Stop losing clients because of bad web design

Last updated Aug 4, 2020

You’ve done it! 

You have taken the leap, and you’re all set up with a nice, shiny new website! 

Now you can sit back, relax, and wait for your inbox to get flooded with people asking how they can work with you…

But instead of messages flooding into your inbox, all you hear is deafening silence…

Where are all the new leads you were hoping for?

One of the myths that I crush very early on in a conversation with a new client is that their website is going to be a golden bullet.

Yes, your website WILL bring you new clients, but only if you’re driving traffic to it through inbound marketing and have systems in place to guide them to becoming a client once they find you.

There are several areas that can negatively impact the experience someone has on your site and make them leave before they even know how you can help them!

This post will show you how to optimise your web design so you stop losing visitors before they become clients.

So what actually is bad web design?

Often this needs no explanation. At some point, you will have landed on a website and winced.

bad web design

Honestly, this website still exists.

And I’m not pointing this site out to shame the owner. But it breaks a lot of rules of good usability.

There were a lot of these kinds of sites when I first started my website design career in 2002, but thankfully, they are now few and far between.

Trends are shifting all the time, so design principles are often hard to pin down. However, there are still some overriding principles that stand the test of time. 

In the most simplistic terms, poor design is often defined through the lack of the following golden principles:

  • Easy to navigate page structure
  • Clear and consistent use of fonts and colours
  • Clean layout

As you can see, the example above, doesn’t adhere to many of those golden rules.

Key elements for successful design

Here are 13 key elements you may well be missing, that could be putting a stranglehold on your lead generation.

1. How Can You Help Me?

This is the main reason that a website is likely to fail.

Admittedly, it is more of a messaging issue than a design issue, but this is one of the most critical issues that failing websites face.

All your customers really care about is whether you can help them with their problem. And the reality is, if you can’t demonstrate within a few seconds HOW you can help them, they’ve already lost interest. 

Be sure your value proposition is clear from the moment they land on the page. If you are selling physical goods, it should be obvious from the photos and descriptions what you are selling. 

If you are selling a service, make it completely clear in just a few sentences or less why you are the best choice for your customer. Whatever your value proposition is, make it consistent across your website and how you are different from your competitors.

You don’t have to be a copywriting genius to effectively communicate how well you can serve your customers. If you’re clear on the value that you offer, it will be easy to communicate and repeat this on your site.

2. Who Are You/Where Are You?

In a world where online scams are commonplace , it’s critical for your website to demonstrate that there are actually human beings involved.

Where are you located?

How do your customers get in touch with you?

This information will help a prospective customer feel safe doing business with you, because they know that there will be an avenue for customer support if needed. 

A faceless, placeless website looks untrustworthy. You may get some customers who don’t worry enough about this, but savvy visitors will click away if they can’t verify that there is an accessible human being behind your site.

Business details, including location, email and phone number are not only important trust elements, they’re a legal requirement. 

Make the most of this by creating a warm, thorough About or Contact Us page that introduces you and/or your staff, invites communication and builds trust with the customer.

3. Why Is This Taking So Long?

A slow website is a killer. Not only does it put a huge dampener on your SEO, but visitors online are impatient. They’re likely to hit the back button before waiting for your site to load.

Google factors page speed in their search algorithm, so it’s important to make sure yours is up to snuff. This could involve optimizing images, minifying code, and enabling website caching. 

You can check your page speed and get insights on how to improve it from the Google Page Insights tool. 

If you love Divi, which is the framework that I use and teach on the Rock That Website, you can read more about speeding up your website here.

4. Why Does It Look Funny On My Phone?

Increasingly people are viewing websites more regularly on their phones than on their computers. And in today’s fast-paced world, everyone expects everything to be available to them in a few taps of their fingers. 

Make sure you’re checking how your website looks on different devices. Something that renders well on a large screen may get cut off or load improperly on a smaller one.

Many website builders will automatically optimize your site for mobile, but you still want to double check it’s functional and appealing. 

If you hire a website designer, many are using mobile-first design practices and building sites primarily for phone screens, and then basing the desktop version on the mobile site instead of the other way around.

Whether you build a site yourself or have someone else do it, the site has to work perfectly on mobile devices, or you’re going to miss out on customers.

5. My Eyes! This Website Hurts My Eyes!

Loud images, flash videos and annoying ads will send potential customers running before you get an opportunity to tell them you can help.

Keep it clean and appealing to the eye.

On any given webpage, you want to decide what the most important elements are, and make sure they stand out. Everything else should exist to support these key elements.

Content should be clear, short, and easy to consume. Photos should add to your message and be formatted properly for the site design. Navigation should be simple and obvious. 

