20 Jul 2020 By: Shelby Shaffer
“Hey, Summer, how did that website project turn out? Did you review website flaws to avoid before sending it to the new design intern?”
“Ugh! Gene, I’m a little frustrated. Jay understood what website flaws to avoid, but the bounce rate is still high. He and I spend months putting it together, working with our copy team, but the client isn’t thrilled. For some reason, visitors just aren’t staying on the site. I’ve spent all morning reviewing their website to figure out why.”
“Well, you know, sometimes we design sites that look great for us, but we forget about who is visiting them. Did you and Jay consider that while designing? One of the things I always have to check is how my designs look on mobile. Last week I created this really cool interactive site, but when I tested it out on mobile, none of my features worked as well as they did on the desktop.”
“You know, I don’t think I ever discussed that with the client. That could easily be a contributor to our high bounce rate!”
For most customers, websites are the gateway to starting a relationship with your brand. The impression your website has on visitors will have an impact on how long they stay on your site, whether they fill out any forms, or how long they hang around before leaving.
To make sure your website visitors are staying on your site and not bouncing off right away, it’s important to understand these website flaws to avoid.
What is a Bounce Rate
Before we can jump into what website flaws to avoid, we should first discuss why these flaws are to be avoided. When customers come to your website, they’re looking for more information. They have questions or problems that they believe your website can answer.
Bounce rate refers to the percentage of visitors who come to your website and leave without viewing any other pages. (Thanks, HubSpot!) Bounce rates are one of the metrics you want to see on the low side. An average bounce rate is about 40-55%.
To view your bounce rates, you’ll need access to your website’s analytics. There you can see what percentage of visitors are leaving before exploring your site. Every site’s bounce rates will be different, but generally, bounce rates over 60% should be cause for reparative actions.
Are They Bouncing or Exiting
You might be wondering, how can we tell if visitors are bouncing off your page, or they’re exiting after taking action. It comes down to the individual pages on your site.
For example, if you see a high bounce rate on a Thank You page, that should raise some red flags. That indicates that visitors are only seeing that page, then clicking off. It also means there’s a good chance they didn’t fill out the form leading to that page.
Opposite of that is a high exit rate. A page with a high exit rate means that people exiting from that page most likely arrived from its preceding landing page by filling out the designated form. High exit rates safely indicate that visitors are taking your desired actions. They’re following CTAs, filling out forms, and downloading offers.
It’s important to understand the difference between bounce rates and exit rates. One should set off a tiny alarm telling you something is not right, the other should be a clear indicator that your workflows are in order. To learn about your site specifically, you’ll need access to your behavior reports. There, you should get a report on the bounce rate, exit rate, and average time spent on page among other analytics.
Website Flaws to Avoid That Cause High Bounce Rates
There are a handful of website flaws to avoid that might be contributing to your high bounce rates.
Slow Load Speed
Slow site load speed is a bit deterrent for visitors. 47% of visitors expect a website to load in less than 2 seconds, and 40% of visitors will leave the website if the loading process takes more than 3 seconds. (Website Magazine)
Marketing expert, Neil Patel, observes that slower page response time results in an increase in page abandonment. Neil also points out how Google penalizes sites with slow load times. So not only do your websites visitors hate having to wait, Google hates it too! You can read more about the importance of load times from some of Neil’s other blogs or his YouTube page.
How do you know if your site is taking too long to load? Neil recommends PageSpeed Insights from Google. The beauty of the tool is that it not only provides a detailed description of how fast your site loads on desktop and mobile, but you’ll also get a step-by-step breakdown of exactly how to improve it. (Thanks, Neil!)
Nothing disappoints a visitor more than misleading content on your website. They are looking for specific answers, and if your site claims to have a solution, you better deliver or visitors will leave!
Some websites use a strategy called Clickbait, where they misinform visitors into thinking they have the answers to your problem. Unless you’re a YouTuber, Clickbait is a bad strategy to follow. Clickbait is a short term strategy with a negative long term effect. If you’re misleading visitors to your site without offering them the content they need, they’ll bounce. As we mentioned above, Google doesn’t like high bounce rates.
Your meta description and title tag should work together to draw in visitors. They need to accurately represent what your content is about. The more accurate your meta description and title tag, the more qualified visitors you’ll be attracting. This will help to decrease your bounce rate because people visiting will actually want the content you’re offering
An exceptionally high bounce rate might mean one of your pages is blank, returning a 404, or otherwise not loading properly. This is almost as frustrating as a page not loading at all.
404 pages give off the vibe that you aren’t aware your website isn’t functioning properly. While 404 pages might come up unnoticed, there are ways to keep visitors engaged with an error page. Unique or humorous 404 pages can re-engage visitors and reduce your bounce rates. Neil Patel has a great video on how 404 pages can actually help drive more traffic instead of turning visitors away.
There are a few solutions to amending the 404 error pages, one of which is working with an experienced developer who understands code language and can identify the culprit. If such a developer is not available, the second option is a 301 redirect page that can take the visitor to their desired location.
First off, a website’s user experience (UX) covers more than just the user interface. It includes the overall function and usability of the site. User experience is so important when it comes to how long they stay on your site and how they perceive you as a business. Websites that are unique and engaging for the user tend to improve the bottom line for the business. But when we start to get fancy with our designs, we also introduce new factors that can increase our bounce rate.
Your website is a virtual representation of your brand. It should be as engaging and exciting as your brand strives to be. Boring or less engaging websites have higher bounce rates because visitors want something more.
Some examples of websites that have awesome UX are Rover, The Year of Greta, and the Google Store. Each serves a vastly different service and have wildly different designs, but they all have a UX that makes you want to stay on the site.
Page Isn’t Mobile-Friendly
If your page isn’t mobile-friendly in 2020 GET OUT OF HERE! I don’t think I can stress this enough, your site HAS GOT to look as good on a smartphone as it does on a desktop. If it’s not, your visitors will get frustrated.
It’s estimated that there are 2.87 billion smartphone users in the world today. 57% of smartphone users would not recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site!
Need more motivation to develop a more mobile-friendly site? 52% of the world’s population are mobile internet users. (Review42)
If your site isn’t optimized for mobile display, you’re missing out on all of these potential customers. They’ll try to load your site on their smartphones, and leave when they realize your site isn’t dynamic enough for their device of choice.
There are many other reasons why the bounce rate on your website is high. The best solution is to take your time scrubbing through each page of your site from the visitor’s perspective. Use different devices to get different display perspectives. The better you can put yourself in the visitor’s shoes, the better off you’ll be spotting the various website flaws to avoid.