Ask the Readers: Why Do Most Websites Fail?

  • April 21, 2011 by Corbett Barr
  • 63 Comments

Websites fail. They fail all the time. I don’t have any hard statistics, but if my experience reflects the Internet in general, then four out of five website projects will fail.

Websites and blogs fail in the sense that a site doesn’t reach whatever goal the creator set out for it, whether that goal was fame, fortune, a book deal or the next viral hit. After the failure some sites sit around collecting web dust and others shut down altogether.

I’ve watched plenty of my own online projects fail over the years. I’ll share the reasons why they didn’t succeed in upcoming posts, but first I want to hear your take on online failure.

Why do most websites fail?

That is the question for this week’s ask the readers segment. If you think you know why websites fail, please contribute to the conversation in the comments.

If you’re new here, I like to ask questions from time to time in these ask the readers segments. Some lively debates have shaken out of past questions, and it’s fun to hear all the different opinions. Thanks to everyone who has participated in the past.

In the previous ask the readers, I asked how many visitors you’re trying to attract to your site.

The “magic number” for those of you who commented was very different from one person to the next. Some were looking for 50 or 100 visitors per day, and others were looking for 30,000 or 50,000 visitors per month. One reader Shane was even hoping to achieve 20,000 visitors per day later this year. Impressive!

All your comments were great, and I can’t judge one goal as being better than another, but one comment in particular stood out because it made me chuckle.

Georgia Gibbs had this to say about her goals: “One reader would be fantastic but that feels like I am selling myself short.” It turns out Georgia was just starting out with her blog. I remember the feeling, wondering when someone other than my spouse would find my blog. Did you find your first reader yet Georgia?

Back to this week’s question. Sorry to bring down the mood a little, but I’m really looking forward to your answers this week.

Why do you think most websites fail? Let’s hear it!

Written by . Corbett is cofounder of Fizzle, a place for creative entrepreneurs, writers, makers, coders and artists, all working to support themselves doing what they love independently on the Internet. Follow Corbett on on Twitter.


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Abby Kerr April 21, 2011 at 5:50 am

Hey, Corbett! Great question. I think most websites fail because the site owner doesn’t have a big picture vision for it — they haven’t thought about how it fits into their business goals, their personal goals, their desired lifestyle. Or, if blogging for a business, they have an inkling that a blog is important in some way, but haven’t done the research yet to understand why and learn about best practices. You may have heard the saying, Without a vision, the people perish, and it’s the same for sites and blogs. The moment cultivating a site starts to feel like ‘just another thing to do,’ instead of part of a comprehensive plan for reaching a desired end result — it begins to get toasty.

james Basey October 22, 2011 at 2:55 am

Beautiful comment,Abby.A clear vision is the key to success in any endeavor.My vision about the website I will be launching on November 1,2011, is very clear-Helping people solve their problems through tested and trusted wisdom.Thank you Joe for asking this question.

Lyndsy Simon April 21, 2011 at 5:50 am

Lack of action.

It’s something I regularly struggle with myself, constantly having to come back, sit down, and force myself to generate *something* for my sites. Once I have words on the page, I tend to be able to continue and write two or three posts at a sitting; getting that first post down is the killer, though.

Joe Barlow April 21, 2011 at 5:54 am

I think most websites fail because of misplaced expectations. Too many people expect instant success from a blog or website, and are not willing to put in the work needed to develop an audience. They do not seek, or else they ignore, the advice of established veterans in their niche. They believe that they are special cases, undiscovered prodigies, whose brilliance will be recognized immediately by the world. Thus, when they discover that it takes time to develop an audience and a following, they quit.

At the same time, fear holds others back. When you’re just starting out, there is almost too much information available. Everywhere you look, there are conflicting strategies on how to start your web site, and differing techniques of attracting traffic. The mechanics of installing blog software, adding plug-ins, keyword research, customizing your web template… it can be overwhelming at first, but once you commit yourself to learning how these tools work, it’s not too bad.

I, for one, am here to stay, despite the learning curve.

-j.

