Six reasons why people are leaving your website

Someone leaving through a door.

There are lots of good ways to both attract visitors to your website and keep them interested once they arrive. But there are also lots of ways to immediately make visitors leave. Here are six of them.

1. Popups that happen without you doing anything

This feature is surprisingly common among certain kinds of websites. You've found the page you want, you've started reading it, and ten seconds later a popup message appears, obscuring the content you want with some content that you don't. "RATE OUR WEBSITE" it demands, or "WOULD YOU LIKE TO SPEAK TO A SALESPERSON?", or "WOULD YOU LIKE TO FILL OUT A SHORT SURVEY?".

Not only is this deeply annoying, it also flies in the face of the UX concept that nothing should happen without the user causing it to happen, or at the very least, warning them that it's about to happen. We all get it - very few people are subscribing to your newsletter, and you want to change that, but you won't achieve it doing this.

2. Functionality that doesn't work

How many times have you tried to use something on a website only to find that it doesn't work for some unknown reason? You click, and nothing happens - or worse, you click and the wrong thing happens. There can be several issues here - simple broken code, poor UX design, or maybe your browser and the extensions installed in it have a problem with the site.

Unfortunately, one of the most neglected disciplines in web development today is testing. There's an assumption that anyone can test a site - just send the link to enough people in the office and they'll find all the problems, right? Wrong. Consider this - if the piece of functionality on your site that a visitor wants to use doesn't work, your site is useless to them.

3. Auto playing videos

If you need an explanation of why this is irritating, I can't help you.

4. Fixed position elements that scroll with the page

Why are some websites so needy? They're not content until every square inch of screen is filled with items that won't go away - a fixed menu, a fixed footer, fixed buttons to share on social media, a fixed contact form. The result is a crowded, claustrophobic feeling that can put people off.

5. Slow sites

There's been quite a few frightening statistics about how little visitors are prepared to wait for a site to load before they give up and go elsewhere. Some sources have even stated that it can be as low as only a few seconds. That number might be even lower if your visitors are in a hurry or feeling frustrated already by any of the other issues listed here.

6. Social media link overkill

Sometimes websites can get a little obsessed with the idea that you should share them on social media, and will even employ some of the previous techniques to achieve that. If you're having to go to extra lengths to get your site shared online, consider carefully whether this is because the sharing links aren't prominent enough, or because your site isn't the kind of thing that people want to share.

Also, if you're in that category of 'website subjects that are not readily shared' don't have the option enabled to show number of shares next to your share links. It's aspirational, but if the figures are in anything less than four digits, it really doesn't look impressive.

7. Excessive advertising

Okay, I lied, seven things. I've written about this before, but too much advertising is not only visually annoying but can also tick boxes 1, 3 and 5.

Hopefully you're reading this and agreeing with all of these points, or now considering how to change some aspects of your website. It's important to remember that regardless of the aims of your site, if you're alienating your visitors, you won't meet them.

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