Web users know bad sites when they see them, and they'll never returnWebsites are fragile things.  Like a team, every part has to do its job for the whole to succeed.

Unfortunately, many websites seem thrown together.  Some parts don’t make sense, and others seem hostile to end users.  It’s as if the site exists for the company, but not for its customers.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.  Your site can be a profitable asset instead of an embarrassing liability.

Here are 5 reasons why most websites fail and how to avoid them:

1.  Outdated or Overly Creative Web Design

Old-looking websites damage credibility.  Plus, people may wonder if you’re still in business.  Visiting an old website is like going back in time.  Most people won’t bother and will click away, never to return.

On the flipside, an overly artistic website can be stunning but equally frustrating to use.  It’s obvious that those sites were designed to look good, not sell.

While it’s important to look good, you have to make your site easy to use.  After all,

“If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.” – Benton & Bowles agency

Instead of dreaming up a beautiful design, start with the site’s purpose.  If the site is supposed to introduce a new product, highlight its features, and drive people to request a demo, the website design should accomplish those three tasks.

How successful would Amazon.com be if this was still their home page?

2.  No Call-to-Action (CTA)

It’s amazing how many sites don’t have CTAs.  A CTA simply tells your browsers what to do.  It could be to call you, email you, buy, etc.

If you don’t have a CTA, add one.

If your CTAs are hard to find, make them obvious.  Otherwise, it’s like hiding a checkout in a corner.  How successful will that store be?

3.  Too Many Competing CTAs

Yes, you can have too many CTAs.  If you want someone to call you, don’t put a CTA to email you right next to the “Call Now” CTA.  It’ll confuse people and muddle your efforts.

Make your primary CTA big and obvious.  If you have secondary goals, like to sign up for your e-newsletter, add it as a smaller box.

4.  Long Contact Forms

Many contact forms ask a lot of unnecessary information.  Long forms scare people away.  What good is a contact form that discourages contacts?

Look at your contact form.  Mark the essential questions with a #1 and the unessential with a #2.  Now cut all the #2 questions.

If your industry requires a lot of questions, split the form into several short steps.  The form will look shorter, encouraging people to fill it out.  Plus, once they’re committed, they’re less likely to abandon the form.

5.  Massive Text Blocks

I’m a writer.  I love words.  But even I cringe when I see too much text.

You could write the most moving prose, but if you lump it into a massive paragraph, people won’t read it.

How effective is sales copy no one reads?  Exactly.

Shorten sentences.  Write short paragraphs.  Add pictures.

Your readers – and your bottom line – will thank you.