What causes visitors to immediately leave a website?

One of the most important metrics to track on your website is session length, which tells you how long your visitors are staying on your website. It’s a difficult challenge to get people to stay for long periods, as your website must be engaging and encourage visitors to browse further on your website once they’ve finished the current page. On the other hand, it’s pretty easy to make visitors leave quickly. Avoid the following items on your website, as they’re sure to make visitors immediately leave your website.

Auto-playing music or video with sound

If your website automatically plays something with sound — like music or a video with the sound turned on — your visitors won’t be sticking around very long. Auto-playing audio is so unpopular that many browsers now block sound from automatically playing. Even video-based websites like YouTube start videos playing silently and offer a button to turn on the sound. Understanding that many videos will be viewed online without sound makes captioning them all the more important.

An abundance of ads

Website advertising is notoriously ineffective, but too many ads can have even worse ill effects on your website. Since most ads are graphic-based, they can slow down your site loading times. Beyond that, too many ads can degrade the user’s experience and even make users feel like you’re just out to make money off advertising revenue. If you use advertising on your website, make sure none of the ads cover up your content, and limit the number of ads to just a couple. As tempting as it is, don’t fill every bit of white space with an ad.

Flashing objects

In the early days of the internet, many websites looked like informercials. Because loading times were so slow, designers were limited on how to capture someone’s attention. Rather than using immersive, beautiful photography — which would have taken forever to load at dialup speeds — bright-colored text, scrolling text, and even blinking text and graphics were common. HTML 1.0 even included a <blink> command! These days, however, flashing objects are sure to annoy visitors and cause them to hastily exit your site.

Spammy popup boxes

Popup boxes in general tend to annoy visitors, but a well-designed request to join an email list isn’t a death sentence for a website. Spammy popup boxes, however, will do the trick. Remember those “You’ve won!” popup boxes from days gone by? There’s a good reason you don’t see them anymore.

An insecure site

These days, an security certificate is essential for every website. Certificate errors may cause browsers to prevent visitors from even loading a website, and browsers also alert visitors to the lack of a certificate. Read our tips for encrypting your site to learn why it’s important and how to add HTTPS encryption to your website.