Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What makes you leave an artist's website? POLL RESULTS

Does your art website make me people want to leave fast?  The Making A Mark Opinion Poll for January 2012 aimed to find out what were the aspects which generated an adverse first impression of an artist's website.

The results are in and you can now self-assess your own website and decide whether or not you are driving people away!

This poll allowed people to tick all that drove them dotty.  What's interesting is that virtually all the factors which are an issue were identified as options and only 9% highlighted yet more irritants.

Making A Mark Poll - January 2012
number of responses = 239

Your Top Three Pet Hates

Two thirds of visitors will leave your website immediately if they encounter any ONE of the top three pet hates.

The three things you hate the most and which are most likely to make you leave a website are
  • registration is required in order to see more (67%)
  • automatic music (66%)
  • images load very slowly (62%)
I know the music and slow-loading images can have me leaving in under 5 seconds.

Automatic music always makes me think of lifts (elevators) - need I say more?

The images loading slowly is a sure sign of somebody who doesn't understand that you need to resize images for the internet AND change their resolution.  There is absolutely no point in using more than 72dpi.  You absolutely do not need an image to be any bigger than the maximum size you want to display it at.  It's very easy to create web-ready images - if you know how!  This is a huge blog - but virtually every image has a resolution of 72dpi (or less if it's OK) and has no side longer than 500 pixels.  My guideline "rule of thumb" is if it's bigger than 100kb than, generally speaking, it doesn't get on my blog.  I tend to operate the same sort of standard on my website Pastels and Pencils.

It can be very irritating for people to find a site only to realise they can't view any of it - but then people are entitled to make their websites private.  However, these are not typically the sorts of sites you need to register to see - these are the sort you need an invite to see! :)

Registration to view parts of a website can be OK in certain circumstances - but only after you've shown and told people enough to make them think it might be worth their while.  Otherwise I'm afraid it only demonstrates that you understand very little about marketing.

The Rest of the Top Ten Turnoffs

The next seven irritants are as follows.  The numbers after each factor are the percentage of visitors you can expect to lose if just ONE of these is representative of what people find on your website.

  • bad navigation (55%)  I look at lots of websites.  You wouldn't believe the number that haven't got their basic navigation set up properly and I'm not in the least bit surprised that this factor comes so high..  My friend Louise always talks about whether or not your website delivers on "the Trunk Test".  This comes from Steve Krug (Advanced Common Sense) and his book Don't Make Me Think which is about web usability.  I won't explain the mafia connotations (other than to indicate that for English readers you should be thinking of a boot of a car) but will try and explain the trunk test in a few sentences.  Try the exercise with your own website - it's an eye-opener!  OK - so imagine you arrive at a website.  You didn't come through the front door and get the gracious 'Hello' - instead you got dumped in the middle of nowhere - somewhere in 'a website'.  Now, using only the information on that webpage, are you able to:
    • tell what the website is about?
    • identify the main sections of the website?
    • understand where you are and how to move around the website?
    • find your way back to the home page?
    • OR are you stranded in the middle of "who knows where"?
  • intrusive / irrelevant adverts (50%)  We don't often see adverts on art websites - which is why they tend to stand out when they are seen.  Adverts in relevant parts of the site (eg links to suppliers re favourite art materials - on the page where you talk about what art materials you use) are generally not thought of as a "bad thing".  However people who load their websites with irrelevant adverts of Google text ads because they want to make money give off all the wrong signals about what they think is important.  Think very hard about the nature, type and location of an advert before you include one.  
  • auto-streaming videos (47%) We are so over being impressed by what Flash can do - especially since it's such a broadband hog and these videos take an age to load.  Videos which auto-steam whatever are a strict "no no" - or watch nearly half of your visitors fight their way to the exit!
  • tiny paintings (44)  Images are what an artist is all about - so why do some artists make them soooooooo tiny?  In fact - serious question - if you're going to make them so tiny that nobody can appreciate them why do you bother having a website in the first place?  If you're worried about copyright thieves just reduce the resolution.  Images do not have to be huge but they very definitely do nothing for the artist if they are tiny.
  • it crashed my computer (38%)  Need I say more?  Do it once I forgive you.  Do it twice and you won't see me again ever!  (Same goes for sites which generate virus alerts)
  • content badly organised (36%)  I know that 'organisation' and 'artist' are two words which very often do not go together.  If that's you get a friend to review your website for you and tell you what does not work.  I absolutely adore identifying what needs sorting out and then revamping the design and content of websites - I'd almost pay people to do it but fortunately they want to pay me!  (You can always try asking!)
  • old and out of date dates (35%)  Question:  How do you tell if an artist has lost interest in a website or lost interest in showing / selling their work?  Answer: Just look at the dates.
You will only lose a third of your visitors if you........

