Common Reasons a Website is Unsuccessful

If you are planning or building a new website, you are obviously hoping for some type of success. Of course, success can mean any number of things, and each website’s success should be determined by the needs and desires of its owners and creators. Some websites exist strictly to provide information to visitors. Others aim to sell products. Some exist solely to provide information about the services of a business. As you can see, there is no one equation for success online, but there are a number of common causes for failure with a website. Here is a look at ten possible things that can keep you from achieving anything significant with a website.

1. Lack of a Purpose

Whether your website represents your business, or whether your business is a website, it needs a purpose. Websites that represent brick and mortar business will typically exist to support and aid the business in meeting its objectives, and hopefully that business already has a clearly defined purpose.

Whatever the situation may be, a website must have a clear purpose for which it exists. A website with no direction will go nowhere. If you hope to build a successful internet presence, be sure to dedicate adequate time to plan and define what you want from your website.

2. Lack of Focus on the User

In order to achieve success, however it may be measured, a website and its creators must maintain focus on the users of the website. Without satisfied users, no website will be successful. Sometimes it is easy to lose focus on those who will be visiting a website. It may be easier or more fun to build the site how you like it or how you want it to be, but the users’ opinions are much more important.

Any website that does a great job of meeting the needs of users will be well on its way to success. At every stage of the website development process, user needs and wants should be of primary concern.

3. Little or No Significant Content

The internet is a vast source of information, and the typical website now needs to have some type of valuable content for visitors. Of course blogs are an example of this as they provide extensive amounts of written content, but there are other options as well. Video, audio, news, tutorials, pictures, online tools, etc. All of these things attract visitors and make a website more valuable. Very few websites today will continually draw crowds of visitors without significant content.

4. Poor Marketing Strategy

Regardless of how great your website is, people need to find it in order for it to be successful. A marketing strategy may involve spending thousands or even millions of dollars in advertising, or it could include spending only a few dollars on targeted pay-per-click ads. A marketing strategy could also include optimization for social media and/or search engines.

There is really no limit to what you can do to market a website, but you do need to have a strategy that will help you to get the right people to visit the site. A great website with no marketing strategy is taking a huge chance that people will somehow find the site.

5. Bad Choice of Niche or Industry

Before launching a new website, choosing the right niche or industry is a crucial decision. Of course, some niches are overly crowded, and others have too small a number of potential visitors. Somewhere in the middle will usually be the best choice.

What caused you to choose the niche for your website? Is it a topic that you enjoy, is it one that you think has income potential, or did you base your decision on research? For more information on this subject, see Researching a Niche: Tools and Techniques.

6. Infrequent Updates

One of the keys to successful websites is repeat visitors, and one of the keys to attracting repeat visitors is to continually add new content. If a website stays the same for long periods of time, what makes visitors want to keep coming back?

This is a huge advantage that blogs have, assuming new posts are added at least somewhat frequently. With new articles being published, visitors will always have a reason to come back again. Each time visitors return to the website, their connection to the site becomes a little bit stronger.

7. Lack of Commitment

Many website owners get excited for the launch of a new website with the potential that exists. But over time that interest and commitment often fades. Without committment to success, no website will go very far.

This doesn’t only apply to an individual website owner trying to make money online. This can also apply to large businesses that simply don’t give a website the attention or priority that it deserves. A website can be an invaluable asset to a business, or it can produce next to nothing if there is no commitment by the business to make it something special.

8. No Call to Action

Whether the goal of a website is to sell products, gain subscribers, draw clicks to PPC ads, or to provide information about the services of a business, a call to action for visitors is needed. Many websites are not successful because they simply do not encourage or instruct visitors to do what they want them to do. In order to have an effective call to action, you must first know precisely what it is that you want visitors to do after arriving at your website. Knowing what you want from them, you can now build the website to lead them to that action.

9. Ineffective Monetization Choices

Every website should create some type of value for its owner(s). However, each website should be evaluating on an individual basis to see how it can most effectively create value. Should you use the site to sell products, to promote your services, to sell ad space? The wrong choice can have serious negative impacts on the success of the site.

10. Poor Design

The design and attractiveness of a website is also important to success. Most visitors will base their first impression of the site at least partially on looks and appearance. Although design is important, different websites can be successful with different design strategies. Not every successful website needs to have a fancy design that is full of exciting features. A clean, attractive minimal design can be effective for many websites.

