5 Signs Your Website Needs Work

In our last article we discussed “5 Things Your Website is Missing That's Costing You Big Time.

This time around I’d like to discuss 5 signs your website needs a little work.

You may actually have a great looking website with awesome navigation.

Your content may be fantastic and super informative.

Even if you’re hitting all the target points that a website must have, there are still a few things you may not be aware of that could improve the overall performance of your site.

1. Slow Load Times

Great websites can be rendered completely useless by this one simple problem… slow load times.

Studies have show that on average you have a whopping 2 seconds to get your web page loaded and viewable, otherwise visitors will bounce (leave).

Without going into too much technical detail here are a few of the major causes of this problem that you can typically correct without much effort.

Too Many Ads. Advertising can be a great way to generate extra income. However, most ads are populated via some sort of ad server (ex. Google AdSense).

This means that to display an ad several things must happen:

  1. The site must call out to the ad server to request an ad
  2. A small auction must take place in order to decide which ad is show
  3. The winner is selected and the ads content must be requested
  4. Finally the ad can be shown

This process must occur for every single ad location on the page. While this process is typically quick, the more ads you place, the more you increase the load time of the page, delaying the rendering process.

Sometimes these ads are loaded asynchronously, meaning along with the page or not blocking its load time. But when the ads do finally load they can push content all around as they fill their space, potentially moving the reader from where they were.

Limiting the amount of ads can greatly increase speed.

Files not compressed/cached. There are two aspects to this one. First file compression sometimes called minification.

Your website can be made up of hundreds of files. When developing a site, builders use whitespace, basically lots of carriage returns, to separate code. Even though the compilers that read these files ignore this white space it still increases the time it takes.

Compression/Minification is the process of removing all this white space and compressing files down into a single sheet that the browser reads thus, limiting the amount of requests that need to be made.

Caching on the other hand is a process that allows a server to read a file once and then store it in some sort of local memory.

If a request needs to made to that file again the browser says “Hey, instead of going and looking for this file again, why not use the one I already have on hand.” And as long as no changes have been made, that’s what it does.

So compression brings everything together that it can into a single file and caching stores that file for quicker access at a later point in time, thus increasing load time.

Asset Sizes. The last thing we will touch on is asset sizes. Assets are all of the photos, videos and files (like PDF’s) you use on your website.

People don’t always directly correlate the file size and load time. For example, just because an image is displayed at 200 x 200 on a website doesn’t mean that is the actual size of the image.

Maybe the developers are using some styling to bring that image size down.

The image itself may be 5,000px wide. This is an image that will take a very long time to load.

Place three on the page and now we are going to be waiting a while. The same goes for audio, video and other file types.

To solve this problem, simply decrease the file size. Most applications offer ways to do this, but in short, shrink images, save pdf for web and use compressed mp3 vs uncompressed wav files.

2. Not Responsive

Responsive design is essentially a must today.

Dedicated mobile websites are ok, but responsive is where it’s at.

A responsive website is essentially one that “responds” to the current browser window size and adjusts the content on the page to display properly for this new size.

This is a major benefit when it comes to the countless device display sizes that are available on the market today.

By having a design that displays itself properly on any device means that it will look great for those viewing on desktop and just as great for those on mobile.

When it comes to mobile in particular, visitors do not want to deal with small text, pinch to zoom and most importantly, side scrolling to read content.

Lack of mobile readiness has two major implications:

  1. Most visitors will bounce. This means they will simply leave your website not wanting to fight the display to find content.
  2. Search engine optimization (SEO). Google now uses mobile readiness in determining its search rankings on mobile. Lack of a mobile site will instantly drop you farther and farther down the list.

3. Console Errors

This point may not be as obvious as some of the others however it does bear some mentioning.

A console error is just your browser reporting that something is wrong with your website.

You won’t be able to see these errors unless you use some sort of developer tools which most browsers now have.

Errors arise for a lot of different reasons. Inability to find assets, broken JavaScript code or cross-browser issues.

When it comes to inability to find assets, your browser may take quite a lot of time hunting them down only to come up empty handed.

This search time places a high load on your server and increases your load times.

It also means that the asset you wanted to present to your visitors simply won’t be there.

In the case of an image this might be obvious, but in regards to file downloads, you may not know until you go to download.

If users expect a download and in turn get nothing, they’re not going to be all that satisfied and will most likely leave.

Broken JavaScript code can also be a big issue. Sometimes there are direct effects, such as the page itself not functioning properly, but sometimes this is not the case.

You can be putting unnecessary pressure on the server by asking it to do things it simply cannot do. And in some cases a page may break down and not load at all.

Clean code is happy code and makes for happy website visitors.

4. Poor Conversion Rate

So we’ve talked a lot about technical issues, but what if everything’s great?

A perfectly performing website may still need work if it has a 0% conversion rate.

In my article “How to Get More Website Conversions and Increase Sales,” I speak at length about what conversions are and what they are not, but to give you the abridged version:

“A conversion is an opportunity to move someone farther down in your funnel.”

We sometimes get conversions and sales confused. A successful conversion does not always mean a sale.

Sometimes, like in the case of a blogger, a successful conversion may simply be gaining a subscriber.

Yes, conversions can be sales, but they can also be phone calls, contact form submissions or even lead magnet downloads.

In order to measure if you’re successfully converting visitors you need to identify what your goals are and all of the actions that are associated with completing those goals. (Basically a funnel).

Each time someone completes and action and moves farther down in your funnel, you have a successful conversion.

If your website is converting at 0% it’s a clear sign that it isn’t working at all.

To rectify this problem:

  1. Identify the stages in your funnel.
  2. Provide ways for your visitors to move themselves down in your funnel.
  3. Create ways to measure and track these conversion.

If you start seeing an increase in your website conversion, you’re doing well. If not, make changes and keep tracking.

5. Lack of Direction

There is nothing more frustrating on the web then a site that has absolutely no sense of direction.

Everything is everywhere and nothing seems to go together at all.

This always leaves me wondering, what am I doing here and how did I get here in the first place?

Ok, ok, lack of direction isn’t always quite this extreme.

In fact, in many cases it’s much more subtle than this.

I like to think of a website with a lack of direction as a website with no flow.

Yes all the information is there, yes it’s easy to find, but it’s left up to me to decide where to start and where to go.

This can be detrimental in a lot of ways.

Visitors may see a price without ever being offered it’s benefits to decide if the price is good. Without this they can assume it’s either too cheap or too expensive and not purchase.

This case also does not offer them any chance to get excited about a product before purchasing.

Occasionally, certain pages may contain information that’s vital to understanding another.

Websites with clear direction understand the flow that is necessary for a visitor to get the most out of their time and guide/direct them where to go.

Essentially, they lead them through the conversion process and at the end encourage the user to take action and convert.

This leaves them well informed and educated enough to decide whether or not this is good for them.

If you’ve done a good job guiding and directing you should see an increase in your conversion rates.

Conclusion

At the end of the day even the most well design/built website could use a little work.

It’s an ongoing process that requires working and reworking different aspects to gain the most on the other end.

I strongly encourage you to take some time, review your site and see where you might need just a little work.