Failed website is like sinking ship - does bring only costs, not any kind of value

14 reasons why corporate websites fail

Corporate websites are more and more important to the businesses. Yet, so many of the websites of large corporations fail to deliver any value. A quick glance at the websites of the Footsie 100 or SP 500 companies reveals glaring problems easy to spot by even an untrained eye. Why do these problems still persist? Let’s explore.

1. Websites are often still an afterthought

Most B2C businesses have long ago understood that their clients visit their websites and evaluate the company based on the experience. B2B companies, especially in heavy industries, have not yet done the homework. They still often assume that direct relations, phone calls, RFPs and trade shows are where all the business is done and treat the websites as an afterthought. Someone somewhere in the marketing department is working on the website but it does not bother the CEO.

This is a critical mistake that might be costing a company a lot in business lost. Many companies research products and services on-line before purchasing. In fact, the more complex the service or product, the more time customers will spend on the vendor’s website. If they do not find what they are looking for - they may never call.

2. It’s an obligation, not an investment

It might be surprising, but many businesses still own a website just because “you have to have one”. They do not see the value and therefore, do not focus on it. It is built quickly and left alone, often for years. Such an abandoned website very quickly turns old and outdated and starts looking like “a sad responsibility of having a website”.

Of course, such a website will never bring value, which makes the owners believe that the only reason to have a website is the obligation to have one.

3. One-off investment

Companies often approve a budget for building a new website and then have no budget for managing it. This is a critical error. These days, successful websites have to be living and breathing organisms which keep pace with changes in the business. 

There is nothing worse than a website with the latest content published 2 years ago.

Lack of budget, focus and constant work is a serious reason for business website failures.

4. No clear, measured goals

As Peter Drucker wrote: “What is measured is managed”. In the case of business websites, however, usually not much is measured. Of course, every website has analytics attach to it. Usually, however, no one even looks at the data, and certainly - no one verifies if the website achieves its goals. Because there are no goals set.

Lack of clearly defined goals, eg “numbers of visits,  “numbers of incoming leads”, “reductions in helpdesk calls” etc, prevents websites from being treated by the business as helpful tools. This lack of clear deliverables makes it for a really tough business case to invest in the website the big bucks required to make it a success.

5. No clear ownership

Corporate websites often do not have a clear owner. The marketing department usually maintains the website, but it often does not have full authority in what the website actually contains or how it works. Each company department chips in a little bit and controls its own section. 

Also, often, it is the marketing that is supposed to provide content and IT is responsible for the delivery of the software for the website. Noone, however, is responsible for the overall effect nor has the authority to make all the decisions. Because of this, the final effect is mediocre. Content is adapted to what the system can do and the system is not really designed to achieve the best for the content it is supposed to deliver.

6. No clear audience

Many websites try to be for everyone. The clients, the employees, the potential employees, the board, the media, the competition... the CEO. Without a clear vision who they communicate with, they get cluttered with a lot of information for all the potential audiences. As a result, they do not communicate well with any of the audiences. 

7. Too many features

“Our competitor X has a map. Competitor Y has a list. Let's have a map and a list...”

 is the way many content plans start resulting in a cluttered website with “a lot of stuff” but no message or goal.

The more stuff you put on your website, the more difficult it becomes to the end-user. 

8. No mobile version

Still, today, even though mobile accounts for over 50% of web traffic, many large companies do not have a responsive website. If they have, it is responsive but still not mobile-friendly. Responsiveness is slapped on as an afterthought. It makes the website difficult to navigate, with small fonts and links difficult to see on smaller screens.

This, of course, deters users preventing the website from achieving its goals.

9. Errors in functionality

Corporate websites often have glaring functional bugs. There are many reasons for this:

  • Insufficient testing
  • Fixed budgets without a UAT phase
  • No maintenance budgets
  • IT department “handles” the website as “an additional project” 
  • Mentioned above lack of ownership - there is no one really responsible

Because of all this, the bugs can remain on the websites for months, sometimes completely preventing users from achieving their objectives.

10. The design comes first  - content second

People who build a website for the first time often focus on design first. Only then do they think what sort of content should fit into the predefined spaces.

This is how many corporate websites are built. A design is purchased and then presented to the board with “lorem ipsums”. Only afterwards marketing tries to think of what to put into all the boxes designed by the agency.

This, of course, makes for a very poor message. Websites should be starting from the message - the content they want to communicate. This is where the whole design should come from. 

11. Website created separately of a marketing strategy

A business website is one of the organisations main communication channels. It has to be incorporated into the overall marketing strategy. It is an incredible failure if the marketing effort does not incorporate the website. I mean on all the levels. It a massive problem if any of the below happen:

The main marketing messages of the company does not resonate throughout the website.
Current marketing activities (tradeshows, discounts, offers, other promotions) are not easily findable on the website. 
All other marketing materials are not in line with what can be found on the website.

Whoever is reached with any of businesses marketing efforts, will sooner or later visit the website to learn more. If the website lets him down, he may never return.

12. Slowness

Speed is very important. Seconds in loading times mean clients lost. The website has to be fast and work well on poor connections. Many corporate websites load slowly because no one ever tried to optimise them to load faster. They worked on the corporate internet and laptops and nothing else was checked.

13. Low website vendors capabilities

It is incredible, but still today, many website managers face technological barriers which block them from achieving their goals. Poor, outdated software powering corporate websites often prevents the website teams from and enriching websites and bringing them to their best potential.
The typical reason for this is a poor vendor with a poor CMS offering or lack of technical expertise to deliver solutions which can compete on the market.

14. Poor SEO

SEO is here since ages and the basic requirements are very well known. Still, many many corporate websites are launched and managed with glaring SEO errors, some of which include the most basic things like lack of unique title tags.

A website with poor SEO will never be a good lead generator and therefore will eventually be abandoned by the businesses as something that does not generate results.


To sum up, we can see that corporate websites usually fail because they were not planned well. 

  1. Goals and expected results were not established.
  2. Sufficient attention and budget were not dedicated to delivering the outcome. 
  3. Then the websites were not continuously developed to reach their top potential.

 All this results in failed projects.

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