All online businesses want traffic. Traffic nets you ad revenue and costumer views, eventually leading to sales and profits. If you are a software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider, traffic is your paying customer, using your service.
In the end, traffic is what the Net is all about, and we work tirelessly to make sure out sites are welcoming and worthwhile. We all constantly read about how to get more traffic, but there are still some things that can cause visitors to flee from your site like it was Godzilla (the monster, not the movie).
The Importance of Positive Association
An axiom of advertising is association. The human mind evolved to find correlation and causation between different things, to see patterns and accept them swiftly as a survival mechanism, and it still works like this - this is why advertisers advertise their products by placing them next to things we want to have, allowing our mind to form links between the item and the need. Coca-Cola does this by putting "Happiness" in its ads right next to its beverage, letting us understand that the two are connected, allowing us to feel warm, happy feelings when we see the product.
This is whatwe want to happen with our site as well. We want visitors to associate our site and our service with positive feelings, because sentiment is important - both for returning business and for positive user experience.
In the end all human interactions are influenced by sentiment. The same is true for your site; a general sense of apathy towards it will drive visitors away, but a positive association will net you more traffic. This is why it's important to understand the things your visitors want and use these to create positive association through the correct choice of layout, design and content.
The textbook definition of frustration is "condition which exists when a goal-response suffers interference." Which is to say - when we don't get what we want, we get frustrated. There are two instinctive responses to frustration - the first is trying to reason with the obstacle, to find a way around it.
It is when the obstacle cannot be reasoned with,that we turn to aggression - arguably the worst of all negative sentiments.
Aggression and frustration are the two associations you need to avoid the most. If your visitors get frustrated once too often, their mind will train itself to link your site with feeling of anger and frustration, projecting these not only towards the site itself but also toward business, brand and services it provides.
This frustration is usually caused by one of following: Responsiveness, Availability and Content.
Responsiveness - The need for speed
Responsiveness is the most egregious aspect of a frustrating on-line experience. Online interactions occur in real time, and visitors expect an immediate delay-free response. Anywebsite that demands that we wait between the time we click and the time we get our wishes, is tempting fate. In fact, studies show that after 3-second wait users will abandon the loading webpage.
There are many tricks to make your response time better, including using a CDN and optimizing your HTML. However, in the end, it comes down to server responsiveness and - for the bigger sites that operate on multi-server platform - a correct use of load-balancing services.
Load-balancing is a term unfamiliar to most small website owners but operators of larger website and SaaS providers should know it well.
Basically, load balancing is what optimizes server responsiveness by managing the amount of processing done by each of the servers (locally between servers in the same datacenter and globally, between different datacenters around the world).
Using load balancing will help you optimize server response times.
However, to achieve a significant result, you`ll need to go beyond simple load distribution. While most bare bone load balancers operate at a random (aka Round Robin) algorithm, the effective ones are intelligent enough to take into account the nature of the servers and their current processing load.
Simply put, load balancing is most effective when it's augmented by real-time visibility - an ability to assess current load on each of your servers and use this information for load distribution decision, always pointing the next visitor to the most available location.
The only thing worse than having to wait three minutes for a site to load is having to wait three minutes, after which the site does not load at all. Welcome to the world of crashed servers and failing data centers, where your users are gone and your past performance doesn't matter. A downed server today means a user will be using a competitor's service tomorrow - nothing causes users to associate you with frustration more than wanting to use your service and not being able to.
This is why it's so important to have a good failover service - these services detect server failures and start routing users to a backup server. Up until now you'd have to depend on DNS solutions for this kind of routing - which meant waiting for each local internet-provider to update your DNS as cached on their machines; this that could take 30 minutes or more depending on the whims of the provider in question.
Cloud-based failover brings a website back online, in under a minute (Source: Incapsula)
Today, cloud-based failover services make this kind of dependency a thing of the past, using the cloud's DNS address and routing traffic through it. This means that server failure is dealt with instantly, and your users will not ever notice it - and will not get frustrated with your site.
Here's a fun little trivia fact: In the UK, they spell the word "Center" as "Centre". If I were to write a text about data-centers and someone from the UK would read it, he'd summarize I'm a "twat" that can't spell to save his life, and I will be negatively associated in his mind as someone who doesn't even bother spellchecking his writings.
This is just one example as to why any multinational website should consider localization services.
Not only for the correct spelling of words like "Honour" or "colour", but for the different and often subtle cultural differences that might hurt your business. There are many things that can cause issues - from something culturally-related, like how offensive and obscene skullsare in China (as a design element in anything, from websites to t-shirts), to local regulations, like European privacy laws that demand all data on local users be processed on a EU-located server. One way or another, localization is the key to making sure you site goes over well in every part of the world.
This is why, few years ago, multi-national online organization had to manage duplicate versions of their sites, manned by different teams in many different locations around the world. Today, Geo-load balancing services provide a better, less costly solution. Similar to load-balancing services, these services route traffic between multiple locations. However, where load balancing were doing it based on random algorithms or more advanced data-driven logics, geo-load balancers are also route traffic based on visitors geo-locationallowing content localization, while also keeping the server load to a minimum.
Only One First Impression
While there are many things that might drive away traffic, but few are worse than being un-available, un-responsive or irrelevant.
The internet is a land of alternatives, where visitors can and will abandon under-performing websites.Empowered by the knowledge that a similar solution is just one click away, your visitors will not give you a second chance. In an ultra-competitive environment such as this, websites must take steps to provide positive user experience or suffer the consequences.