Get Clients Online
How to Lose Website Visitors in the First 5 Minutes
Today's post is a guest article by Tim Eyre on website usability.
As you may have noticed, I've recently updated ianbrodie.com to simplify it a little, increase font sizes and make it just that bit easier to navigate. I've also moved to high performance hosting to improve how fast the pages load when you come here.
My experience is that more and more, people are becoming less tolerant of ugly, slow-loading websites. If we can't see what we want immediately, we'll click away. That may be a sad reflection on our short-attention-span society – but it's also a reality we have to live with as marketers.
Here are Tim's tips on what to avoid if you want your visitors to stick around:
How to Lose Website Visitors in the First 5 Minutes
When was the last time you visited a website only to find the fingers on your mouse making a beeline for that back button within seconds?
If you're like most of us, this is a scenario you've encountered many times. Unfortunately, there are many sites out there that are instant turn-offs.
And it's a proven fact that what people see during the first few seconds of their website visits usually make them decide whether to stick around for a while and check out the site or quickly get out of Dodge and move on to greener pastures.
A study conducted by leading web traffic controller Akamai Technologies revealed that a poorly designed website loses a full 30 percent of its customers within a few seconds. The same study also found that if a site takes longer than four seconds to load, 75 percent of viewers won't bother to return to it.
The moral of the story: your product or service could be the greatest thing since sliced bread but if nobody is motivated to stay on your site long enough to look at it, then it really doesn't matter how good it is.
As a web designer myself, I always try to put myself in the shoes of a first-time visitor to our site. I know full well that the first 10 to 15 seconds are critical. It is during this time that the site needs to captivate the attention of the viewer, and if I succeed there then I have only a few minutes after that to keep him or her interested in exploring it.
So my challenge as a site designer is to first grab my audience and then hold it. How do I do it? Well, experience has taught me very well what I should not do. Here are some things to avoid so that you don't lose your audience within a few short minutes:
- Confuse your customer with clutter.When you walk into a messy room, what's the first thing you notice? Actually, very few people notice anything at all (except the mess itself). With so much stuff vying for attention, your eyes don't know where to focus.Well, a cluttered web page is not much different. Too much content crammed into one page causes people to easily get confused. And their first reaction is usually to escape the clutter and head for a much more peaceful place. It's very easy for a web manager to fall into the clutter trap. There is always new stuff to show and new things to say. The natural thing to do is to keep adding material to your home page until it gets out of control before you know it.
Don't fall into the trap! Keep your pages clutter-free.
- Make your site hard to read.The other day I was looking at a site which had blue text on a green background. Correct that…maybe I should say I was tryingto look at it. What I was really doing was wondering what that web designer was thinking!Yet sites like these are a lot more common than they should be. Text that gets eaten up by its own background causes eye strain and a strong desire to vacate the site. For that matter, so does tiny hard-to-read text. Remember, a site that's hard to see is easy to flee.
- Treat your visitor like a rat in a maze.Most people know what they are looking for. They just need to know where to look.One of the biggest turn-offs to a website visitor is excess complication. Navigation should be simple and understandable.
Ever see a website with a page which links to itself? What's up with that? How about a poorly worded link that gives you no idea where you are going when you click on it? Or a site which has no links back to the home page?
If you make it hard for your visitor to get around, he will start looking for only one thing—the nearest exit.
- Make your customers wait.If I am in a hurry, the last thing I want to do is sit through a fancy introduction to a site before I am allowed to see the homepage. I guess somebody thinks that it makes the site look special but to most people, all it really does is frustrate them or delay their search for information.Speaking of delays, how about sites that take forever to load? You don't have to be an impatient person to want to ditch sites like these and take your business elsewhere.
Losing a viewer is easy. All it takes is a lazy or sloppy web designer. Don't be one yourself. Make your site appealing and your visitors will stick around.
About guest author Tim Eyre: In his role in the self storage industry, Tim helps customers care for their cherished belongings that must be put in storage. Tim regularly visits his facilities including a Las Vegas self storage and a Los Angeles self storage center.
For a step-by-step guide on how to get clients with your website, check out my free tutorial: