Is your website scaring away your visitors? Find out why.
We’ve all been there, stumbling onto a site that uses dark green text on a black background, a needlessly extravagant letter font, and wildly flashing pop-up ads. The kind of site you immediately shut down, right before you start up the anti-virus scanner. Well, here is a list of some of the most important things you can do to make people stay on your site instead of reformat their hard drive.
The quickest way to bounce people off your site is to have bad contrast between the text and the background. While dark on dark and light on light are obvious blunders, don’t also make the mistake of putting light lettering on dark backgrounds unless you have a specific reason for doing so. Focusing on the text in these instances is far harsher on the eyes than dark on light and black backdrops are often viewed negatively.
Blocks of Text
Unless the whole point of your website is to have blocks of text, don’t do them. Web users are impatient and they like clicking much more than they like scrolling. Users will weigh their level of caring about the subject of the page against their potential time commitment. If the interest level is even remotely lacking, the user will get frustrated and click away before they’ve finished the second paragraph, which is why only two of you have made it this far!
Bolds and Italics
Web users skim, they don’t read. Because of this, any page that you make needs to have easily accessible points of interest that a reader can latch onto while passing over the rest. If you make the reader search for what they want, they won’t bother. So any time you are presenting a particularly important piece of information or paraphrasing concisely, make it different from the rest of the text to indicate “READ THIS.”
I want to be able to go to anywhere on your site in 2 clicks. This means either a comprehensive sidebar or a good drop-down menu, and I want it to be easy. If a user is on the main page of your website and unsure of where to click to get where he wants to be, he’s going to give up. Yes, we’re all that lazy on the Internet.
Be Smart About Your Ads
Recently, ads have started to be tailored to each individual’s search history. A lot of them are still determined by the ad provider though, and while they will attempt to be relevant to the website that they’re on, there doesn’t seem to be much effort put toward it. That said, you decide whether or not you want a particular ad up there. If you have a website about real estate and your ads are marketing pictures of Snuggies, contact the company handling the ads and tell them get on the ball. Bad, irrelevant ads can not only deter traffic, but will also drag the site down a notch.
One more thing concerning ads. No pop-ups. Firstly, nobody will ever see them. Every browser is equipped with a pop-up blocker. Secondly, if a pop-up does manage to get through, your user will hate you for it. Pop-ups are the classic sign foretelling viruses and spyware. Don’t associate your website with such an established bad impression.
Know Your Links
If you ever link to another site or particularly if you have a “related sites” or “Also see our friends!” section to your site, make sure they aren’t linking your users directly to sites that participate in several of the above website peeves. Make sure they’re credible, relevant, and clean. You are essentially endorsing this website by giving a link to it and a user will hold it against you. A virus picked up on one of your sister sites is as good as a virus picked up on your own. In fact, the user usually won’t know exactly which site they got it from, so they’ll just drop both of you! Better safe than sorry, after all.