Blake Schreck April 21, 2011 at 10:04 am

I think you (Joe) hit it right on the head. So much of what people see are overnight successes and that just doesn’t happen very often. Patience, doing the boring stuff over and over again, weeding through the vast amount of information for the information that is relevant to your business and some more patience. K.Y.W.S. – Keep Your Website Simple. As much as you shouldn’t overload yourself with too much information, you shouldn’t overload your website visitor either.

Kristi April 22, 2011 at 6:42 am

Just had to chime in Joe and say you are right on! Very well said! I think those two things are the biggest challenges for anyone starting this. When I started out 8 months ago I was totally overwhelmed, but KNEW this was what I wanted to do and set my mind to the long-term. It’s just like if you were to open a traditional small business, it takes time, hard work, planning and persistence. Thanks for your comment, I completely concur! Cheers…

Kristen Sloan April 21, 2011 at 6:01 am

I think of the primary reasons websites fail is lack of patience. They don’t understand that it takes time to develop a core following and build traffic. There are overnight sensations, but for most, building a successful website takes months to develop. But, people want it to happen quickly and when it doesn’t, they give up.

Kristi Hines April 21, 2011 at 6:05 am

I think websites fail because the creator / owner of them thinks more about certain aspects like SEO or what they like in a design and less about what the visitor experience will be. Hence, they have a site that they adamantly won’t change, even though analytics proves that people are bouncing right out due to bad user experience.

Tom Meitner April 21, 2011 at 6:22 am

I’m with Kristi on this one. The bottom line is that people are thinking of themselves before their audience. They are writing the way they want to without thinking about what their audience wants to hear. They are focused so much on what they are doing as opposed to what their readers are doing. A successful website will be marketed in the places where the audiences are hanging out online already, in methods that the audience responds to. Go where the readers are. Write content that will speak to them. Then you’d be surprised at how quickly you can build a following.

Sarah Russell April 21, 2011 at 6:06 am

I think there are probably dozens or hundreds of valid reasons websites fail, but to me, the most common one is the inability to push past the initial stages of excitement and get down to the tedious, sometimes boring business of running a website.

When you first get started with a new site, there’s tons of excitement. The possibilities are endless, and you can almost see the readers flooding in, the commission checks coming your way, etc. And then, after about 4-6 weeks, that momentum stops.

Then, the reality that running a website becomes apparent. You know you should write more content, reach out to more people or build more backlinks, but it becomes so much easier to just sit back and watch TV instead. Eventually, you decide to give up altogether – maybe even convincing yourself that it was a “bad market” or “too competitive” or whatever.

And I say this both from personal experience and from a project I’ve been running over the past 7 weeks. My business partner and I have been training a group of people on how to build affiliate marketing minisites, and what started with 5 students has now dropped to 2. The funny thing is we all hit that wall at about the same time – it’s been fascinating to watch what keeps some people in the game when others give up.

Just my two cents, obviously, but I’d encourage any new website owner to have a plan for overcoming that hurdle that’s bound to happen about 4-6 weeks in…

John Reinhardt April 21, 2011 at 6:07 am

I think there are a few reasons for it:

1) Having unrealistic expectations without a true understanding of the work and commitment required (to paraphrase Joe Barlow from comment 1)

2) Not differentiating yourself in the market – not in terms of branding (though that’s important), but in content. You need to offer something others don’t have. My most popular features have been the interactive maps, job boards, and DIY sections that are all original content and required some programing. It’s not -just- about rehashing what others are doing or writing about.

3) Not “hustling”. It takes a lot of time to use facebook, twitter, etc. to promote your blog!

Mike Reeves-McMillan April 25, 2011 at 1:54 pm

I totally agree, John, and I think you’ve listed them in order of importance, too.

I see a lot of beginner websites that are poorly written by graduates of the University of the Bloody Obvious. That isn’t going to get them the traffic they hope for, even if they hustle. And that’s going to discourage them so that they give up – unless they can discover what it is that they can uniquely add to the Internet and stick with it long enough to succeed.

Nate April 21, 2011 at 6:09 am

I agree with Joe 1,000%! The answer is simple: ‘Giving up.’ Now, there shouldn’t be some good or bad connotation placed on that. Sometimes giving up is good…other times it’s not the best thing to do.

