5 Surprising Reasons New Visitors Leave Your Site…


… and sometimes, without ever reading a post.


We're all guilty of it, though.  We're browsing new sites, and within seconds, THAT one loads.  You know the one.  You don't even need to scroll down the page before you're clicking the “back” or “close” button your browser.  Maybe you panic. Maybe you let out a little yelp.

We've advocate on behalf of great design: avoid centered text and harsh backgrounds; try to keep your content black text on a light background; make your images all the same same; and please, for the love of all Chanel, McQueen, and Valentino, avoid auto-playing music!

Sometimes though, it's the most surprising thing that can turn a reader away from a site.  And

Pop Ups Block Your Content.

A blogger commented recently, “Wow. You're making me share your post before I can even read it?”  The website had designed the pop up to occur when you arrived on the site, and wouldn't be dismissed until you HAD shared it.  There was no way to read the content without sharing.  So the blogger left the site.

Can I get a WTF? I've encountered many sites where a pop-up happens a minute into the site visit. It asks if I want to share the content or sign up for a mailing list.  It's understandable, and if it bothers me, I typically close it and continue reading.

Why would you enable a pop-up that requires your reader share the content before they can read it?  Talk about a false way to inflate your numbers AND lose a lot of interested readers in the process.  For every person that clicks share or like in order to read the comment, I bet you have at least one that you lose.  Stop trying to play the numbers game and beat the system.

Let visitors get to your content first and have enough time to read it before asking for them to share or like the post.


I was chatting on twitter when Arash he mentioned visiting a site and leaving a comment. He was then automatically subscribed to receive ALL new comments from the post.  While I'm a big fan of letting your readers know they have a reply (or allowing them to opt-in for email subscriptions), subscribing them to comments can make their email get REALLY overwhelming.  If I'm constantly having to hit “Unsubscribe” to things I didn't subscribe to– well, I won't be coming back to your site.

So skip the auto– auto-play music, auto-sign up for newsletters or comments.  Don't hunt down bloggers emails and add them to your newsletter without their consent (that's a violation of your newsletter terms of service).  If you're trying to force your site and self upon your new visitors, it's bound to turn them off.

You Have to Log In to Comment.

Maybe they've made it past the harsh, neon yellow background, the auto-music, and the slowly loading page (or you not guilty of any of them–congrats!)… and now they want to leave a comment. Great! Super! Exciting!

Except I have to log in to Onsugar. Or WordPress. Or Twitter, or Facebook, or whatever other site.  You're making them log in to an account that they may not have. So they leave, because you've made it difficult to comment.

We often forget that our readers aren't always connected like we are, or they may not be connected in the same ways.  They're not always bloggers, they may not know what OnSugar is and may not have a Twitter or WordPress account.  So why make it difficult to comment?

If you have a option that requires a username, it may be good to have an option that allows them to just leave their name and email.

Too Many Sponsored Posts.

Sponsored posts can be a great way to work with a brand you love and bring in a little additional cash.  That being said, when 2/3 of your most recent posts are sponsored…well, your readers will doubt your credibility.  It begins to look like you're not interested in creating your own content, but rather how much money you can bring in.  I've gone through several phases where I've felt that sponsored content was becoming too high a priority on my site, and it didn't feel good. So I scaled back or would stop taking sponsored posts.

When in doubt, try to keep sponsored content to under 20% of your posts.   If you write 5 days a week, that's 1 post a week that's sponsored.  If you write 5 times a month, that's 1 post a month. And always try to make sure that what you're creating is matches your voice, opinions, and perspective.

Your Site isn't Mobile Friendly.

This one catches me off guard, but I realize how true it is.  Whether you're an e-commerce site, a blog, or restaurant's website, I never know what I'm going to want to pull up a site on my iPhone.  And yet… I'm always astonished by the number of sites that aren't mobile friendly.  (Coincidentally, my site isn't mobile friendly… whoops.)

Mobile friendly doesn't have to be fancy. Just make sure your site loads clean and simple.  Ensure that the search function is easy to find, and that content and images load the width of your phone's browser.

If your site is mobile-friendly, then your content will be easy to access and read.  People will be able to find what they're looking for, and they'll return.

What surprising qualities or tricks have turned you off from a site? Are you inclined to return to a blog that utilizes all or any of these features?


[Image Credit: Shutterstock.com]

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43 Responses

  1. Peach Black

    Well, what turns me off from a site instantly is an advertisement that’s blinking and moving constantly. That’s really annoying. And also one thing also turns me off from following a blog, is if the pictures with outfits are really similar all the time so I ask myself if this is the same picture from last week or what? This makes it a little borring to me and I stop following :/

  2. Suhaili Shazreena

    While what has been mentioned here are the things that turned me off whenever I visited the site, another reason that turned me off is slow loading page. This might be because I have a slow connection but most of the time it’s because there are just too many things to load even on a single page.

