It’s well-known that you have a very short time to catch the attention of visitors to your website and make a good impression. That means it’s really easy to bore or irritate visitors so they leave your site and visit someone else’s. Here are 3 ways you can instantly annoy visitors to your site:
1. Subscription form pop ups
It’s been proven that having a newsletter subscription form pop up when your site loads can increase your sign-up rate. However, why should people join your mailing list before they’ve seen the quality of your content? I much prefer forms positioned prominently in the sidebar of a site, or at the bottom of a post. If I’ve just read a well-written, interesting and useful article I’m much more likely to join your mailing list than if the first thing I see when your site loads is a form.
Having to close these pop ups before getting to see any content gets annoying really quickly, especially as so many sites use these modal windows you only need to visit a few sites before it feels like you’re constantly having to close pop ups. It gets really tempting just to leave the site rather than get rid of another subscription form.
It’s even worse if you’re visiting a site on your mobile. There’s usually a momentary pause between the site loading and the form appearing, which gets longer when you’re using a phone – long enough to start reading the content only to have it disappear behind a form.
The first time it happened to me the delay was long enough for me to have zoomed in to read the page so when the form appeared most of my screen went blank. Cue some swearing and frantic swiping to figure out what had happened. However instead of more swiping looking for the button to close the form, it was much preferable just to leave the site.
2. Auto-play music or video
Most people hate landing on a website that plays music as soon as it loads. It’s annoying if you weren’t expecting it and embarrassing if there are other people around – such as co-workers – and you don’t have headphones plugged in! If it’s not obvious where to switch the music off, or even worse, if there isn’t an option to turn it off, people will quickly leave your site.
To me, and I’m sure others would agree, sites that auto-play video are just as bad. Unless the link you’ve just clicked is obviously taking you to a video clip – such as if you just clicked through to YouTube – you’re probably not expecting a video clip to start playing automatically. It’s just as annoying as the auto-playing music, and it’s easily avoided as when embedding video in your site you generally have the option to choose whether or not it auto-plays.
To avoid chasing away visitors, make sure you let the user control when the video starts, and just get rid of the auto-play music!
3. Resize the browser
Now and then you’ll come across a site that, when it loads, will resize your browser automatically. Why? I’ve no idea.
Presumably someone thought the site looks best like that, but I can’t actually think of a good reason for doing this (of course, if you know of one, please share it in the comments!).
This is frustrating in the same way as the auto-playing music and video. You’re taking a bit of control away from the user but there’s no need for it. If the browser does need to be smaller, let them change the size themselves. It is their computer after all.
What website features annoy you? Do you ever get frustrated enough just to leave a site as soon as one of these features starts?