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The Sticky Killers

Written by Ryan Ambrose  · January 9, 2008

Site stickiness is a big issue whether you realize it or not. All the traffic in the world won’t help you if no one stays on your site long enough to do what you want them to do. Want sales, opt-ins, or paid clicks? It won’t happen if you can’t get anyone to stay long enough to make them happen.

I’ll readily admit that stickiness has a lot to do with psychology, which is more ‘trial and error’ than ‘systematic’ to fix. The mistake is in believing that all stickiness is defined this way. Just because its not all cut and paste doesn’t mean you can’t fix the things that are obvious problems.

One big thing you can do to make your web site stickier is to eliminate the ‘Sticky Killers’. You can sum up ‘Sticky Killers’ with two major categories:

  1. Negative first impressions that immediately drive visitors away.

  2. Bad site experiences that drive them away after they’ve been on your site for a while.

The first problem, negative first impressions, include things such as:

  • Difficult to comprehend, irritating, or ‘crowded’ site layouts and colors that cause negative gut reactions at a glance.

  • Pop-ups barrages or other types of over-the-top spamming tactics like ad stacks or nonexistent content.

  • A sloppy, home-made, or thrown-together look that makes your site appear unprofessional or gives the perception that it’s a waste of a visitor’s time. This doesn’t mean you have to own a fancy Flash site, but it does mean you’ll need a little thought or a good template when you make one.

Bad site experiences are the things on your site that drive visitors away after they have stayed long enough to do something. Bad experience departures are caused by things like:

  • Bad navigation that makes it impossible for visitors to get around or find what they want.

  • Poor content that doesn’t meet an expectation. Even sales letters are ‘content’ and the copy can be either good or bad. Or if you say you have informational/funny/interesting content and only provide junk, your visitors will leave and not in the way you want (such as through a paid click link).

Remember the two big ‘sticky killers’ when you’re making (or commissioning) your sites. Negative first impressions result in traffic leaving a few seconds after it arrives. Bad site experiences will give you decent ‘stay’ statistics, but nothing you want to occur will ever happen. Neither one is good for you or your bottom line.

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10 Responses to “The Sticky Killers”

  1. WAHM Tara on January 9th, 2008 9:34 pm

    Excellent post! I know from my own personal experience when I got to websites that use sticky methods, I get frustrated and leave.

  2. Maister on January 10th, 2008 5:58 am

    Hello Ryan

    What do you think about

    No one has reviewed it, that’s why I cannot find anything about it, I think it’s quiet big opportunity for online money making, do you know something about it? It would be interesting your opinion about it ūüôā


  3. James Mann on January 10th, 2008 7:06 am

    I like your post.

    For me I would say that the color scheme is what turns me away in an instant. The net is filled with content and I am sure I can find similar content elsewhere, so keeping the colors easy on the eyes is one of the first steps.

    BTW: Your site is a pleasure to read. Create color scheme and few to zero distractions.

  4. Ryan on January 10th, 2008 9:59 am

    Thank you, James.

  5. Timmo on January 10th, 2008 4:52 pm

    I never really thought about this concept before but it makes sense, one or two of my sites have a problem keeping customers at bay. I talk alittl bit about this at along wih other valuable money making info!

  6. Land Projects UK on January 10th, 2008 8:33 pm

    If you want to get quality readers and visitors to your websites, this two are important. Websites should contain quality contents and a friendly-user navigation.

  7. larry | Desire for Wealth on January 11th, 2008 9:36 pm

    Hi, I like your article. Sometimes, when I look at my blog Awstat statistics, I was like hmmmm… Although, I have traffic coming in but most of the time, people stay less than 30 sec of the time. I suppose I have to do something to make visitors stay longer.


  8. Matt Tutt on January 12th, 2008 11:58 am

    Great post, I too think a lot of it is just psychological – site stickiness depends on various factors… I think its hard to settle on just one.

  9. Ryan Ambrose on January 13th, 2008 10:27 am


    Actually, the trick is to get your visitors to stay long enough to maximize the chances they’ll produce what you want (sales, opt-ins, click links that pay for it, etc.). If the less than 30 seconds isn’t producing for you, it’s time to look into your stickiness. That’s the point behind worrying about sticky killers.

  10. David Anderson on January 15th, 2008 7:43 pm

    That’s a good reminder! If you want to attract more readers, make sure that you readers won’t experience this.