Regular testing and tweaking should be standard practice for every business owner.
Regardless of how well your site is performing, it can probably do even better.
But let’s take a step back from tweaking (not to be confused with twerking — although you should probably step back from that too) for conversions for a moment, because if your site contains any of the following errors, no amount of tweaking will help you.
We are going to look at several common errors that are both easy to fix and devastating to your conversion rate if you fail to fix them.
This is one of those no-brainer, two-second-fix errors that a surprisingly large number of websites struggle with.
Broken links KILL your conversion rate.
Think about your typical behavior after landing on a 404-Error page. Do you think through what went wrong or spend even 15 seconds trying to get to the right spot?
Probably not. For most users, a broken link is a one-way ticket off your website.
Fortunately, these types of errors are mostly easy to fix. But first, we need to distinguish between the two types of broken links.
Broken Internal Links
Broken internal links are typically the most deadly, but they are also the easiest to fix.
When a user selects a link within your website and lands on a 404 Error page, he/she knows that it’s entirely your fault. You own the website, so there’s no one else to blame for it not working correctly.
How do you fix it?
Simple. Jump into your website and fix the links!
It’s incredibly easy to have working links, and that’s why there is no excuse for this error.
That said, every website will make a mistake here and there. The key is to be regularly testing your site for these mistakes and fixing them immediately.
For starters, you should be regularly conducting user experience tests on your site to ensure everything is working properly. More specifically, there are numerous free tools available for finding broken links on your site. Here are a few options:
Go ahead and run a quick test on your site right now. It takes 30 seconds, and dead links just aren’t something you can afford to have.
Broken External Links
Broken external links aren’t as unforgivable as their internal siblings, but they can still have a negative affect on your conversion rates.
Most web-savvy users will understand that the source website might have screwed up the URL or your website has simply been changed within the last few years.
For non-savvy users, however, and users simply in a hurry, dead links are probably the last thing they’ll view on your website.
So what can you do about dead external links on websites you don’t control?
- To avoid errors due to site changes, try to keep URLs consistent over time and implement proper 301 redirects when they simply must be changed.
- For errors that are simply due to source site errors, make your 404 Error page engaging or entertaining, like the one pictured above from GitHub, and be sure to include easy navigation back into your site. For high-juice links you’d prefer to correct, simply reach out to the webmaster for correction.
Bottom line: Don’t let broken links kill your conversion rate.
Shopping Cart Errors
I’m no doctor, but I can’t think of anything more fatal to your conversion rate than a faulty shopping cart.
You’ve invested in paid traffic, brilliant content, clever headlines, streamlined navigation, and who knows what else in your quest to bring customers to this precise point. They’re here, product in digital hand, ready to purchase, when all of a sudden…
OOPS! There’s been an error. Sorry.
And just like that, your finely tuned funnel implodes.
It seems like any company with an online purchasing option would make optimal shopping cart performance a top priority — especially big companies with money to burn on dedicated UX teams.
And yet, shopping cart errors are incredibly common — even on desktop — and it only gets worse on mobile.
Last August, I tried to book a day-of flight from my smartphone. I started with Delta but got that annoying Error screen when I attempted to purchase. So I switched to United… same thing. I finally booked a flight on American Airlines, simply because they had the only website able to handle my purchase.
These are billion-dollar companies, booking thousands of flights per day. If I represent just 1% of their users’ experience, that’s still MILLIONS of dollars in lost revenue every year.
Brian Massey recently wrote about experiencing errors while shopping at Frys.com & GuitarCenter.com during peak holiday season. You’d think retailers would be committed to a working checkout system during the holidays.
These are massive companies. You would think losing customers at the point of sale would be a major concern.
If you are running a checkout system on your website, make sure that regular UX testing is a priority. Small business systems tend to have easy-fix errors. The key is knowing you have an error.
Test regularly and watch for unexpected dips in your sales numbers. If you see an abnormally high number of shopping cart bounces, run a few tests to make sure your customers aren’t experiencing checkout errors.
Since there are hundreds of possible systems out there, I can’t recommend a universal diagnostic. If you are a using a modern system, however, there will most likely be free tools and dedicated support teams available to have you back up and running in no time.
The first step is realizing you have a problem.
Here’s what I want you to remember:
Speed is no longer a convenience issue. It’s the difference between failure and success for any online business.
40% of shoppers will abandon a page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
There’s just not much room for error anymore.
The first step to fixing speed errors is identifying them. As with everything mentioned in this article, where there are problems, there are free to tools available to identifying them:
Obviously, if you’ve managed to find a few errors, the next step is fixing them. Each of these tools include recommendations for fixing identified errors, and most of them are quick-fix type stuff.
For example, my personal website gets a fairly high speed rating, but 70% of the load time comes from my extremely large home page images. While it’s not currently a problem, as I’m well under a 2-seconds load time and want to keep the current design, optimal image sizing is easy to execute and something I’ll have my eye on as I evolve the site.
Or maybe you just aren’t using a very good hosting service. If your website is built on WordPress, you should be using a service optimized for WordPress hosting. I noticed immediate, obvious speed improvements after switching my sites from GoDaddy’s standard hosting to their new, dedicated WordPress servers.
For 9 out of 10 errors you’ll discover, the solution is quick and easy. Here’s our review of 10 ways to improve your site speed. And here’s an incredibly thorough guide from Kinsta on optimizing your website speed.
2015 is a big year for you. Don’t let simple errors sabotage your hard work.
At the very least, fix broken links, shopping cart errors and site speed issues. But always be watching for issues that could be causing friction for your buyers. They could be responsible for more profit loss than you know.
What usability issues are most likely to make you leave a website?
Read other Crazy Egg articles by Jacob McMillen.