The Top Reasons Visitors Run Away From Your Site

Cara Cooley


Cara Cooley


April 21, 2022

The Top Reasons Visitors Run Away From Your Site

Have you ever gotten on a website, peeked around for a bit, and frustratingly said “okay, nevermind, I’m going somewhere else!”

Usually this decision comes after some sort of annoyance with the website you find yourself on. If you are a business or a nonprofit organization, this is not the type of reaction you want your audience to have!

Websites are vitally important to the success of your organization. Whether you are a rural church or a booming urban nonprofit, maintaining a quality website is key. Why? Because your website is the front door to your organization!

This is the place where long-time church attendees and brand new prospective nonprofit donors alike come to understand what you’re all about. It is where they can find answers to their questions of “who, what, when, where, why, and how.”

But the Internet is a jam packed place full of webpages (over 50 billion in fact!) While search engines and direct URLs make a way for users to find the content they care about, there is a lot of competition online nonetheless.

There are other churches like yours.

There are other businesses like yours.

There are other nonprofits like yours.

Building and maintaining a quality, accurate, and authentic online presence is important, especially on your website.

But there is another hindrance we want to touch on. You can have the coolest content ever on your website, but there are a few factors that will have your visitors running away from your site (virtually speaking of course!).

While this list may seem a bit obvious or not that big of a deal, these hindrances matter if they distract or deter people from your web materials. You want to make it as easy as possible for viewers to have a good experience on your site. Here are the top reasons visitors click the red X on your website:

  1. Pop ups

Thankfully enough, pop ups are not nearly the problem they used to be back in the origins of the World Wide Web (praise be to God!)

Nonetheless, pop ups still can be a hindrance and are actually used strategically online in some cases. The point of a pop up is to grab the attention of the user right away as they enter into your website. However, these pop ups can be extremely annoying. Some even make it pretty hard to actually go to the website without taking some sort of action.

While pop ups occasionally have a purpose, there are other strategies you can use to grab your user’s attention. Consider utilizing a website banner to make major announcements or get the attention of your visitor. This feature is less intrusive than a pesky pop up yet is still able to communicate important information.

  1. Annoying ads

What is almost more annoying than a pop up is an ad. Unfortunately, avoiding ads is almost as fruitless as your child trying to avoid germs at preschool. Ads are a necessary evil to the digital world. They are a necessity to keep the free things free online, but can be intrusive and distracting.

Nothing makes you want to leave a webpage faster than when there are a ton of annoying ads littered throughout it. For those who use a template builder for their websites, it would be advantageous to upgrade to the plan that eliminates ads and other distracting web elements. If you cannot avoid ads on your website, try to place them in a location on your webpage that doesn’t draw the users attention right away. Basically, ads shouldn’t be the first thing your visitor sees on your website!

While ads can be a nuisance, there is a bit of redemption still available for them. Ads can be used to engage your audience, share upcoming events or initiatives, and so much more. When done well, ads can actually work to your advantage.

Take Instagram for example. Their diverse selection of ad options makes it so that users are not blatantly interrupted by irrelevant ads. They seem to blend directly into their feed pretty seamlessly. The best part about these ads is they are not just to grow your social media engagement, but they actually forward people to your website!

  1. Cluttered & confusing site map

Let’s be honest, younger generations are ruled by instant gratification. While some may condemn young people for this mentality, let’s play devil’s advocate on this topic for a moment.

Young people know what they want. They understand the importance of their time and they want to use it to their full advantage. While this may come across as impatience, it can also be seen as innovation. They don’t waste their time traveling complicated roads if there is a sleek highway that will get them to their destination faster or more efficiently.

Let’s translate this mentality to the web. If someone is navigating a website that is overly difficult to travel, frustration will certainly arise. It’s like driving down a back road and you can’t for the life of you find the street sign you’re looking for!

Cluttered and confusing site maps will certainly have your visitors clicking the red x on your website. If they cannot easily find what they are looking for in your navigation menu and their respective drop down options, it definitely deters them from staying on your site.

While some brave souls may go searching, they may retreat if it’s hard to find.