The design should never take priority over usability. If a particular design interferes with visitors being able to access and use the site, it is not an effective design. Designing for user expectations is more important than trying to create the most impressive looking website.

What Would You Add?

I know there are other things out there that would it on this list, so please share your thoughts. What else can hold a website back from success? Are there items on this list that you do not think are important?

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35 Responses

Comments are now closed on this post.

  • James, December 7, 2009

    The group that wrote this article sould sent it to all the bad web sites

  • FlateGahGella, December 19, 2008

    Hello! simply super resource

  • Vandelay Design, July 24, 2008

    I’m not sure what you’re asking.

  • lindy, July 24, 2008

    what are some of the companies that have failed in SA

  • Mike, May 20, 2008

    It would be nice if you could share some bits of your marketing strategy as an example. I think that valid, working examples will make a stronger point.

  • Vandelay Design, May 19, 2008

    Yeah, I would agree that a lack of passion could certainly be a reason for lack of success. Thanks for the addition!

  • Guy, May 19, 2008

    My and many people’s favourite blogger Maki wrote this article about PASSION for blogging. I’d like to add that word “PASSION” to your list.
    I am strugling myself to get my blog setup just the way I want it, and it is my passion for the niche “collecting music” that keeps me going on. Well at the moment of writing this, the blog that is online is just a placeholder to keep my domainname, but I am convinced that quite soon, my passion for the music will be obvious through my blog. And that will make it a success.

  • Mitch McDad, May 19, 2008

    I like websites that are streamlined. That being said, mine needs some cleaning up.

  • Joe, March 16, 2008

    Excellent post! I would add that good site specification and project management is also very important! As long as you are doing things you love, you will always find place for improvement.

    Here is a good article about How to create a successful website:

  •, March 3, 2008

    To be honest you need passion. Passion in your niche passion to succeed passion to reach your set goal. Without this your going nowhere. I have seen that happen a few times. Its not a sprint its a marathon to the top.

  • manjulata, February 26, 2008

    Good content…

  • E. I. Sanchez, February 15, 2008

    I would add: bad copy.

    Mispelling errors kill credibility.

    I would also add the lack of an “About Page” especially on a blog. You better tell us who you are… If you are a business, what is your Business Mailing Address?


  • Ruchir Chawdhry, February 14, 2008

    The most common the lack of persistence: people give up too early, especially when the goings are hard…

  • Ian Beadle, February 13, 2008

    It often happens that people focus way too much on very small details and fail to take into account the really important aspects of their site’s success. Often days are taken up changing sizes of photos by a few pixels, or changing colours by tiny amounts. This time could be much better spent on writing good content, which is really what is most important.
    The saying “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic” comes to mind.

  • gene, February 11, 2008

    I think lack of prior research will doom a site. This can include anything from finding who your competitors are to what are the marketing trends in the industry as well as many other factors involved.

  • online business magazine, February 11, 2008

    in my case, i’d say the problem is procrastination. :P

  • James Mann, February 11, 2008

    Excellent content and worth a good Stumble. Done.

    This is a great article to direct readers to, especially if they have websites or a blog. It could make the difference between success for those reading, but of course they have to take action.

    Right off the top of my head I can’t think of anything more to add to your post but I am sure that as soon as I click Submit Comment I will think of something.

  • Tom Beaton, February 11, 2008

    It is often due to authors getting distracted by writing about what they are currently interested in as opposed to what their audience is interested in. This together with not reviewing their progress against their targets on a regular basis can cause blogs to go on a tangent which ultimately results in poor results.

  • John Hunter, February 10, 2008

    Great job. There are tons of posts along these lines – but most are not worth much. This one is though.

    I would actually remove 2 items from your list – bad choice of a niche and no call to action. Those are (in my opinion) subsets of purpose. Many of the best blogs are people that just write about what they love. If what they happen to love is not a niche one would choose to make money that doesn’t matter. If someone’s purpose is to make money then choosing the niche properly matters – but really most chosen for this purpose are not very good.

  • Vandelay Design, February 10, 2008

    Thanks for the addition, and thanks for the stumble.

  • Ronald @ RA Project, February 10, 2008

    I would say for #11, that Assumptions can destroy a website as well.

    Assuming what users do and read, or even how they will react to something, can be detrimental. There is a point when one can “over-think” something and nothing ever gets done based on assumptions.

    BTW, article is stumbled.