03 Sep 2013

Why Websites Don’t Work

The most common question I’m asked is, “Don’t companies know their web sites are awful?” It is difficult to answer that question with a quick answer. However, the best answer is simply “No.” They don’t know.

Whether the web site is from a Fortune 100 company, brand new start up business, or if the web site was designed by a professional web design company or an in-house staff, the investment in building a usable web site sits at the bottom of the budget. It’s more than common to allocate budget monies between user interface designers, social marketing, search engine inclusion and marketing strategies. Of this, advertising gets the lion’s share.


Build It and They Will Come and Leave

Is your website the perfect balance of design and usability?

Is your website the perfect balance of design and usability?

Why do websites perform poorly? It seems clear that top tier of corporate have no idea if their website works for everyone who uses it. In their defense, they believe they hired the right people to design and build their website. Did they?

I recently heard my first success story of my entire career. A large department store that has never had a website hired a company to build an ecommerce site. They chose a company that had the skilled staff and stayed out of the process rather than making demands and micro-managing each step. The result is a website that is performing extremely well, both functionally with a proprietary shopping cart and for their customers with a user friendly, customer oriented design. The company that built it is staffed with programmers, testers, and designers whose salaries are over $100,000 a year, so you can just imagine the cost of getting that perfect website.

It’s interesting to see how many tools are developed for usability and accessibility testing and yet we continue to muddle through websites as users. The tools are not the solutions and in fact, they often point to the need for solutions that no one on the staff has the skills to deal with. So the result of using these tools results in a dead end.


In Search of the Wizard

When Dorothy went in search of the Wizard in the hopes he would send her home, she had to perform the difficult task first of getting the broom that belonged to the evil witch. To do that she needed a plan, which she didn’t have. In fact, Dorothy needed to be rescued by a clumsy but devoted group of friends. In the end, the Wizard presented each of them with something logical and simple. Each of his gifts met a particular need.

This is why websites fail. User needs are not met.

Every site needs a plan and most do not, or if they do, it is not properly created. This is beginning of the tragedy of the infinite steam of poorly designed websites. The people assigned to rescue the website may not have the right skills. Decision makers are likely to not even know the plan is wrong and the team they have are not capable of producing what’s expected. Or, they are and someone along the way thinks they know better and blocks their efforts. The needs of users are lost.


See No Evil

Does your website plan include testing and maintenance?

Does your website plan include testing and maintenance?

Web sites don’t work for everyone who uses them because the talent needed to build them are not found in one or two people, or one or two departments. Consider the fact that companies hire usability professionals who know nothing about persuasive design and conversions. Most programmers and website designers have no idea how to code for accessibility compliance. Stakeholders and project managers don’t know what they need to know to direct the project. Most companies don’t bother to test their sites before going into production and it’s far more likely an entire advertising and Internet marketing campaign is ready before the web site is.

The amount of knowledge and skills required to build a web site that works for all people on all devices is either not understood or ignored by company decision makers. Tens of thousands of dollars are wasted on band aid solutions and panic fixes after their data indicates that marketing alone is not generating the revenue they seek.

According to UX Specialists are Hot Commodities http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9237419/UX_specialists_are_hot_commodities

“… in this age of mobility and user-driven technology, IT shops that don’t have a user experience expert onboard need to get serious about begging, borrowing or stealing to find one — and that’s an increasingly difficult proposition.”

However, when most companies think of “devices”, they aren’t considering screen readers and other assistive technology needed to use websites. And web designers trained in usability are not trained in organic search engine optimization. User experience design does not automatically conversions design. A web site may be easy to use but lacking in a long list of reasons to choose it for products and services.

Websites fail because it is expensive to build and maintain them properly from the start. Choose companies willing to work with you, such as Internet Marketing Ninjas, who provide fully integrated services with teams of advanced skilled people. When you hire an SEO company, the risk is a website your customers will find frustrating to use. It’s rare to find a company that does requirements gathering, functional development and testing, user interface design and testing, accessibility design and testing, conversions design and testing, plus mobile, SEO, PPC, social and Internet marketing.

But this is the company you want to choose if you want your website to work for everyone and be the brand everyone is talking about, in a good way.


Free Download

Free Download

For a free boost to your website design that also works magic in search engines, please read my new ebook,

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With under five seconds to make a connection with site visitors, your web site must present value, trust, authority, ease of use, main tasks, and answers to top questions, inspire and motivate. This book explains how to decrease site abandonment and bounce rates, increase page views and conversions and send happy signals to search engines.


Photo credit: Taken by Kim Krause Berg