How many websites do you visit in a month?

According to Nielsen’s statistics, the average American visits 89 web sites in a month, spending just over 29 hours browsing those sites. And these are the numbers from 2010, before many had yet grown accustomed to browsing sites regularly on their smart phones.

This is all to suggest that your website visitors have all seen enough to know what they like. In fact, over half of your site visitors are going to spend less than 15 seconds on your site. Are they happy with what they find? Or will they be quickly moving along to your competitors site?

If anything, it’s just a little too easy for us to cast our verdict on a site’s quality. It’s certainly easy to move right past a web presence that isn’t up to snuff. Sometimes we don’t even dwell on our assessment of a discarded site, just as we dive absently into many that work. We’ve been surfing the net for decades now, we ride intuitively.

You don’t have to be a user experience design professional to recognize great UX when you experience it. Just like you don’t need to be a graphic designer to be influenced by an impactful design. But when an unimpressed visitor passes right on by, it’s not just the site being passed over.

We assess the overall quality of businesses and services by way of their web presence.

Your site might be being assessed harshly by visitors who aren’t intentionally leaving their review. And if your site just isn’t connecting for any reason, you need to know.

There are a number of metrics to help gauge a site’s effectiveness. Such metrics include the dreaded: ‘visitors who leave your site quickly, never to be seen or heard from again’. This can be a website’s most straightforward ‘pass/fail’ test. These are your most negative reviews. If far too many site visitors are ghosting entirely, well… that’s a problem. Of course, what is more nebulous is the ‘why’ behind such behavior; as is what, exactly, you can do to hold onto more visitors.

You’ll never get rid of all of these ghosts. But trying to convert more of them is the good fight. Fortunately, ghost-busting isn’t always as daunting as it might seem.

User experience design and general design aesthetics can be largely subjective. But not entirely. There’s a small window of objective assessment that can actually give us a clear look at a site’s impact.

Analytics and user testing has proven that expectations built off previous site experiences can help us review a new site design objectively. We can assess site infrastructure as it relates to or adheres to our shared expectations. Considering the volume of sites the average site visitor processes, it’s no surprise that they will lean further into the UX they already prefer. What’s more, with enough user data, we can even discover the objective consensus for an optimal site experience.

From there, we can design a site experience to look and even feel better than the current objective consensus–but not too far as to be an alien and non-intuitive experience.

Baby steps.

Our best experiences with a new site is when we can interact immediately. It’s exciting when a site experience awes us with any number of new flourishes; but a successful new site should still always allow for us to dive right into the experience.

Basically, as we engage with site infrastructure and learn our way through an interface, we’ve already put the work into learning those processes. Sites that adhere to these learned models simply feel more intuitive. It’s more than just ‘keeping up with the Jones’s’ for the sake of appearances. This has real stakes in the success (or failure) of a business.

It only takes us a few clicks to review a site. It can take considerable effort for a web presence to meet the expected standards of the day, but it’s a key step towards keeping the ghosts at bay.

Written by

John Dudley