Why Most Websites Fail

In this post, I suggest the main reason why websites do not perform as the designer may have promised, or the owner may have expected. I also give a simple method to turn them around.
Please read the content below, or watch/listen to the presentation version. The scripts do differ, but the message is the same.

Whenever I have attended a Business Meeting Group, I ask the question;

“Who thinks their website is working for them and bringing in new sales or leads regularly?”

The owners take great pleasure in telling me how great their website is. The fantastic graphics they had produced, maybe even a company video. They will even boast of the hundreds of pounds they spent on it. But, a business owner with a truly successful website says things like ‘we had another 20 enquiries today’,  or ‘the website produces 80% of our leads’. These are the words of a working website. The rest just sound like expensive electronic brochures.

Yes, most websites are failing. They fail to deliver customers what they want, and fail to live up to their owners expectations of leads and business. Worst still, many don’t believe their sites will ever help them succeed. That demonstrates total disillusionment with the whole process – So why have one, I will ask? – Yet, most can be fixed if they follow a simple process.


Before you read this post any further, I have to ask you a simple question.
Do you have analytics installed on your website? Can you see how main people are visiting it each day? If not then you may need to have analytics setup, otherwise, we will not be able to analyse your website.

Bounce Rate

Do you know what bounce rate is? – This is defined as when a person visits your site, stays on just one page and then goes off to another site. They Bounce, or simply fly away.

The main reason for bounces is that the person visiting the site has not found what they are looking for. You are either not the correct subject, or the content they reach is not suitable.
It could also be that the website took too long to load, but often those people have left before the visitor analytics has even counted them.

Unless you seriously think that somebody will visit your website and order there and then? – That is not a website – That is an order form or just a sales page.

Even the best internet marketers, with the most efficient one-page sales letters, know that they are only effective when they have a list. These are people who they have already been ‘working on’ for days, even months to build up trust and need to a sales page really performs well. This is why they work so hard to recruit affiliates. This trades on the affiliates power to encourage the buyer before they arrive at the page. So, even one-page sales letters need previous interactions.

People need to spend time on your website. You don’t want them to fly away like this fairy, without seeing what you have to offer.

The 5 step to sales

A business sales process and a website is no exception, needs to go through the following steps.

  • Meet – It has to be found in some way by the visitor. – Good First impressions count.
  • Know – The website needs to have information about the company and the service and staff. This is to build up the credibility of who or what you are. Successful websites will find that the ‘about us’ or similar pages, will be one of the most visited by those looking around the site.
  • Trust – The website needs to sell you products and your expertise. You need to build trust in your brand. Otherwise, you can only trade on price. The more you are able to use the site to sell the quality of your products and services, the less price becomes an issue.
  • Return – In this world of short attention spans and easy interruptions, you will rarely win an order on the first visit, unless the visitor has a need to purchase this minute. Therefore you need to show that there are reasons why people will want to come back to the site again. Then you will be able to continue to persuade them.
  • Buy – Only after all these steps, and often some period of time, will the majority of people be ready to make a purchase.

Where do most sites fail?

People never return.

There was a reason why the visitor came to your website. They had a need and some trigger made them click somewhere to then come to your site. They came fo the site expecting that need to be fulfilled. Unless that need or trigger appears again, they are never coming back. You have lost them.

Very rarely was that first reason to make a purchase. It is most often to answer a question, to research, actions which will make it easier for them to purchase something in the future. This is why most Google searches are questions, why “how to” videos are so popular on YouTube. People are working their way through the 5 step process. That takes time and you need them to stay with you while that process is played out.

So, you now need to give them a new and hopefully more pressing reason to return. – And when they return there needs to be something to make them return again. – New Information – new Content.


Big stores like Harrods, pay high wages for staff to dress their window. They know they need to entice people into their shops. They need to provide ‘content’ on their shop window that makes people want to come inside. There is no magic, the theory works the same for websites. The difference is that you need to identify what pages are your shop window because any landing page will be the first page visited.

Those pages need quality content, but they also need to be updated on a regular basis for people to feel the need to check out what is next.

 Do your people ever return?

Your Google Analytics can show you how successfully you encourage customers to return. This is the top level of analysis.

You can see that this website is failing badly. All the signs are there and they all spell ‘trouble.’

  • 96% of people are new sessions, so less than 4% of visitors are seen to return.
  • A bounce rate of 87% means that 87% of people visit just one page, and with an average of 30seconds, they don’t stay around very long. If you knew the site the data referred to, you would also see that the content written there could never be read in 30 seconds.
  • 1.31 pages a session shows that few pages are viewed. But then, a few people must read a few when 87% read just one.
  • Note: With so many bounces, it leaves 33 sessions reading 262 pages, that’s nearly 8 pages each. These are better numbers, but no good when this is just 4% of the people. 33 people a month will not justify this business and they probably did not have enough time to read the content properly.

How do you score these site statistics?

Here is a well-performing site.

  • A bounce rate of 22% is acceptable, though I would check the bounce pages for any clues to improve.
  • 43% of visits are new visitors, which is a good figure. I target 30% for my market.
  • 7.84 pages as an average is a Fantastic return. This shows the people are looking around the site and with an average duration of 2:28, they are reading the content.

How often should you publish?

The speed you need new content is connected to the speed at which people purchase. For most businesses, weekly is sufficient. Unless you have full-time marketing staff, weekly is a safe place to start.

What to write?

We need to engage people, so technical specs will not work. Consider you are out with friends and they ask how your day was. You are going to reply with a story or a comment. Hopefully, it includes some humour. This is exactly what you want to write about. If the story solves a problem, then all the better. The fact it is about or around your product is secondary. The problem solved is the best good news story you can give. This piece you are reading know is a problem with a solution. I hope that it encourages you to read some more and one day, you will become a customer in some way.