Websites have come a long way since the internet’s arrival. However, so many are still full of elements that cause visitors to get frustrated and flee.

A lot goes into the design of a website and it can be easy to lose sight of the user experience when working from the backend. However, a poor user experience can cause high page abandonment, low conversion rates, less-than-stellar organic search listings, and an overall bad reputation. In today’s world, a website is often a person’s first interaction with your business—and first impressions are key.

Here are six things we’ve noticed that can serve as your guide for what not to do when managing or designing your website.

1.      It isn’t mobile-friendly

Nothing is more mind-numbing than having to scroll side-to-side on a website from your phone. In 2015, Google announced a major mobile algorithm update that penalizes websites that aren’t mobile-friendly, simultaneously announcing that it would strengthen the ranking signal from mobile-friendly websites.

By the looks of it, mobile traffic is only going to increase. This means if you aren’t optimizing your website, you’re missing out on a sizeable chunk of the population and a lot of potential business. 

2.      Your load time moves at a glacial pace

Attention spans are shrinking. Not only does the average person check their phone hundreds of times a day, they are increasingly impatient when it comes to waiting for a website to load. A website that takes more than three seconds to load will undoubtedly frustrate many of your site visitors, thus affecting conversion rates and brand perception. You might doubt the effect that slow load time has on your brand, but according to a recent study, if a website takes a long time to load, visitors blame the content provider, rather than their service provider.

If you want to maintain your brand's reputation and increase the time visitors spend on your site, optimizing the load time of your website should move to the top of your priority list. Page-load time can be affected by a host of things, including image size, code, videos, and more.

3.      You use too many pop-ups

Pop-ups that continually disrupt your user experience can be extremely irritating. They can be especially annoying when the call-to-action includes language that makes you feel guilty for declining. Something like, “No, I do not want to improve the accessibility of my website” only serves to make your visitors fel bad.

If you need to use pop-ups, there is a tactful way to do it:

·         Use pleasant copy. Too many sites use language meant to make visitors second guess their actions. Try a simpler, more easy-going approach like, “No, I’m OK for now.”

·         Moderation is key. If you use pop-ups sparingly, your visitors won’t feel bombarded by information they don’t care about.

·         Have a specific purpose. If you make your CTAs “smart,” you can display a different pop-up, or no pop-up at all, to different types of visitors depending on where they are in the buying cycle.

·         Track their performance. If you know that a pop-up isn’t performing very well, then you have good reason to consider removing or changing it to create a better visitor experience.

4.      It doesn’t explain what your company does

It can be quite frustrating to spend 10 minutes clicking around a company’s page and still not get a sense of what they do. The best web pages succinctly and clearly state who they are, what they do, and what the visitor can do there. Unless you’re a global brand like Starbucks or Coca-Cola, you really can’t get away with a website that doesn’t describe anything about you. It’s long been said that if a site visitor can’t figure out what you do within seconds, odds are they won’t stick around long.

5.      It contains multimedia content that auto plays

Imagine browsing a site during the middle of your work day and suddenly you’re startled by a voice speaking to you. Clumsily, you struggle to find the source of the voice and you fumble for the mute button. But what if you never found it? What do you think you would do?

You would probably leave the website right then and there. A website should offer the option to view and hear content; it shouldn’t be a requirement. Be courteous to your visitors and don’t force your multimedia content on them. Let them choose when to play it, or at the very least, let it begin with the sound off. Also, if you choose to include multimedia on your website, it's important to make sure it's accessible.

6.      It’s a disaster to navigate

A good website allows the user to be intuitive. Do they know where to go? What they should do? What their next steps should be?

Surprisingly enough, an alarming number of websites lack a call-to-action. Because of this, businesses miss out on leads and sales because they don’t provide any direction for their visitors.

Now imagine you’re entering a store, and the person at the entrance doesn’t say hello. You wander the store for 10 minutes, looking for the object you came for—with no luck. To your dismay, the person at the front sees you but hasn’t provided any clues in the right direction. Annoying, right?

It’s the same for websites. Include clear headline copy that explains the value of what you do, and a concise call-to-action that tells visitors their next steps (subscribe to a newsletter, sign up for a free trial, watch a video, etc.).

Want more stats on website quality? Read 4 Website Quality Stats Every Web Team Should Know.

Read more about Siteimprove Intelligence Platform here.