Anything that distracts the visitor’s eye from what you’re selling and how they can purchase it will dilute your message and contribute to overwhelm and bounce rates.

Simple, elegant websites are pleasing and easy to use. Try to adopt a less is more mindset when you’re considering how much information to include on a page.

6. Is There Anything Useful On Here?

People will often search for a way to help themselves for free before they pay for help. 

This is a great opportunity to showcase your expertise and build trust, but only if your content is valuable and can serve them at that particular moment.

Before you go in for the hard sell, offer value to your visitors. This may be through video or blog tutorials, perhaps you create e-books or PDF guides to walk them through a common concern in your area of expertise, or you might offer something like a free consultation or audit.

Whatever you do, lead with value. If your customers perceive even your free content as incredibly valuable, they will want to know how much more value they can get by paying for it.

If you offer value before making the sale, you will create a loyal following as well. People will trust you as a source of information and help. Even if a visitor doesn’t convert on their first interaction with your site, if your site is packed with useful guides, tips, and other information, that visitor will be back in the future!

It takes time and effort to create free resources, but in the long run they will pay for themselves. Free resources are also wonderful assets to exchange for email addresses so you can add a visitor to your mailing list and market to them directly there.

7. Is This Safe?

The padlock to the left of the address bar has gained importance in the last couple of years. 

It used to only be necessary on commerce sites that asked for credit card information, but Google now uses it to rank your website. 

That padlock ensures visitors that you have an SSL certificate and that information passes across an encrypted connection from your browser to the server. 

Whether you take credit cards on your site or not, it’s now vital to the success of your website to have an SSL certificate.

Many hosts offer them for free as part of the hosting plan. You can also purchase one. They range in price from an inexpensive domain validation SSL all the way to a premium extended validation SSL. 

If you’re just running a blog, you won’t need a top of the line SSL to protect your visitors, but it will add to the authenticity and security of your site.

8. Why Should I Trust You?

Social proof is powerful. Showcasing testimonials, success stories, awards and featurettes all go a long way to say “I’m really good at what I do and people are noticing!”

We live in an age of online reviews (think TripAdvisor, CheckATrader, Amazon) – we actively look for reviews before making a purchasing decision and so it’s really important for your website to showcase these too.

Trust symbols can include links to social media pages, as people will often check to see if you have a following to validate your site or service. They can be the badges or seals of third parties that indicate security or validity.

You can earn trust by showcasing the logos of well-known customers (with their permission), if you have them.

Badges for awards you’ve won or certifications you’ve earned also show that you are trustworthy.

Beyond badges and logos, you can use customer testimonials, a transparent policy for returns or refunds, and offers like a free trial to build customer rapport. 

If a prospective customer sees that you have a 30 day free trial or a no-questions-asked return policy, they will be more likely to take a risk and spend money with you because they see no perceived downside. 

And, if your products are valuable, you can confidently offer this kind of policy knowing that most people will not abuse it. It’s worth the trust you’ll receive by posting it.

9. How Do I Get To The Right Page?

Ever lost a sock? There’s nothing more frustrating than having to dig around to look for something that you know is there somewhere. Don’t make your website be that source of frustration.

Clear and simple navigation should be an foundational principle of your website’s design. 

Decide how you want to organize your content and stick to it so that visitors are easily able to find what they want.

Use internal links to guide users to relevant content on your site, a sitemap in your footer to help them find pages that aren’t obvious in the navigation bar, and tags on your blog to organize your content into functional groups.

The structure of your navigation is key, but so is the design. For example, make sure buttons stand out, and that the next step is always obvious to a new visitor. 

You never want your prospective customers to have to guess where to find something or how to navigate your site. Make it simple, clean, and direct.

10. When Was This Last Updated?

There are 2 parts to this;

  • Keep your content and appearance up to date. This helps your website feel “alive” to your visitors. If your blog was last updated in 2015, someone might wonder if you are still in business! You also want to be sure the date in the footer of your site is current as well. If you have evergreen content, it may need occasional updates to keep up with changing references, new trends, or updated industry tools. 
  • Keep your site up to date behind the scenes. If you’re running on WordPress, be sure to keep your theme, plugins and core WordPress files updated. It’s important from a security standpoint, but also to ensure you’re using all the features available.

11. Shoddy Grammar

Remember getting told off by your teacher for bad spelling and grammar? Well, it will still bite you in the behind if you pay lip service to it. 

Some visitors may not care about small errors like these, but many will take it as a signal that your company is not professional, or does not pay attention to details or image. 

