:: By Ankit Oberoi, AdPushup ::
There is nothing more satisfying than having your work appreciated through a comment, a like, a tweet or a sale. Unfortunately though, it is becoming harder and harder to get that appreciation or attention from visitors.
Since we live in an era of skimming and in a time where information is not scarce, keeping the visitors enticed enough to stay on a website for more than a few seconds is getting harder. It can be a struggle to convince visitors that their time on your site will be worthwhile.
Here is a scary statistic that inspired the creation of this article: On average, a visitor will leave your website in 10-20 seconds.
So, we’ll take a look at 5 reasons why someone would do that. If your website suffers from a high bounce rate problem, this one is for you!
1) World Wide Wait: a.k.a Loading Speed Problem
According to Kissmetrics, 47 percent of visitors expect a website to load in less than 2 seconds, and 40 percent of visitors will leave the website if the loading process takes more than 3 seconds.
Before we look at studies that have examined the loading speed problem, here is some interesting information that may shed some light upon how the visitors' expectation changes with an increased loading time.
People like to be in control of their destiny and not be subjected to the computer's whims. In his book - Usability Engineering, Jacob Nielsen talks about 3 important time limits that occur during the delay between a user’s action and the application’s response.
a) 0.1 second: If the application responds instantaneously to the user's actions, it gives an appearance of direct manipulation. It makes the user think that the result was generated by their action and not by the computer. This phenomenon of direct manipulation is a great key to increase user engagement.
b) 1 second: If the response interval time is 1 second, the user will notice the small delay and feel like the system is generating the results instead of them, but they will focus more on their train of thought, after which they retain the sense of control a little. A Web page should ideally take one second to load to give the users the feeling that they can navigate freely.
c) 10 seconds: By this point, the user has noticed the delay and no longer feels in control. After this period, the users' mind will wander and they will, more often than not, leave the website. If the application takes more than 10 seconds to load, it is important to notify the users (via percent indicators, progress bar) as to approximately how long they would have to wait. This way they will know what to expect.
No matter how groundbreaking content you produce, or how many guest posts you write to attract traffic, people will not keep waiting at the door of your site for you to answer, especially when they can access your competitor's site faster.
Google considers load time as a factor while ranking websites. The reason is simple: Google wants to rank websites with a better user experience higher than others and loading time is an important factor here, which decides how the users’ experience on your website will be.
Tagman, a tracking system provider worked with an online prescription glasses retailer, Glasses Direct, to study the effects of loading speed on consumer conversion. The interesting part was that every one-second delay caused a 7 percent loss in conversions.
(Image source: Tagman)
When Amazon analyzed its ratio of sales to its Web performance through A/B tests, what it found was that with every page load delay of 100 milliseconds there was a 1 percent decrease in conversions.
(Image source: Walmart)
Last year, Walmart reported that by reducing their page load time by one second they saw a 2 percent increase in traffic, and every 100-millisecond decrease of page load time saw an incremental conversion of 1 percent.
With each passing year people's willingness to wait is becoming lesser and lesser. In a New York Times article titled, "For Impatient Web Users, an Eye Blink is Just Too Long to Wait," it was reported that, according to Google engineers, even 400 milliseconds was too long.
The game of speed is slowly shifting from seconds to milliseconds. Where do you stand? Want to check your website's performance? You can do so through Web Page Test.
2) Website Layout Problem
Another reason why a substantial amount of your traffic might “bounce” could be because of your website's structure. The solution is a website revamp.
Remember, users don’t actually read your content – they scan content. You can think of an un-optimized Web design as a communication problem whereby your targeted audience fails to clearly grasp or retain the key elements needed to make a decision (a click, opt-in, etc.) during their stay on your website.
There are many design principles and failure to implement them could be a reason behind the high bounce rate.
For example having a visual hierarchy tells readers what to read and in which order. More importantly, it is a fantastic way to embed a sense of importance within the readers mind.
People don't see everything equally; rather they organize. They can organize any content in the order of importance just with a quick glance, even without knowing what it actually is about.
Visual Website Optimizer (VWO) is a leading A/B testing tool. Underwater Audi, an online retail store, used VWO to optimize their homepage for conversion. They wanted to see if visual hierarchy in application would produce any significant improvements.
This was their original homepage:
(Image source: Visual Website Optimizer)
Their goal was to rearrange the elements in an F-shaped format to stay in sync with how humans read text online. They swapped the call to action “learn more” with the testimonial bubble to make the image more visible.
Result? Such a small change resulted in a 35.6 percent increase in sales.
Another one is the Hicks' law, which is contribution by William Hicks to experimental psychology. It states that a visitor's reaction rate is directly proportional to the amount of choices you present them with. Sometimes choices can be demotivating.
