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10 ways to lose visitors to your website

10 ways to lose visitors to your website

Tuesday, May 15, 2007 13:17

Last month we considered ways that ecommerce sites could increase the sales conversions from the number of visits they received by improving issues on the site. This month we consider the issues that could drive visitors away from a site and many of these factors can impact all types of website.

Web users are an impatient breed. As they rest their hand on the mouse they can so easily click away from a site if they don’t see what they want, or things take too long to happen. The web is used in a highly visual manner, issues of site usability are important and every business website needs to consider ‘ or preferably research ‘ the issues that may be driving potential customers away.

Web users don’t like to waste time. However, they will linger and read content if the initial indications from a website that they are visiting – whether for a product, service or information – are good. Web designers and online marketers need to consider ways to retain users on a site and to get them to move through each stage to an ultimate contact, whether it’s an enquiry or a sale.

Your website needs to strike a balance between your own business objectives and the needs of your audience, which may be product related or general web behaviour. The following are some of the factors that research has shown can lose visitors within a mouse-click:

1) Provide too many options or choices ‘ sometimes too much choice creates indecision or confusion. Good website navigation may help to channel users to the products or information that they’re looking for and other ways to guide users can also help. Ecommerce sites can focus on bestsellers or new products, or websites can highlight the areas that have proved to be most popular in the past.

2) Provide too much information ‘ this can have the same effect on site visitors and so content needs to be organised and presented in an accessible and manageable way. Content has to be meaningful and to grab and retain attention from the prospective customer, so avoid irrelevant content that won’t engage the reader on that page.

3) Provide too little information ‘ do users have to work hard to find the information they need, such as total prices or delivery information on an ecommerce site being hidden on the final order confirmation page after a user is forced to enter all their details. If users have to register to access parts of the site, what will they get for their effort?

4) Provide too many distractions ‘ a website needs to work efficiently to direct the visitor to the intended aim. Distracting advertisements or flashing content can take away a visitor’s concentration or lose them to another website if they follow the links.

5) Provide too many barriers ‘ the time that a website can take to load pages is always an issue that will drive users away. Also having too many levels to click through to can be frustrating, or getting lost within the site and having no clear ‘Home Page’ link can also be a negative message.

6) Provide too many ‘red flags’ ‘ site visitors can be instantly turned away by small but irritating issues, such as outdated content, dead links, no obvious contact details or other information that may indicate whether the company is legitimate or not.

7) Provide detailed forms ‘ web users hate to fill in lengthy forms or proceed through several levels of form where they can’t see at the outset all the information that’s being requested. Make your website forms as simple as possible whilst collecting the information that you need.

8) Provide unusual design layouts ‘ most web users recognise the accepted ‘norms’ of web design, such as consistent navigation styles, Home Page links or page structure. The issue of usability is vital to enable users to work through your site with the minimum of effort, so anything that may detract from that is likely to drive users away.

9) Provide confusing information ‘ poorly worded content or explanations about a website or the product or service being offered will confuse and deter users from trying harder. Your site needs to sell but also to be written for your target user in plain, uncomplicated, English.

10) Provide too many reasons to look elsewhere ‘ together with the above factors, there can be a myriad of other reasons why your potential customers may give up and look elsewhere. Consider how your site compares to competitors in your market ‘ not just on product / service range or price, but on functionality, usability, content and relevancy.

You may be able to identify some factors that could distract users straight away. Others may need an independent view or more detailed user research to indicate the key elements that are losing you business. We can provide a range of services to help you identify the issues that could be affecting your online business, so if you’d like to know more, contact us now.

This article was written by Web Search Workshop UK, a search engine optimisation and marketing consultancy for UK business websites. Contact us today for a free assessment of your website.

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