Why People Leave Websites Within the First 30 Seconds
Why 30 Seconds?
The 30 seconds comes from data we’re seeing with sites we manage and have managed over the past 6 years. We also chose 30 seconds based on the assumption that the website owner has done a good job stating the value proposition and has established trust with the site user within the first 10 seconds of a visit.
Most usability experts will agree that the first 10 seconds is the most important time period of a page visit. Jakob Nielsen, a reputable web usability expert, posted research titled “How Long Do Users Stay on Web Pages?” in September, 2011. In that research, he notes that the “first 10 seconds of the page visit are critical for users’ decision to stay or leave”. He notes, and we agree, if you can get the user past the first 10 seconds “they will look around a bit”. In Jakob’s research, and in our own findings, we see that only after users have spent about 30 seconds on a page does the probability of leaving a page flattens out. Users continue to leave every second, but at a much slower rate than during the first 30 seconds.
The Trend in Time on Site
Over the past 8 years I’ve seen the average time on site decrease. Internet users are spoiled and impatient. We’re getting better (more relevant) and more (number of options) results than we used to 8 years ago. On one hand we’re impatient as a result of being spoiled with the improvements in relevancy and speed of our search results and in the other we’re anxious to make our dollar work for us and we’re going to make an online business work for it. Our mindset is “give us fast results and tell us as soon as possible why we should do business with you”. I’ll also note that improvements and accessibility to faster internet connectivity has played a part in this trend as well.
Common Causes of Low Time on Site
- Overall Design This might come off as slightly snobbish, but lets face it, we are all guilty of judging a book by its cover every once in a while. If I arrive to a website and it is not aesthetically pleasing, I will leave your site within the first 10 seconds. In fact, I most likely will not return in the future. What is unfair about judging a website in the manner is that the overall design of a site isn’t always a direct indication of the value of their content. I might stroll across a hideously designed site, leave, and never explore the brilliance of their content. Why are we guilty of this type of online segregation? Simply because of the creditability behind a well designed website, which suggests organization and professionalism. Even if a site is not from a Fortune 500 Company, it should still maintain enough appeal for any audience. May it be as simple as a personal blog, or as complex as a medical company; a well-produced site will present itself well.
Pop-up Ads: There is nothing more obnoxious than to be bombarded by an advertisement in the midst of browsing a site. Pop-up ads lower your sites credibility and will annoy several users to the point of leaving your site.
Ad Portions – Too Many Ads: Do not clog your site with ads. Your ads shouldn’t be overwhelming, take up more space than your content, and shouldn’t visually draw your audience away from the purpose of your site.
Ad Clarity: There is nothing worse than a sloppy, flashing, obnoxious ads. Keep your ads direct, straight forward, simple, and subtle.
- Interstitial Webpages An interstitial webpage is a page that a user is directed to before viewing the intended page. These pages usually include a large ad that devours 80% of the page, and in small font says something along the lines of “Please wait 30 to be redirected to your page or Click Here to be immediately directed”. Wait, what? Was it effective to direct me to a page that I have no interest in, have to wait 30 seconds to THEN be connected to the page I clicked on? This is a sure way to lose visitors. In fact, when sites include interstitial webpages I never return to their site.
Google wrote a powerful explanation of their policy and purpose of User Experience. Google perfectly captures how improper use of ads is obstructive. View Googles Article here.)
- Audio & Video Refrain from Audio and Videos that automatically begin playing when the visitor views your site. We do not need background music to enhance our user experience. In fact, it usually assists users in moving to a site other than yours.
- Overall Ease of Navigation It’s always a nice surprise to stumble across a site that pushes the envelope with their website design. Even the completely inventive web designs maintain a user-friendly structure. If your navigation does not follow the standard sites (Top Menu, Sidebars, and a footer), make sure that it is easily maneuverable. This is another design flaw that drives me bananas! I do not want to search for your navigation buttons. Also, keep in mind that your navigation needs to make sense. Do not include a list of your ‘Producs’ within your “Contact Us” nav.
- Register to Continue Do not require your visitors to sign-up prior to viewing your site. Instead, include the option to register somewhere else within your site. A pop-up to register is more obnoxious than an advertisement because the user is forced to spend several minutes filling out a form they had no desire to complete.
- Pagination Pagination is the flawed design of dividing a single page into multiple pages. For example, if you have an article titled, “Top 10 Vitamins to Expand Life” instead of having one single page listing the top 10, there would be 10 individual pages. Why would I want to click through 10 pages to read a couple of sentences on each page? When articles include this type of display, I am gone. I’d rather find the same information elsewhere where it’s styled on a single page.
- Awful Text Hard to read text is about as useful as writing on a piece of paper with a yellow highlighter. Who wants to strain their eyes to read your message? This is also paired with text that is too small to read. None of your visitors will be excited to break out their magnifying glass to read your content. Alongside visually hideous text, is its best friend “Poor Grammar”. If you are going to take the effort to post something online, check your grammar and spelling before you embarrassingly post it. This is a sure way to lose ALL credit.
- Flash Websites For iPhone/iPad users Flash based sites are highly irritating since they are unable to view it. Most web users browse the web on a mobile device, so creating a website that is entirely flash based is silly. There are only a select few circumstances I will tolerate a flash website, and that is only if the site offers something that is a necessity.
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