Seven Most Annoying Website Features to Avoid

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As regular readers of our humble blog know, we always compare your business’s website to your actual business, assuming that your business has a physical location. So consider this: When potential customers enter your place of business, what kind of experience do you want them to have? Or, more to the point, what kind of experience do you think they want to have? Depending upon your business, it can be fun and lively, hip and trendy, serious and sedate, etc. Whatever your brand, members of your target market do expect a pleasant customer experience (UX), where they feel welcomed and valued.

Dedicated e-commerce websites perhaps have an even greater responsibility to deliver a positive UX, as your website is your sole place of business. Keeping this in mind, what do visitors experience when they walk through your virtual door? A nice, orderly environment, or chaos and loud announcements every few seconds? Shoppers and potential clients who feel relaxed tend to spend more time in your online store or office – and are therefore more likely to become customers. For this very practical reason, make sure your website welcomes rather than repels people. Herewith are the seven most annoying website features to avoid!

#1. Live Chat Panel Pop-Ups

It makes no difference if there’s a smart chatbot or actual live human at the other end who’s ready to assist visitors. In-your-face live chat pop-ups are the equivalent of an overly eager sales associate who pounces on people the second they step inside. As with a physical business location, it’s good practice to promptly acknowledge visitors and let them know assistance is available, but there are more discrete ways of doing so.

As Andrew Thorne – Director for UK digital agency Factory Pattern observes – “Chatbots and other devices to help people interact with you online are to be applauded. However, if your LiveChat panel pops up continuously, inappropriately or too enthusiastically – taking up a large chunk of the screen – site users will click away to avoid it.”

#2. Pop-Ups in General

Whac-A-Mole is a fun arcade game, but it shouldn’t be the inspiration for your website’s UX. Not only are pop-ups in general annoying, but Google penalizes sites using pop-ups and interstitials (a web page displayed before or after an expected content page, often to display advertising) on mobile devices. While this only affects the mobile search engine results pages (SERPs), most people use their smartphone to visit websites. Pop-ups on mobile devices cause other UX issues.

According to Vertical Leap, there are some exceptions:

  • Pop-ups notifying users about cookies.
  • Asking users to confirm their age or any other legal requirements.
  • Login panels or other user interface (UI) elements.
  • Banners that only take up a small portion of the screen, as long as users can dismiss them easily.

#3. Please Don’t Go – Exit Pop-Ups

Writing for AWebber, Rebekah Henson succinctly sums up the feeling that most people have about exit pop-ups – which, as the name implies, pop up just as you’re trying to leave a page.

“Nothing heats up a discussion like pop ups – marketers love them, consumers hate them and they’re known to convert amazingly well when used appropriately. But an exit pop up that blocks a visitor from leaving your page leaves a bad impression of your business.”

Unfortunately, most exit pop-ups are just annoying and alienate the very people you’re trying to convert into customers. If you’ve ever had an aggressive sales associate follow you around a store while you were just browsing, you know it’s an unpleasant experience. Why would you want to do likewise to visitors on your website?

There’s a second issue with exit pop-ups: They’re pop-ups! If visitors are immediately greeted with a big, intrusive live-chat-with-us pop-up, and other pop-ups throughout your website, here’s one more – as well as one more reason not to return to your website!

#4. Subscription/Sign-Up Messages that Appear Almost Immediately Upon Visiting a Website

As an insightful FabCoders article puts it, “You don’t even know what this website contains – whether the quality of content is good and within one second it shows a box to subscribe. You can’t proceed without subscribing. Nothing drives away visitors away from your site than this ‘feature.’”

#5. Autoplay Videos with Audio

We don’t know what your workplace is like, but sometimes, people surf the web at work when they should be doing what they do to produce revenue for the company that employs them. Now just imagine their reaction if they visit your website (while not wearing headphones), and a video suddenly launches with the volume at full blast! Busted! Now everyone around them – including maybe their boss –knows they’re goofing off!

Even people who aren’t trying to hide their online activities don’t like the rude intrusion. Allow visitors to choose when – or whether – they want to watch your video. Otherwise, expect a high bounce rate as visitors quickly exit. Deduct additional UX points if this action triggers an exit pop-up!

#6. Long Form Fields and 20 Questions

This is an all-too common offense on e-commerce websites. We return to Mr. Thorne, who writes, “Modern consumers want speed and convenience. They are happy to provide information, as long as its purpose is clear, and it doesn’t take up too much time! Keep forms simple, to the point and optimised for mobile phones. Mobile users only have their 2 thumbs, not 10 fingers like they do when on desktop or tablet!”

#7. Slow Loading Speeds

Although this isn’t a visible or audible annoyance, it may be the most serious. Our blog post – “Why Your Website Needs to be Up-to-Speed” – covers the many ways in which a too-slow website increases your bounce rates and damages your page rankings.

Interesting fact: The average visitor will only tolerate a load time of up to two seconds. Google’s engineers have found that potential customers will visit a site less often if it’s slower than that of a close competitor’s by more than 250 milliseconds. Yes, you read that right – milliseconds. Among their other discoveries: even 400 milliseconds – literally the blink of an eye – is too long for website visitors to wait for a page to load.

The Take-Home Message and Our Blatant Self-Promotion

Now that you know what it takes to make your website an inviting experience that encourages sales rather than have visitors make a hasty exit as a pop-up cajoles them to stay, contact us! Our web development team at Virtual Stacks Systems can create a website/ecommerce site that will deliver a great user experience to help your organization achieve its goals! Learn more, and get started!

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