    Another thing that turned me off is if the blog has too many ads. It makes me wonder if their sole purpose is to make a quick buck.

  3. sammycx

    Adverts that cover the screen, lots of sponsored posts, slow loading, too many funny coloured text or background which is hard to read x

  4. Josie

    Totally agree with all of this. Auto-play music is one of my absolute biggest pet peeves, and I swear I always stumble upon an auto-play music blog when I’m out and about and didn’t think to turn down my volume – extra embarrassing!

    The sign-in commenting has gotten me a lot too. Now when I see that a blog only lets you comment by using Disqus I instantly close it – I’ve even tried commenting with it before and find it’s more frustrating then anything.

    • Olive

      I’m curious, why do you find Disqus so frustrating? I was under the impression that you could use it even without having to sign up.

  5. Peach Black

    Sorry for posting again. I have a question actually. I have blogger I don’t know if you have to sign in somewhere to comment. How do I set my blog to let you comment without signing in? 🙂

  6. Amy Nievera

    #1 YES. I recently came across a blog post that required you to share it before reading. All you could see was the post title and comments! I’d come across this post on Twitter, had no idea what the writer’s work was like, and was pissed. I ended up just leaving a comment nicely telling him his sharing policy sucked.

    • Ashley "Ashe" Robison

      Amy, thank you for commenting! It was driving me nuts that I couldn’t remember who I had had the conversation with!!! I even went through three weeks of Tweets looking for our convo, and couldn’t find it.

      Thank you for inspiring this post.

  7. Kylie

    What bothers me the most is my email being added to bloggers newsletters. Ones I have never seen or commented on as well. Completely arrogant of them to think we should just get their newsletters without permission. I worked in email marketing so I like to send them the ‘opt-in’ infomation links.

    • Jummy

      Hear hear! This bothers me too to no end! The worst is when you take the time to email them asking to be removed from their mailing list and they don’t reply and they don’t stop spamming you! I end up just marking them as a spammer then!

  8. Jangsty

    Totally agree with you! Auto-play music is a great no for me, since I sometimes go to blogs at work arriving early or during my lunch break. That is also dreadful while I am browsing at night with my husband already sleeping and a loud music starts suddenly – total turn-off at once. The worst is that usually it is impossible to find the source of it fast enough.

  9. Corena

    I am loathing the new trend of automatically playing video advertisements. I have seen this so much lately I sent a nasty gram to one blogger for it, and he changed it right away and sent me a nice letter apologizing for the inconvenience. I have even gone to sites that had 2 or more auto videos at one time. Ugggg Great blog here, Thank you,

  10. Elise

    Sometimes I wonder if it is hard for readers to comment on my Blog because I nearly get NO comments but quite some visitors…. I wish I had comment box like this one!!!

    Well if you stumble upon my Blog, let me know!!

      • Elise

        Ashe!! Thanks for your help! I knew something was up!! But it is supposed to be “enable”!! I don’t get it ahah!! In the settings, I’ve put it on “Embedded”… I don’t understand because some people manage to comment, yet for others, it seems complicated to get to the comment area… I would love to have a comment box just like this one right here!! Soooo much easierrrr duhhh!

  11. Shira

    I agree with everything here but can I askwhat’s wrong with centered text?

    Also, don’t forget comments where you need to put in a captcha code! Ugh those are the worst!

    • Ashley "Ashe" Robison

      Shira, from a scientific standpoint, the eye gets “confused” by long chunks of centered text. This deals with the starting point of each sentence being at a different spot, causing the eye strain having to refocus & readjust constantly. SO, that’s one of the biggest argument why, for content, just doing the typical left align is best and easiest for actual reading. I know if I see something more than 1 line or a few words in centered, my eyes have a hard time finding where to start– and I personally just leave.

  12. Elle

    I hate when sites have menus where you have to hover your cursor over them to get all the options, because most of the time they don’t work properly on a touchscreen. I do most of my internet browsing on my tablet these days, and that includes blog reading. If I can’t navigate your blog on there, I’m probably not going to bother coming back to it on my computer.

    Also, obtrusive ads. Those are always a faux pas.

  13. atleast

    Great tips! The one with the pop-up appearing to force people to share the content before reading is really more than crazy… Fortunately I did not come across such a site before and I hope that’s a minority.

  14. The Canvirries

    this has been really helpful..I am so turned off by those blogs which have too many pop ups as well. great post Ashley..thanks a lot


  15. Micky

    My phone is not-so-smart, so are there any other ways to check if a site is mobile friendly other than accessing it to see how it goes? 🙂

  16. Carla

    What makes me leave at most times it’s something really simple: colors and typography are not matching. People using like 4 or 5 different fonts and colors a lot of bold text, you know. I can’t trust someone else taste for fashion if they don’t even have a notion of these things. And I see this A LOT.
    Sorry my english, i’m brazilian.

