Your Website Doesn’t Suck, Right?

20 Julweb design

bulldog photo credit: Meredith Hunter

When businesses first put up a website in the mid-90’s, it was really not much more than a digital business card. There was the Home page, maybe an About page, a What We Do page (that’s what they called it then), and a page with Contact information or directions (no Google maps) to the store or office. And it was ‘done’. It could sit like that for months, and many did.

As more businesses came online, they started to compete, and it became apparent that this marketing tool, the one that was always on, to anyone who visits, at any time, could be doing a lot more than just sit there. So things got tactical, and they’re like that to this day.

So today, when we find a website we think sucks (besides the ones that look like they haven’t been updated since the 80’s) it’s usually because that as users, we find the navigation confusing, or it takes a long time to load, or it’s difficult to find the information we’re looking for. It’s not telling us what to do. And we like it when websites tell us what to do: to contact them or see this sale or read the news & events.

We tend to ignore sites whose content doesn’t sound like the business voice – the language seems copied from a speech or textbook. It feels insincere. We tend to forget websites that don’t have strong branding – there’s that logo in the corner, but other than that, nothing reinforces the company brand.


Stats You May Find Interesting

Does your website accurately reflect your business?

  • Once your page loads, users form an opinion (about the validity of the business) in .05 seconds.(Source: Kinesis)
  • Once on a company’s homepage, 52% of visitors want to see about information. (Source: KoMarketing)

Is it beautiful?

  • Given 15 minutes to consume content, two-thirds of people would rather read something beautifully designed than something plain. (Source: Adobe)
  • 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content/layout is unattractive. (Source: Adobe)

Do visitors to your website ‘hang out’?

  • The average human attention span has declined from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to 8 seconds now. This is much shorter than the attention span of a goldfish (at 9 seconds) (Source: Microsoft)

Is it reaching your next-generation buyer?

  • 48% of users say that if they arrive on a business site that isn’t working well on mobile, they take it as an indication of the business simply not caring. (MarginMedia)

Is it reaching handicapped visitors?

  • One-in-five users require web accessibility (high-low contrast, read out loud, keyboard capabilities, big cursor) to use a website (Source: Userway)

Is it selling?

  • $1.1 trillion of all retail sales in 2011 were web-influenced. (Source: Forrester Research)
  • 47% of website visitors check out a company’s products/services page before looking at any other sections of the site. (Source: KoMarketing)
  • Once on a company’s homepage, 86% of visitors want to see information about that company’s products/services. (Source: KoMarketing)

Does it result in more onsite visits?

  • Once on a company’s homepage, 64% of visitors want to seethe company’s contact information. (Source: KoMarketing)
  • 70% of customers visit  a store based on information found online
  • 88% of consumer  local business searchers on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours
  • 86% of people look up the location of a business on Google Maps

Does it have good search results?

  • 46% of all searches are local searches
  • 33% who use mobile phones to search for local companies are looking for the location
  • 97% searched online to find a local business
  • Search beats social media by more than 300% as a traffic source
  • 40% of people will choose a different search result if the first is not mobile friendly. (Skillcrush)

We’re not going to dive into SEO or tags or technical jargon. This is strictly from a UX (user experience) standpoint.

Let’s get out the mirror. Your website might suck if:

It’s boring. Website users like to ‘play’ with websites. A little hover action, click- to-open information, advancing a slide show. It’s like an Easter egg hunt for more information. It’s more fun and it keeps the visitor on the page longer.

It’s crowded.  There’s a real temptation to make a webpage hold a lot of information – pictures and text and a gallery and more text. The eye needs a bit of space to make sense of all the information you’re sharing.  Boris Muller said One of the fundamental principles of design is to establish a deep and meaningful relationship between form and context. Let the pages breathe a bit, with good design.

It’s text-dominant. There are several ways to break up all that verbiage you want to put on a webpage. Use graphics as dividers between sections. Photos help illustrate, but also make a nice break from reading. Arrange the text artfully, or block it. A whole article? PDF it and provide a link.

It doesn’t speak to the visitor. Crazy thing, visitors like to be TOLD what to DO on a website. You won’t be bossy if you put in a button that says, “See our New Widget” or “Join the Wine Club”. Even if it’s just text, inviting the visitor to participate will keep them on the site longer, or funnel them to purchasing or enrollment.

It doesn’t reinforce the brand. The little logo in the corner doesn’t cut it. Bring out all the elements and put ’em up there: your mission statement, the ‘voice’ or tone associated with the brand, the STORY behind it. Use the same colors as your identity stylesheet, repeat the logo or logo icon throughout the site.

The design is inconsistent. Visitors like to play with a website, but they don’t want to get lost. Keeping the layout design consistent  (all primary pages the same or similar, secondary page layout similar) will help the user to understand what type of page they’re on – a main one or one that supports it – so they stay oriented on the site.

It’s confusing. People don’t like to feel stupid, and a website that calls their bluff with missing or hard to find information will be avoided. If the menu says things like ‘Original’ or ‘The Third Door’ and you have NO idea what the page is about, and after a bit, you don’t want to waste your time divining the real meaning (‘Oh, it’s the About page!’). When a visitor starts to feel confused, they leave. Keep them on your site longer by giving them clear navigation, clear instruction, clear design.


So. Your website looks good, has fresh, relevant photos, good-and-not-too-much information, nice typeface, good layout. Not too sucky at all. But it might not be working as hard as it could for you, either. It should rank well in search, have Calls to Action to get visitors to interact, have fresh content added regularly.

We’re offering a free website audit, to point out what could be improved on your website. Fill in the form below, and we’ll set up a time to talk by phone and go over the details we find that could be juiced up a bit.