12 most certain ways you will turn off a website visitor

Complex navigation, pop-ups, gratuitous noise and visuals—all are major repellents for potential customers. Don’t chase them away.

Websites are the foundation of a good marketing platform, and I spend hours discussing and contemplating them.

Too often, we become enamored of what is possible and lose sight of what is important. There are so many shiny gimmicks we could employ that it is essential we stop and focus, lest our website become overloaded with unnecessary and downright distracting elements.

Here are 12 things you should never have if you want your new website visitor to stay on your site for more than a few seconds:

1. Mandatory email sign up to view your site

This is like requiring people to sign into a brick-and-mortar store with their contact information. No one would shop there. Follow the lead of Apple Stores: Make it easy and comfortable, and not only will they stay, they’ll return.

2. Forced video

This is so obvious it almost makes my head explode. Picture yourself sitting in your office waiting for an important client and sneaking a browse online, all the while looking “busy.” Bam! Someone’s voice is suddenly filling your office, blowing your cover.

3. Forced music

The same principle as No. 2 applies here. No one should ever be forced to hear something they weren’t expecting for so many reasons I don’t need to explain.

4. Contrived navigation

“Don’t frustrate the customer” is the golden rule of sales. Your website has to be easy to move around. It’s terrible to find a good page, navigate away, and then have no idea how to get back. Simplicity is the key.

5. Pop-up ads and surveys

Reading your valuable content only to be distracted by pop-up ads means I leave, pronto. Surveys are something I’m seeing more and more of when I visit sites. That’s like running around asking everyone at a cocktail party for their phone number before they know your name. Remember how busy you are; do you have time for random surveys? Do everything you can to keep your visitor wanting more, not wanting to leave.

6. Links opening in the same window

Often this mistake is made due to programming ignorance and not intention, but under no circumstance should you draw your visitor away from your site with no easy way back. If you must have a link to an external site, make sure it opens in a separate window so your viewer can get back to you quickly. Take them away sparingly; they may not come back.

7. Too much text on the home page

Again, remember how busy everyone you know is, and don’t fall in love with your own prose. Be direct and interesting, or you have no hope of keeping them there.

8. Visual overload

Do not try to put every single thing your business does on your home page. A focused and clean entryway is the goal. No one will read every single thing on the page anyway, so aim for bold and simple.

9. Nauseating movement

It is easy to become enamored of all that is possible rather than staying focused on what is important. Just because your programmer can make your logo spin in 3D doesn’t mean she should. If it’s not essential, don’t do it. No gyrating graphic ever sold anything.

10. Hard-to-find contact information

Your website has replaced the phone book for most of us, and very often we visit your site so that we can call or email you. Make this easy; put it right out there in plain sight. If I have to look hard, I might find someone else to do that job for me.

11. Too many affiliate ads

I think most people can appreciate that you may have ads on your site. Some of them even bring a sense of integrity and gravitas to your brand. Having too many never does; it cries out: “I don’t really care about you, customer. I’m in this for the passive dinero.” Be careful.

12. Disrespect for the visitor’s time

You might have 295 fantastic pictures of your work, but trust me: They don’t all have to go on your website. Besides forcing the visitor to plow through them all it means your site takes forever to load. What’s the one common denominator of every human being you know? They’re too busy. We don’t have time to wait for your site to upload.

These helpful hints might seem obvious, but every one of us runs into the rule breakers daily, and we probably quickly click away. In a nutshell: Keep it simple, and respect your visitor’s time.

What click-away annoyances have you come across?

Amy McCloskey Tobin is the founding principal of Ariel Marketing Group. This article is republished with permission, courtesy of 12 Most.

(Image copyright: ostill / 123RF Stock Photo)


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