Web users are lazy

by Martin Reed on 1 May 2007 in Snippets

When developing your site, you should never lose sight of the fact that Internet users are lazy. Just as Web surfers decide whether they like your site in under a second, if they cannot figure out its purpose, cannot figure out their way around, or have to register to view your content, the chances are they will just leave.

You may be the most energetic and inquisitive person in the ‘offline world’, but something strange happens when we go online. We become impatient and lazy. We curse slow load times, we hate having to register our details, and we hate inconsistent navigation and other usability mistakes.

Cater for lazy Web users

You can cater for the new personalities people adopt when in the online world by following these tips:

  • Optimise your images and pages to reduce load times.
  • Ensure your hosting service is reliable – if your site is unreliable, people are likely to leave your site and never return.
  • Reduce the need for registration wherever possible. If you have a blog, enable comments without forcing a user to register. If you have a forum, allow users to view posts without forcing them to register.
  • Place a contact form on your site – having to load up an email application as well as making the effort to write to you is something the lazy web user is loathe to do!
  • When people contact you, consider the amount of effort that person went to when writing your response. You should make even more effort to address all their queries and concerns – they certainly don’t want to have to email you again!
  • Keep your navigation consistent – a confused surfer is a lost surfer.
  • Reduce the number of clicks needed to reach each section of your site. I would say that users should be able to reach any section of your site in no more than three clicks.

These are just a few ideas I feel you should employ in order to keep even the laziest visitor to your site happy. Have you used any of these on your site? What steps have you taken to cater for lazy Web users? Do you think I have missed any important points? Let me know by leaving a comment below!

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Jonathan-C. Phillips May 2, 2007 at 9:01 am

Those are excellent points! i’ve had some trouble with point #2 lately, MySql server down for some reason, though my hosting company fixed that in a timely fashion, it’s never fun when your site is down. and visitors may think the site doesn’t exists anymore and never return, so gotta watch this.

I, myself, could be considered a lazy web surfer, of course i put some efforts since i do blog myself, but when i come across a site or blog and it takes forever to find something i’ll leave… so i may be a little on the lazy side. But when i find a site i like i’m loyal, and will return every day, every week or well, regularly :)

Great post, excellent advices!

Martin Reed May 2, 2007 at 4:45 pm

Hey Jonathan – Glad you liked the article. I have to admit I also become extremely lazy in the online world – it is very important to consider the ‘laziness factor’ when developing websites.

Chino Yray May 4, 2007 at 9:18 am

#2 hits the spot. it really is a problem when the host suddenly goes down or become so slow.

Iván May 4, 2007 at 11:54 am

Hello! I’m a blogger from Spain. That’s true, somethimes we are very lazy. I can’t wait more than 10 seconds to load a web page XD
PD: Your blog it’s very nice. Regards ;)

Martin Reed May 4, 2007 at 12:18 pm

Chino: Doesn’t that just drive you mad? I don’t know why it makes me so crazy, but it does! The Internet changes us!

Iván: Thanks for the comment, I am glad you like the blog! You wait ten seconds to load a web page? You have far more patience than me!

Macnerdzcare December 10, 2007 at 4:59 am

i optimize more on the “page load time” and navigation of the website.. crappy navigation leads to frustrated users.

Martin Reed - Blog Author December 10, 2007 at 5:53 pm

Macnerdzcare – That’s certainly an important area to focus on, just don’t forget about all the other aspects that are important for optimum usability.

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