Imagine you walk into your neighborhood grocery store. The security officer stops you, puts a pot over your head, and bangs it with a metal spoon. More often than not you’re going to leave that grocery store and never return. In a less extreme example, imagine you walk into a hair salon and the woman at the desk tries to sell you insurance. Again, you’ll probably leave to look for a haircut elsewhere.
Users bounce, or leave your website after viewing one page, for many reasons. It can be helpful to acknowledge that not all bounces happen because your website is no good. People will often bounce because your site wasn’t what they were looking for, or they stumbled upon it by accident. Keep reading, however, for some practices you can follow and some you should avoid when designing your website to lower your bounce rate.
• Navigation Tips
• Ad Problems
• Obtrusive Audio and Video
• Content Quality
Unclear navigation can be a death sentence to a good website. No matter how alluring your content, if the user has to do too much thinking to move around your website they will easily find the back button and leave. Avoid burying your navigation buttons underneath writing or scattering them throughout your site. To fix this, designate a central area for navigation links, either top or side aligned, so that users can see them when they look anywhere on your website. Also, label your navigation buttons so they correspond with the page they lead to. These strategies provide intuitive usability and consistency, which will help users navigate your site, and stay on your site longer.
Ads are a necessary evil when it comes to web design. Ads sustain your website but can be costly in terms of bounce rates if they’re employed carelessly. Many sites make the mistake of displaying ads at the higher parts of the fold, over the content of the page. While this may be good practice for monetization, many users will find ads that block page content annoying and may exit your page before viewing anything with regard to your website. The ad may win out, and get viewed by your user, but nothing else will. Keep ads smaller than the content your website offers, and incorporate them minimally so that they don’t overwhelm the user. Anything that disrupts the user experience is a no go, so don’t place ads anywhere where they can obscure navigation buttons.
I am from Pittsburgh and am a huge fan of sports, and often I would frequent a certain sports blog for updates on all my favorite teams. I say ‘would’ because I no longer frequent this blog. Any time I opened a story on the site an embedded video would start playing at the top of the page. The video unsettled me to say the least. Often an ad would play first that I couldn’t pause, so I had to wait through the ad to then pause the video I didn’t want to play and continue reading. Most users are not that patient, and don’t like surprises. So don’t barrage them with video and audio that plays without their consent, as this can annoy and drive users from your site. Videos and audio aren’t bad, just let the user control them so not to disrupt their site experience.
Lastly, it is important to note that people may leave your website because what you offered wasn’t good enough in their eyes. One problem for many sites is that they don’t keep generating new content, but rely on the same copy that worked years ago. You need to avoid this by always updating and creating new content. If you have no recency then people who arrive at your site will deem your content stale and leave. This is why so many prospects are lost. They weren’t convinced your website had what they needed. Fix this by always creating new content for your site and updating old content, so that it doesn't appear stale.
Bounce rates can be a discouraging metric since they illustrate how many people didn’t stay on your site, but understanding them doesn’t have to be. I hope now you have a better understanding of what elements contribute to bounce rate and how you can improve them to keep users on your site longer.