7 sure-fire ways to make me leave your website – in seconds

Picture of fed up cartoon woman

Do they think this will work?

I really, really have to wonder about some website developers. Do they ever test anything on real people? This is going to be my list of gripes, but when I mention these cases (especially the last one) to others, I get a chorus of violent agreement. I sure wish somebody would take note.

1. Show me a landing page

“Hi there, welcome to Acme Spare Parts, Bits and Bobs. Press here to enter our site.” FFS people. Why make it twice as hard? I already clicked on a link to get here. Show me what I want to see!

2. Play stuff at me

So I click a link to your site, and somebody talks at me. Whoa. We only just met. Get your virtual foot out of my virtual door.I prefer to read your offering, not listen to it. Or maybe you play music. Don’t. Just don’t. Or the increasingly common one on news sites. Yes, OK, I opened up a newspaper article. But that doesn’t give them the right to automatically start showing me a newscast. If I have to click the damn thing to stop it, why not let me click it to start it? And no, it’s not the same as making me click twice as above. I’m where I want to be. Now it’s up to me if I want to read the article, view the footage, or both.

3. Make me work to read your stuff

I recently clicked into an article which promised to show me the difference between people’s perceptions, and the reality of what they thought. It was about things like how many girls under 16 became pregnant, and similar judgemental factoids. “This is what people thought,” it proclaimed (let’s say 13%). Then I was shown a button. “Click here to find out the actual percentage.” (Less than 1%, for those interested.) And so it went on. How many times did I click on the “truth” button? Twice. I suddenly found I really wasn’t that interested, and went back to looking at cat pictures on Facebook.

4. Ask me to login to comment

Look, I hate captcha screens (you know the ones, prove you’re not a robot by deciphering these barely legible letters/numbers). However, I do understand the problem with spam. I don’t use captcha. I have Akismet, a rather good WordPress anti-spam application, on my site, and spam isn’t a huge problem. I go in every week or so and clear the spam Akismet has collected. Yes, I’ll wrestle (briefly) with a captcha screen – but don’t ask me to register to leave a comment. I’m outta there. (Back to cat pictures on FB)

5. Try to drag me in with ‘one weird tip’ then force me to endure a lecture

There’s a few of those around, often to do with weight loss. So you click, expecting something brief and to the point. What you get is somebody telling you why they’re right and everybody else is wrong – for five blasted minutes. Then they do the big sell. If you sign up for these programs (yeah, OK, I admit it) you’re then constantly bombarded with similar content, presented in the same way, to persuade you to buy supplements and other forms of snake oil.

6. Ask me to ‘subscribe’ as soon as I click into your site

Uh… no. I know that’s what they say to do in all the website sales doco, but to me, that’s just as much a hard sell as the ‘one weird tip’ approach. Make it worth my while over time to visit your site, and I might subscribe, but not because you shove the ‘sign here’ in my face. That’s like a salesman with his foot in the door.

7. And my favourite…

I’m reading an article. Halfway through reading, a screen appears, almost obscuring the words. ‘Like what you see, subscribe’. Can you hear the screaming, web designers? No? Come to my place and listen.

Enough with the hard sell tactics. Sure, offer me a subscription on your side panel, or suggest I might like your newsletter – and if I do, I get a dozen virtual cupcakes. But if you shove that stuff in my face, I’ll suddenly develop a craving for (you guessed it) cat pictures on Facebook. Having been a website designer in the past, let me give you one huge tip. TEST YOUR SYSTEM ON REAL PEOPLE. You may just find that some of your whizz-bangery leaves the people you’re trying to attract so cold they’ll join me with the cats on Facebook.

by Greta van der Rol

14 thoughts on “7 sure-fire ways to make me leave your website – in seconds

  1. Susan Gourley

    All reasons I leave also. All the music or videos make the pages load slow also.

    1. Greta Post author

      They do indeed. And that’s a huge turn off for the many people in this world who don’t have high speed broadband.

  2. Lexi Revellian

    Totally agree. And websites with something moving in the sidebar – hate those. And pop ups about cookies. Yes, it may be compulsory under some new bossy EU rule, but nobody’s yet been sued for NOT having a cookie notice, so why have one?

    1. Greta Post author

      Yep, things moving in the sidebar. And also, for me, animated gifs in an article. So distracting when you’re trying to read.

  3. Dale Furse

    Haha, thank goodness I don’t know what I’m doing, ’cause my site has none of those things. Cat pics can be funny though, lol.

    1. Greta Post author

      Just as well, Dale. As you can see, those ‘features’ are not popular.

  4. MonaKarel

    Try to gather information and you’re inundated with worthless nonsense. Or the article is broken up by bizarre ads. Or even better, you have to wade through pop up screens to look at pictures. I’m with you, back to the cats (or really hot guys)

    1. Greta Post author

      Really hot guys works, too. Gee, I hope some website designers notice this post.

  5. Marj

    To comment on some blogs, it appears that you have to ‘join’ not just ‘follow’ and then if you do, you get emailed whenever the blogger says something.

    I get enough nuisance emails without more.

    Great article, Greta, (and a great pic at the top, too)

    1. Greta Post author

      Oh, yes. Join? No thanks all the same. Not to simply leave a comment.

  6. Julia Barrett

    I pretty much agree with you. However Askimet doesn’t always work. I went to a Captcha for a while then upgraded my spam filters because I kept getting hacked.

    1. Greta Post author

      No, Akismet doesn’t always work, but it works well enough for me. I think you get much more traffic than I do. I accept the necessity of captcha – but the ones with the weird letters can be very trying. If I get it wrong twice, I go away. Life’s too short.

Comments are closed.