A good way to mitigate this issue is to make sure your web site map is consistent, simple, and well organized. Keep your main navigation to 3-6 main menu items and try not to clutter the drop down menu with too many options as well.

Something that will aid you in making sure visitors can find relevant information is to do some solid SEO work on your website. Make sure to fill out the SEO content you need (meta tag, keywords, etc) in order to drive traffic to your website and the relevant web pages.

(P.S. If you want to learn even more tidbits about SEO, check out our blog “SEO Starter Tips to Reach More People with Your Website”)

  1. Imbalance of content

Have you ever looked at the front page of an older newspaper? What you will typically find is an ornate title with the name of the paper, a few tiny ads, some headlines, and then lines upon lines of words (and maybe a picture or two).

This bombardment of words can be a bit overstimulating. Part of the necessary evil of ads in newspapers is to just break up the endless streams of copy that line the pages. The point here isn’t to rag on newspapers, but it is to show the importance of good balance in content.

On your website, you need to have a fine balance between photos, design elements, copy, buttons, and so much more. We must remember that websites are works of art just as much as a static graphic is! There is an ebb and flow to the design of a website and the elements need to be strategically placed to appeal to the visitor's eye, convey information well, and invite the viewer on a journey.

While this may seem like a mystical way to think of a website, it is super vital because if your content is imbalanced, the visitor will get overwhelmed and even bored.

We don’t mean to brag, but our website for PMF Creative is pretty, well, fire if we do say so! The website itself is informational in nature but it presents that information through stellar graphic elements, videos, interactive pieces, and more. There is a good balance between copy and design and it is fun and exciting to consume. Furthermore, the simplistic site map and strategic use of a small chat “pop up” keeps the website simple and easy to navigate.

Overall, good content balance won’t overstimulate your website visitor and will make your brand’s mission and information more accessible.

  1. Inauthentic content (stock photos)

In this day and age, we are slowly getting over the curated life. The perfect selfies, clean aesthetic, and contrived poses are beginning to pass away. We all want something real.

As we just mentioned, balanced content is extremely helpful to your website aesthetic. But the nature of this content is just as important!

We have access to literally millions of stock photos, some free and some paid. Stock photos can be very advantageous in some scenarios. For example, there are endless sunset photos online you can get in a moment's notice. You don’t have to wait til the sun actually goes down to attempt to take a professional photo yourself! This type of convenience is extremely helpful if you’re looking for filler images or backgrounds for your website.

However, stock photos of people are a different story. While it is completely fine to use stock photos of people (we do it too!), there is something about authentic photos that can level-up your website.

Remember, people are visiting your website to get a feel for what your church, nonprofit, or business is like. If they see a bunch of contrived content, they may possibly be turned off. There is so much value in sharing pictures of the people who are really apart of your community!

It is really a matter of weighing the pros and cons. Stock photos are professional grade, but they don’t best represent your people. Volunteer curated photos may be more amateur, but they capture what your community is actually like. You have to choose which characteristics you value more, but we definitely contend that authenticity is key!

(P.S. Your church photography doesn’t have to suffer. Check out these tips to enhance your church photo skills!)

  1. Not mobile-friendly

Lastly, one of the top reasons visitors run away from your site is that it is not mobile friendly. This point is short, sweet, and to the point. The majority of people access websites via their mobile devices. If your website is difficult (or even impossible) to navigate via a mobile device, you are definitely going to be in trouble.

While some people may buck up and pull out their trustly laptop to access your website, this serves as a major inconvenience to them. We are constantly on the go and many of your visitors want the ease of accessing your site information at a moment's notice from their phone.

Make sure your website is developed in a way that it translates well to all smartphone devices (yes, even Androids!). You can even develop the site in a way that is pared-down to the relevant information someone may need on the go (e.g. church address, service times, social media, etc). Make it simple for your visitor to find what they need, and make your website look good while they do it!

Your websites are arguably the most important element of your digital strategies. If they aren’t maintained and developed well, they can actually serve to hinder our progress online. If you want to attract (and keep!) visitors on your website, make sure you solve these 6 problems and constantly seek to improve your website.

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