Why Your New Website Is Alienating People

Here’s what to do if you’re not getting quality visitors

Jessica Barnaby
Jul 14 · 10 min read
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Image: Jessica Barnaby

When you’ve invested so much time and effort into your website, it’s not right that users don’t respond the way you thought they would.

You tell yourself it’s only a matter of time. That you need more exposure and better marketing. But when you study your Google Analytics, the stats hit you with some hard truths:

  • No one stays on your site for more than 6.5 seconds
  • People are finding you with search terms that have nothing to do with what you sell
  • People are adding things to their cart, and then abandoning it when it comes time to get their credit card out

If you don’t have Google Analytics installed, do it today. It’s free. It’s also easy to install but has a slight learning curve if you want to use it effectively. Invest this time, because the information you get is business gold.

Here are five top reasons why people are leaving your website without giving it a chance, and the fixes to turn this around.

1) Your Business Offering Isn’t Clear

It’s normal for people to have a business idea and run with it, thinking they’ll pad it out as it takes off.

My clients do it, and I did it too when I started my business way back. I thought I’d easily get customers because the internet was new and I was well in front of the curve.

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Image: Jessica Barnaby

I failed miserably. I was offering web design but it turns out I knew little about marketing or customer psychology or even what I was selling. It turns out people didn’t want a website, they wanted a business. My business took off when I understood my business from the customer’s point of view.

I loved web design and writing and graphic design and blah blah blah… It didn’t matter what I loved. My clients just wanted me to fix their problems.

The same way you want the plumber to stop an overflowing bath crashing through your ceiling. You don’t care about the plumber’s life journey or their kids or the challenges they’ve overcome to get to where they are. Just get it done, is what you’re screaming inside your head as the ceiling bulges.

Be a solution

Avoid setting up your website as a brochure or in the style of some influencer rocking it on social media. Their business is not your business, and you have no idea if they just copied someone else too.

If people are leaving your website, it’s because your website isn’t showing people you’re a solution to their problems. Talking about your qualifications and experience isn’t enough. You have to give them something to stay for.

  • 50% it’s a copywriting issue.
  • 50% it’s an “Ima-Set-Up-My-Website-And-Wing-It” issue.

Setting up a website is cheap, but turning it into a business needs a plan.

Answer these questions:

  1. What are people buying from you?
  2. Why do they want it?
  3. How are you supplying it?
  4. Where are they hearing you?
  5. When does the money come in?

Get deep with your answers as this is a basis of a well-formed business plan. You need to guide your strategy with the right business mindset.

Your website is a reflection of your priorities and people stay to read your website when they see their problems are your priority.

2) Your Website Design Is Pretty Ugly

You can probably get away with an ugly website if your content is amazing and you’ve been established for 20 years and have a strong reader base.

In general, though, you’ve got 15 seconds to make a good impression before the reader clicks away.

That’s assuming you’ve made it past the 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds) it takes for a person to decide if they like the look of your website enough to stay and skim headlines.

Website design is much easier now than it was back in the ’90s when I got started. Back then, I coded everything in raw HTML/CSS. Now, there are themes that pretty much give you your website gift-wrapped.

Don’t be fooled. There’s a lot more to an attractive website than three matching colors and white space.

Qualities of good-looking website design

Websites are like houses: good ones make the reader feel like they’re home, bad ones make them want to move.

Notice I’m talking about the reader feeling at home, not you. A common (and natural) mistake new business owners make is commissioning or undertaking a website design for their own aesthetics rather than customer usability.

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Image Source: Crazy Egg

Think about usability and what your customer wants to see.

  • Streamline your navigation: Your primary menu should lead to key parts of your site. File other parts as sub-menus or on secondary navigation menus. Every page does not need to be a menu item.
  • Make your pages load fast: Site speed is a ranking factor for Google. Customers find it important too. The graph below shows how page abandonment increases the longer a page takes to load. Aim for a three-second load time, optimize your site code and images, and use a host such as Siteground who understands the importance of server speed.
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Source: Quicksprout

Pay special attention to image loading times and use image-caching to speed it up.

  • Design a clean clutter-free layout: Build a clear sense of purpose on each page. Use font sizes, graphic design, and white space to lead the reader’s eye to where you want their attention to go.
  • Respect the reader: Use eye-friendly font, face, and size. White text on a dark background, like black or red, strains the eyes and is offputting when there’s too much text, or if the text is too small. Check your website is mobile-friendly to avoid people leaving your website simply because they can’t access it.
  • Respect the white space: Too much is isolating and makes the page feel and look arty or clunky like it has massive pauses in it. Too little is claustrophobic and hard to read.
  • Hide work-in-progress: Missing sections and placeholders give an amateur feel to your site and damages credibility. Simply turning off the visibility of work in progress means the reader isn’t pulled towards questioning your credibility

3) You’re Playing Games With Google and Your Audience

One of the ways Google gathers information about your site is from the words you use. It gets a sense of you and presents this information to people searching for those words.

If you’re not consistent with your content, Google doesn’t know what it’s listening out for and ends up sending you the wrong traffic.

