Visitors who come to your website will be holding you to the same standards to which they hold everyone else, which are also the same standards to which you hold the websites you visit. Accordingly, it is incumbent upon you to ensure that those who visit your page are not, in effect, being chased away from it because of any of a variety of functionality issues. It’s not enough to have a web presence – you have to pay a great deal of attention to the quality of the experience, realizing that if it is not good, visitors will likely leave very quickly. Given that, let’s spend some time looking at some of the more prominent flaws found on sites that can actually chase away visitors, so that you can be certain to correct these problems if any of them are currently evident at your website.
Slow-loading website. KISSmetrics, which is a blog that deals with the subject of website analytics, has some interesting information about just how slow-loading pages can potentially cost you a lot of money. Although these numbers are slightly dated, KISSmetrics reveals that 47% of consumers expect that a web page will load in two seconds or less, and also, that 40 percent of people will abandon a website that takes longer than three seconds to load. That’s not all, however; especially-revealing is that 79 percent of shoppers who are dissatisfied with the performance of a site are less likely to buy from that site again. This data emphasizes the reality that your website, in many respects, is your product. Your information, the products you make available, they’re certainly your products in the most obvious sense, but because the website through which your products and information are made available is such a significant component to the overall online customer experience, it’s not realistic to see your site as something other than one of your products.
There are many tools out there to which you can turn to identify page load problems, tools that will also provide you with advice on how to fix whatever issues you may have. For example, Google’s PageSpeed tools can be very useful, as can those found at WebPagetest and Zoompf. You should make it a point to jump all over tools like these if you’re interested in making your page loads as fast as possible…and why wouldn’t you want that?
Lack of visual structure and clarity at your site. This is often a multi-dimensional problem, one comprised of several sub-issues that contribute to an overall poor visitor experience at a site. That said, it should be noted that each of these is so off-putting that any single one can drive away a visitor, but it’s hardly unusual for two or more to exist simultaneously at your site.
Too “busy.” If your website is positively loaded with information, buttons, graphics, and lots of other things that you’ve convinced yourself are required in order to prove to visitors that you have the most “going on,” the reality is that such a configuration proves counterproductive. The psychology that works against this can be rather subtle, because oftentimes, the visitor, at a conscious level, will think, “Wow, this is great; look at all of this stuff.” However, he will frequently leave before responding to any calls to action that may exist at the site. Why? Because his brain eventually decides that there’s just too much going on, and before he knows it, his hand has clicked his way off of your site. There is sometimes a fine line between the right amount of activity (content) on a page, and too much. Your page should be interesting and visually appealing, but remain mindful to keep it “neat” and “clean.” As is often helpful in these kinds of matters, get the advice of several people you know and trust; have them look at your page to see if it’s too busy for their tastes.
Heavily animated. There was a time that animation was “cool,” sort of along the lines of “because we have the capability of using animation, surely it should be used, because then all of our visitors will see how cool we are.” The problem is, animation and similar kinds of upgrades aren’t seen as upgrades any longer by lots of folks, but, rather, as intrusions in their efforts to learn more about you and what you do. Unless it’s absolutely necessary or otherwise highly-appropriate to have animation at your site, skip it.
Difficult to navigate. If you’re not sure how easy your site is to navigate, ask friends for their opinions. As with a lot of this stuff, you’re not going to be a good source of advice to yourself, because it’s your site and you’re biased toward how you put it together. Get the opinions of those who aren’t familiar with it, and see how they feel about how easy or hard it is to navigate. The bottom line is that the menu should be easy to spot, and all buttons should work as they’re designed, and terminate in the places they should.
No new content. I've mentioned this a lot, but that’s because it’s so important. What differentiates this issue from the others cited is that this is not something that has the power to drive away first-time visitors; where this ends up acting as the angry dog chasing away visitors from your online “home” is when people who liked you enough after the first visit to return…then see that your content has not changed. Once people see that your content is stale, they will decide that it will BE stale, going forward; that is, after some number of visits…and it won’t be many…where they see content that hasn’t changed, they will tell themselves that your content will never change, or will, at best, change infrequently. Once that happens, they’re done with you.
Remember that your website may be the most important and compelling product you offer. It may not be like an ebook or something else that you explicitly sell to a customer, but it’s still a product, one that if your prospective customer doesn’t like enough to hang around, he’ll never actually see the products you’re really trying to sell. This is particularly important because so many of the people who will find your site will do so because they searched a keyword phrase relevant to you…not because they were looking for you, specifically. This means that your site will be all they will know about you for the first minute or two when they arrive there. Given that, is your site configured to keep them hanging on…or scatter them to the wind?
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