Popular Site Features That Damage Your Conversion Rates

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Article ImageJust because everyone else is doing something, that doesn’t mean it’s good. In fact, there’s often a chance that if everybody else is doing something, that’s reason enough not to join in with the crowd.

When it comes to user experience (UX) and conversion rate optimization (CRO) there are plenty of site features and content ideas you might find on competitor websites, or websites belonging to aspirational brands, which aren’t actually conducive to success.

If you’re keen to ensure that your content brainwaves don’t inadvertently damage your conversion rates, here are a few popular site features that you’d do well to avoid.

Image Carousels

Which common site feature does nothing for your SEO, slows down page loading speeds and frustrates users, all in one painful flop? Yep, it’s the image carousel.

Also known as image sliders, there are plenty of good reasons why experts in UX and SEO hate this particular site feature. In spite of this, it seems that some web developers and plenty of plug-and-play site themes retain a penchant for image carousels. If you have one, or were thinking of getting one, here are a few reasons why you should reconsider.

  • These annoy users by sliding too quickly, or not fast enough
  • They don’t always work well on mobile devices
  • Only a tiny percentage of site users typically click on any given slide
  • As a result of that last point, linked content goes unread
  • Carousels can be mistaken for ad banners and ignored completely
  • Multiple H1 tags and bulky code damage both user experience and search performance

If you’re still in doubt and think your site might be the exception to the rule, visit shouldiuseacarousel.com for a free additional opinion.

Infinite Scroll

Infinite scroll is the feature which means that while a user is scrolling down through your content, more content continues to load – infinitely, or at least until there is no more content left to see. It’s great for things like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – sites which people go to specifically for a little mindless scrolling during a tea break, or at the end of the day.

Social media users consume vastly more content on a page with infinite scroll, and it’s a format that can work well for major news publishers and other "discovery interfaces." That is, sites where the publisher objective is to keep users consuming more content, and the user is there to browse.

However, not all sites benefit from infinite scroll. It works best for content of the same hierarchy, and for content which is conceptually related. Users looking for specific or specialized content can quickly become frustrated if there is no clear way to filter or navigate through a pool of wider information.

In addition to this, footer links become impossible to reach – much to the annoyance of users hoping to click on contact information, FAQs and other things typically stored here. Thinking of user psychology, it’s also important to note that infinite scroll can lead to a sense of loss of control.

“Load more” is a great alternative to infinite scroll that avoids leaving site users feeling helpless, by simply replacing the ‘infinite’ part with a button which asks if you’d like to see more after scrolling past a certain number of results. There are also other options depending on the type of site you’re updating and its content, such as sub-category grids and simple pagination.

If you’re looking for extended, but highly passive, user engagement, then infinite scroll might be fine. But if you’re hoping to increase your site’s conversions, it’s unlikely that this snooze-while-you-view feature is for you.

Generic Stock Images

When you’re trying to increase your conversions, it definitely helps if people feel that your brand and site are trustworthy. Imagery plays a big part in this, not least because so many scam and spam websites rely heavily on low-priced stock photography to illustrate their content. By association, other sites using the same generic images can inadvertently create feelings of mistrust.

When a visitor lands on your site for the very first time, it only takes milliseconds for them to make a judgment on what they’re seeing. The human working memory, a hyper-short term memory which pulls information from long-term mental storage, uses previous experiences to fill in the blanks.

If you’re using cheesy stock photography, not only does it suggest that your company is perhaps too cheap to spend money on their own photos, it also runs the risk that users lump you in with any other site they’ve visited which uses the same stock images. If you’re really unlucky, you might even pick the same photos a competitor has used. Disaster.

Stock photography may seem like a great low-budget option for bringing your website to life, but don’t be fooled. Instead of spending hours searching for images that approximately convey what you’re trying to say, paying license fees for someone else’s vision, invest in your own custom imagery.

You wouldn’t usually compromise a perfect result in order to simply have something passable for less, so look at photography fees in terms of ROI. The upfront costs may be higher, but by giving your website and other marketing materials are more high-quality, trustworthy feel, you increase your chances to convert.

Auto-Play Video

Auto-play videos are so painfully annoying that Google Chrome started blocking them last year on browsing sessions where audio is switched on. For some reason, that hasn’t stopped people from implementing this feature.

Videos can work wonders for conversion rates in some industries, with online fashion retailers typically finding a boost in both conversions and average order value after implementing product videos. But that doesn’t mean that a video which starts playing all by itself will have the same effect as one that doesn’t.

Thinking back to the negative feelings users can experience due to loss of control, it’s important that webmasters consider any implications autoplay might have for their site. Auto-play videos can be jarring, distracting and unexpected. For a user who is opening up several tabs in order to research a product or service, chances are the first one to get shut will be the one that’s blaring out unexpected audio. Not great, as far as conversion attempts go.

The simplest solution? Either make your video content click-to-play or follow Facebook’s lead and set any auto-playing videos up with audio muted until the user decides otherwise.

What to Keep in Mind

While your conversion rates should be boosted by clearer calls to action, simpler site navigation and a better choice of button colors, this is because at the heart of all CRO is user experience.

When using CRO tools like heat mapping and session replay, it’s easy to get tunnel vision and overlook problems that could otherwise be staring you right in the face. Even some of the best tools out there might not help you to identify generic stock images as a roadblock between your site and the conversions it needs.

During reviews of your site and its content, don’t just look for things which are clearly broken or outdated. Identify those sections which are underperforming, or where there seem to be user drop-off mysteries to solve. The chances are, your conversion rates are simply being impacted by poor user experience, a problem which can be easy to solve if you’re pragmatic about it and able to invest in improvements.

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