They might think that if you couldn’t even take the time to proofread your site, then how could you be trusted to take the time to provide a superior service to them?

Whether you think spelling and grammar matter or not, you will lose customers if you’re not diligent about the quality of your written content. 

With spell check on most writing programs and apps like Grammarly that will point out errors in your composition, there really is no excuse for poor spelling and grammar.

12. How do I sign up?

If you have designed your website, message and offers in a compelling way, visitors will want to continue their journey with you. 

Signing up should be quick, obvious, and straightforward. If a customer is ready to convert, the last thing you want is for them to wonder how to do it.

If you write a sales page, include multiple opportunities to click to buy. If customers purchase from your site, make the purchase options clear using color, font, and placement.

If you’re using a form to gather information, ask only for what you really need. The longer a form, the more people will drop off before completing and submitting it.

Don’t ask for the name of their street if you aren’t shipping anything to them. First name and email address should suffice in most circumstances. 

Finally, be sure that your website and opt-in is GDPR compliant.

13. Who Are YOU?

If you have designed your website, message and offers in a compelling way, visitors will want to continue their journey with you. 

Signing up should be quick, obvious, and straightforward. If a customer is ready to convert, the last thing you want is for them to wonder how to do it.

If you write a sales page, include multiple opportunities to click to buy. If customers purchase from your site, make the purchase options clear using color, font, and placement.

If you’re using a form to gather information, ask only for what you really need. The longer a form, the more people will drop off before completing and submitting it.

Don’t ask for the name of their street if you aren’t shipping anything to them. First name and email address should suffice in most circumstances. 

Finally, be sure that your website and opt-in is GDPR compliant.

That looks like a lot of work, what happens if I can’t find the time to fix them? 

There are several implications of your website being poorly designed. 

When the website looks and feels clunky, is difficult to navigate, and requires a treasure map to find your contact details, visitors will leave. Quickly. 

Even if the website looks amazing, is responsive and is easy to use, if your message is not on point, people won’t explore your offerings.

A website is a business asset. If you have a website which is struggling with any of the points above, your asset will underperform. The result will be fewer clients, a smaller impact, and less money in the bank. 

Every challenge presents a new opportunity

There is a saying when it comes to investing:

Fortunes are made when the stock market crashes, not booms. This is because, when things are at their most challenging, the people that lean in, do the work and seize the opportunity, reap the benefits. That is the same as with your underperforming website.

Using the list above, make a bullet-point list of where your website is falling short. 

If you’re unsure, ask a friend or family member to have a look over for you. A fresh pair of eyes will often see issues that you may glaze over.

With your list, create a to-do list to rectify those issues.

But, the key here is to turn these weaknesses into strengths! 

If you are struggling with lack of content, then create a bank of content, ready to be uploaded. 

Or if you are struggling to find the time/inspiration, then hire someone to finish off the work for you. It will be money well spent and will free up your energy to work on projects that will move your business forward.

If the website is slow, hard to look at or unresponsive, then take it back to square one, and put it back together, following some basic rules. If this is where you’re at, have a chat with me about how my Rock That Website program can help you master this.

Or if you have nailed all the above, are getting plenty of traffic, but are struggling to convert, perhaps your message or offers need work.

Reach out to current clients, ask why they chose to work with you, and what they wanted to get from your coaching. Use this in your message and offers. 

Remember, people care about whether you can help solve their problem, not whether you have the best features.

You can also get someone to help coach you through turning your website into a client generating machine! At the end of the day, you are an amazing coach, not a website developer, so a little guidance on getting the most out of your site can go a long way.

What Does A Great Website Even Look Like?

There are loads of fabulous coaching websites out there, but here are some examples of a few that I really admire: 

Amy Porterfield website

Amy Porterfield is a coach and entrepreneur who I truly admire and one of the few people in business who I follow avidly.

Marie Forleo website

Marie Forleo doesn’t need much introduction to most of us in the online world. Her work is an inspiration to many and her website is great place to browse for fabulous online resources.

Others than you can take a look at include:  

www.storybrand.com

www.carolinsoldo.com

www.wildsacred.com 

www.elizabethrider.com

www.melissaambrosini.com

So I get my website on track, then what?

You focus on what makes you awesome: your coaching and your clients. Your website is like a garden, it needs maintaining to stay fresh and effective, but with the basics in place, this is so much easier to keep on top of. And you can start driving traffic to your site with more confidence. As it will generate leads and prospects on autopilot for you.

Vicky Etherington

Vicky Etherington has been running her own online marketing agency since 2003, and in 2014 transitioned to working with coaches and therapists to teach them how to create their own client-attracting websites. 

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