To Joe’s point, I think giving up is not the best thing to do when it’s based on preconceived notions you have for success. Unfortunately too many people give up b/c they compare themselves to others. These could be big name bloggers, or even bloggers who started out at the same time and reached a larger audience in a shorter period of time. This comparing leads to self defeating thoughts such as ‘I can’t do this,’ or ‘I’ll never succeed doing this,’ or ‘Maybe if I try this new strategy, it will work.’

The only way you can fail is if you give up…pain and simple. You need to be true to yourself and tune out all the noise out there. Don’t have a strategy or business plan or whatever? So what, if you’re interested in starting a blog, start writing about something you truly care about. Heck, you don’t even have to tell anyone about it at first.

Starting a website or a blog doesn’t necessarily have to coincide with a huge launch, business strategy and business model. Do it for yourself at first. Use it as a tool for exploring what you’re interested in. You may not even know at first, so write whatever comes to mind. If you’re doing it purely for money or some other external strategy, then I think there’s a good chance you’ll end up unhappy in the long run. There has to be enthusiasm, love and compassion in what you’re doing.

Finally, people give up because they are too damn hard on themselves….I certainly run into this from time to time. Don’t expect instant success yet at the same time, don’t think that you can’t be successful doing what you want to do. Be gentle with yourself and aware of any negative thoughts the rise up. Most likely they’re related to stories created that aren’t necessarily true.

Benny April 21, 2011 at 6:20 am

I think one big reason why websites fail is because the initial excitement of the project wears off.

It’s like New Year’s resolutions. People are excited about losing weight, sign up to the gym, start going but after a month or two they stop.

So the idea of the website is exciting and getting it setup it thrilling but once they start the daily task of working, they lose that initial burst of energy.

Chris C. Ducker April 21, 2011 at 6:29 am

Great starting point here, Corbett!

My take on this is that most people either start sites/blogs for the wrong reason in the first place and then simply give up, or they start with the best of intentions and then give up – or stop working on them.

A website, particularly a blog, isnt something that you can have designed, launched and then expect that everything is going to rock n roll straight off the bat! There has to be regular updates, regular tweaking and regular attention paid to it.

Its almost as if you have to treat your site/blog as if it were a business (even if youre not looking to make money with it). Because the simple rule of thumb on this is that if you take your eye off your business, it will eventually crumble. Same thing with a website/blog.

Anyway, there’s my two pennies worth.

Keep rockin’!

C

TrafficColeman April 21, 2011 at 6:35 am

Its just comes down to people just not knowing what to do and how to do it..its just that simple..people need to get a mentor and ride their coat tails to success..

“Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

Daniel Roach April 21, 2011 at 6:38 am

I have to disagree with a few comments here that the main reason is patience or that webmasters are giving up too soon. I ran multiple blogs over the last 5-6 years that have failed utterly and believe me when I tell you, patience wasn’t the problem.

The problem was that I didn’t write Epic Shit.

I wrote content that nobody cared about in a way to no one wanted to read. I didn’t bring something new or interesting or noteworthy to the table. I didn’t think about what my readers might want to read.

The minute I changed that trend, the minute I started writing for my readers and focusing on writing not just “good” stuff but ass-kicking stuff, my blog, my fans, my business sky-rocketed within two months. Two months to do what I didn’t achieve within the first 3 years of constant blogging.

And I did it with a lot less effort and a lot less content.

I believe pretty strongly from my experience that most sites fail because they just aren’t very good at what they’re doing. They aren’t offering content that is epic or remarkable. It’s same-old-same-old and readers just aren’t interested.

Improve that and you improve everything or keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.

-Daniel

cate stillman April 21, 2011 at 8:01 am

Here here, Daniel.
Most websites suck so they should fail – give that evolution is going somewhere. Given that everyone and their sister has a site now (or multiple sites) and that most people aren’t situated deep in their authenticity in the first place creates a lot of opportunity for just more “stuff” out there. It’s like the Walmart /Monsanto factor: volume over integrity.

Brad April 21, 2011 at 8:39 am

HI Daniel,

I’m a new blogger and was curious how you found out what your readers wanted. Do you have to just write for a while, build a small audience and then simply ask them or are there some tricks to the trade that you can share? Thanks.

