Is your website distracting?
Your website is competing with all of that for the attention of your visitors. If you can’t hold the focus of people on your site, they’ll abandon you for more entertaining places.
Yet, many sites are their own worst enemy. They distract their visitors or even push them away — the opposite of what they want. Here are some common ways they ruin the attention of their visitors and hurt their own site.
Pop-Ups and Overlays
Pop-ups and overlays have quickly been adopted by marketers and web designers as a way to force visitors to look at an offer. What that offer is depends on the site, but the most common ones are subscribing to a newsletter or to download a book/white paper of some sort.
Utilizing pop-ups and overlays isn’t inherently bad, but using them in the wrong places can ruin a visitor's experience.
For example, if a visitor is in the middle of reading a blog article and an overlay comes down to cover the entire screen, their rhythm is broken. You have forced their attention away from your content to something they didn’t want. Now, they either have to refocus back to the content or, the more likely scenario, they will leave your site for somewhere else.
Instead of having an overlay or pop-up happen automatically on every page, use it as a tool to recapture already distracted people. As their mouse drifts up to a new tab or to close the window, a pop-up giving a new offer could keep them on the site — something exciting and flashy to get their attention before they close the webpage.
Video Accompanying an Article
Video can be a very powerful content tool. You can utilize visuals along with audio to disseminate information to visitors, and it’s typically more entertaining than reading. While people might be able to focus for a few minutes on text, they might be able to easily watch a 10 minute video.
But, when video is an element on a page, there is a risk of distraction for people who don’t want to watch a video. How many times have you gone to a news page and started reading, only to be startled when audio starts playing a few seconds later? This leads to a hunt for the noise, with can result in visitors losing their spot or even destroy the desire to keep reading.
If you do choose to include multiple content types on a page, don’t enable auto play. If people want to watch video, they’ll click it and watch it. If they don’t, then just let them read your content.
Live Chat Pop-Ups
Customer service is now an essential in a good business. Giving customers a quick and easy access point to a real person goes a long way to alleviate the stress of customer support. Having live chat on your site can be a very powerful tool.
Yet, if somebody is simply browsing a webpage and a chat window pops open encouraging them to chat, that isn’t good. It interrupts their process and confronts them with something they might not be ready for. It’s especially intrusive if the chat window pops open unexpectedly and places an alert on the page. This can make a visitor feel rude if they don’t at least read the chat and possibly respond.
Instead of having an interrupting live chat window, simply make visitors aware the function is available. A non-obtrusive box in a corner or side bar ad is all you need. If people need it, they’ll use it. If not, don’t push it in their faces.
Linking to Other Websites
Linking is a natural part of the internet. It’s a way to build authority in your industry, cite your sources, and educate your visitors further on specific topics.
Yet, there is an inherent risk when you link to something on a different website. If somebody clicks on the link, whether it’s to learn more or to check your sources, there is a risk they won’t come back to your site.
A good rule of thumb to start is not to link to competitors. Not only are you passing on authority to them, but possibly you’ll lose visitors/customers to them.
Next, don’t link to content off your site when something on your site will work. That way, even if they are distracted away from your page, they’ll still stay on your website.
Finally, find ways to prevent people leaving to sites are highly entertaining or might result in people not coming back to your site. For example, if you are citing something on Twitter or Facebook, link to the post, but also include it on the webpage itself. That way, you are still citing your source, but won’t lose people to the depths of social media.
Good Mobile UX
If your site is not mobile friendly, it is going to be distracting to mobile visitors. Nothing is more frustrating than going to a site ready to browse it, then find out you get a desktop version on your phone. People are demanding good mobile experiences in everything, from websites to business software.
Having to zoom in, move the screen left and right, and having difficulty clicking on links, are all major distractions on a poorly optimized site. Many visitors on a mobile device won’t even give a site a chance if it’s not properly optimized. So just do it. Make your site mobile friendly.
Minimize Distractions, Become Entertaining
Having entertaining content doesn’t mean you need to be funny, charming or witty. Sometimes, simply presenting the right information in a straightforward manner is all that is required.
But if you let your on-site distractions run a person’s concentration, they’ll leave. Likely, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of other sites giving out the same information. Be entertaining, easy to understand, and concise with your content.