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Six Strategies to Lose Your Viewer

Written by Trent Brownrigg  · June 9, 2011

A strong web presence is crucial to the success of your business, especially in today’s economic climate. You know it, your marketing team knows it, and, unfortunately, your competition knows it. In other words, if you don’t pay attention to the quality of your website, you’re going to lose business to someone who does. According to a study by leading web traffic controller Akamai Industries, a poorly designed website can lose 30% of its viewers within seconds. They also found that if a site takes more than four seconds to load, 75% of its viewers will not return to the site.

Fortunately, there are simple solutions to the design problems that could be keeping your website from being as effective a tool as possible to bring you additional sales and optimize your search engine rankings. Take a look at the following “how-not-to” list, and then cast a critical eye on your own website. Even a few simple changes could pay big dividends in increased direct business and a more robust web presence.

Six Strategies to Lose Your Viewer: An Overview of What Not to Do and Why

1) Make sure your homepage takes forever to load:

Why Not Do This? To return to Akamai’s findings, you don’t have much time to keep a viewer. Web surfers are an impatient bunch. If they have to sit for five minutes waiting for a page to load, they’re going to look elsewhere. A friend of mine got married recently. When she was looking for a wedding photographer, she found dozens of photographers who wanted to showcase their best (and most high resolution) work on their homepages. The problem for the photographers was that the bride-to-be never got to see those pictures. She got impatient and went on to the next site. She didn’t use their services, she never linked to their sites on her wedding website, and she never raved about their fabulous photos to her friends. I’m sure their homepages looked fantastic once they loaded, but did they achieve their purpose?

2) Make your homepage visually boring

Why Not Do This? This may seem to contradict point number one at first, but a visually unappealing homepage can lose viewers in seconds. Use graphics or photos that catch the eye and draw a viewer in. We can take a lesson from print media here. Newspapers try to place a particularly striking photo “above the fold” on the front page to make their paper look more interesting than the one next to it on the newsstand. You can benefit from this technique as well. Just make sure that your graphics don’t compromise load time.

3) Design your site thinking only of SEO and not an audience of real people

Why Not Do This? In the quest for SEO and those all-important backlinks, businesses often forget a very basic truth. People aren’t coming to your site to help you increase your web presence or your search engine ranking. They want something – to get information, to buy a product, to be entertained. If you don’t provide interesting and original content, they won’t be satisfied. A site with quality content that is updated regularly will keep visitors on your site longer, bring them back again, and prompt them to email a link to friends. This will help you build backlinks naturally. Remember that sites go viral because they’re entertaining or emotionally engaging – not because of their keyword density.

4) Make the purpose of your site unclear:

Why Not Do This? Again, I’m impatient, and I know there are lots of other sites out there that will give me what I want. If I’m looking for grass-fed, certified organic goat cheese, I need to know pretty quickly whether I can find it on your site. If I need to spend more than thirty seconds trying to figure that out, you’ve lost me.

5) Make navigation confusing and difficult:

Why Not Do This? Ok. I can tell from your homepage that you have the cheese I want, but I don’t want to spend all day figuring out how to find a list of your products, prices, and shipping information. Make it clear where the links are that I’ll need to get around your site by placing them in one or two main areas. Don’t bury them all in a lot of text that I may or may not read. If I spend ten minutes on your site, but I never end up buying your product, you’ve won the first battle but lost the war.

6) Jam the homepage with lots and lots of text:

Why Not Do This? Your homepage should draw a viewer in and provide clear links to get to additional information. Use enough text to make the purpose of your site clear and capture the viewer’s attention, but don’t use so much that your viewers get information overload. Think of your own web browsing habits. If you wanted to spend hours reading a lot of words, you’d pick up a copy of War and Peace; you wouldn’t hit the Internet.

The common thread here is that you should always remind yourself that real people are viewing your site. Put yourself in their position. Is my site interesting and fun? Is it easy to get around on? Does it quickly give viewers what they’re looking for? If not, is there really any reason anyone should spend their time there?

Guest post written by Tim Eyre. He helps residential and business customers who use self storage when they don’t have enough storage space on their own property. Tim’s company has locations from coast to coast, including Las Vegas self storage.

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4 Responses to “Six Strategies to Lose Your Viewer”

  1. Paul on June 16th, 2011 1:22 am

    Here’s one more – Fill your home page with ads and unending popups. I come across one blog that has popups every time you open a page on his site. It’s very annoying!

  2. Dani on June 26th, 2011 11:48 pm

    Absolutely, a jammed home page with a bunch of crap on it turns readers off. I’m one of them. If I hit a page and I cant figure out where I am, I’m out. That’s why I hate cork boards. You end up putting everything you think you want to remember and then you just ignore it. At least I do.

  3. Smith on September 10th, 2011 2:08 am

    Yes, you are absolutely right. If your blog massage is not clear in the mind of your reader then it is difficult to capture more viewers on your blog. Like If your blog is made for automotive then you should need to take domain which is more suitable to automotive blog and also need to add latest content about autos.

  4. Luke on October 11th, 2011 9:19 am

    Your right, written down it all seems simple, but i am amazed at how many websites don’t have a clear purpose, in my mind, which is cynical i know.. a web site must elicit the response your looking for from the viewer and to do that it needs to do all of the above..