5 Worst Offenders That Drive Visitors Away From Your Website

There's a big chance that it's not your brand that's the problem, but the way you present it online.

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By Deborah Mitchell

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You jumped on the digital bandwagon and created a website for your business and created a profile on every social platform known to man, yet your business is not attracting more customers. Does this scenario sound familiar? There's a big chance that it's not your brand that's the problem, but the way you present it online. Your website could need a facelift.

"Visitors judge a website within a few seconds, and react based on elements such as the time it takes to load, the visual aspect and the ease of navigation," says Nay Ayache, my company's in-house WordPress expert. "An InspireMag article last year set that time limit to ten seconds, so everything has to be perfect."

Related: The Giant Marketing Opportunity You're Missing

Take another look at your website and check if it has these five elements that drive audiences away.

1. Chaotic homepages

The homepage is the most important and most valuable piece of real estate on your website. A cluttered page will drive an audience away or confuse them. A website should be organized, with a clear focal point that allows the visitor to feel visually comfortable to explore all the pages. The navigation bar should be easy to find.

When it comes to pages, speed matters. Having a fast, responsive website that resizes to accommodate mobile devices helps visitors view not only the homepage, but the rest of the pages as well.

Worst offenders: Website sliders that rotate at lightning speed, do not have a header and animated GIFs that kill the visitor's concentration.

2. Cryptic navigation

Ideally, the website navigation bar should be placed at the top of the page and always contain a link back to the homepage. The contents should be clearly represented in the menu, and pages should be titled in a way that speaks to visitors' logic, not their imagination.

Worst offenders: Navigation bars with incoherent item hierarchy that leave primary pages hidden in sub-menus, broken links and a hard-to-find contact page.

3. Elusive social media buttons

Burying your social media buttons on the site makes them hard to find. A brand that prides itself on being social should make it obvious to its audience. Engage your audience by making sure that every page on the website contains a link to social platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, etc). Remember, these social media links are visually different from post-sharing buttons.

Related: 5 Tools to Help You Audit Your Web Content

Worst offenders: Websites where social media buttons are buried in the footer or the contact page, broken buttons that do not link to the proper page, and links to one social platform when the brand is active on several others.

4. No calls-to-action

Visitors are flocking to your website, and yet, your bounce rate -- the percentage of people who leave the site after visiting only one page -- is high. Why aren't visitors going beyond glancing at your homepage? Are you sure your visitors know what to do? Guide your audience with calls to action and simple instructions such as "call us," "click here" or "subscribe to our newsletter." As a brand, you want people to know how to make the best out of your website and, ultimately, your services.

Worst offenders: Content made of aimless descriptions instead of reflecting a clear marketing strategy, wording that makes assumptions as to visitors' concentration levels, and links that generously lead them to other websites.

5. Unoriginal photos

A website solely filled with stock photography does not reflect the individuality of the brand. Authenticity goes a long a way with potential customers, so invest in professional photos or shoot your own personal photos to tell your brand's story. In a digital world where users are given endless options, the key to engagement and return on investment is to offer a unique value proposition in form as well as content.

Worst offenders: Websites that use rehashed icons from the '90s, ubiquitous handshake pictures and the 20-year-old CEO in a conference room.

If you have one or more of these offenders on your website, you could be inadvertently driving your audience away. Let us know about your pet peeves with the websites you visit in the comments section below.

Deborah Mitchell

CEO & Founder, Deborah Mitchell Media Associates

Emmy-nominated network television producer Deborah Mitchell is a veteran of ABC and CBS News, a member of the Producers Guild of America, and a board member of the James Beard Broadcast and Media Awards Committee. Through Deborah Mitchell Media Associates she will create your online personality with a customized website, book you on the right television show, manage your social media profiles and finally connect you with the best and brightest digital influencers. Mitchell is author of So You Want To Be On TV

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