Repel Your Visitors – with examples

Posted by Dave CollinsWebsite Usability

I’ve put together a non-exhaustive list of more than thirty ways to ensure that visitors to your website don’t stick around. I suspect that most people reading this are guilty of at least one or two. Fixing them will genuinely make the visitors’ experience, the web and even the world a slightly better place.  (See number 18.)

Confuse them:

1.  Make sure that when your visitors arrive, they have no idea what to do next.

2.  Better still, make sure that if they don’t arrive on your home page, your means of navigation will force them to either click aimlessly, leave, or edit your URL manually.

3.  Use difficult to read and/or understand navigation items.

Annoy them: (this category is only limited by your imagination)

4.  Start your wonderful video automatically – it’s vital that everyone sees it. Bonus points if the video intro is too loud and too long. Double bonus points if can’t be easily found to shut it off. Triple bonus points if it can’t be shut off at all.

5.  Induce finger-ache from scrolling the mouse wheel. (RSI can improve improve ROI.)

6.  Use popups like they’re going out of fashion. There’s a lot you can do with expanding images, navigation menus, hover-over ads and more. Don’t let common sense get in the way of ingenuity.

7.  Start your brilliant audio automatically. Bonus points if they can’t easily find it to shut it off. Bonus points if the audio intro is too loud and too long. Double bonus points if can’t be easily found to shut it off. Triple bonus points if it can’t be shut off at all.

8.  Use the same sections of text in multiple places on the website. Why create when you can copy & paste?

Scare them:

9.  Make your visitors question how much they really want what you sell. Cookie warnings are good for this. Don’t let the fact that no-one has ever been fined get in the way.

10.  Force them to share their private details before they can read your sales pitch or watch your sales video.

11.  Keep the copyright notice at the bottom of your pages (at least) a few years out of date. It forces them to question whether you’re still in business.

Overwhelm them:

12.  Don’t steer your visitors towards your key pages. Give them lots and lots of links to choose from. SirLinksALot has over 460 – how many does your main page have?

13.  Squeeze as much information as possible into a small amount of space. 6

14.  Overwhelm with too many choices and options. Tesco’s UK website offers 1,537 results for water.

15.  Demand lots of data in your forms. Why stop at name and email address? Bonus points if you ask for an email address twice.

Irritate them: (more difficult than annoying, but can be more effective.)

16.  Be generous with the number of links on your main pages. (See points 12 and 8.)

17.  Be over-friendly when we’ve only just met. (I’m British. Starting your main page copy with Hey There!!! makes me feel nauseous.) This also works with dialogs.

18.  Share your nauseatingly self-obsessed goals and visions. Your software, product or service probably will change the world. The sooner we know that the better.

19.  Use text that’s hard to read. Too small, too faint, whatever works.

Hide from them:

20.  Offer live support that always diverts me to email. (The online equivalent of “We’re experiencing an unusually high volume of calls at the present time“.

21.  Offer social-media support that takes a minimum of 24 hours to respond to even basic enquiries.

22.  Provide a phone number that always (always always) diverts to voicemail.

23.  Instead of real support, use an online forum that leaves questions and issues to slowly biodegrade. They’ll give up eventually.

24.  Use a support system that forces me to jump through an absurd number of hoops, so that I can then express my dissatisfaction. Anger is a powerful catalyst for resolution, and frustration is a soothing balm.

Don’t forget the tried and tested methods:

25.  Torturous order processes.

26.  Payment procedures that I can’t use.

27.  Spelling mistakes, poorly-corrected speaking, and poor grammar;

28.  Confusing navigation. Hello Atlanta Restaurant Guide.

29.  Domains that don’t match with website names. Hello Atlanta Restaurant Guide.

30.  Following purchase with resounding silence and no email confirmation. Bonus points for then taking three working days to reply to my support request. (I really want to name this company but can’t. Sorry.)

Bonus ideas:

31.  Really strange website layouts that look like rendering errors.

32.  Case studies for bad layout.

33. Wow – just wow.

Pain is a great motivator.

Pain may well have driven me to your website in the first place, but it can just as easily turn me away too. Irrespective of each visitor’s personal level of pain tolerance, everyone has their tipping point.

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