The 59 Second Rule: 3 Reasons Why Users Leave a Website

by 22 07/19/2013

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.

comparison1

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?

comparison2 comparison3

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.

Less really is more.

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:

busy

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:

  1. Proof that your website is legitimate and trustworthy.
  2. 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:

seotool

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.

About 

Cody Ray Miller is a young entrepreneur and the founder of Freedom Online Team, an internet business making money online. He also provides free MLM training to networkers.

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22 COMMENTS

Waheed Akhtar

Great read. Some excellent tips to follow. I spent more than 1 mintue on this page. You guys nailed it.

July 19, 2013 Reply

Sarah Bauer

‘Keep it real’ – Amen! When I hit a site loaded down with promotional language and overblown claims, my trust radar flicks on. If you can only tell and not show, something’s up..

July 19, 2013 Reply

Himanshu Mehra

Hello Mr. Miller, this is a great post indeed. I would like to ask, you suggested to cpture reader’s name and email quickly but how quickly. Should I grab it by showing them subscriber box as a pop up when they arrive at my blog or should I post this at the lower part of page so when they read the post and find it useful then they subscribe to my posts?

July 20, 2013 Reply

    Cody Ray Miller

    Himanshu, you definitely want to capture user name and email as quickly as possible, However, I would avoid using a popup on your main page because users have yet to experience your content. They will likely cancel out of the popup because they don’t know you and your website yet.

    My recommendation is to place the user name and email form next to your primary content. That way, if users enjoy your content, they know where to get more of it! (I would avoid the bottom of the page for this reason.)

    Oh! And don’t forget to mention to the user what they get when giving you their user info. Users are always asking, “What’s in it for me?” So, make sure you tell them!

    Blessings,
    C

    July 20, 2013 Reply

Lee

I would say most people leave a site because they don’t find what they are looking for I know this is the main reason for me to leave. Lee

July 20, 2013 Reply

Taylor Dean

thanks for the helpful tips. i was surprised with that 59 seconds. thanks again for sharing your thoughts and insights. very informative.

July 22, 2013 Reply

    Cody Ray Miller

    Thanks Taylor, and remember that 59 seconds is the maximum time you have with new users! Some users will click away much faster than this. That’s why it is so important to grab their attention, give them what they want, and establish trust as quickly as possible!

    Blessings,
    C

    July 22, 2013 Reply

Jay

Good article. One thing I check is blog activity. While SEOTool looks legit, they haven’t updated thier blog since Aug 2011! There is also not any links to social-FB,Twitter, etc. That makes me wonder if a company is still even in business.

July 22, 2013 Reply

Lalitha

Thank you Cady for sharing this wonderful tips. This will be helpful to me for my own website.

July 23, 2013 Reply

Social Media Agency

You are absolutely right here. The more important thing is keep your Website simple and user Friendly that allow visitors to visit your webiste again and again.

July 23, 2013 Reply

P ONeill

Nice article, some decent examples there too.

RE some of the comments above: I HATE pop up subscription boxes, but they seem to return amazing results.

The mind boggles!

July 24, 2013 Reply

Emma

Web Accessibility – It‘s always about the users!

July 24, 2013 Reply

Ketan Weddevelopment Training in surat

Definelty, Good article
Thank for sharing this type of wonderful tips,this tips are useful for every website .Main thing is that your website so simple that allows user to visit more times.

July 25, 2013 Reply

Cody Ray Miller

@Emma: You are absolutely right! Building your website with real (human!) users in mind is what it is all about. Plus, search engines are favoring websites with good user experience more and more. So, it really is a win-win situation!

@Ketan: Right on! If users have a good experience on your website they are more likely to return again for a second, and third, and fourth… visit.

Blessings,
C

July 25, 2013 Reply

Mel Egerton

Hi Cody,

You couldn’t be more right about users leaving a website if there’s too much information, When I set up my first website I went with the theory of ‘the more the merrier’ content wise. For the life of me I couldn’t understand why people spent so little time on my site, I’d put tons of info there for them, surely they should be staying hours?

It was my wise old grandmother who is the Queen of the Silver Surfers that set me straight when she said “A lot of information can be too much information darling, you’re confusing people. Keep it simple and entertain them.”

Since taking her advice I actually make money online!

August 7, 2013 Reply

jeetenkush

Your three main points: 1. Users leave your site when they don’t get what they expect. 2. Users leave your site when they don’t know what to do. 3.Users leave your site if they suspect you aren’t being genuine are very nice. This is my personal experience that when I find this type of site I leave it. I thought this is the problem with me alone but here I found out that many people are facing the same. Thanks a lot for proving me that I don’t have any problem and the problem is with website itself.

August 10, 2013 Reply

Aditya Khanna

Absolutely correct. When they don’t get useful or correct information, they would leave the page quickly. and increase bounce rate. Bounce rate also makes difference in SERP’s

August 15, 2013 Reply

Ali

I think those are the reasons my website bounce rate is too much. I have to take care for those point, thansk man.

November 30, 2013 Reply


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