A cranky consumer discusses website flaws that infuriate visitors.
On behalf of all the disgruntled internet users, we’re going to address some of the most irritating and ubiquitous website issues in a series of three posts. These are the things that make potential clients (and anyone else who happens to be perusing your site) absolutely crazy with frustration, driving them away in a huff. Thwarted and irked site visitors are not those who make the conversion to clients, and having problems that alienate viewers is terrible for your bounce rate. You’ve worked awfully hard to attract the right kind of audience with your time, money and mental effort. It’s a shame to have it end in a fizzle of errors and annoyance. Here, via Corey Eridon’s accurate article on HubSpot Blog, are four of the top offenders to innocent web surfers:
- Pop-up windows. This is a tricky point, because pop-ups are often recommended as a way to harvest email addresses to add to your mailing list. On the one hand, you might get some new contacts. On the other (bigger, stronger, meaner) hand, people hate them! All people? I can’t speak for every human web-surfer, but as one internet addict I’m comfortable admitting that I loathe and despise them. I immediately click to close whatever pops up without even reading the text. I have enough trouble focusing past the panoply of intriguing sights, sounds and smells of the world on my own. If I’m actually managing to read something then my response to someone else interrupting to say “Look! A squirrel! Can I have your email and phone number?” borders on the downright hostile. Sites that do it more than once are off my list of acceptable places to go.
- Unexpected sound. This is another way to send visitors fleeing in enraged alarm, never to return. That may sound overly dramatic, but going to a web page only to have it start blaring voices or music feels incredibly invasive and aggressive to hapless surfers. The volume may be all the way up from an earlier (planned) musical moment, resulting in what might well be reasonable and articulate self-promotion being perceived as an all-out attack at obscene decibel levels. Often, the user needs quiet because she or he is browsing at work, on the phone, in a waiting room, while the kids are asleep or in any number of other scenarios that call for relative silence. Whatever the context, an unprovoked auditory assault means evasive back button action and residual resentment. Include video, but let the user activate it every time. If we wanted to be shouted at nonstop we’d be watching television.
- Animated craziness. This is not a rave. It is a website, and allegedly one for a professional firm. Refrain, then, from allowing blinky lights, flashing signs, out-of-control animations and those automatically loading videos we’ve already touched on to be a presence. They’re distracting and annoying, and they feel like cheap desperation. Offer compelling copy, a well-ordered site and appealing images. Then let viewers explore on our own. We have mice and we are prepared to use them.
- Lame generic pictures. This isn’t as active an affront as the first three, but it’s still a turnoff to the frequent web user. If you’ve bothered to make a website for your firm, go ahead and let it reflect what’s special about the firm. You have everything you need – actual human beings who work there, ideas about how your services contribute to the world, results charts, clients, company events that must have happened somewhere – so use these resources in your site imagery. If you’re not into that idea then feel free to use interesting and relevant images that you like. Just don’t make them so trite as to be annoying. We know there are good-looking, well-groomed, racially balanced working groups of people who hold nice pens and smile at each other out there in stock photography land. We’d rather see your people.
These four are among the very best ways to lose site visitors in a heartbeat. If you are guilty of any one of the first three crimes against the online community, stop it immediately! Then look at the graphics on your site with a fresh eye to check for excessive blandness. Next time we’ll address some website flaws that are more subtle but still detrimental to your cause. Won’t that be fun?