10 Ways Your Website Is Breaking My Heart (And How To Take The Pain Away)



The following message teeters right on the edge of SNARK. Those with thin skins (and those suffering from ego blows or recent break-ups) need not read on. Go have a cuppa tea, and swing back next week.

BUT :: if you’re harboring the suspicion that your website isn’t reflecting your highest intentions…that you’re leading your clients, customers & readers on a digital wild-goose chase…or that there’s polishing up to be done, if only you knew where to begin…read on, sweet thing. I want only the best for you, your web presence, and your fine work, on earth.


10 Ways Your Website Is Breaking My Heart (And How To Take The Pain Away)

1. I see the words “Coming Soon!” Like, anywhere.

The only time the phrase “Coming Soon!” is even remotely exciting (or believable) is in the bedroom. And you know it.

If you’ve got a new offering on the horizon — but it ain’t time to launch — write a mini-teaser sales page, drop in a few pieces of advance praise, and create a “Sign up to find out the MOMENT we launch!” mailing list form. So much sexier (and more credible) than the lust-draining promise of a “Coming Soon!” page…

2. You took your headshot in a dimly lit room, with a webcam. And I can see your terry-cloth robe hanging on a hook, behind your pretty face.

Get a set of professional headshots. Natural lighting or studio brights — it don’t matter. Hire a starry-eyed art school undergrad, if money is tight. Give yourself the gift of YOU…looking your best.

3. When I go to your testimonial page, all pumped up to read your Rave Reviews, I see…three bits of praise. No headshots or avatars. And everyone’s name is something akin to “Jane P., USA”

I don’t care if you’ve been in maximum security prison for the last ten years, or living in your momma’s basement, or hiding out in a Hooverville shantytown. EVERY service provider, freelancer, product maven or professional creative can curate a MINIMUM of ten testimonials. With headshots. And full names.

And there’s a myriad ways to pull ‘em together — from Talk-Back forms, to recording client calls & transcribing the love, to Tweet-stimonials, and beyond. More on that jazz, right here.

4. You’re a local business with a brick ‘n mortar location, and it takes me five minutes to figure out where the heck you’re located.

For the love of sweet Kwanzaa, put your geo-location at the top (and bottom) of every. single. page. Preferably with a hotlink to a GoogleMap. And take a cue from Marie Forleo, and get yourself registered with Google Places (it’s FREE!) so that when your prospects Google “holistic lavender-scented colonic + New Orleans” your biz pops up on the map.

5. Your sales page feels custom-tailored to exacerbate my greatest fears, and click “BUY NOW” from a place of sheer agony & self-loathing.

I wrote about (slash viciously mocked) this phenomenon, here. And Fabeku put together an entire teleseminar on how to create loving, compassionate sales pages that (still!) pull in the cashola. You can download the full conversation right here.

6. I see generic Twitter, Facebook & LinkedIn widgets or nasty yellow PayPal buttons that don’t match the aesthetic of the rest of your site.

Why put on an Alexander McQueen couture gown, and then slap tawdry Velcro sneakers on your feet?

You know you can upload a custom image when you’re generating your PayPal payment & donation buttons, right?

Luscious details matter. Especially when money is involved.

7. You’ve got images or badges that link to nowhere…or link to the exact same image, only bigger, on another page.

FACT :: human beings instinctively click on images. They might as well lead somewhere useful. Like, say, your sales page. Contact form. Or a hyper-popular blog post that you want to highlight.

8. Half of your blog posts start with something along the lines of, “Gosh, I haven’t posted in so long! Sorry, sorry…self-flagellation, etc.”

I don’t care if you publish a new blog post every ten micro-seconds, every week, or once a month. You don’t have to be a content factory — but nobody wants to hear you whining about missing your self-imposed (and vaguely irrational) internal deadlines. Some of my favorite bloggers post once a month, or less. But when they do, it’s mind-blowing quality, from tops to tails.

9. You haven’t updated your “Upcoming Events” page since last March.

If you only do workshops or speaking gigs (online or off) once in a very blue moon…does your navigation bar really warrant a separate “Events” page? (Mine doesn’t.) Maybe promoting your on-stage gigs in your blog is sufficient. Or plopping a lil’ “See Me LIVE. Here me RAWR!” calendar run-down widget in your sidebar.

10. You write your webcopy in the third person. Or worse…the Royal We.

You’re a solopreneur. A one-woman (or gentleman) show. You’re running your own game. You know it. WE know it. So what’s with the arm-at-a-distance third person jargon? And the “we can’t wait to serve you!” nonsense? If you’ve got a biz partner, a split personality disorder, or happen to be her Majesty the Queen of England, well, fine then. “We” it is. But if not…get Ayn Randian and embrace the heroic powah of “I”!


