Web site layout mistakesYou build a Web site in order to attract visitors to it, right? You want them to get excited, read through the content, and to do your Most wanted Response. Why then do I see so many doing the following five mistakes over and over again… atrocities that make them click on that Back button almost instantly?

#1 – Splash or “Welcome” pages

Imagine you clicked through and arrive at a home page with a large image. Nothing else, just a large image. Perhaps even good looking, yet what you gonna do? Looking? Clicking? Clicking! But where? No text, no visible link.

Even if there is an “Enter here” link, do you click to enter? You’re already there, why enter?

Solution? Remove (or decrease) the image and provide real content (in text form) and easily recognizable links. Ask your visitor what you want them to do in an easy to understand format.

#2 – Flashy Banner Ads

Even the least net savvy people have trained themselves to ignore banner advertisements so you will be wasting valuable virtual real estate.

Instead, provide content of high quality. If you’re in affiliate marketing, weave the links into your content and mark them as your personal recommendations. Don’t be pushy. Let your reader want to buy; it makes all the difference.

#3 – Complicated 3-fold Flash or JavaScript navigation

You’re trying to click through to another page on the site. They provide a hyper flashy navigation menu that may look great at the graphic designer desktop. But does average Joe know where or how to click through that graphical mumbo jumbo forest jungle?

Do you think it is useful to have the navigation text change its weight when someone hovers with the mouse over it and it starts to flicker?

Yup, I hear you saying “But *I* love how it looks; it might not pass usability test, but it’s MY site and *I* love it.”

Well, I thought you want to attract visitors and have them coming back over and over again. Do you think they will?

Perhaps (just perhaps) you’re better off providing a simple and very straightforward navigation structure so that even a 5 year old knows how to go from point A to point B.

Or in other words, avoid amateurish looking fancy stuff, complicated Flash menus, or multi-tiered JavaScript dropdown menus. Your visitor may leave your site instantaneously when they can’t figure out how to navigate.

#4 – It takes 50+ seconds to load a page

Do you use JavaScripts and external image references excessively? Does the user have to wait 50+ seconds until s/he sees the actual content? You want them to fall asleep? Like, “Go grab a cup of coffee and come back later, until I’m finished loading all that tracking stuff, and until those external affiliate banner JavaScript links are loaded so I can pitch you.”

That is, s/he’ll certainly click the Back button faster than you can watch it happening. (Those records where they stayed “0 seconds” on your site.)

#5 – Background Music

I can imagine you want to entertain your visitor or make their stay more desirable. But are you really sure they have the same taste you do? You think they’re in the same mood you are?

At least you should offer a huge, easily to recognize STOP button front and center of their eyes so they don’t have to annoyingly unplug the speakers.

Bottom line? Focus on simplicity. Excessively use of fancy, distracting stuff pushes your visitor away from your Most Wanted Response. Focus on what you want you visitor to do. Use a clean, light layout. Offer audio and video, yes, but give your visitor tools to control and adjust it to their hearts content.

Do not pull them to your site. Make them WANT to stay on and come back to your site. It makes all the difference.

—Marcus Hochstadt

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5 Responses to 5 Goofproof Ways To Kick Butt Your Visitors

  1. Ben Barden says:

    I agree with your points, but unfortunately it seems as though you have made a big mistake yourself – using a popup window to get people to subscribe. A popup will probably make fewer people subscribe, not more. It’s the first thing I saw on your site and to be honest it made me want to leave immediately. I only stuck around to do the decent thing and let you know that I didn’t like it.

  2. Llama Money says:

    Subscription popups tend to earn more subscribers, though they do tick off some readers. Depending on the site and niche, they can be a positive or a negative. I’m guessing Marcus has tested it and it’s a net positive here. I’ll be subscribing to the site via RSS so I won’t see the popup anyway ;)

  3. Llama Money says:

    Actually scratch that, when I click on the feed link in Firefox, it sends me to a funny directory :( If you can fix that, please drop me an email and I’ll subscribe.

  4. @ Ben, I understand your point of view. I used to use the exact terminology you used until just recently.

    I’m still testing, but up to now I learned that the positive effects overweight the negatives.

    @ Llama, thank you for pointing this out. It is fixed and you can subscribe now.

    What happened was I created a new sub-domain which had the exact “folder title” of the feed. I did this because I wanted to switch on Feedburner’s MyBrand Pro. (Couldn’t get it to work yet.) This crushed the RSS feed so you got to see what you saw.

    Again, it’s working properly now.

  5. I want a site that is simple and clean. Your list are good, but having a background music, I don’t like that idea. A podcast audio is better.

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