Have you ever entered a site and you can’t hit the back button fast enough? Something about the page is an instant turnoff, and you back out or get out of the browser window as fast as possible.
I did that this morning when I entered a new page from an email I received. And it got me to thinking about all the reasons a site doesn’t work. And by understanding what doesn’t work, you can reassess your own site, and determine what you can do to make it work – to make it more attractive to the people that are coming there for the very first time.
1. Autosound. This is what got me this morning. I entered a page and started looking around, and a voice started to talk with music in the background. The only problem was I couldn’t find where it was coming from – no audio or video button was noticeable on the page, so I had no way of turning it off. I backed out of the page as fast as I could. I work from a home office, so sound doesn’t really matter. But imagine if I would have been in a busy office. That sound – whether its voice of music – would have made me hit “delete” even faster.
2. Popups. Popups are a dying breed, but they are still around and visible on some sites. I don’t mind an occasional popup asking me to sign up for a free report – once. What really bugs me (and a lot of other people too) is when the popup appears again and again, every time I click to a new page. I get it – you want me to sign up. But that’s not a way to motivate me to the next step.
3. Slow load times. Everyone online has what I call online-ADD. If something doesn’t happen FAST, we move away. We won’t wait 15 seconds for a photograph to load – it’s either there now or I move on. If you load more than thumbnails, or have a slow server, you risk losing your best customers.
4. No purpose.
What do you want people to do when they visit your site? That should be obvious from every page on your site. Don’t make a potential customer search for your contact information, block them from sending you an email, or making it difficult to find what city you work in. Think of your ultimate goal, and make every page lead directly to that conclusion.
5. Wrong purpose. It’s easy to get information online, and you may have found a guru or two that touts the necessity of multipurposing your site. Don’t lose site of your ultimate goal, and leading people to that goal. Too much information, and too many distractions can be worse than not enough information.
6. Bad navigation. Navigation has a distinct pattern. Yet I still see some small sites trying to buck the trend, and do something different. Navigation isn’t the place to show your differences. People expect navigation to be in certain areas, and they expect to find similar tabs from site to site. Don’t be cute in your descriptions – the goal is to get people to your pages, where they read all about you.
7. Key information is missing. People visit a site to get specific information. If it isn’t there, they don’t know what to do. So they leave your site, never to return. Don’t make them ask more questions after visiting your site – give them the details. What type of photography you do, your pricing, the area you work in, your expectations – all of that should be readily available. Yes, pricing is a sticky subject, but even a ballpark number (starting at $1,500) can eliminate a ton of callers that will merely waste your time. And if you sell your images through a shopping cart system, make sure they know exactly how much each size is without having to click from page to page for the answer.
8. Immediate signups. Have you ever typed in a URL and ended up on a signup box? Why would I give you information when I have no idea what your site holds for me? Let me get a feel for what you have to offer. When I like you, and want to build a relationship with you, then I’ll provide my email address.
9. Too much flash. Bells and whistles aren’t necessary – even on a photographer’s site. Keep it simple, and give people what they want. It is more than photographs – they want to get to know you too. They want to know how you work, what made you get into the business, what type of clients you have.
10. No personality. If your site looks like everyone else’s, you’ll get what everyone else is getting. Let some of your own personality shine through.
11. Typos and poor copy. If you have words misspelled, and grammar that should have been corrected at the elementary school level, your prospects will never contact you – they will be correcting your copy. It sends out the wrong message, and makes people wonder what else you won’t have the skills for.
12. Wrong dimensions. Have you ever been on a homemade site where the dimensions don’t fit within your browser window? You have to scroll to see the complete width, and it just doesn’t look right in your viewing screen? Stick with the standard dimensions.
13. Cookie cutter sites. Some companies offer “templates” where you change a color or two, add a logo, and you have your very own site. The problem is when you visit another site by the same company, it looks identical to yours. If a client is looking for a photographer, you aren’t the only site they visit. When they see site after site that looks the same, they lose the ability to decide what’s different – so you are all lumped together.
14. Out of date. Ever been to a site where it has “latest news”, and discovered the latest news is actually from two years ago? It’s an immediate indication that you haven’t been there in a while, so why would I trust and contact you for my photography?
15. Video/Graphics only home pages. Many photographers skip the copy and go right to the presentation. When I enter a home page, I want to know why I’m there – and copy can help me discover more about the photographer’s personality. Google also loves copy – it can’t read through a video or graphics presentation. Give me a choice, and let me decide what’s right for me.
16. Lack of About Us page. Fill up your about us page with content. Tell why you got started in photography, what it means to you, what education you’ve had, and what awards you’ve won. The more the better. Toot your own horn. If you have trouble doing this, hire it done. People want to get to know you as a person before they take the next step.
17. Unprofessional. Yep, I still see photographer trying to design with an old software program, or using their own knowledge of programming to create a “mom and pop” site. People decide in 10 seconds whether to stay or not. If it’s unprofessional, the back button is the first thing they look for. This may be your biggest marketing tool, so invest in a great site, even if it’s the only marketing piece you can afford.
18. Poor color choices. Ever seen the black backgrounds with white text? Or worse, a light colored site with white text? Poor color combinations can lead to an unprofessional look. Stick with the basics, and choose your colors for your template design.
People have many reasons to back out of a site. What are some of your top reasons?