-Brad

Perfecting Parenthood April 21, 2011 at 6:46 am

I’ve failed in a few projects I blame lack of commitment. They were always part-time projects that I didn’t nurture long or hard enough. I thought they were good, I wrote fairly epic shit even though I didn’t know what it was back then, and I got a lot of subscribers and hits over the years, but others more committed eclipsed me and sapped my strength.

Either that or the sites suck. I’ve never had a project fail because it sucked though :)

John Muldoon April 21, 2011 at 6:52 am

I think most websites fail for the same reasons most businesses fail. “Something” they’re doing doesn’t line up with something people want. You could call that marketing in the “build something people want” sense.

I see a lot of sites that try to do something new. Most of those fail because people don’t actually want that new thing, or the site owner doesn’t find the people who do want it, or spend the resources to educate the marketplace. This includes content and products. There are also people who start sites that cater to an existing market, but fail to stand out in the crowd (for many reasons).

I think most blogs fail because the content is weak/boring/disengaging. A big chunk also fail because people give up when they realize it’s not fast/easy to build a successful online business. I often wonder how many people give up right before they were about to start getting traction. Persistence pays, but it’s hard to know how often.

I know this isn’t your question, but I think it’s good when bad websites fail. I’ve built plenty that failed, and looking back, they deserved to. I have the “what was I thinking?” conversation in my head and try to learn from it.

The internet is the most organic playing field there is. If you put out a shitty product/site, it should fail. If you put out epic/brilliant stuff, it stands a very good chance of being noticed and shared. That’s a good thing.

The people who stick it out and learn from their failures, who really step back and are honest with themselves about why something failed…those are the people who come back and kill it.

I want to ask the awesome folks here, “How many times did you fail before you succeeded?”

Mark Wright April 21, 2011 at 7:09 am

I have to look at this particular website as a means to an end and differentiate between its ‘success/failure’ versus achieving my overall goal: preventing injuries and saving lives when out-of-control vehicles crash into retail and commercial buildings.

I’ll re-engineer it as many times as necessary to gain traction with my target audiences. And I might discover that each of those audiences’ needs and interests might be better served with their own discrete site or some other communications tool–which means that this site might have to be broken apart into two or three pieces so I can connect with the right visitors.

I’d like several hundred visitors–specifically from my target audiences–per week over the next six months so I can test content and features with enough of those visitors to determine what works best. Then I can make strategic decisions later this year about whether this site as currently configured should remain in my audience engagement toolbox.

Thanks for the insights you continue to provide through ‘Think Traffic’ toward that end!

Teresa April 21, 2011 at 7:24 am

Hmm..I’d say a few of the major reasons are:

-Poor domain/name choice
-Poorly written content
-Little to no value to reader
-Market it caters to is too small
-Too many similar blogs
-Similar blogs have better content
-Poor website design/layout
-Poor initial traffic causes author to panic and quit
-Website loads too slowly

This actually hits pretty close to home – I just started a new blog and am semi-terrified that it will fail..

marianney April 21, 2011 at 8:54 am

I know that in my case, I didn’t have enough focus for my first blog. It was all over the place, so readers never really knew what they were going to get. After a while, it was too overwhelming for me to not have a focus, so I decided to step back and re-assess what it is that I wanted to write about.

Derek Murphy April 21, 2011 at 9:04 am

I’m learning a lot these days. I have one website that gets about 500 hits a day, but I consider it a failure because: a) I’m not creating a vision or movement they can join – it’s just information b) I’m not thinking about the future, branding myself, etc. All that traffic is being wasted…

As for other websites, I think people search for a) information or b) something really interesting and new/good writing. You might need both if you want to survive.

Adria April 21, 2011 at 9:05 am

I think it’s a lot of little things that create two overall reasons most websites fail: 1) a lack of patience when misguided expectations aren’t met and 2) not absolutely loving what you are writing about/selling.

Starting a website is hard. There’s millions of other websites just like yours, and there will always be some better than yours and always some worse. People get so married to their ideas and think just because they love it, everyone else will. So they start thinking it will be easy, and set goals that they expect to accomplish in an unrealistic time frame. When they inevitably fail reaching their goals, they throw their hands up and say “that is that.” Very few people look at themselves and how they are contributing to a failed website. Rather they look at external reasons, like too much competition or apathy among viewers. But really, the success and failure of a site has a lot to do with the creator: are they spending enough time on their site that coincides with the time frame they laid out to reach their goals? Are they exploring every possible way of promoting their site, or are they just following a “write it and they will come,” philosophy? Do they have a clear direction and stick to it, or flip flop from one strategy to the next? Website creators need to think of all possible angles and account for them. They need to set realistic target goals and do what needs to be done to get that goal accomplished. Too many site owners give up and are impatient because their expectations are not being met, not realizing the reason they aren’t being met is usually because of them.

