CRO Tips: 10 annoying website features to avoid which frustrate users and lower conversions…

CRO Tips

Image from SXC.hu

Over the past few years I have worked closely with businesses to improve their conversions using conversion rate optimisation (CRO) techniques.

In that time I have seen some real clangers varying from simple to complex techniques and poor website usability.

Below are 10 annoying website features which in my opinion will harm overall conversions:

1. Live chat pop ups

How many times have you walked into a clothes shop and a sales assist jumps on you asking if you are OK? Live chat is the same, as soon as you enter a site a pop up appears asking if you need help, let your web visitors browse the site and make there own decisions.

If a user wants to use live chat, they will. Just make them aware it is available via banners and call to action (CTA) buttons.

2. Using ridiculously long domain names

Look at some of the most popular online retailers:

  • Amazon.co.uk
  • eBay.co.uk
  • Play.com
  • Ikea.com
  • Kelkoo.co.uk

Notice anything? The company names and URLs are all really short and easy to remember! Unfortunately I can’t remember a certain domain name I saw 12 months ago (how ironic) but it was 19 words long and included 18 hyphens, so it looked something like this:

this-has-got-to-be-the-longest-domain-name-in-the-history-of-the-internet-with-lots-of-hyphens.com

Now ask yourself, could you remember this? And then with social being so popular, could you imagine adding this to twitter? The other thing is trust; would you trust and purchase something from a website with a domain this long? Even none techies would realise that something isn’t right.

It’s important to note that keyword rich domains do help with SEO, but don’t go over board – keep them short and easy to remember!

3. Disabling the browser back button

Have you ever entered a website and then tried to navigate back to a page using the browser back button to no avail? How frustrating! I would predict that most none techie web users would close the browser down and start again, thus leaving the site, never returning and potentially losing a sale.

4. Unnecessary signup process

In my opinion, Amazon have done a great job with making buying online easy, and yes you need to go through a signup process, but you know you’ll use Amazon more than once. So how frustrating is it when you’re looking to buy a niche product and the website tells you must signup before you buy!

In my experience where this is the case, the exit rate from the basket is well over 60% – so in a nutshell you are potentially loosing 60% of sales. Making buying from your website easy – a golden rule is “don’t make the web user think!”

5. Using PDFs for web pages

To be honest, I’m a massive fan of PDFs and they do have there purposes online, but when you want to view some vital information, like a restaurant menu, and it appears as a PDF, that can be frustrating. Why not have these as an easy to read web page? You can do some really cleaver things with jQuery and HTML5 to make a page more attractive.

6. Dividing one article into multiple pages

Now as many of you know, adding content to a website is great for SEO, but splitting an article over 5 pages that is only 1,000 words long is pointless and you run the risk of loosing web visitors who don’t have the time to keep clicking through to another page.

If you do have a long article, split it up with call to actions, banners, images, bullet points, headers, videos etc. Long web pages do convert and will rank well if the content is well written, user focused and has a clear topic.

7. Hiding vital information in a complex navigation system

CSS, jQuery, HTML5 – they are all used to make beautiful navigation systems but don’t stuff 50+ links into one drop down menu. Users will not sit and read every link title and you then run the risk of loosing the visitor because they can’t find the information they are looking for. I’d recommend that you clearly define categories that define a few areas and have a search function available.

8. Adverts that hover over a page

This is one of my pet hates! You go to a website, your browsing around and then the page goes white and displays a massive advert for a product. Not only is this very frustrating but ruins a user’s path through a website which could then mean they just hit the back button – that’s if it isn’t disabled!

9. Slow load times

Not only is page speed a factor with SEO, but waiting for a page to load online is like waiting for a bus, frustrating! A golden rule is “you have 8 seconds to sell” when a visitor hits your website. I’d advise that you test your sites speed on different connection types.

Here is a great tool - http://www.websiteoptimization.com/services/analyze/ - so you can see what areas you need to improve upon.

10. Trying to hide Adsense ads within content

As a platform, Adsense is a great way to make money online through adverts which relate to your content. But, many websites add these ads within content to make them look like internal links, when in fact they send the user to another website, which is a lost web visitor and potential sale.

and finally…

These are just some methods which many websites adopt. In my opinion these frustrate web users which in turn will lead to them leaving the website and costing the site owner or business a sale.

Have you had a similar experience? Share it below…

This post was written by , Dave is a digital marketer specialising in SEO and PPC, and can be followed on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.

2 Responses to “CRO Tips: 10 annoying website features to avoid which frustrate users and lower conversions…”

  1. Couldn’t have picked a better (worse) ten myself :)

    #8 is one of my pet peeves too. What are they thinking ?! I can’t imagine what the bounce rate of these pages are — it must be awful. Would make an interesting A/B study though :)

    Also agree with #5 – Anything that supports a short-term decision-making process (which is exactly what is happening in “conversion”) has to be presented in the best-placed, easiest-to-grok, most attractive way possible. PDFs are less accessible, may interrupt the visitor’s flow by requiring an Adobe Reader install or update and (for most purposes) just generally awkward. That said, small industries do use PDFs, relatively adequately, for brochures, product-troubleshooting manuals, etc. to save web development cost. This works fairly well as long as the PDF is kept out of the decision-making logic-flow :)

    Also — in my humble opinion — having a PDF accessed from the main nav bar is a BIG mistake. Barring any specifics I would probably relegate them to links on the lower part of the right sidebar – the low-rent district :)

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