The hard-hitting truth about why most websites fail to deliver

By Peter Richman, 11th September 2015

The disconcerting truth is that most websites fail to deliver – make sure yours isn’t one of them by reading on, as we explore the key things to think about when commissioning your new website.


That might sound like and odd thing for a web design agency to say, but it’s true. We look after hundreds of websites, and the ones that really work are the ones that have looked carefully at their marketing strategy before commissioning the site, and understand exactly how the website fits into their strategy.

Clearly, to perform highly in Google you need a website comparable in build quality to your competition’s, but if the quality of your competition is low, that might be an easy hurdle to get over.

Change your mindset: Your website is integral to your marketing deliverables, but it shouldn’t define your strategy. Focus on your marketing strategy first and the deliverables, including the website, will always be high performing.


Firstly, as an admission, I’m 100% guilty of this. Whether you’re a business owner or a marketing manager, the importance of your website and the amount you’re spending on it makes it feel like something you should be in control of and impress your vision upon – but that’s folly.

You may be a solicitor, plumber, or an architect, but the fact remains that the people most qualified to deliver a high performing website are your web design agency. The reason for this is hidden deep within human nature…

Marketing is all about the communication of an idea. It’s our designer’s job to interpret your brief and vision so that people other than you are compelled to take action. How much you like it is largely irrelevant so long as it’s generating the right sort of sales and/or leads, yet the vast majority of business owners (myself included) repeatedly fall into the detrimental assumption that “If I like it, other people will”. The problem is that your head is brimming with contextual narrative, perversely skewing your interpretation of the design and its end result.

Would you trust your graphic designer to defend you in court, fix your plumbing, or design an office building? Exactly. Leave the designer to do the designing and get on with your own job.

Change your mindset: Enable your design team to deliver; give them the marketing strategy, and the core business goals and narrative, so they can create a high-performing design. Don’t worry about whether you like it or not – put it in front of a sample of your target market audience and let the stats do the deciding for you.


The idea that a website can be finished is a contradiction in terms. A website is like having a shop; it needs to be maintained, cleaned, and secured on an on-going basis. Failing to update your website regularly is a sure-fire way to ensure it performs worse over time. In the same way that computers gradually become slower and more clunky, unattended websites work less efficiently as people get used to faster and better modern interfaces delivered by Google, Facebook, and so on. In other words, you can expect your bounce rate to increase, the time on site to reduce and your conversion rate to plummet.

Furthermore, websites need to be continually security patched, maintained and updated. This is to ensure that you don’t end up with some dodgy links or malware connected to your website, which can massively impact your position in Google, as the search engine actively removes and drops websites that (intentionally or not) are hosting hostile or intrusive software.

Change your mindset: Make sure you’re budgeting for continual improvement. Even in slow-moving industries we would recommend having your website updated and patched once a month at a technical level, and you may want to give your website a fresh quarterly review to confirm that it’s delivering on your marketing goals.


Having a website is only the beginning. Driving target-market traffic to the website is much harder in many ways, yet the amount of thought (and certainly budget) for this task is often overlooked.

Coming back to your marketing strategy, it’s important that you plan out your target audience, research how many of them there are, what they might be searching for, and how to get in front of them. And remember, people don’t Google for stuff they don’t know exists.

If you’ve got a new market offering, or an innovative product, you cant rely on the famous Field of Dreams quote “if you build it, they will come” – you need to employ some marketing strategies that introduce the product to customers. This may encompass online and offline hybrid campaigns, Facebook advertising, and so on.

Change your mindset: There are no new customers in your office – so get out there and make it happen!



Keep these five things in mind when commissioning your next website:

  1. Marketing strategy comes before marketing deliverables – get the strategy right and the deliverables and the website will always perform to a higher level.
  2. Take a pragmatic view on the design of the website. Enable and rely on your web design agency to do a much better job than you could, and recognise that your judgement is heavily and subliminally skewed by your contextual knowledge and emotional attachment – especially if it’s your money being invested.
  3. Budget for continual improvement. It will be cheaper than needing a new website every 18 – 24 months, and will provide a much higher ROI through the life-cycle of the website, as the Key Performance Indicators will continue to improve if you invest in things like Conversion Rate Optimisation, for example.
  4. Make sure your website is secured, maintained and updated on a monthly basis, especially if you’re using an Open Source platform such as WordPress, Joomla, or Magento.
  5. Having a website is only one part of digital marketing. Make sure you have holistic strategy for driving target market traffic to realise tour website’s full potential.