The other big reason websites fail is people get so caught up in the excitement of starting a website, that they just start one based of something they aren’t truly passionate about. Creating a website is an ongoing, never-ending endeavor. If you don’t ABSOLUTELY LOVE what you are selling/writing about, you will lose the enthusiasm and it will show. Most websites fail because owners just walk away. So stick to what you love, not what you think will “make money” or “what the people want,” because trust me, if you like something, there are others that do, too. You have to worry about writing for a niche, not pleasing the masses. Because let’s be honest, there will always be haters.

Elisa April 21, 2011 at 9:07 am

Dammit, Joe beat me to my first point. Most websites “fail” in their owners eyes because they didn’t achieve the “success” they wanted. Unless you are Corbett Barr (:P) you might not get 20K+ viewers a month in your first year. But that doesn’t mean you “failed”. We fail when we give up trying.

That being said, I think there are a lot of reasons that blogs do not garner great metric success. They are usually based on:

- Blog Design/Usability (nothing should look like a Geocities page…ever…unless you intend it to be a MASSIVE joke!)
- Content (I know…I might as well write passion or SEO or something equally buzzy but this one is REALLY true)
- Publicizing (You don’t need to be a social media ninja-samurai-whatever to reach out and invite people into your corner of the online world)
- Thin-Skin (Fortunately I don’t have a lot of vehement haters on my personal site, but I get death threats through my column on Forbes…those folks leak over!)
- Giving Up (Websites aren’t all that hard but they certainly aren’t easy either. There’s not really a set-it-and-forget-it method I’ve seen that works well)

By the by, my first readers ever were my Dad and my sister. It still amazes me whenever I get a new commenter, email, Tweet, etc because I’m like “Seriously…you people are reading this?! Awesome.” ;)

Joseph April 21, 2011 at 9:09 am

i’m not in the blogging business (yet), but the reasons why i usually stop following blogs and/or buying content is because of lack of consistency. there’s one blogger out there who i think writes well, has a good viewpoint, and a good niche in his area, but is all over the place with content. meaning, he will write one side of the fence on an issue, then two weeks later, the other side. he’s really young, so maybe he’s still finding his way, but i have given up on him because of it. i want to read philosophically consistent material. a blogger should wrangle with his/her view point off page, and not on it.

great question, CB!

Marios April 21, 2011 at 10:15 am

Most website fail because you try to copy someone else success.
You have nothing new or original to say so why would anyone listen to you.

Noah April 21, 2011 at 10:53 am

Most websites fail because people, in general, look for the best out there, and everyone can’t be the best.

Aaron at TheWarehouse May 6, 2011 at 3:54 am

^This.

There is something especially vehement, especially in American culture, about the notion that if one simply does one’s best, one will – ipso facto – become THE best.

First and foremost, this is not only (dangerously) false, but is an emotional commitment carried over into people’s online ventures. Emotion is not the first, best business decision maker; and websites really should be approached with an objective mind set – even with a bit of relative disinterest (if that makes any sense).

In my opinion, people have a really hard time committing to one of the two primary reasons why websites are started: 1.) To make money, and 2.) To make e-buddies. One can do both, but I have yet to see that accomplished in an exemplary way: What typically happens is that people hold-back on what they really want to say (all while having mastered the *appearance* they they couldn’t care less what other people think) for fear of losing revenue.

At any rate, and long-winded explanation short, websites tend fail because of the rationalization of failure; which, again, goes back to what one has committed to from the outset. All of the poetic emotional feel-better jingoisms in the cosmos, e.g. ‘as long as I don’t quit, its not a failure,’ etc, will not bring success if one’s approach is all wrong.

