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25 reasons why I'll leave your website in 10 seconds

Posted 02 December 2010 13:51pm by Chris Lake with 145 comments

What makes people press the back button, shortly after visiting your website? Why do they bail out so quickly? And what can you do about it? I’ve been thinking about this and realised that there are many more negative factors than I’d originally anticipated. Taken at individual level some of these factors might not be enough to make visitors back out, but when combined together they may give off entirely the wrong impression. It’s not easy to create a beautiful, brilliant user experience, and the reality is that most sites have issues of one kind or another. But keep an eye open for the following – often avoidable – negative factors and try to eliminate them, to create a stickier website for users. Let’s start with the truly horrific… 1. Autosound. This drives me nuts. When I visit a website and am instantly bombarded with an unwanted cacophony of nasty sound I tend to leave with immediate effect. Publishers that accept ads that play sound automatically are often the worst offenders (they could say no to these ads, as I do), along with websites in the hospitality sector. 2. Popups. An oldie but a goodie. And yet still we see them. If you want to bombard me with pop-ups then I’m going to want to leave. The sooner you show me the pop-up, the sooner I'll go. That said, I can just about tolerate pop-ups that appear after 30-60 seconds, so long as the content is good. 3. Interstitials. I don’t visit Forbes any more because Forbes simply loves an interstitial. Information Week should be renamed as Interstitial Week. Nobody likes to wait but this is really just about expectations. When I click on a link I expect to be taken straight to that page, rather than being dumped on a page with a big ad on it.

Badly-designed navigation is one of the few truly mortal sins that you can commit as a web professional. Typos. Why? Why now? Aren’t you going to tease me a little first? Timing is everything. If you’re not bothered about that kind of thing then what kind of message does it give out? . descriptive and straightforward. Some navigation may quickly appear before the whole thing grinds to a halt while we wait for an ad server to kick into life. This is about attention to detail. which is so crazy and personality-driven that it’s hard to dislike! 12. 5. Typos and poor grammar do not send the right signals to the visitor. There is one notable exception to this rule. and is incredibly annoying. Pagination. ok? If I can’t find things easily and quickly then I will look elsewhere. Flash-based sites tend to be among the very worst sinners. If I’m browsing the internet then it’s usually a good sign that I’m not in a nightclub. Yes. Prioritisation of ads vs content. I’ll just book with The Zetter instead. 6. but if I’m just curious or have clicked a link on impulse then I’m more likely to leave. but not in a good way. Some publishers prioritise ads over content (load the ads first and bank the ad money). 8. There are literally no excuses. It proves that the way online ads are bought and measured is all wrong. Immediate registration demands. This is where optimisation and testing comes in. In this context. a slow ad server adds up to a slow site. If I really want or need to visit your website then I might wait. 9. After a couple of minutes of hunting around I realised that there were no details on room rates (well. Don’t make me wait! I pay a premium for my 50MB home broadband connection and I’ll be damned if your slow-ass pages are going to cause trouble for me. as much as anything. Your job is to help people to sniff out the information they need. This is the evil twin of slow load times. which is the only environment where I personally tolerate lots of flashing lights. Navigation needs to be intuitive. I couldn't find any). Key information is AWOL. and it’s one of the reasons why publishers are so screwed (they pander to CPM / impressions. 10. when they should be in the data / engagement game). I just want my questions answered. it can grab the attention. 7. Hey.4. It smacks of desperation and attention seeking. It's something publishers need to keep an eye on. there is no way I will click a ‘Book A Room’ button just to see how much a hotel room costs. Too much flashing. in my view. scrolling shit. Slow load times. It's bizarre. I visited the Hoxton Hotel website recently to find out how much it costs to stay there. Make sure the basics are all in place. Poor scent trails. Do you really need me to load 10 pages to see 10 medium-sized pictures with small captions? Or to read a Top 10 list across 10 pages when it could just as easily be displayed on one page? Pagination is a cheap trick. Just for the record. 11. to artificially inflate page impressions. Woeful navigation.

test. You’re using Times New Roman? Really? It’s ugly. So wrong. Talk about the princess and the pea… 16. Rubbish fonts. There’s just something about sites designed for 800px monitors that gives me the creeps. Sometimes I’ll hang around. Up until three days ago Microsoft refused to support Google Chrome. Left-aligned sites. Browser issues. Many websites are allergic to About pages. Some websites look a little bit me-too for my liking. at least it isn’t Comic Sans. almost without fail. Headlines and dates are enough. I like to see a ‘news’ or ‘blog’ section on a homepage. I'm a hardliner in this respect. 22. When I visit a website for the first time I need to be able to tell what that company does within seconds. A lack of clarity. 19. I actually rather like standardisation (I wish all online checkouts were designed in line with our best practice guidelines). Test. much in the same way that people slow down on motorways to gawp at car crashes. for Xbox Live's customer services area. No right minded person would leave a website purely based on font aesthetics. and I only tolerate them in exceptional circumstances. but it can be a turn off as far as web design goes. Again . I often visit a website simply to find out more information about the company. on so many levels. to show some signs of life. No ‘About’ page. Still. I tend to be of the opinion that you can shove your synergies where the sun doesn’t shine. Who wants to be known as a copycat? 17. plain English strapline is key.13. but lame fonts can give off the impression that you’re not trying hard enough. Flash. I have come to learn that Flash websites. Sometimes I scratch my head for a minute or so. Don’t you think? 15. and whenever the About page is missing I ever so slightly lose the will to live. Cookie cutter websites. And that. at least to my eye. 20. my browser of choice. Browser problems come in all shapes and sizes. 21. meaningful. might be the difference between a visitor hanging around and bailing out. 18. I don’t know why exactly but I always notice this and I don’t consider it to be a good thing. PRspeak / jargon. and leave none the wiser. suck. for example). 14. Try to avoid controlling the browsing experience too (opening up links in new windows. Cobwebs. If the last ‘news’ was from ‘January 2004’ then I won’t hang around for long. in conjunction with one or two other negative factors. test. Narrow sites.sites that are aligned to the left (rather than centrally) just seem so 2002. for reasons I cannot begin to figure out. but I normally back out faster than you can say "Jumping Jack". and figure out what your audience likes to use.and I can’t really explain why . A descriptive. especially since I'm a paying Xbox Live customer. .

The report contains valuable considerations that beginners and experts alike should be making and covers basic principles. Chris Lake is Director of Innovation at Econsultancy. calls to action and image display. and let’s not forget about Google / SEO). such as copywriting. 25. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin. as far as bounce rates are concerned.. particularly among startups. So what did I miss? What turns you off? [Image by Nicholas Smale via Flickr. no personality. various rights reserved] Learn more. or to talk about specific products and services. is another growing trend. and are uniformly dull. Poor colour combinations can make it difficult to read text.. It also explores more complex components. Both can be troublesome. Contrast fail. If I have the time and inclination I might sit through a three minute video. Boring vs unprofessional. such as user generated content and video. And if you cannot read something there's really very little point in hanging around. Video-only homepages. The use of video to explain what the company does. but I think there should always be a text option (much quicker. . Others live so far beyond the realms of expectation that you don’t quite know what to make of them. Econsultancy's Product Pages Best Practice Guide examines the features online retailers should be using on their website pages to effectively showcase their services and products. 24. Some sites have no verve.23. There are all kinds of other factors as to why people will leave a website before they've really visited it. an entrepreneur and a long-term internet fiend.