Do you ever find yourself on a website that’s cluttered, hard to look at, or seems like it was designed in the 90s? Most people find themselves immediately skeptical of any information on a website like that.
Whether or not it’s fair, we associate our experience of a website with how trustworthy the company is. 75% of users say they make a judgment about a company’s credibility based on their website.
[bctt tweet=”75% of users say they make a judgment about a company’s credibility based on their website.” username=”hostgator”]
If the website itself doesn’t appear to be high-quality and well thought out, why would anyone believe the company’s work is any better?
Your website is the main face of your business for most of your new prospects. You have to make a first impression that gives them every reason to believe your company is legitimate and trustworthy. That means creating a website that conveys professionalism.
8 Website Issues That Make You Look Unprofessional
If you don’t want to lose your prospects’ trust the moment they land on your website, you need to avoid letting anything onto your site that looks sloppy or unprofessional. These are a few of the biggest offenders that could be losing you customers.
1. Bad design
Bad design can mean a lot of different things. It could mean your website’s design looks outdated. It could mean your home page is unattractive due to clutter, or that your navigation is unintuitive.
Whether you have the kind of design problem that causes people to click away the moment they see the website, or the kind that makes them give up after a few seconds of not finding what they need, you have a problem.
If you’re getting an alright amount of traffic but have high bounce rates or low conversion rates, then a bad design could be the culprit.
What to do about it: Hire a designer.
Fixing a design problem requires making an investment in a professional that knows how to design a professional-looking website. Spend some time looking for the right person or design firm. Look at samples of their work yourself and ask friends to do so as well. Do the websites they’ve designed before look attractive and professional?
If you think your website looks good, yet are still concerned that it doesn’t seem to be doing its job, you may need a UX designer instead of a web designer. They’ll analyze your website in terms of the actions people take (or don’t) and what changes you need to make so that your website successfully urges people toward your goals. A UX project includes user testing, so you can be confident the website you end up with will be well designed to inspire action in your users.
2. Broken links
Any time one of your users lands on a dreaded 404 page, it means they aren’t finding what they need. And if they got to the error page through a link on your website, that disappointment definitely makes you look bad.
Broken links are bound to happen over time as websites get updated and pages move, but you should make an active effort to avoid letting any remain on your website for long. Clicking on a link that doesn’t work every once in a while won’t necessarily lose you a prospect forever, but if they encounter multiple broken links? It makes you look sloppy.
What to do about it: Find and fix all your broken links.
The good news is that fixing broken links is pretty easy. There are free tools out there that will automate the process of finding all the broken links on your site so that all you have to do is go remove the link, or replace it with a URL that works. Make a habit out of looking for broken links every couple of months so you keep your website up to date.
3. Bad writing
Bad grammar, misspellings, and awkward wording all serve as distractions to someone trying to understand what you’re saying on your website. And worse, they tell your visitors that you couldn’t be bothered to proofread or hire an editor.
If you didn’t bother with something as basic as that, they may well wonder what else you’re careless about in your business.
But even if the grammar and spelling is mostly okay, you could still need to give your website writing a revisit. If you tried to get your website up without hiring a professional copywriter, then you probably didn’t choose the best wording to get your positioning across and drive action. Your words may be technically correct, but not make a clear case for why your visitors should want to work with you. Replacing your current copy with better wording on your website could quickly make your business more attractive to visitors and increase conversions.
What to do about it: Proofread the whole website and consider hiring a copywriter.
To start, do a read over of the whole website to look for minor errors and ways to improve the language that you can handle on your own. If your read over convinces you that your whole website needs a copy refresh, then look for a local copywriter or marketing agency to bring in and help you improve the writing across the website. Professional copy that’s both correct and persuasive can make a huge difference to how official your website feels and how good a job it does at convincing people to buy.
4. Outdated content
Content marketing usually consists of a mix of evergreen content and blog posts that are timely.