Analyze the niche and competition and be painfully honest, and ask the appropriate, critically thinking questions. Understand what it is and means to truly – to definitively – compete with the best of the best of a niche. But most importantly, know yourself: If one is not equipped with a cold, hard introspective measure of one’s capabilities, one can never hope to succeed with a website (or in life).

Cara Stein April 21, 2011 at 11:26 am

Interesting question. When I started my first business, I was so worried about failing at it. But really, it’s not a failure until you declare defeat and walk away. Until then, it’s a work in progress, it’s a learning curve, it’s not there yet, but it’s really not a failure.

So I would say, by definition, websites fail when their creators quit before they learn enough to make them work. A lot of the earlier comments are saying things like unrealistic expectations, mediocre content, not being unique, or not being the best, but we all know websites that have succeeded despite those things. Even time is not the deciding factor: some people rocket to success in a few months, some people slog along for years doing the same ineffective things and never getting anywhere. In the end, if you keep picking yourself up, learning, growing, and trying different approaches until you find out what works, you will eventually make your website a success, whatever that means for you. If you quit before that, it’s a failure.

Nate April 22, 2011 at 5:31 am

I like this very much Cara :)

David William April 21, 2011 at 11:32 am

I’d guess they fail because the fire in their heart changes. It may burn out or it may shift to the building next door. Either way, that one fails.

But if I pursue my hearts wildest fantasies and do what makes me excited, then I will succeed.

Kris April 21, 2011 at 11:48 am

Here are a few other reasons:
1) lack of research to truly understand the market (what you are selling, who you are selling to, and what your market is actually buying)
2) lack of a unique selling proposition (if you don’t have something that “hooks” people, be it epic shit or an epic idea, you won’t succeed).

Matt April 21, 2011 at 12:05 pm

I’m still looking to keep a site “live” for over three years after launching over a dozen or so starting five years ago. In that sense, your stat of 1 out of 5 sites “staying alive” beats mine! To date, I’ve had one site last nearly three years, largely because after staying on life support for months – it got a mention in a Wall Street Journal article. That mention breathed over a year’s worth of life into the site and it made a couple grand in ad revenue.

Many of my sites, however, simply fade away when it becomes clear that the time that I put into them doesn’t justify the traffic (or lack of traffic) that they generate. I try to give every site at least six months to put down roots and get a following. I’ve had a small handful generate some cash – but they have to pay their overhead and give me some profit (not much, a hundred bucks a month is enough) to keep my interest.

Marcus Sheridan-The Sales Lion April 21, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Love this topic Corbett. Like you, I’ve seen it again and again and again. Here are my quick conclusions:

1. The only motivation is money
2. Terrible networking
3. Too much writing, not enough relationship building
4. Too cheap to make a site that’s worth looking at
5. No passion for the niche
6. Unrealistic goals, especially for traffic
7. Too many other ‘projects’ going on
8. Lazyness
9. Limited knowledge of the niche/industry
10. No concept of ‘community’
11. Too much focus on ‘self’
12. Not humble enough to listen to others
13. Terrible writer
14. Boring,lame, poorly explained content

I could go on and on Corbett, but that’s a good start. Thanks for asking man.

Marcus

Chris Green April 22, 2011 at 2:00 am

That list is spot on. You could expound on each point, but if people used that list as a basis to build on they would do well.

I also agree with the emphasis above about losing momentum and interest. People don’t often dedicate time and effort on a consistent basis unless they really really must!! So maybe there is a question we must all ask ourselves “is this website important enough that we MUST make it a success”.

What is on the other end of that success? Will the income support your family? Is the message you have on your blog something the world needs to hear? You get the idea.

Ryan Biddulph April 21, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Lack of persistence Corbett.

If you stick with it long enough, you pick up enough knowledge to become successful. Call it karma, the universe coming to your aid, or good ole fashioned hard work. When you stick with it, you get it.

Some fail before they start. Others a few weeks or months in. The fail because they quit. If you don’t quit, you don’t fail, because you will find out how to run a successful site or someone will show you the way.

My experience mirrors this. I was frustrated, then I began to network more. I picked up valuable tidbits from blogging buddies, and my traffic increased. Because I persisted and reached out, and figured out what worked, and persisted like heck though the tough times.

Thanks for sharing Corbett!

