20 Website Elements that Prevent You from Reaching Your Goals



A lot can be said about them, both good and bad of course.

But one thing is certain, you can’t escape having them. Every new project, client or annual budget carries a set of goals you will need to accomplish.

It can be to drive more sales, leads, signups, web inquiries or whatever else you report on to prove if your SEO is working.

But, many internal factors may affect achieving goals too. Often, In spite of what you do, other things stand on the way and a small change to the website might have a tremendous effect on how your channel is performing.

Here are some of them.


1. Pop Ups

Popups seem like a great solution to get people to sign up for a mailing list or push them down in the lead generation process. But let’s make it clear – they are annoying. Super annoying. In fact, they are double annoying when appear right at the moment your visitor is trying to decide whether to buy a product.

Sure, they may get you few extra email subscribers but are they worth distracting visitors and pushing them off buying?

2. Generic Stock Photography

Oh, show of hands – who else reacts to generic stock photos with a smirk? In all honesty, are we really supposed to believe that those people work for the company? That they are always so happy and productive at meetings or while talking between themselves? Or that their office is so sterile and, well, perfect? C’mon!

Those generic photographs do nothing else but obstructing the truth, in the most obvious way at that. And that certainly doesn’t help with sales.

3. Confusing Copy

Is this product for me? Will it solve my problem? Will they stand by me if things go wrong? Will I be punished for making a wrong decision? These are typical questions your customers ask themselves before making a purchase. Answer those questions on your website and your chances for a sale increase.

But ignore them and your visitors will be less likely to convert. Full stop.

4. Confusing Navigation Labels

Confusing navigation is no longer such a prominent problem online. Yet, you can still come across sites on which page labels don’t deliver on the promise. The reasons for that are many, poor SEO is one of them. Corporate decision making process can play a part here too. As a result, your visitors get confused about where to go and frustrated that they can’t find the information they need to make a decision to buy.

5. Broken Links

Imagine constantly being given wrong directions which almost always get you end up in a dead end. How many times would you try before giving up? The same applies to your visitors trying to follow your internal links. Finding themselves in a dead end all the time won’t turn them in to happy customers for sure.

6. Poor Layout and Typography

Unfortunately still the most common UX problem. Confusing or too many layout elements, unreadable text, blurred images, information scattered around the page, lack of organization, readibility, text formatting will put even the most determined buyer off the purchase. Guaranteed.

7. Slow Loading Time

Do you remember how long loading a website through a phone modem used to take? I do. And I remember joking that you could have typed the URL and went off to brew some tea. The page often wasn’t even opened by the time you come back.

We’ve come a long way from those days but so did our expectations. Today, if a webpage loads for even second too long, your visitors get irritated. Add one or two more and your visitors are pretty much gone.

8. Empty the Cart Button

My personal pet peeve – an “Empty the Cart” button. Appealing or not, it serves as a panic button.

Removing the button from your checkout doesn’t mean that you will prevent your vistors from opting out of the purchase, if they want to. Quite the contrary, they can still leave anytime they want. Products they have added to the cart however will be waiting for them next time they come back.


1. Lack of other ways to communicate than through an email form

An email form may seem like the most optimal way to generate web inquiries. But in reality, it can hardly do its job.

Email forms tend to be generic, ideal for sending those short, one-time requests. But they rarely invite anyone to an ongoing conversation.

Moreover, forms don’t provide the assurance of being heard at an instant. Your customers don’t want to fill in a form and wait wondering if anyone even received their inquiry. Phone or live chat provides a much better means for that.

2. Content that’s impossible to decipher

Business babble is a plague of many websites. Especially most sought after information, like service and company’s description seem to be written in a way that’s understandable only by a person who wrote it. If that’s the problem of your website content, campaign for it to be changed. ASAP.

3. A lack of clearly defined goals

Every site should have a defined goal for its visitors. These people don’t know it before they land on it, naturally. Unfortunately, quite often no one in the organisation knows them either. Some people might think it’s to buy. To others, it might be to get in touch. In reality though it might be something else and unless you communicate it clearly to your visitors, they might never complete it.


1. No value offered

Most people are tired of countless email newsletters they receive. And getting them to sign up for yet another one is quite a task. Many however are still willing to exchange their email address but only for something they will see of value. Let’s face it, promising unique content every week is not going to cut it in 2014. Your visitors must fully realize what value you are offering them, otherwise, no signup.

2. Complex sign up process

Signing up for an email newsletter is somewhat similar to an impulse buy. Based on the perceived value a person first signs up and only then gets a chance to evaluate their decision.

Given that, your form should be as short and simple to fill in as possible. Just not to let your visitor stop and think about what they are doing. It should be a quick and snap decision. Regrets might come later but not during the signup process.

Yet many companies add various checkboxes to their signup fields, often prompting their visitors to make a call on whether they want something or not. This not only makes the process more complex but also pushes them to analyze their action.

3. Form placement

Your form might be short and simple but if visitors can’t find it, they aren’t going to sign up. Creating dedicated newsletter pages, or asking people to click a number of times before they see the form is a surefire way to push them away from completing that goal.

4. Long forms

Similarly, a form that’s too can also push people away from signing up. Just think how you react on seeing a long form you have to fill in. Unless your life depends on it, you won’t do it.


1. Lack of clear lead nurturing strategy

Lead generation seems easy. Offline. You empower your sales team with whatever tools they need and off they go.

For many companies though, things get a bit more complicated online. Sure, they might offer some incentives for visitors to sign up for a newsletter or a mailing list. But often that’s just about it.

Yet, lead nurturing is more than this. Having a clear, step by step lead nurturing strategy is crucial but often completely overlooked.

If your company doesn’t have a clear lead nurturing strategy, push for one. It is one thing to gather prosepcts email addresses. Knowing what to do with them and how to nurture until they become customers is another.

2. Confusing calls to action

Every company has goals it wants its visitors to complete. They can range from viewing the company’s offering, a portfolio, signing up for a newsletter or a mailing list or anything else really. The thing is, unless those goals are clearly communicated, your prospect might never realise what you want them to do.

3. Confusing Landing Pages

We already talked about reasons for signing up to your list. But even if those are clearly defined, your landing pages might still prevent visitors from doing so. Too many distractions, confusing copy that does not live up to the promise of the C2A or a form that’s too long to complete are among the top reasons.

4. Too long forms

One of the ideas of lead generation is that you want to collect as much information about your prospect as possible. But, often businesses push too far with that. Ask for too much and visitors will become suspicious about the whole process.

5. Confusing explanation of what you are doing

Lastly – your prospects might come to your website looking for a specific solution but unless they are clearly told that you offer it, they will not complete their goals.

Your Turn

What other website elements did you find making it difficult for you to reach your goals? Share them with us in the comments.

Creative Commons Image by Mike Moody / Flickr

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