’re doing right or wrong, and devise a plan to keep your users interested in a uniquely crafted online presentation that stands out from the crowd.
Don't be a Copycat
After analyzing your competitor’s award-winning website, avoid being tempted to copy it. Gleaning problem solving or persona targeting information can be helpful, but your brand identity should be distinct and memorable. If you don’t know what impression your brand is trying to convey, it’s more than likely your visitors don’t either.
Your business website should scream your brand. Along with a unique design, your website should tell the company’s personal story, working towards the goal of the business model and mission. The bonus that comes with adding more copy to your website is the opportunity for unique keywords that will also help your users find you.
The Lost Message
Is the content on your website easily skimmable? Most users have a short attention span and visually skim the content to find the information they are looking for or that interests them. If they are unable to skim large blocks of copy, chances are your message is getting lost. A few tricks of the trade for providing content that’s more likely to be read by your users are:
- Include catchy subtitles to break-up long sections of copy.
- Use simple terms and shorter sentences to get to the point as soon as possible.
- Make the first few words of each paragraph count by using unique keywords.
- Use the right voice for the type of content.
- Place important information first using the inverted pyramid method of writing.
- Use appropriate imagery of videos to reinforce your message.
- Simplify copy with the use of bulleted or numbered lists and formatted text, highlighting important information in bold.
- Make sure the text is readable by using the golden ratio for line height and length.
5. User Confusion
Another quick way to bore your guests is to confuse them. Eventually they’ll just get frustrated and leave.
Know Thy User
Who’s your customer? The more you know about them the closer you will come to successfully keeping their attention in order to guide them to the goal of each page. To engage with them you need to know who they are, where they are located, what they’re interested in, and what they want. If the user is not interested, it won’t take long before they bail and go elsewhere. Creating buyer personas to guide your website plan is one of the best ways to understand the thoughts and goals of your website’s visitors.
Tell Them Where to Go
Once they arrive, users need straightforward navigation paths to lead them in the right direction. A clear call to action will guide them through the experience as intended, making it engaging and enjoyable. Keep these tips in mind when adding calls to action:
- Don’t overload the page with multiple calls to action.
- Use actionable power words.
- Keep the language short, simple, yet informative and relevant to the copy.
- Create a sense of urgency.
- Let them know what they get in return for taking action.
- Even though people do scroll, on landing pages you should try to keep the call to action above the fold.
KISS (Keep it Simple and Straightforward)
Actually, it’s really simple to design a confusing website. Just put lots of shiny things everywhere and ignore who’s going to use it. But, to design a website that is simple? That takes skill, thought and lots of planning.
The fact is, simplicity makes people happy and helps them think better. It also encourages them to spend money, so ecommerce sites especially will benefit from simple interfaces, fonts, and layouts. The most popular website on the planet– Google – has 7 products with more than a BILLION users. They are known for user simplicity so you could say they’ve the mastered the concept of cognitive fluency: “the measure of how easy it is to think about something.”