RB

Matt Gartland April 21, 2011 at 5:25 pm

There are a lot of quality thoughts above me in this comment stream. So, I’ll pass on the broken record role and opt to share a more complicated thought…at least in my head ;)

I think many struggle with spirit. That, at least, is how I qualify some of my earlier (and present) hardships. It’s one thing to have a strong identity (design, brand name, etc.). It’s another to have a clear USP with sharp value prop. But it’s quite another to, as the site’s creator, get into the site’s “skin”.

I’m talking about comfort – the quality of being yourself truly, fully, madly, deeply (yes, that was a partial Savage Garden quote).

I believe it takes time (aka no overnight successes) to get into the full vibe and essence of this otherwise lifeless thing you just created. When you get it right, the tone of your words will swing.

Maybe I’m rambling. But I know many “force” themselves into a theme. They may even enjoy the theme, but aren’t being true to their full spirit.

I’ll stop there. :)

Matt

Tracy Rice April 21, 2011 at 7:23 pm

Peoples time is precious, make it quick and simple to use.
Some sites are not designed for people to easily communicate back with the website owner, lost opportunity.

Lori Thiessen April 21, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Right now, I don’t have enough personal experience with websites to know why one would fail or succeed. I’m looking at the question from a slightly different angle – I do know what my biggest challenge is with getting my first site off the ground. The technology learning curve. There is so much to figure out. Yikes! It’s a lot of work.

I compare it to exercise programs. I wonder if the number of failed websites is similar to the number of unused pieces of fitness equipment in peoples’ homes?

Shane April 21, 2011 at 11:48 pm

Hey Corbett
I generally agree with everyone here but also I think they fail because of a lack of vision for the readers. We talk about having a plan for the site and ourselves but we overlook the fact that when you have a clear vision for your readers or customers then you at least lessen the failure rate.

I don’t see failures, rather I see choices we make and consequences. If we choose to ignore our market…it fails. If we choose to write boring shit….we might fail. If we choose to ignore market shifts…it might fail. Etc.

Philipp Knoll April 22, 2011 at 1:40 am

After reading all the comments here (all give good reasons for blogs to fail) I must say that Abby nailed it right with the first reply to a great question. I could not agree more that it is generally a lack of vision and goal definition.

It happened to me before and I have seen it happen over again with a lot of people. Personally I felt that I wanted to start that business, that blog, that website but retrospective I was lacking something very important: all the “W”s!

People can’t argue (and I couldn’t back back then) why they want to pursue that particular path, how they want to go about it, where they want to end up etc.

It is all the “W” questions!

- Philipp

Terry April 22, 2011 at 2:46 am

You HAVE to write epic shit. Write epic shit regularly

Victory Unlimited April 22, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Yo Troops,

I think that you can write epic shit all day, and you can put out great, entertaining, informative and utterly UNIQUE content all day—–and STILL fail. I believe that there are 2 main reasons for this:

1. Failure of the blogger/broadcaster to find their exact target audience.
2. Or failure of the blogger/broadcaster to stay positive, stay inspired, and/or stay motivated LONG ENOUGH to find their exact target audience.

As I continue blogging/broadcasting, my mission is to find some kind of way to generate the right traffic while at the same time devoting the proper amount of time to be creative.

I find that properly managing to walk on the razor’s edge between the two is my greatest challenge.

~Victory Unlimited

Sunil from The Extra Money Blog April 23, 2011 at 8:19 am

my thoughts:

1) lack of clarity (confused author)

2) lack of clarity leads to poor or no focus (scatter brained approach)

3) execution – differentiating factor needed for people to read YOU instead of your competition

many never get past #1 and #2, so #3 is a far fetched though :)

Levon Mkrtychev April 23, 2011 at 12:50 pm

I’m not quite sure why most websites fail. We’re new in the online business sphere and all of the comments the readers have posted are great. I think it might be a combination of lack of great content, not realizing the amount of work that will need to go into developing the business, and a lack of planning and vision. If anyone feels so inclined, please visit our website and tell us what you think. It’s hard to get good advice and we would really appreciate a few comments about the look and feel of our site from knowledgeable people like you.

Infonote April 23, 2011 at 9:54 pm

Websites fail when their posts fail to meet the demands of the users.
From a general view, websites/blogs fail because they fail to meet or create demand by not adding any value to the internet.

