Web Design Mistakes that Lead to High Bounce Rates

If visitors leave your website almost as soon as they land on it, it’s a strong indication that you’ve made some web design mistakes that are hampering usability and keeping visitors from moving forward. A high bounce rate spells disaster for any online business, costing them customers and quality leads.

What are some of the biggest web design no-no’s that lead to high bounce rates? Here are some of the most common offenses. Add your own mistakes to this list by leaving a comment.

  • Splash page—Whenever someone goes to your website, they shouldn’t be greeted with an intro page they have to click to get into your website. Splash pages are about 10 years out of date, and they cause the majority of people who visit your site to immediately abandon it. Get rid of the splash page, and instead, have a strong homepage that includes a benefit-rich headline and clear copy that keeps visitors interested.
  • Slow loading times—The average new visitors gives your website about 8 seconds to grab their attention. If your website is slow to load, guess what happens? You’ve wasted that 8 seconds, and the visitor will leave almost every time. Your website needs to streamlined for fast loading time. Not only does this help improve site usability, but according to some experts, it can even play a role in determining your search engine ranking.
  • Unclear navigation—Bounces occur when visitors don’t move forward from the page they landed on. One big reason this happens is that some websites have unclear or hidden navigation. Don’t try to get too clever with your navigation. Keep it along the top or left hand side of your website, and make sure the navigation links are clearly labeled. This helps visitors find the information they’re looking for more easily.
  • Poor/no internal linking—To keep visitors from bouncing, you need to keep them moving forward on your website. Another way to do this is to have a strong internal linking structure. Placing relevant links in the body of your website copy can guide visitors forward toward conversion. Just make sure you don’t put too many links in your copy, and be sure that the links you do include make sense in their context.
  • Too many distracting elements—Too many websites I see today are full of distractions. There are too many buttons, widgets, advertisements, conflicting calls to action, and more on the typical website. Keep it simple. Distractions overwhelm the visitor and prevent them from converting. Get rid of any unnecessary elements on your website.
  • Difficult to scan copy—The way the copy on your website is presented is very important. Online readers tend to scan content rather than actually read it word for word. Lay out your copy in short paragraphs with plenty of subheads and bullet points to make it easier to scan.
What are some other mistakes that lead to high bounce rates? Share your tips by leaving a comment.

7 comments (Add your own)

1. Mark Evangelista wrote:
Good stuff, man. It's like you're reading my mind.

Fri, July 23, 2010 @ 1:01 PM

2. Brian wrote:
Yeah, I'm just writing about what I know man. Hope all is well.

Fri, July 23, 2010 @ 1:31 PM

3. shelly kramer wrote:
Love this post. So true! Only wish the designers I work with would listen :)

Fri, July 23, 2010 @ 5:18 PM

4. Alysson wrote:
I'd like to suggest adding another design mistake to the list: the use of small fonts. With more and more people using mobile devices, Netbooks, iPads, etc. to surf the net, it's important to keep in mind that the smaller your font, the more difficult it is to read and the more effort it takes a user to magnify it.

Fri, July 23, 2010 @ 5:32 PM

5. Jay wrote:
Good article. I have a high bounce rate on my site, but can't seem to pinpoint any obvious issue. I don't have a splash page, site loads fast, good feedback on navigation, and the content is top-shelf???

Sun, July 25, 2010 @ 2:14 AM

6. Justin Arnold wrote:
Great post - and some very valid points. I think another problem which can cause bounce rates to be very high is when it is blindingly obvious that the website has been optimised to death - but for the search engines, rather than for real people.

High density keywords, forced headings and titles, keywords in bold and other such tactics can be very off-putting.

This is doubly ironic because the over-use of SEO in order to gain traffic can result in a higher number of people bouncing from the site!

Mon, July 26, 2010 @ 8:20 AM

7. Carl wrote:
I don't mean this as a slap just as a reflection.

I remember writing this same article 10 years ago.

It's funny that even though there is so much changing all the time, the basic rules stay the same.

Good Post!!

Fri, August 13, 2010 @ 2:21 PM

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