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Top 9 website problems (and how to fix them)
Monitoring and maintaining your website's performance is critical—it helps you attract new users, keep current users engaged, and convert leads. But website problems can undermine business goals and negatively impact the overall user experience (UX), leading to frustration, confusion, and a lack of trust.
Sometimes, it may be clear why a website isn't effective: missing buttons, a cluttered home page, or low-quality images. Other times, it may not be so obvious, like why visitors exit midway through their user journey.
So how can you best identify and troubleshoot these website issues before they affect your business?
Last updated15 Feb 2023
This article addresses nine common-yet-critical website issues you may encounter and offers solutions on how to fix them.
You'll walk away understanding how these problems arise, ways to solve them, and tools to proactively improve your website—leading to higher conversion rates, more customer satisfaction, and fortified trust in your brand.
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9 common website problems and how to solve them
Your website's functionality and presentation determine how long visitors stay to explore your product or service (also referred to as session duration), if they come back, convert, and share positive word-of-mouth with others.
But toss in a 404 error page, a complicated user journey, slow loading times, and mobile incompatibility—and user satisfaction will plummet.
Knowing how to identify problems quickly, troubleshoot potential solutions, and implement preventative measures helps you win over new users, set your business apart from the competition, and improve overall satisfaction.
Let's dive into the most common website issues you may encounter, how they impact users, and ways to effectively fix them:
1. High exit rates
One of the most frequent website problems businesses experience is a high exit rate. A high exit rate can mean:
Visitors find your website difficult to use
The website is poorly designed
The content isn't relevant or valuable to the target audience
These factors lead to discouraging consequences like decreasing conversion rates, a low marketing ROI, inaccurate website data, and a poor user experience.
Because high exit rates stem from a myriad of problems at any point in the user journey, it's critical to identify where users are getting frustrated and why they're leaving without converting—before trying to execute a solution. Making too many assumptions too quickly can cost your business time and money—and may not actually fix the problem for the user.
How to improve high exit rates:
Employ funnel analytics: use website funnel analysis to map the flow of website visitors, identify high-exit pages, and reroute traffic to pages with higher conversion rates
Monitor your website: continuously review your website's overall performance, function, security, and usability with website monitoring to proactively identify problem pages
Ask for user input: ask users for feedback through questionnaires and surveys while they’re on your website, engaging with the page content or features
Collaborate with customer support: review service tickets to gather information about common issues that users report
Pro tip: combine quantitative and qualitative data to understand why your exit rates are high.
Say you're using a website monitoring tool like Google Analytics, and notice there's a high exit rate on one of your pages—but the data offers little additional insight into the underlying issue.
One way to start troubleshooting is to deploy an exit-intent survey to get user input and opinions as they leave the page. These qualitative responses offer you critical insights about the user experience that may not otherwise be visible with more data-driven tools.
Hotjar’s exit-intent Survey captures users’ feedback just before they leave your website, helping you understand their reasons for exiting.
2. Low search ranking
Search engine optimization (SEO) allows search engines to correctly identify your content, resulting in a higher search engine results page (SERP) ranking, increased web traffic, and higher-quality leads.
Poor SEO, however, can lower your SERP ranking, making it difficult for users to find your website. For example, one study found that:
The #1 position on Google SERPs gets 34% of all website traffic
Improving your page's SERP ranking from #2 to #1 will double website traffic
The #1 search result receives the same amount of user traffic as #2, #3, #4, and #5 combined
In other words: users aren't just going to come out of nowhere. SEO is crucial in attracting users to your website by ensuring it's visible in the top position on the SERP.
How to troubleshoot SEO website issues:
Maximize keywords: use tools like Semrush's keyword generator to optimize your text in content headers, meta tags, and URLs to improve search engine rankings and make it easy for new users to understand what your website’s about
Ensure your website is indexed: check if your website has been indexed with a URL Inspection tool, as some new websites can take up to six months to appear on SERPs
Increase content publication: regularly publishing high-quality, authoritative content helps you attract new users, expand organic website traffic, build brand trust, and increase referrals
Pro tip: use Hotjar Heatmaps to monitor users’ responses to your website's content.
Heatmaps gather data on user behavior to reveal what type of content users interact with, what they overlook, and what they spend time on. You can then apply these insights to improve your SEO strategy by creating more content that aligns with what users find engaging and appealing.
Hotjar's Heatmaps tool lets you visually understand how users engage with the content of your page, like where they scroll, hover, or click.
3. Poor web design
UX, UI, web, and graphic design work together to shape the final design of a website. Although each field has distinct responsibilities, they each share the end-goal of providing users with an enjoyable and intuitive experience.
A good website design needs to be functional and aesthetically pleasing, prompting users to stick around for longer. A website's design also determines how a user interprets a brand's credibility and is key to generating a positive first impression.
But a bad website design causes user frustration, leading to high exit rates, lower conversions, and decreased brand credibility.
How to improve your web design:
Streamline site navigation: guide visitors through your site and connect them to the most relevant pages by including easy-to-use navigation bars, search functions, and calls to action (CTAs) on every page
Apply consistent style: choose consistent design styles, like color schemes, fonts, and button sizes, to reduce user distraction and curate an aesthetically pleasing experience
4. Security breaches
A breach in your website's security can cause several problems, including a PR nightmare that could irreversibly damage your users' trust in your brand. And don't assume that hackers only go after bigger businesses; in fact, the opposite is often true, as smaller businesses tend to de-prioritize website security.
