25th July 2013

Why do websites fail?

Why websites fail and what you can do to make sure yours succeeds

Do you have a website but struggle to attract traffic? Perhaps people visit your site for a matter of seconds then navigate away? Or are you finding it hard to convert traffic into new business?

There are a number of reasons that websites fail but most boil down to poor planning and ill-advised shortcuts, often based on a lack of understanding of your customers and Google. By taking some time to place your customers centre stage and to learn more about the principles of search engine optimisation, you can make huge leaps towards creating web traffic and converting it to new clients.

Below, we’ve identified some common reasons websites fail and tips to success to help you avoid these typical pitfalls:


Mistake 1: Not knowing your keywords

Although Google has changed its algorithms over recent years to rely less heavily on keywords, it’s still a mistake not to do your keyword research.

Tip for success: Keywords and key phrases are the words people type in to search engines to find a product or service (preferably yours). By using keyword tools to identify these words, you can make sure that the language you use on your website reflects the vocabulary used by your customers. This might mean, for example, talking about ‘braces’ on your website rather than ‘orthodontics’.

You should also ensure that your navigation (menus, internal links, sliders, etc.) feature the words people will be using to find your key services. This makes it easy for potential patients to see what you offer at a glance and also helps Google to recognise your important content.


Mistake 2: Not knowing your key messages

You have less than 30 seconds to grab attention and communicate what you do to your website’s visitors. Too many businesses forget this, cramming their Home page full of information with no clear message.

Tip for success: Identify what visitors will be looking for when they arrive at your website. Can they see at a glance that you offer the products or services they need? Is it clear what they need to do next or how they can find out more information? If not, how can you make it clearer?

Language is emotive. Write your website as if you are talking to one person – your target customer – and show them how their life will look better after they come to you.


Mistake 3: Forgetting the power of social proof

One of the biggest obstacles to getting people to buy is fear – fear that they might make a mistake, fear that other people know something they don’t, or fear that they’re going to waste money. Many practice websites focus on features instead of benefits, and miss out reassurance altogether.

Tip for success: Testimonials and videos give website visitors reassurance and show people that you are confident in what you do. Social proof has huge currency because it tells people that others have gone before them in buying your products and services, and have not regretted the decision. In fact, they’ve been so pleased with the result that they’re prepared to share their recommendation.

Using videos on your website is also great for search engine optimisation as, according to recent research by MarketingSherpa, videos are likely to attract two to three times as many monthly visitors to your website, double their time on the site, and lead to a 157% increase in organic traffic from search engines.


Mistake 4: Not mentioning price

Many practices decide not to mention treatment prices on their websites, perhaps for fear of alienating potential patients or letting their competitors know what they charge.

Tip for success: Although it’s natural to want people to buy from you based on value and high standards of care, not just price alone, having a separate price list page or mentioning prices on the treatment pages can help new patients to self-select based on whether they can realistically afford your services. For customers, this is helpful too because there are no nasty surprises when they come for a consultation.


Mistake 5: Poor design

Your website could have the best content in the world but if the design is poor, no-one is ever going to get as far as reading what you have to say. To cut costs and speed up the process of launching a website, a staggering number of practices fail to invest in their web design.

Tip for success: Web design is worth the investment because it presents your business in a professional light. You may have ideas about areas of the practice you want your website to showcase but the most important thing you can do is identify what a potential patient would want to see and go with that.


Mistake 6: The wrong structure

Did you know that, while eight out of ten people will read a headline, only two out of ten will read the copy below it? Too many businesses fail to think about their website’s structure – for example, how easy it is to navigate between pages – and cram in as much information as possible without understanding how people read web pages.

Tip for success: Think carefully about your website’s structure. Every page should be just two clicks away with information carefully signposted through treatment buttons and top navigation menus. Remember too, that people tend to scan website copy in an E or F shape. For this reason, we advise keeping important points to the left of the screen and in the top two – more frequently read – paragraphs.

Having key benefits as bullet points is great for skim readers who can identify and understand what you have to offer at a glance. Google will also look at copy in bullet points, headings, menus and links when it’s deciding how to rank your site for a specific search term.


Mistake 7: Not capturing visitors’ information

The reality is that, for every 800 to 2000 people who visit your site, only five to 40 will make an enquiry. This is because potential customers may need to come into contact with your brand as many as 27 times before they make a purchase. Just because someone doesn’t buy straight away, it doesn’t mean they never will. However, many websites fail to use list-building tools to capture visitors’ information (e.g. name and email address).

Tip for success: Think about what you could offer potential patients that would add value and bring them in regular contact with your brand. A newsletter can be effective, providing the content is of good enough quality. Free downloads, such as ebooks, skin tips or offers work well as a way to build a list of warm leads, i.e. people who have already expressed an interest in your practice. Just make sure that you include an unsubscribe mechanism to stay on the right side of anti-spamming laws.


Mistake 8: Not using FAQs

Many websites make it hard for customers to find reassurance or get their questions answered. This lack of insight into the web visitors’ needs can turn people away in droves.

Tip for success: FAQs kill several birds with one stone. If there are questions that you are asked repeatedly, it can save you a lot of time to feature a list of FAQs on your website. By their very nature, FAQs are also likely to include your keywords, making them great for search engine optimisation. Finally, they show that your company is genuine and that you are interested in addressing your customers’ needs and answering their questions.


Mistake 9: Not enough high quality images

Because of a perceived need to cut costs, or perhaps because they’re lacking inspiration, many practices forget to feature high quality images on their website. The result can be too much text or tired stock images that lack originality.

Tip for success: People like to see images and faces. This breaks up the copy and lets you add more content to your web pages. After all, website users are used to scrolling and will read on if they’re interested in the content – they just like to have images to refer to as well.

Ideally, the images should be specific to your practice, giving potential customers a glimpse through the keyhole before they even set foot in your waiting room.

The alt text behind your images is also another way of incorporating your keywords into the website. Describe the pictures with visually-impaired users in mind – don’t just stuff them full of keywords!


Mistake 10: A carbon copy practice website

In our experience, too many practice websites look the same, use the same images and say the same things, leaving website visitors with a strong sense of déjà vu and no real idea about why your practice is different to others.

Tip for success: People want the wow factor – they want to see aspirational images and words on your website. Personalise your site as much as possible and give lots of information about your company so that potential customers feel confident in making an enquiry.


Mistake 11: Forgetting the call to action

Just imagine a website visitor has spent several minutes browsing your site. The design has captured their interest, as has the copy, then you go and blow this opportunity by not telling them what they need to do next.

Tip for success: Every page on your website should finish with a strong call to action. This needs to be clearly signposted and let the reader know exactly what is expected of them. Want them to sign up to your newsletter? Then show them how. Want them to book an appointment? Take them to your easy-to-use booking form.

So, honesty time, is your website making any of these mistakes? We can help.
Call the H&P Design team today 01159 140 640

Improve your business’ online appeal with our experience in web design.

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