If your blog contains many articles across various topics, implement a more robust filtering system through which the users can eliminate the distractions and find what they are looking for, faster.
3) The Autoplay Issue
A video that plays by itself turns into an irritant for the visitor, whose only goal then becomes to find the tab where the audio is playing and close it. It is important to remember that your visitor might not be at the comfort of their home, but instead maybe at work, or school or at some place where watching a video is not appropriate.
Secondly, visitors like to think that they are in charge of their actions. Having the video play automatically without them having to initiate any action on their part is a poor usability technique. Your visitor might already be listening to their favorite music while visiting your website. By forcing your video or audio content upon them, you are only giving them more reasons to close your Web page.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (section 1.4.2) states that if an audio is automatically played for more than three seconds, an option should be shown to the visitor whereby they could pause or mute the audio. This option should be independent from the systems' main volume controller.
Facebook recently launched autoplay ads on its newfeed, and in less than 24 hours we already have Web users searching for ways to block these “annoying ads”.
In a survey based on 605 participants, it was found that 70 percent of them found ads that played automatically sounded very negative.
Although there haven't been any major research done on whether the presence of auto playing videos increases the likelihood of people leaving your website, just a quick search on popular forums will return comments like this:
"One time I really needed some info of this page and it was blaring some cheesy tween pop song. I was in a crowded room and quickly scrolled through the page to get the info and then slammed the laptop shut like it was a ticking time bomb." ~ Karen
But if you know that the majority of your visitors read your website from a cubicle, for example, video play should always be user initiated.
4) Uninteresting content
Many website owners spend an awful amount of time making their homepage interesting, and push the rest of the pages to the back burner. Think about this: When was the last time you actually entered a website through the homepage?
Over the years, search patterns have drastically changed. According to Forrester Research, in 2012, 54 percent of consumers found websites through search engine results, 32 percent through social networks, and 28 percent said that they found websites through links from other websites.
Homepages are not a website's main entry point anymore. It is important to note that articles, blog posts or any other content that you add on your website is also attracting traffic, which is why it is absolutely crucial to make each and every page compelling.
According to the Nielsen Norman group, “the most effective Web content is objective and neutral”. Instead of using technical terms, complex words and jargons, the meaning of Web content should be easy to comprehend.
Focus on writing thorough articles instead of short blog posts. If you are selling a not-so-cheap product, writing interesting articles is the way to go because higher priced items, unlike cheap products, have a long sales cycle, which means that you need to form a relationship with your readers and prove your credibility before seeing a sale.
If your website targets the older demographics, you will find this interesting. According to a study done by Nielsen and Norman group, they found that users who are 65 and older are 43 percent slower at using websites than their 21-55 year old counterparts.
Plus, don't forget the power of typography – it can affect your readers experience and conversions.
Make your content more interesting by making it more relate-able and react-able.
5) Inactive Blog
Another big reason why people would leave your website is if they can only encounter old and outdated content. If they have nothing new to read, why would they stay? It is very essential to have a rhythm in your postings and it is just as important to stick to those posting schedule.
There haven't been any research done to find the perfect frequency of blog postings, but it is important to not keep your visitors guessing as to when your next content will be published. An ideal frequency will depend on your niche. Sometimes posting too often can irritate the readers causing them to un-subscribe. It can also increase the chances of filler posts- something that your readers will not appreciate.
Posting less frequently will make your readers lose touch with your blog. It is harder to keep a loyal reader base when they have nothing to read.
Hubspot's 2012 State of Inbound Marketing report shows that undervaluing the importance of frequently blogging is equal to leaving money on the table. According to the findings, businesses that updated their blogs multiple times a day had their customer acquisition at 92 percent. With the increased investment in content marketing, it's very safe to predict the same is true for 2014.
Leading tech websites update their blogs several times every hour.
The important point to takeaway is to find that middle ground where your users will appreciate your postings and even look forward to it.
I hope this article was helpful. As website owners, our goal is to attract traffic and keep them on our site for as long as possible. Often, we get so involved in the making the website “pretty” and “cool” that we forget what our users actually want to see. Fortunately, with so many marketing research and case studies available we can pin point as to why exactly something that looks perfect is not actually converting.
A visitors goal is not to leave your website; it is to find the solution. If we can show them effectively and fast that we hold the answers to their problem or question there is no reason why they would leave your website.
About the Author
Ankit Oberoi is a co-founder at AdPushup, a startup focused on helping publishers and bloggers optimize their ad revenues using Advanced A/B Testing. You can reach him on Twitter @oberoiankit.