"Leaving so soon? Five ways to reduce bounce rate on your website"

03/09/13


If you are unfamiliar with what bounce rate means, it is simply a way of describing the amount of people who visit a website then leave without clicking on any more pages. The figure is usually expressed as a percentage of overall visitors to the website. Google thinks that you should aim to keep your bounce rate below 40%, so here are five ways to reduce bounce rate on your website.

1. Slow loading

The internet moves at lightning speed, so your website has to keep up with the pace. In an age of 4G networks and fibreoptic broadband you cannot afford to hold up the user as they travel the web. The longer the load time, the quicker the website loses visitors.

How to solve it

The more page elements that have to load the longer it will take for the page to be ready for use. A webpage can be chock-full of everything from images to design elements, embedded media players and banner adverts, so do not overcrowd your web pages and cause them to load slowly.

Also avoid annoying ‘auto play’ content that fully loads whether the user wants it to or not. ‘Lazy-Load’ content is the alternative; it utilises AJAX to allow the page to only load video upon request. Whether it is video or audio, auto-play content is a major cause of visitors bouncing away from a website almost as soon as they’ve arrived.

2. Confusing navigation

If a visitor cannot find their way around your website then they will not stick around long before going somewhere else, it’s that simple. Research provided by Google (who else?) says that the average time spent on a website is four minutes and 50 seconds. During this time an average of 4.5 pages are seen by the user, according to these statistics, meaning that you have no more than a minute or so to grab the attention of a user and give them the content they want. If your website is difficult to navigate you can measure their visit in seconds rather than minutes.

How to solve it

Keep the design of your navigation clean and make sure it is accessible. That means that it needs to be large enough to see and to click. The most important navigation controls should be immediately visible once the page has loaded.

The challenge of getting navigation working well is more difficult than ever with the proliferation of mobile devices meaning that around a third of web traffic arrives from a smartphone or tablet. Any website needs to work perfectly on both a conventional PC and a much smaller touchscreen device. This is what responsive design is all about, as we explained in a previous blog. The layout and navigation of the page should automatically adapt to a device, ensuring the best possible user experience at all times.

3. In-your-face ads

Just about the most irritating aspect of surfing the web is the need to endure endless advertising. Maybe advertising is an intrinsic part of the business model for your website so it cannot be avoided. If that is the case then you need to make every ad as unobtrusive as possible without hiding it from the user totally.

How to solve it

Make sure that when the page initially loads there are little or no advertisements visible. This allows the user to see plenty of nice, juicy, relevant content in an instant. In short, the first thing they see should not be an ad.

Another key tactic to avoid is using pop-up ads. Putting that extra click between the user and the content they are looking for will inevitably result in lost visitors. If you really must use a pop-up then follow a few simple rules. Make sure that the close button is clearly visible and easy to click on, do not place the box too near other navigation to avoid confusing mis-clicks and make sure that the ad is not the largest single visual element on the page.

4. Cheap and nasty design

There are certainly enough websites out there, so you need to make sure that yours stands out and feels like a quality product. If the design looks dated then the whole brand will suffer and the website will not be taken seriously by visitors.

How to solve it

Well, the obvious solution is to find a designer with a bit of flair, creativity and great taste. However, you may already have a designer who possesses all those qualities. If you own or run a website but you don’t have experience of design then you should take advice from experts. Most of the time your designer will know what is best for the website – all they need to know is that you will have a little faith in their suggestions.

One simple rule that is worth following is to keep the design as uncluttered and unfussy as possible. This allows the visitor to focus on the navigation and the content rather than the design itself.

5. Registration frustration

Internet users are forever being asked to submit their details to websites that they may never even have heard of. This assumes a great deal of patience and trust from the user, which is something that you may not get from them.

How to solve it

Break down the barriers! Most websites should not require details from a visitor at the very moment they arrive. For example, if you head to me.everyoneactive.com you will see that all the main navigation works and you can browse the products without any hindrance, despite the fact that getting the user signed up is the ultimate aim of the website. If possible you should offer a demo of the website that doesn’t require the user to sign up.

If you really do need to ask users to register with you then make sure you keep the questions to a minimum. Don’t bombard the reader with so many questions that it becomes a slog. Ditching any optional fields on the registration form is one way to achieve this; after all, if a field is optional, then why do you need it at all?


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