The 59 Second Rule: 3 Reasons Why Users Leave a Website
How long do visitors stay on your website before clicking away?
According to the Nielsen Norman Group, most users stick around less than 59 seconds. So, if you don’t capture the user’s attention in less than a minute, you’ve lost them.
I’ve dubbed this “the 59 Second Rule.”
Basically, if you haven’t generated interest in 59 seconds then you probably aren’t going to.
How do you do that? Let’s take a look at some major reasons why users leave a website and, of course, how you can capture their attention instead.
1. Users leave your site when they don’t get what they expect.
Have you ever been to Nissan.com?
Go ahead and click on that link.
Seriously, give it a click. It won’t blow up your computer or anything.
Now, tell me, was it what you were expecting? Most people expect to find the homepage of Nissan Motors (the car company). Instead, you were taken to a website about computers, right? So, if you were interested in purchasing a Nissan car, would you stick around to look at computer parts?
The answer is almost definitely no, and I have web statistics from Alexa to back it up.
According to Alexa, the average visitor hangs out at nissan.com for about 30 seconds and nissanusa.com for over 4 minutes.
The sad truth: Most of the people who visit nissan.com aren’t interested in what the website is actually about. They’re probably looking for a new car.
In this particular case, Nissan is a family name. Naturally, the owner wants to keep it, and he has a right to do so, since he got there first. But from a business standpoint, the confusion generated by the domain name is likely doing him more harm than good.
The following graphics compare two massively popular websites, Youtube and Facebook, with intentionally misspelled domain names. For those of you who are not familiar with this little “trick,” it involves anticipating popular misspellings of high-traffic websites in order to steal a small portion of their traffic.
Basically, users sometimes misspell the names of the websites they are looking for. Some people use this to their advantage, registering a domain name like “yuotube.com,” or “faecbook.com” in order to siphon a small percentage of web traffic from the actual sites.
Personally, I’m not fond of this type of website. At best it is misleading, at worst it can be downright dangerous—even illegal (some sites have used misspelled domain names to gather login credentials from users intending to visit the real website).
Notice how long users stay on these bogus sites—less than 59 seconds. So, why play those games?
Pro Tip: Keep It Real!
Never intentionally mislead your visitors to believe you are something that you aren’t. Give users what they expect. Make sure that your domain name, website header, and every last drop of content is relevant to the focus of your website.
Users aren’t stupid, and they don’t like being tricked or brought to your site by way of misleading gimmicks. So, keep it real. Let your site be what it is and advertise it as such.
2. Users leave your site when they don’t know what to do.
A common mistake is to give people too much information.
It sounds weird, right? We naturally want to give people all the information so they can make an informed decision. But in reality this hardly ever works.
So, don’t give your users too many options once they land on your page. “A confused mind never buys,” says John Childers, business trainer and success coach.
For example, have a look at the following homepage:
This site is just way too busy, and look at the number of hyperlinks!
I counted 297.
And that doesn’t include the option to search (which has three radio button options also).
That’s more than 300 options. Ridiculous!
Pro Tip: Keep It Simple!
Remember, “a confused mind never buys.” So, keep it simple and guide users through your website.
Your call to action should be blatant and easy for the user to achieve. For example, if you want users to subscribe to your mailing list then make that your call to action and the central focus of your page. Capture their name and email quickly.
Make it easy for the user to get what he or she wants and you’ll be sure to get what you want. Simplicity causes your website to stand out in a very good way.
3. Users leave your site if they suspect you aren’t being genuine.
Trust is critical online. Almost anyone can create a website, including criminals. Because of this, users are going to critically analyze your website the first time they visit—even if they don’t know that’s what they’re doing. They’ll be looking for two things:
- Proof that your website is legitimate and trustworthy.
- Proof that it isn’t.
Now, I am assuming that your website is legitimate and your intentions are benevolent. But the question is whether or not you are clearly communicating this fact to your target audience, helping them know you better.
If you don’t have major brand recognition (i.e. Walmart, Home Depot, Bass Pro Shop, etc.) then you are going to have to establish trust with the user in other ways.
Have a look at SEO Tool’s homepage:
This is a legitimate site that you may have never heard of before. According to Alexa the average user stays on this website for 15 minutes. Users obviously trust this site or they wouldn’t spend that much time using it.
So, how do websites like this, without national or international name recognition, generate real trust?
Third party validation tells users that your website is secure. The SEO Tool website (pictured above) demonstrates this by including a badge that says their website is “Verified & Secure” according to GoDaddy.com.
It doesn’t really matter whether or not users have ever heard of GoDaddy, what matters is that a user sees third party validation—validation from an outside source.
Furthermore, the website is connected to social media. The sidebar has links to Facebook, Google, and Twitter. These names are recognizable and demonstrate that the website has nothing to hide. This is a public website, active in social media, and that smells trustworthy!
Also, notice that there are several ways in which a user can get help from the website:
- Once in the footer section
- Again on the side
- Also on the top menu bar
As a result, it’s clear the user can contact someone and get the help they need. It also implies that the website (or, those who are behind it) wants to help the user.
Finally, notice that users can login or sign up for a membership account in the nav bar. This communicates that the website has a following or community associated with it. It feels secure, validated by community members, although no contact with fellow community members has actually occurred for the new user.
Pro Tip: Keep It Secure!
Put recognized validation symbols on your site, and by all means, be accessible to users through social media and your website.
Just 59 Seconds is All You Have
This article is by no means the final word on keeping users interested and engaged with your website. But it does show how important it is to build engagement quickly.
After all, 59 seconds is a really short amount of time.
Remember: Keep it real, keep it simple, and keep it secure.
What about you? Are there trust signals you look for when visiting a site for the first time? Share in the comments below.