An unsafe website puts users at risk of having personal information stolen—their names, addresses, and credit card numbers could be used for identity theft and financial fraud. Security vulnerabilities could also allow hackers to infect user devices with malware or spam, causing device damage and compromising privacy.
How to prevent security breaches:
Keep your codebase up to date: regularly update all plug-ins, APIs, and scripts to the latest versions to prevent unauthorized access
Implement HTTPS protocol: use HTTPS (not HTTP) to ensure that any data transferred between your site and users is encrypted. This is especially important if your website requests personal information from visitors, like shipping addresses, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.
Get an SSL certificate: an SSL certificate validates your website's identity, enables a protected, encrypted connection to keep all user transactions safe, and improves website location on the SERP
5. Broken pages and redirects
There is little more frustrating (and confusing) for a user than clicking on a link or button that sends them to a 404 error page.
In addition to increasing the probability of a user abandoning your website, Google and other search engine algorithms also penalize websites with too many broken pages, dysfunctional links, and redirects. This lowers your website's SERP ranking, resulting in fewer visitors.
How to troubleshoot broken pages and redirects:
Optimize your 404 error pages: instead of the generic ‘page not found’ text, offer users problem-solving information, such as links to FAQs, similar content pages, or a website search bar
Insert 301 redirects: if you move or delete a page, set up a 301 redirect link to a relevant, working page on your website. This ensures users avoid 404 error pages and still land on a page relevant to their original query.
Rage clicks happen when users repeatedly click (and click and click) in a certain area or on a specific element of your website over a short period of time. Rage clicks typically signal user frustration with your website design, including elements like broken links, buttons, or page navigation.
Rage clicks can be a symptom of website problems like dead links, broken interactive elements, or faulty buttons.
6. Slow loading time
An estimated 40% of consumers leave a website if it doesn't load within three seconds. Losing visitors as a result of slow loading time also increases your website's bounce rate—which, similar to broken pages and redirects, hurts your search engine rankings.
Slow loading time can also make your website appear unprofessional to users, leading to decreased brand credibility.
How to improve website loading time:
Use system fonts: avoid custom web fonts, which take up significant space on your website. Instead choose system fonts like Arial, Verdana, and Helvetica.
7. Lack of contact information
Clearly detailing contact information on your website legitimizes your business and builds brand trust by providing a transparent way for users to contact you with questions or feedback.
While larger monolith businesses like Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft are notoriously bad at providing a direct route to human contact, small- and medium-sized businesses may lose important leads by not making it clear how to get in touch.
How to make contact information more accessible:
Set up a contact page: create an easy-to-find page on your website that includes a contact form, your business phone number, and an email address
Integrate a live chat: increase user convenience by offering answers to their questions in real-time with software tools like Intercom, Hubspot, and LiveChat, without them needing to wait on the phone or send an email
Include social media links: link your social media accounts to your website to further legitimize your business and offer additional routes for users to connect with you
8. Mobile incompatibility
Figures show that in 2023, there are about 6.9 billion smartphone users worldwide, meaning 86% of the world’s population owns a smartphone. Additionally, experts believe that 72% of all internet users will be accessing web pages via a smartphone by 2025, meaning that a significant amount of your website traffic will be coming via mobile devices—either now or in the future.
That’s why you need to ensure your website works as smoothly on mobile as it does on desktop. In addition to being unfriendly to users, mobile incompatibility can lead to higher bounce rates, slow loading times, and low search rankings.
Imagine you're a UI designer for a product experience insights platform. Recently, the user research team finds that customers are having difficulty using the mobile version of your company's website, so you're now working with the UX and devs team to rework the website's format, layout, and visual aesthetics.
But how can you test your new design on all the different types of phones, while still ensuring it’s mobile-friendly on laptops, desktops, and tablets?
How to ensure your site is mobile-friendly:
Use responsive website design: apply a responsive design framework when building and updating your site to ensure it adapts to any screen size or format from the start. Then, double-check your website's responsiveness with tools like Test Sigma, Lambda Test, or Responsinator.
Review touchscreen navigation: review your website's UI design to ensure tap targets like buttons and links are large enough for users to find and easily click with their fingers
9. Clunky sign-up processes
Even a couple of extra steps in a registration form can quickly turn users away from your site. In fact, studies find that more than 85% of users feel bothered when they have to create a new account on a website. Those who do may go on to sign up forget their login credentials or fail to validate their email address. Adding social sign-up options on your website eliminates this issue.
How to optimize the sign-up process:
Watch recordings: review user recordings first to confirm users are struggling with the sign-up process—and then to pinpoint the specific step causing difficulty
Use a social media plug-in: add your website host's social media login plug-in for popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Google
Use customer identity solution integrations: use social APIs like LoginRadius, OneLogin, and OneAll Social Login to integrate your website log-in with over 30 social networks and customize the user log-in journey
Pro tip: if it's still unclear why users aren't signing up, get in touch with them directly by conducting user interviews.
Hotjar Engage helps you target and recruit the right users to quickly gain critical insights about what's working with your service or product, what's not, and ways to troubleshoot.
Hotjar Engage lets you talk to people who accurately reflect your target demographic.
Prioritize users when evaluating website problems
Identifying and fixing website problems can feel overwhelming, especially with the vast array of tools and solutions available. But it’s a manageable and effective process, as long as you continuously prioritize what really matters: the user.
By keeping users at the center of your decision process, you ensure your website meets their needs and delivers a positive experience. This, in turn, drives engagement, loyalty, word-of-mouth, and conversions, allowing your business to grow and stay competitive.
Use Hotjar to troubleshoot website problems
Identify bugs, streamline user flow, and optimize design layout to give users the best possible experience.