My last blog post “WHY ISN’T ANYONE VISITING MY WEBSITE?” outlined a few reasons why people may not be visiting your website, and ways to improve your traffic. This week I want to discuss why people aren’t staying on your website, and how to keep them there for longer amounts of time. There are so many free and easy to use analytic tools out there, they tell us an assortment of amazing information. We can see how many people visited our website, what pages they looked at, and how long they spent on each page. With this information you may be asking yourself: “Why do people leave my website so quickly?” That is a question with so many considerations, and it also takes a lot of time to test your results and troubleshoot. Keeping people on your website for longer periods of time is quite beneficial. It insures you that people were captivated by your content and reaffirms your work. Beyond that it is important for you to know that the website is functional overall. When we think about why people may be running away from your website there are many simple things we can consider, and be sure to avoid.
Page load time is a huge issue for the average user. Recent statistics show 40% of users will leave a website if it takes more then 3 seconds to load. 3 seconds! This may not seem like much time, but the average person has incredible Internet speeds these days and has become accustomed to moving quickly on the Internet. People leaving your website simply due to slow load times can be a nail in the coffin for any business hoping to convert users to leads. There are many simple things you could do to decrease load time:
- Optimize your images – Using the correct file formats can greatly decrease load time. Avoid using file types that are bigger then necessary. If you can use a jpg vs. a png DO IT!
- Avoid Scaling Images – When you scale an image down to the correct size via html to fit on your site, you are wasting load times. Size each image appropriately.
- Use an external Style Sheet – this may be a bit more advanced, but al styling should be in one single file rather then each page. Create a .css file rather then having your CSS styling on each page.
- Above all use a suitable hosting service. Not all hosting is created equally, and hosts boast different load times, often much faster then being hosted on a local machine.
Navigation is huge. Make sure your website is easily setup for users to find the information that they need. Avoid giving people too many options right off the bat. If your navigation is too heavy people will become confused and give up, however if your main navigation is simple and split up into user friendly categories with related sub categories, a user can find what they need by going through simple channels. Your website should be unique, however your navigation should be as simple and predictable as possible.
Keep your most useful information above the fold. The information on the top of your homepage is what a user will see first. This is important in keeping them on your site. Don’t litter the top of the fold with things that are unattractive or boring. Use this space as an attraction and make sure you consider the various screen sizes people use.
Browser Problems are another area of great distress to both web designers and users alike. Your website should be tested on many machines, utilizing many web browsers. If you are like me you have more loyalty to your browser than any website, and chances are if a website fails to handle properly on my browser of choice I am giving up and going elsewhere. Browser compatibility isn’t something that is all that difficult these days, but there are still minor differences between software. The Chrome browser recently took the reigns as the top browser in United States replacing Internet explorer, and yet I still see sites that do not function correctly in chrome everyday. Avoid this at all costs and make compatibility a top priority.
Automatic Registration is a something to avoid. Have you ever visited a site and had it immediately request for you to sign up for their mailing list? Why would I do that? A user will not only see this as annoying, but also invasive. A user must be motivated to give you their information. This is true inbound marketing strategy. Provide useful content that users love, and they will subscribe themselves, or generate great content and exchange it for their information. You cannot expect to get something for nothing these days so make sure you work hard to get your visitors info. If you build it, they will come.
Other things to Avoid: Most of this list consists of things that you may not even dream of doing, however they are still being used in many places on the web.
- Auto-sound is one of the biggest things that will send me running. I visit a website and a song starts playing automatically and poof, I’m gone. I consider this inhospitable when it comes to web design, and for most people it is down right annoying.
- Typos seem like a no-brainer. Not only is it poor for SEO but also it instills distrust in users. Would you feel comfortable sharing information with a site if it can’t run its content through a simple spell check?
- Old Data can also be damaging. I support blogging and news sections of all websites, but when a user visits this section and sees that no one has written a blog for six months, they may begin to question the status of your site and the health of your organization.
- Pop Ups are terrible, the world associates pop ups with ads, even when they are not. It is cemented in our minds wheather we like it or not. Avoid pop ups on your site. More then anything pop-ups just add another step for people in finding the content that they need.
We could spend all day examining the ways to keep people on your site, but most if it boils down to one thing: post amazing, well organized content. I say this at the risk of sounding like a broken record, but content is king. It will keep people on your site and produce leads. Follow the above guidelines, test your results, and then try more things. Every thing you do on the web should be scrutinized until it produces positive results. Let Blue Frog help you and click below!