20 ways to improve website bounce rates

Below are 20 methods which can be used to lower this bounce rate and keep visitors engaged.


1) Page load time
Your page should take no more than about 6 seconds to load if possible. Optimise your images and code, and cut out any clutter.

2) Audio
Many users will exit your site immediately if they start hearing something they don’t like. Remove anything that automatically starts making a noise, such as soundtracks and auto-starting videos. This applies to both speech and music.

3) Initial visual impact

Your website needs to instantly portray an image of quality, and an image relevant to your product or service, e.g. comfortable/welcoming if a hotel, trustworthy if an online store, knowledgeable if a blog or resource.
View our article about creative website design

4) Compatibility
If 50% of your audience still use Internet Explorer 6, and your site breaks in this browser, then 50% of your audience will leave. Test in all relevant browsers.

5) Relevant headings
If users have been searching for “blue widgets” and your headline doesn’t say “here is the info about the blue widgets you wanted” then they may leave.

There is a technical way to “fudge” this. You could use a script which analyzes where the visitor came from and display a relevant message. For example if someone searched for “blue widgets” in Google, the script could detect this and display a heading including these keywords. If they are visiting from another website, you could display a welcome message that includes where they just came from to make it feel more personal, and even more relevant.

6) Enticing headings
As well as relevant, headlines need to entice the visitor into reading on and ultimately taking action.

7) Images
A well chosen image, such as a screenshot of your product can give an instant idea of what it is about, what it looks like (e.g. the usability of a software product) and some of its features. For example, if the user is searching for a product which converts MPEG video files in AVI files, then show a screenshot of a big button which has “convert MPEG to AVI” written on it. The visitor then instantly knows this product will do what they want, without reading a word.

8) Stay above the fold
Definition: Any content which is visible in the users browser without them having to scroll down.
Keep the key info, and next steps above the fold. Users who don’t see what they want without scrolling down might leave.

9) Simplicity
Make the rest of the page simple, uncluttered and with no more than 5 navigational choices to be made. There should only really be 1 main call to action that should be very clear for the next step, e.g. “more info”, “add to cart”, “sign up” etc. Recent design trends have shown that these calls to action are often really big, chunky buttons which jump out of the page.

10) Language
Use relevant language to your audience. You could alienate people if you talk to them in the wrong way, and you might even offend them. Consider whether your audience is young, old, computer literate, creative, technical, professionals, consumers etc. Also check for spelling mistakes!

11) Bite size chunks
It is daunting to be presented with 100 line paragraphs. Break it down into bite size chunks with clear headings above each one. That way they can scan down and pick out what’s relevant to them.

12) Show relevant content
Stick to the topic, give visitors what they want, don’t waffle or go on about other topics.

13) Show relevant alternative content
If someone has found your site by searching for blue widgets, and you don’t currently have any in stock, then show them green, red, and yellow ones instead, they might prefer them rather than being disappointed.

14) Remove distractions
Remove automatic popup windows, scrolling text, spinning logos and Flash adverts where possible.

15) Clear navigation to the rest of your website
Make sure you have an easy to see and use main menu. Visitors might want to check your company history or check you have a phone number listed on your contact page before making a purchase for example. If they cant find these things easily they might leave.

It has become common practice to have the main company logo link to the site homepage, so if all else fails and the visitor hasn’t found what they want, at least make it easy for them to find their way home to start again.

16) Keep up to date
If you are not regularly updating the content then remove any reference to dates. “last modified September 2001? is guaranteed to turn a user off.

17) Technical restrictions
If your page relies on a Flash movie to demonstrate your product, are you certain that your target audience will be able to see it? Quite often corporate networks are restricted and block this kind of content. If users see a blank box, or error message they will probably move on.

18) Add a search box
Users often search for what they are looking for if they don’t see it immediately.

19) Testimonials
Use a well placed testimonial to show that other “real people” have had a good experience or some level of success with your product or service. Human nature is such that the user will feel like they also want to achieve this success.

20) Forms
If the required action is for the user to fill in a form, make it as short as possible. If they are requesting a downloadable product, do you really need to require they enter their postal address and force them to do so using form validation?


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