If you wrote a blog post five years ago about a product that’s no longer around or highlighted industry news that’s become outdated, there’s no good reason to keep that information on your website. If someone happens upon your post without context, it could make you look like you don’t know what you’re talking about.
What to do about it: Perform a content audit.
Once a year or so, go back through all your old content to analyze:
- What content you should scrap.
- What content is fine to keep, but needs an update.
- What content works fine as is.
Performing a content audit will help you get rid of anything you have on the site that’s not working now or that could make your company look bad or untrustworthy. As an added benefit, it will help you better understand what is working so you can improve your content strategy moving forward.
5. A bad mobile experience
Nearly a third of all online shopping now happens on mobile devices.
Businesses can no longer get away with not having a mobile-optimized website. If the visitors coming to your site from a mobile device have a bad experience, not only will they leave, but it also makes you look bad. At this point, they know you should know better.
What to do about it: Invest in building a mobile version of your website.
You already knew you should have a mobile-friendly version of your website, but if you’ve been dragging your feet on it, here’s a good reason to get it done. A website that doesn’t work on mobile makes you look unprofessional and is probably already losing you business. The good news is that if you’re already planning to hire a designer to help you improve your overall design based on our earlier suggestion, they should be able to create a mobile version of your website as part of the overall web design process.
6. Distracting ads
No matter how great your content is, if there are ads surrounding it that are distracting and make the page look cluttered, it will make your website feel cheap and unprofessional.
It is possible to have ads on your website without it being a distraction that loses you credibility, but it’s tricky. If your visitors find the ads obnoxious, you’ll lose their attention and trust and the money you stand to make from the ads will come at a big cost.
What to do about it: Either scrap them completely, or make sure your design minimizes how distracting they are.
If you have a business model that makes it possible to do away with outside ads, then do so. If you need them to keep your website up, then make sure you design each page on your website in a way where the ads don’t detract from the information on the page. A clean design can go a long way toward keeping the ads from seeming like clutter.
And whatever you do, make sure no ads are allowed that auto-play audio. Someone sitting in their office, at a library, or in a public place, will pretty much have to click away within seconds if their computer starts playing audio without warning, and many others will choose to out of annoyance. Don’t lose people based on an amateur mistake.
7. Stock images
Every website needs images and, we get it, stock images are the easiest option. But using stock photos won’t add much to your website and they may even hurt you. If customers see the same image on your website that they encountered on a less reputable site, that can subconsciously influence how much they trust you.
People know stock images when they see them and, frankly, they just make you look lazy.
What to do about it: Create original images.
Original images take more time and work to create, but they convert 45% higher than stock photos. You can hire a professional photographer, or you can put some work into creating stock photos of your own. Buy some basic equipment, experiment some to get the best lighting, and you should be able to produce better photographs than the ones you find on stock image websites. Your visitors will notice the difference.
8. No https
With all the high-profile data hacks that have occurred in recent years, people are reasonably concerned about website security. Any website they hand sensitive information to, like a credit card number, has to earn their trust. The number one thing a business can do to show customers the website is secure is to have that https in the URL field for all pages that ask for sensitive information.
Without it, savvy consumers will leave your website to find someone more secure to shop with. If you’re asking for financial information without having https, you’re putting all your customers at risk and giving them every reason not to trust you.
What to do about it: Buy an SSL certificate or switch to a web hosting plan that provides one.
This is probably the easiest problem to fix on the list. All you need to do is buy an SSL certificate for your website. Some web hosting plans even come with a private SSL included so you might consider if it’s time for a web hosting upgrade instead of buying a certificate outright.
When you offer a secure website to your customers, you show them you’re a legitimate business they can trust. It’s a bare minimum for exhibiting the kind of professionalism customers count on.
You can’t assume your business website will be perceived as a professional website just because it represents a business. You have to show visitors your professionalism from the moment they land on your website and earn their trust with every step they take once they’re there. That takes work and means putting some real care into how you present yourself on your website. But the trust you earn from your customers – and the profits that leads to –make it all worth it.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.