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Image: Jessica Barnaby

Example: Imagine you’re a private chef and you create your website and start blogging about food and etiquette. You’re also a passionate animal lover so you write about animal rescue and the evils of the fur trade too.

You’re passionate about this and Google picks this up because you’re writing more animal articles than chef articles. It starts sending you people looking to get involved with animal rescue.

These animal lovers come to your site and find you’re not a rescue organization after all, off they go leaving your website as soon as they arrive. They find you’re selling chef services but they didn’t come looking for. They’re disappointed they didn’t get what they wanted and you’re disappointed you didn’t get a sale.

Be proactive with content marketing

Write articles optimized for keywords that tell Google exactly what your website is about. Yes, you can write about animals, but relate it back to your niche and have a deliberate strategy over what you write.

Instead of attracting activists, you can position your brand to attract animal lovers who are also interested in hiring or learning from a private chef.

That’s the wonderful thing about being in control of your own online business. Your product or service may not be unique, but you can incorporate your passions and interests to create a brand that totally stands out.

And you’re not playing with Google anymore, you’re giving Google a better representation of the people your business serves and attracting people who won’t leave your website as soon as they arrive

4) You’re Giving People Exactly What They Don’t Want

Sometimes your strategy is sound, but tactical or technical issues get in the way. Avoidable problems that make people leave your website are easy to fix.

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Image: Jessica Barnaby

You’ll find people leaving your website when they hit unexpected and frustrating roadblocks. The more steps you’ve made them take before they get to the roadblock, the unhappier they’ll be.

  • Most visitors are not buyers: Most people who visit your website will not be ready to buy. They’re looking for information or need a way to build a relationship with you before they commit. You’re coming on too strong if your website copy reads like a sales pitch and the only CTA is for a sales call. It’s too pushy. Take the time to dance, give them access to your newsletter, or invite them to follow your social media.
  • Test your chatbots regularly: If you run automated sales sequences, it’s easy to get complacent about your tried and tested systems. As a buyer, I’ve had to abandon my shopping cart when the chatbot malfunctioned and there was no other way to contact the seller.
  • Show your contact details: Share your email address even if you have a contact form. Lots of people prefer email because it lets them have a copy of what they send. There’s also something horrible about submitting a form and not knowing if it really went through.

Do regular testing

The best websites suffer technical issues and you can’t pre-empt every situation. But it’s hard to attract the right visitors to your site, let alone keep their attention when they’re there. So to prevent people from leaving your website unnecessarily, test everything you can, especially pre-launch and after major site changes.

A website audit is a proactive way to get yourself back on track. It’ll show you what’s working, what isn’t, and what you need to do to realign your tactics with your vision and stop people from leaving your website before they’ve had a good look.

5) Your Site Is Full of Gimmicks and Adverts

Adverts and affiliate sales are legitimate revenue routes and done correctly, they blend seamlessly into the user experience. Done wrong, they give your site an air of desperation and cheapen your service.

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Image Source: Digivate

There are websites that get away with the worst type of advert pollution. They have a massive reader-base because they offer something very desirable. In the case of the Daily Mail Online, the attraction is an active comments section for their salacious click-bait news articles. (Don’t go there without an ad-blocker.)

But you are not the Daily Mail and gimmicks are superfluous to your integrity. People are leaving your website because they see this. The internet has been full of gimmicks for a while and users have developed click-bait immune systems. They kind of expect you to be overpromising and they’re tuned not to believe everything you say.

You’ve experienced this yourself when you come across a website that’s promising to give you a five-figure income in a weekend or turn you into “the best version of you.” It’s cringy.

That’s another thing. Cliches are phrases that died a long time ago but life coaches and Instagram won’t let them rest in peace.

People like short pithy quotes and social media has turned everything into a soundbite because they attract followers. But a high follower count is not an indication of success so what seems to work on social media doesn’t translate to a business website.

You can attract people to your website with gimmicks and click-bait. But you can’t make them stay or come back.

  • Use problem-solving language the customer can relate to, no customer wants to be reduced to a soundbite
  • Keep pop-ups for when people are leaving your site
  • Size adverts so they don’t fill more space than your actual content

Connect With Their Mindset and You’ll Attract People Who Want to Stay

You created your business because you wanted to be your own boss and have the independence to do your thing without the unpredictability or the noose of a boss hanging over you.

But you also created your business because you’re good at what you do. You want to help people change their lives, but not in a cliche Instagram kind of way. You want to change their lives because people deserve to have their problems solved.

Take another look at your website. Make it more about the client and help them see you’re the solution.

  • Make your words tell them you understand and you care
  • Let Google know you’re in business
  • Fix your navigation and visual appeal

It won’t be long before people decide leaving your website is not an option. You’re giving them exactly what they want and need.

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Jessica Barnaby

Written by

Writer | Artist | Business Strategist 🍒 Asking questions, finding answers ✔ hellojessbee@gmail.com

Better Marketing

Marketing advice and case studies to help you market ethically, authentically, and effectively.

Jessica Barnaby

Written by

Writer | Artist | Business Strategist 🍒 Asking questions, finding answers ✔ hellojessbee@gmail.com

Better Marketing

Marketing advice and case studies to help you market ethically, authentically, and effectively.

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