Revamp. Retool. Reveal the best possible version of you.



business // acceleration


One of my big pet peeves is the “Contact Us” when there is just one person running the blog. Perhaps my grasp of the English language is not as firm as I think, but I could’ve sworn ‘us’ means more than one person. Unless a blogger is suffering from multiple personality disorder, I think it best not to use us. I’m preaching to the choir here though.

I totally held my breath (I actually just typed “brain” – Freudian slip?) through this whole list, but thank freaking gawd that I don’t do any of this crap. *wipes away the big anime sweatdrop* The only thing I’m borderline on is the sales page, but it’s not terrible and I’m working on it.

But remember Geocities….?

Eeep! Thank you for the reminder to add testimonials to the store page! Done & done!

well i have a couple minor offenses! Just need to add a few more testimonials and then it gets technical…

I must shamefacedly admit that when I had an online stress management business (sorta kinda) a few years back, I did the “referring to myself with the Royal We” thing.

It always felt a little weird and… inauthentic?… but I figured I needed to do that to be professional.

Now, as I’m looking at how I want to create my copywriting/editing business? I’m thinking I’ll stick to just talking about myself as “I”… chances are that if that seems unprofessional to a potential client, I might not want to be working with them anyway!

Tanja on Sep 15, 2011 Reply

Brilliant. Always!

After reading this, I immediately changed my coming soon page to an opt-in page. Whew! Thanks for the excellent tip. I had no idea what to do with it before, and it was always on the back of my mind. Although it’s not totally polished, it’s definitely better than what I had before, and it only took 10 minutes. Thank you!

love it all, laughed, agreed and nodded my head to all except for one piece and am curious what you’d say about this…

the work I do with clients is super sensitive/private- eating disorders carry tons of shame and my clients, while generously providing loving testimonials, do NOT want to be identified, even a first name given is sometimes dicey for them. Therapy is meant to be confidential/private and I respect that…the work happens in that sacred sanctuary of trust and privacy.

Can I get a pass on the testimonial thing… curious what you’d say for people in this situation, Alex.

love to you-

For those who have just launched and might be a bit short on clients (and thus, testimonials), my tip: ask people you’ve taken courses with – ESPECIALLY if they were high-activity, high-interaction courses. Whether online or in person. I did Sinclair Ashley’s Action Studio back in May & ended up being voted most helpful + supportive forum member, and when feeling frustrated about a lack of testimonials, thought of asking my classmates…who came through in spades. Don’t know why I didn’t think of that earlier! And of course, there’s also communities you’re a part of and might have volunteered work for, things like that. I’d like to add more to my praise-page but I think I have a good start!

A great list, Alex…should be required reading for every solopreneur.

ANNCHING :: Yuss! Minor tweaks have mondo effects.

LISA CLAUDIA BRIGGS :: For folks working in super-sensitive industries (where client confidentiality is key) using acronyms instead of names for testimonials is totally cool.

There may be a few select handful of clients who are willing to share their recovery stories in more detail, and with more transparency — and you can encourage them to do so, if & when it feels right.


Alexandra Franzen on Sep 16, 2011 Reply

Thanks Alex…would of course LOVE for clients to do this but so far it’s felt more private to them and I respect that. Wonderful article as always…

love to you,

Ugh … this is so my website. Thanks for the kick up the backside …

Love this! I’ve been silently ignoring a couple of these sins on my own site for too long.

If I may politely add to the list…I click on a link, in the middle of the blog post (like your ‘tweetstimonials’ link up there) and it doesnt open in a new window. Hafta go back, ctrl+click, or I miss out on the rest of the wisdom! A little [target=”_blank”] love can make that happen.

Probably making at least one of these mistakes! Broken link checker really helps with those – erm – broken links!

Also a huge fan of great photos. Thanks Alex, some great reminders here :)


I love it, Alexandra! Sometimes we just need a little tough love, to hear it straight up and feel the pain. It can be a powerful motivator, no?

Re: the professional headshot, I collaborated with a local photography student and we agreed to trade services for a sparkling new headshot. I’ve gotten SO much business because of it.

I was feeling the same as Ellie– holding my breath all the way through. I think I am, though, guilty of the generic facebook / twitter sharing widgets. I don’t got no web or graphic design skillz. I’ve got a friend helping me with that, though, so I should be in the clear soon. ;)

Hi Lovely! I’m so grateful for this post. As you know, I’m still pre-launch but the site was already up and looking pretty unfulfilled and incomplete. Instead of keeping up the beautiful (yet empty) design as I created content, I added an opt-in page to catch the curious! Brilliant.


I laughed because that is EXACTLY what my profile picture is. Minus the bathrobe. I don’t even have an excuse since I have about 329 photographer friends. I’ll fix it, I swear.

I think I’m good otherwise.

Definitely a few take-aways for me here…. thank you! But I really feel compelled to comment about just how much I adore the phrase “self-imposed (and vaguely irrational) internal deadlines.” Made me giggle this morning. So true!

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