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Boing! Why people bounce off your website

by Jo Shaer, on August 2, 2013

Website Bounce Rate Do people bounce off your website?
You’ll hear some webby people talking about ‘bounce rates’. If you don’t know what that is; it means that people arrive on your website and don’t get past the page they land on. In other words, there’s nothing there that engages them enough to encourage them to explore.

Boing! They’ve gone again.

If you’ve invested time, effort and money in getting people to visit your site you want them to hang about long enough to persuade them to take action. You don’t want them to disappear without having a look around – especially if you’ve paid for their visit via your SEO service or Google Adwords.

Firstly, you need to KNOW how long your visitors stay and the pages they visit. You can find this out by installing Google Analytics on your website. This gives you nice, reasonably straightforward reports on your visitors’ behaviour. Once you can see the size of the problem you can take action.

Secondly, you will need to analyse what is causing people to leave so quickly. Here are some of the most common reasons:

  • There are too many things going on and people are easily confused (and impatient). Lots of boxes with information or graphics scattered about make me think I will have to work too hard to work out if you’ve got what I’m looking for. I’m likely to hit the ‘back’ button.
  • There’s no ‘hook’ in prime real estate. Prime real estate is the point where people’s eyes make contact with the page and it’s usually just below the top branding area and slightly in from the left hand side. This area needs a good headline that tells people what the site/page is likely to deliver. ‘Services’ or ‘Home’ is not a headline.
  • Whizzy graphics! If things move about much you’re making life much too hard for your reader. This is especially true of stop/start graphics. If I have just started reading to try and find out what you’re offering and my eyes are drawn back to something that has just moved again I’m likely to be distracted. I’ll only give it a couple of goes before giving up; I can find sites that are ‘easier’ to read. By all means have things that move, but aim for gentle and continuous rather than intermittent and sudden.
  • Not enough content or guidance to help me decide if you can help me. Most of us can cope with three or maybe four clear choices, but give us too many options and we take none of them. The more information attached to each option, the more difficult it will seem.
  • More than one column of text requires me to work harder to read it all. This may sound ridiculous, but most web surfers are lazy and impatient; if I have to scroll up and down to read something I probably won’t. I will read one or the other column and may not get the critical information. Anything that will be read on a screen works better in a single column format.

There are other things that make the reader’s life tougher:

  • Tiny or fancy fonts
  • Light writing on a dark background
  • Justified or centred paragraphs

At the end of the day it doesn’t make sense to put a barrier between your message and your audience so put your prospective client’s hat on and see it from their viewpoint. Make things as easy as possible for them.

Lesley Morrissey is Lesleywriter; she is passionate about removing anything that gets in the way of your target audience getting your message. Get maximum output from minimum online input.

Topics:women in businessWeb DesignLocal Business Marketing

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