I’ve read a lot of information about the 7 deadly sins of website design, and for the most part, while they have some good information, are wrong. Or at least misleading. You see, font selection, bad photos, mobile responsiveness, moving sliders, wrong plugins, line height, line length, amateur design layout, not enough color contrast, hosting, page load times, outdated templates, broken links, etc. are all issues that web designers need to address. But those are NOT the things that keep people from finding your site, returning to your site, and buying from you. This article addresses websites mistakes from the viewpoint of the CUSTOMER, not the web designer. In many ways, this is a wrap up of what we’ve been posting about in this blog over the past several weeks. And it may be the most important blog I’ve ever written.

Design fashion comes and goes. There used to be a time that it was considered good taste to have Flash websites, hit counters, animated gifs and the like on websites. In 10 years, some of the things that are considered great today will probably be looked upon as taboo. That is why you need to focus on the content, not the technology.

So, yes, if your website looks like one of these: fire your webmaster and start over. But as humorous as these examples might be, that is NOT the root of your problem.

It’s actually pretty simple: Define who your ideal customer is (your avatar). Then make your website content appeal to that ideal customer avatar. Period.

Leave the technical stuff to your web designer and concentrate on your customer. (That sounds a lot like what Jeff Bezos would say). Here then are the 7 deadly website mistakes…

1. Not making it easy to do business with you.
Everything about your site should make it easy for a customer to do business with you. This means:

    • Put your phone number on every page, either in the header or the footer. I actually had a client once who told me they didn’t want their phone number on their website at all, because, someone might call them! Isn’t that kind of the point?
    • Provide enough payment options that the customer can give you their money in the way that is the most convenient for them, not you. this means at a minimum, all credit cards AND PayPal. If you have customers that prefer layaway plans, checks, FSA accounts, bitcoin or whatever, make it easy for THEM.
    • Add functionality for wish list items so they can come back at a later time and purchase something. Give them the opportunity to “save” their shopping cart and complete a purchase later.
    • Write your Terms & conditions page to say why someone SHOULD do business with you rather than why they shouldn’t. Too often the T&C pages are written in legalese that would scare anyone away who read them.

2. Not driving traffic to your website.
Search engines are great but don’t make the mistake of relying on them for all your traffic. Search engines account for 51% of web traffic, which means that roughly half of your traffic will come from other sources and YOU are the one responsible for driving that traffic from your emails, social media posts, direct links from others, and of course, YouTube. I wrote a post recently on how to use YouTube videos for ranking on page 1. It is important that you link to specific pages on your website from multiple sources in order to drive traffic to your website. And yes, this means that you should probably be using advertising such as Facebook ads. The important thing when it comes to ads is to advertise your lead magnet (irresistible offering)  rather than your actual product or service, which leads us to mistake number 3…

3. Letting them leave without collecting contact info
Ninety Eight percent of all visitors to a website will leave without taking any action, never to return again. Don’t let this happen to you! The solution is is to give away something irresistible enough that they will gladly provide you their email address. My friend and colleague Terri Levine wrote an excellent guest post about how this doubled her online sales. I have also created a complete online course about various types of lead magnets that you can use which are truly irresistible. Don’t make the mistake of simply saying “sign up for our newsletter” and expecting to grow your email list. We all get enough email that this isn’t going to happen. Make them an offer they can’t refuse.

Next, use an exit intent popup. I hate popups as much as the next person, but they have been proven to work. Ones that are especially effective are popups that only come up when someone is about to leave your site. Remember, you want to capture their contact information before they leave and never come back. Make them a compelling offer and get their email address! And once you have their email address – USE IT! They have now given you permission to market to them and stay in touch with them. Use this to avoid deadly mistake number 4…

4. Not giving them a reason to come back
Once a visitor leaves you website, only 20% of them will ever return. The way to get people to come back to your website over and over again is to provide them with new content on a regular and consistent basis. Think about the sites you visit: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Amazon, your local news – if those sites never changed and you saw the same content every time you went there, how often would you go back? The same is true for your website, whether you like it or not. You can of course use retargeting ads (those pesky ads that follow you around the internet from site to site asking you to return to a webpage you already visited). In fact, I recommend retargeting, as it is one of the services we offer.

If you really want to get people to come back to your website, create a weekly newsletter and have it point to some new content you just created. Click To Tweet

But if you really want to get people to come back to your website, create a weekly newsletter (remember, you got their contact info in #3 above) and have the newsletter point to some new content that you just created. This is a great way to avoid mistake #5…

5. Not telling a story to sell a product
In a recent blog post I shared with you about content-driven ecommerce. This may be the single biggest differentiator that your site can have over most other websites, as most companies don’t put in the effort to make this happen. Stories are not just a differentiator though, they are the most compelling form of sales you can do.

Stories are not just a differentiator though, they are the most compelling form of sales you can do. Click To Tweet

People love stories. They remember them, and they cause them to buy. Stories sell more. Use images in your stories of your product or services “in-context” to help you tell the story.

Credit: Buley, Leah. 2013. The User Experience Team of One. New York: Rosenfeld Media. rosenfeldmedia.com/books/ux-team-of-one/

Most ecommerce websites are essentially the same: they are simply product based with a standard image on a white background, a price, and a short description. You can do better. Tell a story about how your products have made a difference in someone’s life.

6. Making your offer too risky
My colleague Eric Graham recently shared the formula about how to get more sales. The basic concept is to provide more perceived value than perceived risk. This concept is known as risk reversal. You as the seller take all the perceived risk out of the transaction, so the sale becomes a no-brainer. This is true for every product you sell.

Imagine you are the customer and you are looking at a pair of shoes. You like the shoes – the style, color, and even the price. But you aren’t sure. Then you read the guarantee:

Try them for 30 days to make sure they feel right. If your not happy, we’ll take them back so you can try something different. Even running shoes. Free shipping BOTH ways.

That’s what Zappos provides and why they became such a force in selling shoes online that Amazon bought them. More importantly, they took all the risk out of buying shoes online.  Do people abuse this? Sure, I’ve heard of girls ordering several pairs of shoes to try on for prom, actually wearing them on their date, then returning them. But the advantages of reversing all the risk will always create more sales and more loyal customers.

The advantages of reversing all the risk will always create more sales and more loyal customers. Click To Tweet

7. Not getting others promote for you
Finally, we get to the last deadly mistake of not making your website about the customer. Your customers want to feel connected to you, not just be another transaction. They WANT to belong to your tribe. So let them! Ask them for their help in the form of testimonials and reviews – you’ll be surprised at how many people will gladly share their thoughts, which helps you sell even more. You see, people will believe others more than they will believe you (even though you may be the expert in what you are selling) because it is a third-party endorsement. For your very best customers, create an affiliate program where they can earn a commission by promoting your goods and services. the important thing is to let your customers become your best salespeople!

If you can address these 7 things, you will out-perform and out-sell 99% of the websites out there. Even if you did use the wrong font or color.

Did you find this article useful or learn anything? If so, I’d love some feedback about what you thought.