Grow your website | Psychology for Marketers

5 things you need to stop doing right now if you want your website to grow

What if you are the one unknowingly sabotaging your website from growing? Remove these 5 bad practices and grow your website in no time.

If you ever tried to lose weight, then you probably remember some of the basic rules: stop using sugar, stop eating junk food, don’t eat late at night. By eliminating a few bad habits you can get the body you want.
The same works with your website. If it’s not growing as much as you want to, then look at what bad practices you can eliminate.

1. You don’t give anything for free

Browse various websites for a few minutes and count how many of them offer something for free (either a free report when you sign up or a free trial/sample of their product).

The main reason why you need to do this, is because others are! Imagine a person is searching for catering services online. They are down to 2 websites. One of them offers a free sample of their service, while other does not. Which one do you think they will chose?
The truth is that there is always somebody doing what we do. To stay in a game, you need to provide (at minimum) the same value as your competitor.

There is a psychological reason to giving something for free. When giving away gifts, we trigger what is called reciprocity.
Robert Cialdini describes it in his bestselling book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.When we receive something for free from another person, we feel in debt and obliged to return a favor ( in other words, favor for a favor). By offering a free content on your website, you are more likely to get a return favor from your visitors (be it an email address or their money).

Here are some examples:

Crazyegg is offering a free trial for their services:

5 things you need to stop doing right now if you want your website to grow

HowToFascinate is giving away a free report for those who sign up:

5 things you need to stop doing right now if you want your website to grow

2. Difficult to read font

Despite all the improvements with the technology, reading text from the screen is still more fatiguing. It’s simply not natural. Our eyes have never been designed to read text from the screen.

The right font is meant to eliminate this friction. The last thing you want is to lose your visitors because they get too tired reading your content!

So what do you do?

  • Firstly, make sure your font is big enough. 12 is not good (it’s good for printed books, but not online text). Go for 14 or 16.
  • Secondly, choose the type of the font that’s easy to read. This is not a place to go crazy creative. The main objective of a font is to be read.
  • And lastly, chose the right color. Dark font against a light background will be the easiest to read.

MarieForleo is a great of example of how to do it right. Despite using black background and cursive font, the text is easy to read thanks to the right color combination (white with purple shadowing) and big size:

5 things you need to stop doing right now if you want your website to grow

However, you will struggle trying to read the website by Dolce&Gabbana. Not only is the font too small, but it also blends with the background (the 2 colors are very similar):

5 things you need to stop doing right now if you want your website to grow

3. You’re asking for too many things

Even though a human brain is a very advanced structure, it has it’s limit.

Should I click here? Or there? Or leave my email? If you ask a person too many things, they will get confused and instead of doing what you want them to do, they will not do anything. This is called inaction inertia.

A person can be fully, consciously focused only on one task. Determine what is the main call to action you want your visitors to do, and remove any others. This is crucial for 2 of your pages:

  • Sign up page – this is where you ask your visitors to leave their email address and subscribe to you. On this page you should not ask for anything else. Don’t ask them to follow you on social media, or leave a comment. Don’t ask them to buy. Both the copy and the design of your page should be all around signing up.
  • Sales page – this is where you sell your product. Don’t ask for anything else. Some websites remove their navigation on their product page to limit choices a visitor can make. The only reason you want a visitor here is to buy your product, nothing else.

To understand the concept better, have a look at the image below. Do you know what to click? There are 105 clickable items or links on this page! Yes, I counted :P

Oracle‘s page is trying to give answers to any of the possible question you might have, but by doing so, they overwhelm their visitors with information and call to actions:

5 things you need to stop doing right now if you want your website to grow

VisualWebsiteOptimizer, on the other hand, limits its main page to direct you to one action only – start your trial:

5 things you need to stop doing right now if you want your website to grow

4. Stock photos

Stock images have two significant downsides.

Firstly, they are extremely popular, with some images breaking the ranks of popularity (and being featured on almost any website). We stopped noticing them. We know they are there, we know they are bought. We just don’t pay attention any more.
Secondly, they don’t seem real. These photos are so perfect that lose any relevancy to the real world and your website’s visitors.

You want the images that add to your content, and that make your readers stop. Even if not perfect, use images of the author of the article (either you or a guest writer), who is behind the website and any other images that show real people. If you have images from events and trainings – they will be perfect for your site.

Does it mean you should not use any stock photos? You can still use them, but remember these few rules:

  • Choose innovative and less common ones (there are a few popular images that you see all over internet – don’t repeat them).
  • Make sure they are directly linked and relevant to your topic.
  • When using images of people, go for the ones that look as natural as possible. Fake people with fake smiles will make you look fake.
  • Mix them with other type of images.

Here is an example of the type of images you should not use. Most of business photos look the same, they show happy people with big smiles on their faces, all good looking and perfectly dressed. How many times have you been in an office like that in real life? You get my point.

5 things you need to stop doing right now if you want your website to grow

Here, on the other hand, we have a quite different image. It’s funny, creative, and not widely used on the web. At least not yet ;p

5 things you need to stop doing right now if you want your website to grow

5. Unclear what you do

If somebody lands on your website, it means they are looking for something. Whether you have the answer or not – they will determine it in the first few seconds.

Is your website clear at communicating what you do? You can do a little test. Show your website for 15 seconds to somebody who has never seen it before, and then ask them what they think you do. Was the answer correct? That you are on the right way, congratulations!

Wrong answer? Keep on reading.

There are 3 elements that are crucial to communicating what you do: design, headline and call to action. Let’s look at all of them

  • Design

Every element of your website design should communicate what you do. It starts with the right choice of colors. There is a reason why luxury brand choose black, why companies targeting women go for pink or purple, and why banks prefer blue (for more information on color psychology for webmarketing check out my previous article HERE).
You need to make sure that the images represent your business. If you’re selling construction machines, show them. You can also show people using your product.

  • Headline

Be clear what you do. What is it that you are offering? What benefits will people get from you? It needs to be right to the point, cohesive and concise.

  • Call to action (CTA)

What are you asking people to do? Whatever the call to action, it needs to be aligned: sign up, get your report, watch the video now. All of them need to be an extension of to what you do.

Kissmetrics very clearly communicates what they do. the page is minimal and every element is strategically designed to convey this message, starting from a clear headline to sign up form:

5 things you need to stop doing right now if you want your website to grow

MailChimp not only uses great headline to communicate what they do, they also have a video showing the product in use:

5 things you need to stop doing right now if you want your website to grow


Now back to you:

What changes have helped your website grow? Share your insights (or questions) in a comments section below.

And if you liked this article – like it, share it or tweet about it (help me spread the word :) )

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