If you’ve invested lots of time and money in creating a website and promoting yourself online, it could all be a bit pointless if people arrive on your site and then don’t stay long enough to get your message. These are a selection of things that stop people in their tracks – make sure your site doesn’t fall into any of these traps!

1. Don’t use justified paragraphs; quite apart from strange stretched words, people easily lose their place. Left aligned text works best.

2. Don’t test their eyesight with tiny text; anything less than 10pt makes the eyes work too hard, don’t make the reader work hard to get your message.

3. Long paragraphs look ‘hard’, so chop paragraphs into shorter chunks of no more than 5-6 lines long; all that white space will encourage people to read.

4. Light text on a dark background is really hard on the eyes, even though it may look ‘pretty’. The eyes focus on the darker colour and then have to refocus on dazzling text.

5. Lots of centred copy. This is good for headlines, but when you centre the main copy it makes the reader search for the beginning of each line – and they probably can’t be bothered!

6. Don’t risk using words they may not understand; keep the message jargon free and simple so anyone can understand it.

7. The word WE repeated many times. Inwardly focused copy is only interesting to the writer; talk about YOU (the reader) and ‘YOURS’, not ‘we’, ‘us’ and ‘our’.

8. Splash pages (those entry pages that have whizzy graphics and a, usually well-hidden, note to ‘click here to enter) that prevent people finding out what you do or what you’ve got to offer quickly. Some people simply hit the ‘back’ button at this point.

9. Lots of boxes, all with different options give people too many choices and result in confusion. You need a single focus, so one headline or point on the page that is dominant and attracts the eye.

10. A headline that isn’t! If your headline doesn’t give the visitor a clear idea of what the site has to offer – or, worse still, no headline at all, don’t expect many people to make the effort to find out whether you’ve got what they want. No focus means your visitor will leave quickly.

11. Whizzy things that move either constantly or intermittently.  It takes people’s eye off your message. If you must have moving graphics, they should either move once and then stop or move continuously and very gently.

12. Clutter and general busy-ness. Keep the page clean and simple with lots of white space, make it look ‘easy’ and people will read.

13. Having a Home page that is really ‘About us’. Your visitor wants to know ‘what’s in it for me’ before ‘who are these guys?’ Talk about your visitor, what they get, how your product or service will benefit them and leave the information on the company for the ‘About us’ page.

These are just a few of the things that send people away from your site – if you want to keep their interest then don’t put obstacles in front of them that stop them getting your message!
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