Web Design Tips: Do This, Not That!

Web Design Tips: Do This, Not That!

Once we get a visitor to our website, we want to do everything we can in the mere seconds we have to grab their attention.  A reported 55% of website users spend less than 15 seconds on a web page.

However, in our quest to connect with those users, web tactics can go awry.  We can get too excited about having traffic that we will do anything to try to get them to stay or become a lead!

Keep in mind that website visitors are just that – visitors.  They are guests on your website.  If you had company over to your home, would you greet them at the door by asking them to buy whatever latest product you’re selling, making them say something humiliating if they’re not interested or forcing them to watch a loud video of your recent karaoke night before they’ve made it past the foyer?  If you did, you would be considered an obnoxious host.  And those precious visitors would likely not return to see you again.

With being a good host in mind, here are common website design tips that you should avoid, and what we recommend you do instead.

Interruptive Pop-Ups

Pop-up ads are considered the most hated online advertising tactic, according to Nielsen. We all hate them – website pop-ups keep us from getting to the information we are seeking and are generally just annoying.

Google hates disruptive pop-ups, too.  Earlier this year, the search engine began penalizing websites using this tactic on mobile. Thank you, Google!

Do This Instead: Use well-placed contact or call-to-action forms within your web pages so it’s easy for users to engage when they’re exploring relevant content.

If you MUST use pop-ups, a lesser-offensive version is the relevant pop-up that loads once a user scrolls down within your content.  Setting up a pop-up ad or form once someone is 50-75% through your page will be more appropriate for their level of interest (as they’ve already dug deeper into your content) and will avoid making a pop-up the first impression all users have on entry to that page. UsabilityGeek also has some helpful tips for making pop-ups less annoying.

Negative Opt-Outs

So if I happen upon a website with a universally-hated-pop-up greeting me – I am further frustrated if they shame me for declining whatever they’re selling.

For instance, if I visited a pet supplies website I might be treated to a pop-up asking me to subscribe to learn about fun games to play with my dog.  If they’re using this negative opt-out technique my options are something like “Sign me up,” or “My dog is fine being bored.”  Not only am I now irritated with the pop-up interrupting me, I feel insulted by the vendor when trying to say no!

Even when this shaming tactic leads to conversions, the value of them must be questioned – did the subscriber really want your information, or just didn’t want to click on the declining option that made them feel like a monster?

Do This Instead: Again, if you MUST use pop-ups (see previous section) make it easy to get past them and on to your content.  Don’t hide the “x” button or use cute language to decline – a simple “no thanks” is a good alternative to following through on your call to action.

Autoplay Audio

Why is this a thing?

If I’m working at a coffee shop or browsing websites on my phone in a public space, I am quickly break out in a cold sweat when a video begins autoplaying with sound on my device.  I didn’t ask for this, how is this supposed to engage me?

Video can be a hugely successful tool for website engagement, but letting visitors interact on their own terms is essential.

Do This Instead: When you have videos included on your website, use an embedded service like YouTube or Vimeo to make it easy for users to play, stop and mute your videos.

If you want to have a video start as soon as someone visits your webpage, mute the video and include captions instead.  This way a user can still benefit from your video, but isn’t accosted by your audio without their consent.

Still, there will be many autoplay videos that surprise you, so here’s how you can silence the madness on your browsers!

When you get a website visitor, remember to treat them like a guest and encourage them to stay while by avoiding off-putting engagement tactics like interruptive pop-ups, negative opt-outs and autoplay audio.  Together, we can make the web a nicer place to visit!

Rachel Lewis
With ten years of marketing and communications experience in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, nonprofit, automotive and accounting, Rachel puts her diverse background to good use by helping our clients find their voice. Rachel loves a good pun and has an advanced affinity for alliteration.