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7 Conversion Optimization Mistakes To Leave Behind in 2013

by Sherice Jacob

The web has come a long ways since the early days of 3D tables and dancing hamsters.

Optimizing websites for conversion is catching on, but there are still some major blunders that companies and organizations seem doomed to repeat.

Here are seven blunders that should not be taken into 2013,

Blunder #1: If You Have to Tell Me How to Get Around Your Site – You’re Doing it Wrong

Click to enlarge

Visitors don’t have the time or the inclination to learn how to navigate your site.

You can tell this site was designed by engineers. 🙂

To them, it must be extremely simple and logical to get around, but to the average person, it’s utter confusion.

When you happen to click on a small, light grey link called Navigation, surprise! It doesn’t actually cause the site’s navigation to open. Instead, it gives you an overview of how to make your way around the site.

Website navigation isn’t rocket surgery.

As Steve Krug famously said in his book title, “Don’t make me think!”

You could even go a step further and follow’s lead – which gives you custom navigation options based on your browsing habits and selections on the site. According to Donna Faust Aman, marketing manager for Hayneedle, visitors who interact with the custom navigation convert twice as often as those who don’t.


An example of’s simple, straightforward navigation

Blunder #2: Being Cute and Clever Doesn’t Lead to Conversions


Cryptic websites get far less conversions, no matter how great their service or solution.

Customers care about how you can solve their problems.

If you use cutesy drawings or interesting phrases to communicate your message, be sure to test.

Most of the time, people vastly prefer simple, straightforward navigation, clear direction and easy access to products and services.

Case in point:  Alexander Interactive redesigned the Schwinn bicycle website resulting in a 40% increase in unique visitors and a bounce rate reduction of 89%.

Notable additions to the Schwinn website include easy search and filtering and improved navigation that more clearly labeled bike models.

Read the full Schwinn case study from Alexander Interactive.

Schwinn’s new website features fresh, inviting images and easy-to-follow navigation 

Blunder #3:  Ignoring Customer Service on Social Networks

Since social media began to flourish, the motto has always been to ignore customer questions and responses at your own risk.

According to a report from Internet Retailer, Some companies, including J. Crew, Rue La La and, outright deleted customer questions from their Facebook wall.  That’s right, deleted customer questions.

Fortunately, some companies “get it” – like B & H Photo, who not only answer questions posted via their wall, they invite customers to ask more.

Click to enlarge

B & H promotes their customer service and answers questions on their Facebook page

According to eMarketer, social media is still only a small piece of the customer service picture.  But as consumers become increasingly connected via social media, businesses will find opportunity to both acquire and retain customers by communicating via social channels.

Blunder #4:  Displaying Related Products (and Discounts) After Checkout

Here are some things you might want after checking out!

This little gem from caught my eye after checkout.

While they do show related products during the browsing and selection process – they also happen to dump them on the thank you page.

A better alternative would be to include after-sale coupons that can be redeemed at a future visit to the site within a certain time period and showing related products within the cart process before the sale is completed.

Blunder #5:  Wait! Don’t Close That Window!

Click to enlarge

I personally hate these, and they’re particularly notorious among online marketers and software companies.

By the time  the visitor has decided to close that browser window,  they’ve pretty much set their mind to not buying.

Asking if they really want to close (even if you offer a last-minute discount)  is like heaping insult onto injury and virtually guaranteeing that they’ll leave and never come back.

Not only are they annoying, these warning boxes can also be a precursor to nasty computer viruses, particularly fake antivirus programs.  That’s definitely a “promotional strategy” you don’t want to align yourself with.

Blunder #6:  Ignoring Mobile

With smartphones becoming more and more mainstream, retailers and small businesses alike are hurrying to catch up and ensure their websites are mobile-friendly.

The key to making sure your website looks and loads correctly across a wide number of devices is to use either a responsive design, which adjusts to fit the device it’s being viewed on, or a mobile-optimized site, which is a version of your site that loads according to the user’s device.

This is particularly important for WordPress themes, since a poorly-designed theme will have unpredictable consequences like what WTFMobileWeb calls “Comment Inception — a comment within a comment within a comment.

Blunder #7: Lack of Contrast in Text

This one happens more frequently than you might think – and it happens across every industry.


Light grey text, light-colored links, and lots of squinting.  If your site has a high bounce rate and you’re getting qualified traffic, it may be worth checking the contrast levels and size of your text.

WebAIM has a free online contrast checker where you can input the hex codes of your background and text colors to see how accessible your page really is.

What are some of the worst-offending website blunders you’ve seen this year?  Share your favorites in the comments below



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Sherice Jacob

Sherice Jacob helps website owners improve conversion rates with custom design, copywriting and website reviews.  Get your free conversion checklist and web copy tune-up by visiting


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  1. August 3, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    Nice topic thank you was a pleasure to read

    • Neil Patel says:
      August 3, 2014 at 9:56 pm

      Steve, glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading 🙂

  2. Converian says:
    February 8, 2013 at 2:28 am

    As Steve Krug famously said in his book title, “Don’t make me think!”
    This is CRO in a nutshell, don’t make me think, and let me do whatever I came here to!
    Great article!

  3. Barry Reynold says:
    January 10, 2013 at 7:25 am

    I completely agree with all you’ve said. Great points, specially #1.

  4. January 4, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    You guys have some great content on your site.

    I would like to ask your permission to publish your RSS feed on in the Internet Marketing niche. Nichespot provides dofollow backlinks and rel=canonical protection from the duplicate content penalty. It also has a voting system where the most popular posts remain visible at all times.

    Let me know what you think.

    • Russ Henneberry says:
      January 4, 2013 at 12:50 pm

      I don’t see why not Nathan, as long as your linking back to the original source along with the canonical tag. Thanks for the compliments on the content!

  5. Meagan Dahl says:
    January 3, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Ha! Love the list, especially website navigation. It’s amazing how too many clicks will throw your conversion rate in the trash. Potential customers buy online because of convenience and access to information, they do not want to have to work for it. Simplify and show you care about not only your customer but the individual who buys it.

    • January 3, 2013 at 11:20 am

      They say that if it takes more than 3 clicks to get to where you want to go, your conversion rate will tank. I’d shorten that to 2 clicks. People are impatient – they want answers and solutions now. Thanks for the comment! 🙂

  6. Sze Liu says:
    January 3, 2013 at 9:21 am

    All great points! I’d add one more which is avoid making check out process complicated. Your customer should be able to login with their social media or paypal account. Some sites ask for a lot of details about their customers during purchase. You can always ask for that later.

    Thanks for the article!

    • Russ Henneberry says:
      January 3, 2013 at 10:40 am

      @Meagan @Sze — Awesome stuff! Thanks for adding these!

  7. derickjeff says:
    January 2, 2013 at 1:52 am

    Great info! Very simple and easy…nobody can explain as interesting as this. I appreciate your time and effort on making things simple and easily understandable. I have bookmarked your site

  8. Mark2Media says:
    January 1, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    I particularly appreciate the work done on the Schwinn website. We could all take a page out of that design. Simple and effective. What a concept.

  9. Jules Webb says:
    January 1, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    This is a great list! Not sure which one I found more entertaining:
    Blunder #1: If You Have to Tell Me How to Get Around Your Site – You’re Doing it Wrong
    Blunder #5: Wait! Don’t Close That Window!

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