Frank Smyth April 24, 2011 at 8:56 am

Here’s why they fail – they take average people and average products and present them as if their our saviors.

David April 25, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Lack of a unique selling point by far, and lack of consistency. Consistency meaning everything is branded in a cohesive professional manner.

Mark Searle | Unicora April 28, 2011 at 5:45 am

I have many clients who have great ideas for websites but many do not grasp that traffic and success is not automatic.

The main issue is trying to explain that you need to put in allot of time and effort to build up traffic and visitors to any site, they see stories like that of Facebook and expect that their website will take off in the same way.

ruzanne May 2, 2011 at 4:31 am

Hi Corbett! Got back here after like almost two weeks. Because I’m learning a lot from the comments! Being a newbie, a failure is something that’s not in mind. So it’s important to seek lessons from people like you and those who wrote their ideas and experiences in here. Boy, I’m glad to have known the “what to” and “what not” loads in here! Will come back for more lessons, for sure!

Faheem May 27, 2011 at 12:23 pm

I would say its a lack of patience and some technical know how. Some times if a blog gets hacked, then people get discouraged and then dont start again.

Adam Stanecki May 30, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Corbett,

I see two clear issues that lead to sites failing.

1. Lack of consistency
2. Lack of persistence

In case 1, site followers don’t know what to expect, they can’t get into a rhythm with the site and therefore don’t commit to it.

In case 2, the publisher gives up too soon. They start something that could be awesome but just don’t stick with it.

Cheers, Adam.

Sunil from The Extra Money Blog June 22, 2011 at 6:06 am

boredom, impatience, laziness, poor planning

Adam July 27, 2011 at 10:10 pm

Top three reasons that your blog or website has failed you…

3. Lack of planning: Did you research the keywords, did you draw a diagram of your info architecture, did you have a game-plan for how you’ll get backlinks, or how you’ll monetize when the time comes?

2. Poor execution: Is your content any good? Does your website look and feel professional? Are your ads placed correctly?

1. Lack of discipline: It’s easy to see dollar signs when you first get the idea. But can you put in the WORK, even when the going gets tough? Or will self-doubt cause you to quit too soon?

May we all have a prosperous summer.

Sincerely,
Adam

Derek November 23, 2011 at 8:27 am

I’m a little late to this discussion but it was so good that I wanted to add my thoughts on a great question. I think websites fail because they lack something. It could be any one or more of the following:

A lack of Strategy. There is no strategy for growing the site, or cohesive plan for how it should evolve.

A lack of Patience. Site creators want instant gratification and are demoralised when it doesn’t happen.

A lack of Content. Some websites lack worthy content. Either because its poorly written, the niche is too small, or because there’s no unifying strategy or common thread.

A lack of Empathy. Your website should reflect your reader’s wishes, not your own.

A lack of Uniqueness. Don’t be a ‘me too’ site. Either offer something new, or offer something old, but in a unique way.

A lack of Design. A product is 50% sold based on how it LOOKS. Websites are no different.

A lack of Marketing. You have to tell people where you are or they won’t find you. Don’t just rely on Google or a user searching for you or your site.

A lack of Enthusiasm Creating a popular website is hard work. It’s difficult to maintain the level of effort required to make it popular, unless you’re enthusiastic about what you’re doing.

Also, I think it’s reasonable to state that visitors are usually attracted to a website for two main reasons: Topic and Content.

It is wholly possible to get a lot of visitors and subscribers if the topic meets their needs, irrespective of the quality of the content. However, these topics tend to be ‘of the moment’ and transitory in nature. Examples might be the Royal Wedding in the UK, an upcoming FA Cup Final or perhaps an eagerly anticipated film release.

But if you’re writing with longevity in mind, you’ll need an engaging topic and great content.


Derek

Steve Taylor March 3, 2012 at 9:20 am

IMO, websites that fail have some arbitrary concept in mind rather than a design goal that is focused on providing value to the target audience. If visitors have a good chance of gleaning some degree of value from the content offered on the web site, you will see return visits.

Alan July 8, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Most websites fail for the same reason most businesses fail. Poor vision, bad planning, lack of direction or leadership, also the owner may feel like the website is not part of the business or not important enough to invest any real time or energy into it.

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