Sometimes, I forget that not everyone pays close attention to websites the way I do. I work on sites day in and day out, so some of it is second nature to me. And yet, I have to keep reminding myself that most authors don’t know the following…
1. Most site visitors don’t come through the homepage. Authors spend a lot of time focused on their homepage. They want it to be beautiful and create a great first impression. But what they tend not to realize is that for most visitors, it’s not the first impression. In fact, it’s not an impression at all. A large majority of site visitors will come in through the book page or a blog page (after all, those are the pages that tend to be full of keywords, so the search engines send users there). Generally, only about 20% of site visitors will come through the homepage.
2. It’s normal for sites to have high bounce rates. First, let’s define a bounce rate. According to Wikipedia, “a bounce occurs when a web site visitor only views a single page on a website, that is, the visitor leaves a site without visiting any other pages before a specified session-timeout occurs.” Most authors are alarmed when they see that they have a bounce rate of about 40%. That is, about 40% of visitors to their site decide not to stay. But that’s a totally normal number. Don’t take it personally.
3. The more “design” a site has, the less functional it is. Authors want their sites to be beautiful. And they should be. But what authors tend to forget is that the web is not print. Websites don’t look the same on every device and in every browser. Plus, the search engines can’t read images, so image-heavy sites have a harder time getting ranked by the search engines. Sometimes, it’s in an authors best interest to sacrifice aesthetics for function.
I’m sure there are more such surprises. If I think of any, I will add them to this list. And if you think of any, please put them in the comments field below!