We’ve all had that moment when we click a link to a website, hoping to learn something, read something, or watch something.
We have an expectation when we click a link.
You get hit over the head with some insanely loud autoplaying video, leaving you scrambling to close the browser, desperate to get the unwanted noise to stop.
I’m not really sure why anyone thinks making a video autoplay on anything besides video platforms is a good idea. No one wants to land on a website and have a video they didn’t ask to play start blasting through their speakers.
And when you are designing your website, you need to remember to avoid anything that may disturb your reader in a similar manner to an autoplaying video.
1. Videos and Other Disruptive Sounds
Like mentioned above, if you tell someone they are clicking to read an article or are simply visiting the home page of your company’s website and they get an autoplay video, anywhere on the screen or any other loud disruptive sound, it will startle them and lead to a lot of bounced visits.
2. Popup Advertisements
I get that some companies want to make some direct revenue off their content (especially in the media where this makes up a lot of revenue) but my god, can you not throw a huge, ugly, disruptive ad in my face?
I was trying to decide if it was worse when the ad pops up in the middle of reading the article or before you even get a chance to start. I decided both were equally bad, especially if you are trying to get someone to buy something from you.
It is so disruptive and will make your customers want to leave, to run away from the thing that is invading their experience on your website.
And forget it if you have pop up ads on a mobile device. They are a bear to get rid of and will likely frustrate your audience. Frustrated people don’t buy things, especially when the popups are hindering their ability to potentially learn more.
The way to make these types of advertisements less scary is to clearly separate them from the content and make sure to target appropriately.
3. Immediate Sign Up or Sign In
Nothing will stop someone in their tracks more than if you immediately demand they sign up for an account or at least turn over your email. Especially when you don’t let them exit out of it. People are fairly internet savvy at this point and many know that giving away their email often leads to frequent harassment. It’s definitely worse when you make them either make an account or turn over the email in exchange for getting to read a blog post. Is the blog post really worth it? I doubt your audience will think so. If you don’t let them through they may end up on the pages of your competitor and nobody wants that.
There are a couple of well-known companies that do this kind of thing and they can only pull it off because they have the reputation to convince readers that their content is valuable enough.
4. Confusing Webpage
If someone clicks on your website expecting one thing and gets a jungle of content that doesn’t match why they clicked a link in the first place, then you can bet that they are going to be a bit confused and back out, wondering where the hell they just ended up.
This also goes along with navigation. You need to consider logical paths for your web visitors. You want them to do more than read a post and leave. You want to provide additional complimentary (and valuable) things to do.
All of these things are awful but why do they send us fleeing like animals? I was reading this article by Liraz Margalit, about instincts and it turns out this response is directly correlated with old instincts that helped early humans survive in the wild.
For example, when a video begins blasting sound at us unexpectedly, we jump and our body immediately starts reacting to the perceived danger. That’s right, danger. Our little animal brain thinks that there is a threat and tries to get control of the situation by pausing the video and not watching it. Control.
It’s the same sort of idea with any sort of popup. You lose control of the situation (or website) and so you will do anything to gain control, including backing out of the website and never looking back.
As for the confusing website aspect, Margalit says that when someone is on a long or confusing website, it will often trigger their animal brain in the same way as if they were lost in a jungle too far from where they were living.
Whatever you do, avoid the things above. Your users will have an unpleasant time if their animal brain is scrambling to escape. And if their animal brain is fleeing, chances are your sale is riding on its back.
What other events will make you leave a website immediately? Have you checked your website recently for things that might send readers fleeing? Tell us in the comments section.