  17. tiffany

    I discover new blogs all the time and If its one i like I like to read all of there posts. I will spend days on one blog reading it all. I HATE when its set up where you cant just hit older or newer post. If i have to scroll through and open each post I wont even read one I just move on to the next. IF i find your blog and i become invested in it please make it easy to go from one post to the next.

  18. Peggy

    There are many reasons why I leave blogs like those mentioned above – especially the slow loading page, ugh, not being able to read a post directly in Reader (won’t be an issue tomorrow), same content day in and day out. You know when you read a magazine month after month and realize after a year or two that there are no new ideas and it’s the same ol’ thing in every issue. Also, too many giveaways, too many paid advertisers, too much focus on making money.

  19. elkeeb

    Great tips here, I’ve recently changed my settings so that only 2 posts load on the home page. This change definitely allows the my site to load faster than it was before as it was loading unlimited? amount of posts. I have a question for you, How do you allow people to comment that do not have accounts with wordpress, bloglovin etc…

  20. Anne

    I get turned off if the site is “too busy”…meaning it has too much junk in all the columns sometimes making it hard to even figure out what is the main focus of the page. I also get turned off by the weird ways that people organize their posts. When I can’t tell when a post has ended because the person hasn’t clearly organized the post, I usually leave and don’t come back.

  21. Filiz

    Awesome post! I seriously hate auto music on a blog. It’s so irritating. Also a slow pageload is killer. Do you have any tips for increasing the page load speed? Sometimes that concerns me on my own blog.

  22. Megan Doyle

    Ahhhhh I love these posts, it’s so great to learn what I should and shouldn’t be doing, and it’s a relief to hear that other people get annoyed about the same things as me!
    My pet hate is having to click through several pages to get to a post. It probably makes me super lazy that I think having to click through to posts and then back to the home page again is too much effort, but it is! Lots to keep in mind after this post!


  23. Dani Montoya

    I agree with all of the above. I read most blogs on my tablet, and what bugs me the most is the share buttons that follow you down the page and often overlap the first letters of the text all the way down.

    If I cant read your post I certainly dont want to share it.

    This was a great list of very relevant annoyances!

  24. Dizzy

    These are wonderful tips. I need to make my blog mobile friendly!
    Although I’m curious to know why avoid centered text? Can you please further elaborate.

  25. Felicia

    Love these tips, especially if the sign in to comment. I have so many flippin ‘accounts’ across the board just so I can comment it drives me mad!! God forbid my laptop ever breaks down because I’ll never remember them all and blam…there goes my commenting.

    I’ve never seen the have to share before reading thing but I wouldn’t stay, that’s for sure. And the pop up ads….ugh.

    Another of my big pet peeves is captcha….it makes me want to put my head through a brick wall when I’ve read a really well written post and want to comment on it, leave a nice involved comment and then there it is…the dreaded figure our these words and symbols.

  26. Felicia

    Love these tips, especially if the sign in to comment. I have so many flippin ‘accounts’ across the board just so I can comment it drives me mad!! God forbid my laptop ever breaks down because I’ll never remember them all and blam…there goes my commenting.

    I’ve never seen the have to share before reading thing but I wouldn’t stay, that’s for sure. And the pop up ads….ugh.

    Another of my big pet peeves is captcha….it makes me want to put my head through a brick wall when I’ve read a really well written post and want to comment on it, leave a nice involved comment and then there it is…the dreaded figure out these words and symbols.

  27. Kristian

    I cannot agree enough with the centered text thing. For all that is good in this world PLEASE stop centering text. It makes my eyes hurt, and makes it an effort to read the post…meaning I’m more likely to leave without commenting and not come back. Same goes for “cute” fonts that are hard to read. Stick to something basic, like a book would be printed in. No “typewriter” or “cursive” fonts for the main text; they are okay for the headers or in graphics, but make eyes tired pretty quickly in large chunks and/or when the font itself is small.

  28. Anne the SpyGirl

    Ah, the pop-up that covers half the post. The pop-up that won’t go away.
    IFB, you have this pop-up. I don’t save my browser history on my work machine (so it’s harder to track my misbehaving) so IFB thinks I’m a new visitor. Every time. Usually, the pop-up is just covering the photo, so no biggie. Still, I find it annoying.
    I know of another blogger with the subscribe pop-up that won’t go away. It appears even though I’ve subscribed. Grrrr.

  29. [email protected]

    I agree with all these. Especially ones where it’s difficult to comment–including how on Blogger, sometimes there is no option for name/url and I have to use my Google account. And one time I did get automatically subscribed to all the comments for a post. It was a giveaway, so I got several hundred emails of other people’s comments. SO ANNOYING.

  30. Iman

    Alright, many things that make me leave immediately have been mentioned, but I would definitely say: a dark background with funny colored/styled fonts (I have nothing about colors, but it just gets hard and annoying to keep reading), being forced to sign up/subscribe before you can like or comment a post, and loud music.
    Straight up, that’s my top 3.