How to Turn Your Reader Off and Out of Your Website

Computers & Technology

  • Author Angela Dove
  • Published December 9, 2010
  • Word count 521

You've probably heard it a thousand times – you only have five seconds to impress on your website before you lose the reader's interest and they click out of your site for good.

Yes, it may be true to an extent, but the statement needs qualifying. Yes, if you are surfing the net and have a billion sites to choose from on the search engine, you aren't going to waste your time getting into a slow site when they are many other site options waiting for your click.

But if you are already on a site, you will probably try pretty hard to find what you came for, and chances are you'll blame yourself for not being able to find it. However, after reading this article, you'll be aware that the site should be designed to help you not hinder you, so it's not your fault. In my mind, if my dad can't use it, it ain't simple enough!

If you run a successful business and your customer KNOWS the information they need should be on your site and in a place that's obvious and easy to find, and it's not, that's when you are in trouble. For here, you are not just ruining the chances of securing sales from passing traffic, you are at risk of losing an existing customer!

Let me give you an example. The other day I needed to post a payment for a policy renewal to my insurance company. The document I had to send did not have the address on it (!) and the so-called helpline was permanently engaged so I couldn't call and ask. So I tried the next obvious thing: "I'll get the address from the website!"

Happy as Larry, I went onto the homepage, already prepared to click on the Contact Us tab. Delighted that this tab was where it should be on the home page, I confidently clicked and waited, pen in hand.

Now I'm sure you can see what is coming next. Yes, the address wasn't on the Contact Us page at all, or at the bottom of the page in small type. Confused, I went back to the home page. Maybe they were being really progressive and had it in bold type right there on the home page and I'd just missed it because I was so focused on the Contact Us tab.

But no. It turned out I was still having too much faith in this global giant, and still thinking "It must be me. I'm missing something obvious. They MUST have the address there. It's not like it's a trade secret!" So I spent some more time – no, I wasted some more time searching for the address - on any page for Pete's sake! - until finally, completely frustrated I clicked out in disgust and resorted to trying the phone again.

Had I been a potential customer looking for the branch to visit, the company would probably have lost the potential sale. I'm still a client, but the company's branding in my eyes has taken a substantial hit, and I won't be using their website again, that's for sure.

Angela's sixth form teacher once made the following prophetic statement: I can quite see Angela alone in an office all by herself, scribbling away.

Whether that was a comment on her inadequate social skills or on her propensity to write is open to question! Yet tuck herself away and scribble madly she did when she formed Proof Perfect, a team of Singapore Copywriters back in 2003.

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