We tested a sample of around ~120 websites from businesses all around New Zealand — here’s what we learned.

Let me start of by saying there are some pretty amazing looking websites out there, and they definitely do a great job showcasing the diverse, talented designers New Zealand has to offer.

But in a world where there are billions of websites and thousands of them could be your direct competition — design simply isn’t enough, which is where this article comes in. From the data we gathered, we laid out some of the common issues we found, and how we can address them to improve the kiwi web for everyone.

1. A Lot Of Websites Are Well Designed

When I say design isn’t enough, I don’t mean that it doesn’t matter — on the contrary, having a well designed website can slingshot you well ahead of your competition, but it’s only part of the equation.

Designers have a great understanding of composition, whitespace, colour, fonts — you name it, they can undoubtedly wield those tools of design to come up with some spectacular work that will take your breath away when you first look at it.

But as we progress through the digital age, more and more businesses are discovering that investing in their website and digital presence pays off in the long run.

So they turn to their local design firm who creates them a flashy Wix, Squarespace or Templated Wordpress site. And when every site looks like a million dollars, what really sets them apart?

2. Websites Are Treated As Visual Showcases, Instead of Conversion Tools

In our article Websites Are Dead — Here’s Why You Need OneI talk a bit about how websites are closers — Fundamentally, a business website is a sales tool.

And the design of a business’ website should be done in service of measurable business goals, so that as a business you can measure, adapt and work towards the overarching goals you set for yourself when you started down this road.

Yet we found so many websites showcase fantastic products, only to not sell them online. Or they hide information about where you can get said products behind two, three or more clicks.

The underlying currency on the internet is attention, and if your website is not designed to make buying your products or services easy — people will go somewhere it is. More often than not, that means your competition.

3. Performance Is The Most Forgotten Metric Of All

As I said above, attention is the currency that drives the web. And one thing people absolutely despise is waiting on the internet.

So if you’ve got the website equivalent of the Mona Lisa — but it takes 18.4 seconds to load — you might as well set up a redirect to your competition’s website.

More than 40% of web users will abandon a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

The average loading time of the ~120 websites we sampled was 6.69 seconds. That’s nearly twice as long as the benchmark, and there were some websites we saw that took much, much longer.

The HubSpot Website Grader Score for our site — https://bitlab.co.nz

We put each website through the HubSpot website grader, Google PageSpeed Insights, and a variety of other tools that measure everything from latency to when the first pixel is rendered on screen — performance was by far the lowest scoring category for most websites.

4. Security is Improving, But Could Be Better

Whenever you’re searching the Internet, you may have noticed the HTTP preface that tends to come before every website address. HTTP stands for hypertext transfer protocol, and it basically refers to the way that we communicate on the Internet.

HTTPS is just the secure, encrypted version of HTTP. It means that, even if someone were to intercept data sent to or from your computer, unlike with HTTP, where they can read and make sense of it, with HTTPS it would appear like it is garbled nonsense without the proper key to decrypt it.

We’ve seen a rise in sites that use HTTPSbut at the same time there are many, many online stores that still use plain HTTP and gamble with their customers’ credit card details.

Even as recently as last year, it took us nearly 6 months of hassling them to convince Pita Pit, one of the largest fast food chains in New Zealand, to implement HTTPS on their online ordering system and website.

It’s not just HTTPS that poses a risk though. Outdated versions of Content Management Systems like Wordpress, sites still hosted on servers with the Heartbleed vulnerability, among a treasure trove of other vulnerabilities — these are websites at risk.

For this we have but one suggestion: Lock it down, New Zealand, or risk losing it to the unsavoury types that are everywhere on the internet.

5. Good Design Does Not Guarantee A Good User Experience

The entire experience of a website begins with the first HTTP requests that hit’s your server, and it doesn’t end until the user buys something or closes the tab out of sheer frustration.

Did you know that 57% of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly-designed mobile site?

People don’t just want to come to your website anymore. They want the full experience. They have taken precious time out of their day to click on your ad or post on Facebook promising them a solution for a problem they face — but instead they are met with resistance if they have to scroll around your website, looking for the right button to tap or the connection to make that follows on from your ad.

At that point you will see people bounce, they will leave in droves because the website is non-intuitive and frustrating.

So you spend $500 a month on social media advertising to drive traffic to your website. You tweak and change your ad campaigns, but your conversion rate isn’t quite what you want it to be. Ask yourself, “Is my website optimized to help me turn visitors into customers?”.

If the answer to that question is no, you could be wasting a fair bit of your hard-earned money driving traffic to a contact point that isn’t designed to convert.

6. Most Websites Don’t Align With Measurable Business Goals

When you think of your overarching goals for your business’ website, it may be things like “increase online sales by X%” or “reduce the number of abandoned carts by X%”.

Now stop and ask yourself: “How am I utilising the resources available to me to help meet those goals?”.

Having a website is a great start, but it won’t get you over the line. Your digital assets are like a symphony — it should guide the user from your ads, social, and other acquisition channels — all in harmony — to your website, where you make the experience of purchasing your goods or services so frictionless, that they leave feeling good about it.

If you’re not sure if that’s the case, I recommend you go through the process of trying to buy something from your own website. If at any point you ask yourself a why or a where question like these:

Why is it so hard to see my cart total?

Why are these buttons so close together?

Where do I go to check out?

Where is the button to do X?

It’s a pretty good indicator there is room for improvement.

If you can make your website frictionless, easy to use and pleasant to buy from, you will make great strides toward your business goals.

Summary — Understanding Your Website’s ‘Why’

I don’t mean to sound all Simon Sinek here, but why is a powerful question that will drive positive change for your business. Understanding your own why will help you keep grounded and remember the reason your business exists.

If there is a great product you created that solved a problem in a meaningful way, understanding why you are excited about it can help you understand why your customers could be excited about it. And if you build the experience around that passion, you will not only turn more visitors into customers, but you’ll turn those customers into walking, talking billboards for your company.

Don’t hide your excellent product or service behind 3 or 4 clicks, put your why first. Your passion for your own product is contagious, and if you can combine that inspiration and passion with a smooth user experience, you will have a customer for life.

Think about companies you love. Think about your shopping experience. It’s almost always just the way you like it.

That’s the goal for your website. That’s the aim. Build something people will love and is easy to use, and they will come.

Unsure What To Do Next? We’ve Got You.

If you’d like to know more about how we can help you find your website’s why, and how to leverage it to help convert visitors into paying customers, drop us a line at hello@bitlab.co.nz or find us on TwitterFacebookInstagram or Snapchat.

About The Author

Drian Naude

Technical Director at Bitlab. Drian writes about engineering, management and a little design.

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