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

Last modified on Monday, 14 March 2016

I will start by pleading guilty to of one or two of these at some point or other in the past. Committing an isolated crime is unlikely to ruin your website. But committing 2+ of these no-nos over a long period of time will have a catastrophic effect on your conversion rate, and your website ranking and visitor numbers will suffer too.

Click through rate, time spent on website, and bounce rate are all important search ranking factors. So today I want to look at what makes people click the back button seconds after visiting your website. How can you avoid it?

And so here they are - the cardinal crimes of web design and user experience. Avoid these, and you will certainly have a chance of my attention and hopefully one day thank me for it.

  1. Music. No.
  2. Slow page load. Don’t make me wait! Find out how we built a website with 100% Google PageSpeed.
  3. Content is past its sell by date. I love fresh interesting content updated regularly, and more importantly so do search engines! If your "Complete guide to breeding squirrels" has not been updated in 5 years, I probably wont even reach your page from search results.
  4. Not answering the question. I land on your webpage expecting an answer. If you don't answer my query I am hitting the back button.
  5. No personality. Faceless authors, generic stock images, technical language, cliches and lack of charisma are not cool. I want a feel for who you are and what you are about. It is no coincidence that all of my favourite websites and bloggers all use real photos and video of themselves. Don't be shy!
  6. Links opening in new windows. Italian website Aruba specialize in just this. I can't leave the site without having to shut down at least 10 windows. Why?
  7. Videos that start without me asking. NO! Don't make me search the page and figure how to turn it off before I have even started to read what you have to tell me. Even music video channels YouTube and VEVO don't start up without my saying so!
  8. Not getting straight to the point. If you can't catch my attention in above the fold content sorry but I am usually off elsewhere.
  9. Forced page navigation. Is it really necessary for me to load 15 different pages to see "15 Celebrity Fails that will Make Me Cringe"? OK probably my fault for reading garbage... I was bored.
  10. Forced registration to read content. Try getting my trust and attention before asking me to register. Now registering for your eBooks or prime content is a different matter.
  11. Too many Ads. Advertisements are perfectly ok so long as they don't sacrifice user experience. Too many ads mask good content, and can cause slow and bumpy page rendering.
  12. Noisy unorganized pages. I get really turned off by badly-designed navigation, pages exploding with information overload. Each page should have one clear purpose.
  13. Waffle. Why use 10 words when one will do? This is the web: if I want a novel I'll open my Kindle.
  14. Archaic website design. If your website has not been updated since the stone age, something must be afoot. This casts doubt on the validity of your content.
  15. An ugly website. my mother told me never to judge a book by its cover: but I always do. If you are going to teach me something I don't already know, please get your house in order first. As a minimum - responsive design, a suitable even simple graphic, and clearly presented information.
  16. Spelling and grammar errors. This is like turning up to an interview in your shorts and string vest. Your mum, and now even search engines can pick these out: poor grammar can adversely affect your SEO.
  17. No call to action. OK so I finished reading your article. Help - now what should I do!!! If you don't guide me in a right direction with a timely call to action; tease me into clicking through to the next related article; or coax my email address out of me - then I'm off into the sunset never to be seen again.

Now your turn!

What makes YOU press the back button? I look forward to hearing your views in the comments below.

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Mike Fitzpatrick

Mike Fitzpatrick is the founder and web developer at Jeyjoo web design. He works with both individuals and companies to grow their businesses online.
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