5 Conversion Killers to Remove From Your Website Immediately




Do you know where all your conversions are going?

You know the importance of web conversions — they are the whole point of having a website at all. But what if I were to tell you that some of the things on your site that are meant to inspire trust and engagement are the very things that are causing people to bounce rather than convert?

With so much competing advice out there, it can be difficult to know what entices a conversion, and what sends one screaming for the hills, but let’s go over five of the most insidious conversion killers that you might be using, as well as clever ways to sidestep each one.

Image Sliders

Image sliders are the “people pleasers” of the internet, commonly used by companies who want to be all things to all people. One slide will appeal to moms, the next will appeal to fishermen, and on and on it goes.

It seems like a great idea to maximize “above the fold” real estate on a homepage. Especially if there are lots of offers or promotions to showcase. But don’t fall for the hype — image sliders are conversion killers.

Many tests have been conducted on the subject, and they all find the same things:

1. Too many competing messages lead to a lack of focus.
2. Many users treat image slider content as advertising (meaning they ignore it.)
3. The first slide usually gets a tiny percentage of click-throughs, while the rest get virtually none.

Good usability dictates that the user should always feel in control of the experience. Sliders can move too fast, and the navigation to manually move between slides is usually overlooked, if it’s there to begin with.

So now that we know image sliders should have no place on your website, what do you use instead? My recommendation is to replace it with one really great message or offer.

If you’ve done your homework, you should know who your bread and butter customers are. Tailor a message or offer that will appeal to them the most. If you get stuck on coming up with just one, you might want to split test a few different offers with different users to see which performs better.

Plain Text Testimonials

I am a huge proponent of testimonials. They can inspire trust and help your conversion rates soar. But there’s a catch — they have to be (and appear) 100% authentic.

Where many businesses fail is by providing just the bare minimum, in the form of a text-based testimonial.

Why don’t those work? I’m going to blame the onslaught of fake reviews that any business can readily purchase online. The fact that they exist in such large numbers makes every review and testimonial suspicious until proven real. This is why we can’t have nice things.

The bottom line is that if you only provide a written testimonial on your website, it isn’t likely to connect because it isn’t likely to be believed. Fortunately, there is a very easy fix that works and a slightly more involved fix that really works.

Easy Fix: Add a Photo

The simple act of adding a photo of the testimonial subject can increase perceived authenticity by over 100%. By giving the testimonial a face, suspicion falls by the wayside, and it automatically becomes real.

Slightly More Involved Fix: Make a Video

If adding a photo to a written testimonial makes it seem more authentic, putting it live and in living color makes it even more trustworthy.

A very large percentage of communication is non-verbal, so imagine what the written word is leaving out. A good video testimonial can communicate not only the sentiment but the raw emotion and excitement of your customers. That kind of excitement can be infectious, and much more likely to entice a conversion.

So pick a few past customers who would make a great testimonial, and make it easy for them to say yes. Offer to travel to them, and record it yourself.

It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or even be particularly well-produced. It just has to capture your subject’s enthusiasm for your product or service.

Prominent Social Media Icons

You’ve crafted the perfect website or landing page, and you’ve got your prospects right where you want them. So why are you trying to entice them to leave your site with brightly colored little exit signs?

I understand the impulse. Social media can be a powerful driver for business, and you’d like to grow your followers. But by stealing their focus away from your CTA, and potentially encouraging them to bounce off your page and onto Facebook, you will probably lose that customer.

Even if they go with the intention of following you and returning back, odds are they will get distracted by something their friend posted — and will forget to return.

Your best bet here is to start using social media plugins rather than simply linked buttons. These allow your site visitors to “like” your Facebook page or add you on other social channels without bouncing them off your website. The magic all happens on-site, keeping your customers where you want them.

Round Numbers

Proudly stating how many satisfied customers you’ve helped, or by what percentage you’ve helped them can certainly boost your conversions. But which is more convincing:

“Over 56,000 Happy Customers & Counting?” or “56,486 Happy Customers & Counting?”

As silly as it might seem, exact numbers do make a difference. Just like a testimonial accompanied by a photo, precise numbers read as more credible.

So look for instances on your site where you have rounded the numbers, and replace it with something more precise. With a bit of extra development, you can even implement a real-time counter so you can set it and forget it.

Obscure Trust Seals

If you’re running an ecommerce website, you are probably using some type of trust seal or badge to make customers feel more secure. But not all badges are created equal.

If you’re using an alternative to one of the more widely recognized trust seals, you could actually be hurting your conversions. This is likely due to the fact that you are reminding would-be customers that there is something they need to be protected from as they are getting ready to make a purchase.

At that point, if they see a security badge they don’t recognize, and is poorly designed (as many of the lesser badges are,) this will do very little to encourage them.

Obscure Trust Seals

Image: Baymard.com

If you can’t afford the high price tag that can come from the bigger security players, such as Norton or McAfee, studies have shown that one you make yourself could actually perform the same, provided that it is well designed. Just be sure to reinforce the fact that you’re using a secure server.

Final Thoughts

The web continues to evolve every day, so it’s no wonder you may be using a few outdated practices that are hurting your conversions. The more we learn and test, the more we understand about what motivates customers to buy, or to flee.

By removing these five common elements, and replacing them with the recommended fixes, you will be on your way to earning more trust and engagement with your prospects, resulting in a very healthy increase in your conversion rates.

Wes is the head of web strategy for The Deep End Web Design Chicago. He loves working with clients to get their websites in shape as well as blogging about the latest in design, usability and internet marketing. Follow Wes on Twitter for more articles like this one.


  1. Conversion is really important for every website and blog owners and i first time i am getting any information about these conversion killers and i also became aware with them, i would say extremely thanks for this post.

  2. Hi Wes

    Thank you so much. These tips are great.

    I also find that a lot of people don’t like disturbing popups. I’ve had better conversions without a popup than with a popup on my site.

    – G

    1. I agree with that. Timed popups are obnoxious, and they disturb the user flow, but studies have shown exit pops to be very effective in increasing conversions. And the best part is, you’ve got nothing to lose — they were going to leave your site anyway.

  3. Hi Wes, I totally agree with that. I put TRUSTe logo on my e-commerce website and my sellings decreased abnormally. Now I will try with Norton. Thank you

  4. I agree. Especially with sliders. I have yet to see any statistical evidence that shows sliders improve conversion. But there’s plenty showing how they ruin it. Yet, web designers (and site owners) seem to be in love with sliders. Argh!

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