Around a quarter to a third of all respondents listed these as pushing them out the door fast!

  • dull and boring (34%) - We all know these when we see them and most of us are backing out the door before we even get in.  Try looking at your statistics for pages after your home page.  If they're very low then chances are your home page switches people off.
  • illegible text (31%)  - my pet hate is very pale text on a white background and tiny font sizes with insufficient contrast. If you make me reach for the zoom button you'll find I hit the "back" button first!
  • 101 (too many!) typefaces (26%)
  • stuff jumps out at me (26%) - It's just not very polite now is it?  People do not like pop ups.
  • too many typos (25%) - Sometimes the things which impress are the things which are absent - like spelling mistakes and typos.  We all know that very creative artists are more likely to have dyslexia - while some have just never been very good at spelling.  However most will have relatives or friends who could proof read their website.  Or they can use a website which has a built-in spell check!  It just requires a little bit of extra effort and really improves the overall impression.
  • garish colours (25%) - I was a little bit surprised that this one didn't come higher given the number of artists websites which really hurt my eyes.  However I'm maybe a little hypersensitive to colour and use of colour on websites.  I'm also probably remembering artists websites as they used to be - most are getting a lot better on this aspect.
What else leaves you cold?

Here are some of the comments which the original post attracted.  They make even more suggestions about factors which prompt a fast retreat!  Many thanks to all the people who took the time and trouble to comment
I didn't see my first two on the list. Vulgarity or political statements. 
The main thing that makes me leave is often an outdate, old fashioned web design. One of those sites that is obviously designed 10 years ago, using just html and with little creativity. A few tables and columns..etc. Finding what works is just a matter of looking around and seeing what you like. No-no’s: coloured font on black background, intro’s, flashing images or fonts...well these are just obvious aren’t they?
Add to the list:
  • resizes my browser window
  • hover pointer option only ( hover pointer over thumbnail to see image, move pointer off, image disappears)
  • Too many clicks to get to large image
  • Too many back clicks to get back out
  • Centered type (too hard to read! Centered type is meant for ephemeral material like announcements, it's graphic design 101, ask any designer)
  • Too much content unrelated to art (a little human interest is ok, but don't make me wade through tons of it, I'm there for the art)
  • NO DATES AT ALL!, anywhere! How old is this!? (not as much an issue with blogs, which is part of template)
  • Although I won't necessarily leave, I'm usually a bit annoyed when there is NO technical info on the art anywhere. No medium, size, year, sometimes even no crediting the artist on sites that feature art in general. 
Brilliant!!! I've never seen a poll asking these questions. I have a couple more to add that make me leave and go elsewhere:
1) black background with small white text (or even worse, red or orange or lime green background...or worse than that, patterned background with brilliant colors).
2) Artist Facebook pages that require you to "like" the page before you can read it. How do I know if I like it? I do know I don't like being manipulated to get you more likes!
3) Too busy blog pages with stuff splattered all over in the new "magazine" style that has multiple columns with small chunks of posts and pictures and sidebar stuff scattered all about. If it takes too long to figure out what I'm supposed to do I leave.
One of my biggest pet peeves for a website is the auto music or video that can't be TURNED OFF! Bad enough it kicks on as soon as the page loads, but if I have to turn off my speakers to escape it, I'm gone. I also don't like the flash or video you have to sit through EVERY time to enter a site. That pretty much eliminates the desire for repeat visits.
I like to get in and view art without having to continually click on tiny thumbnails to enlarge then click to close then select next image and repeat process. I will view a couple then exit site.
Sites that use pop-ups that when you click on an image to enlarge tell you "image is copyright downloading forbidden" etc, lose me on the spot. I believe in stating copyright, just not in that way, it seems vulgar and in your face.
I'm gaining preference for Art blogs where I can scroll through images.
This is a great poll. My pet hate is the time a blog or website takes forever to view because of the design which is usually more arty than the art itself. Another one I hate is when the pictures are far too small to see so I leave.
Over to you now - does any of this surprise you?


  1. To people who leave comments without a profile I can access please see http://makingamark.blogspot.com/2006/01/comments-policy.html

  2. I'd say that these are very logical results and that people, who took part in this poll, are very educated in terms of using internet. They managed to come up with things that would be named by any web designer and that are worth remembering if you're planning to have a website of your own.

    I'd add that I can't think of anything worse than an artist with a website that is dull, contains colours that don't match, pure quality photos of the artwork and is impossible to navigate.

    Well, thank you for sharing these results. I can sigh with relief that my website doesn't have music, adverts or videos, yet I know that some improvements need to be done!


  3. I will unsubscribe from an art blog or leave a web site that has a heavy dose of biblical quotes or overall religious tone. I don't want a lecture and I don't care if the artist's paintings will be unfinished in case the Rapture comes. I just want to look at the pictures.


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