In Mel Brooks’ The Producers, the protagonists, Max and Leo, try to get rich by sabotaging a play and hiring the worst director and worst cast to stage the worst show on Broadway. If you find that your typical website visitor (or maybe just your website) is annoying, and you can’t stand them any longer, you could try the same approach: sabotage!
You may be sabotaging your website already without realizing it—in which case, you’re a natural. If not, here are some tips:
- Embed Loud Videos that Start Automatically
A site visitor opens your home page, and immediately, without warning, a video starts up. Loudly. Without any obvious way to stop it. Bonus points if it’s an advertisement for something nobody needs.
Cubicle dwellers across the globe hate this one, as do parents who just got their young children to take a nap. There is almost nothing more effective at making visitors close their browsers and never darken your homepage door again.
- Put a “Grand Entrance” Between Visitors and Your Homepage
Here’s a good one: Make your visitors sit through a fancy animation that takes forever to load and several minutes to run through before offering them a link to your actual home page. People will stay away in droves.
- Tell Visitors to “Get Lost”—or Do It For Them
Have you ever called “customer service” and had the friendly computerized voice response system lead you every which way except to a real person? You can do the same thing with your website. Links that lead people around in circles, links that go nowhere except to “404 Page Not Found,” navigation links that are confusing or meaningless…visitors can become hopelessly lost in an environment like that. It won’t be long before they “get lost” in a figurative way, never to return.
- Implement a Bad Search Tool (or None at All)
This one will get ‘em going, going, gone: Make it really hard for visitors to find what they are looking for on your site. Give them a search tool that shows them everything except what they are looking for by having poorly planned keywords or results that make no attempt to sort by relevance. Better yet, leave the search tool off entirely, and make users hunt around until they give up.
- Don’t Refresh Your Content
If you leave up “holiday special” banner ads for holidays that ended months ago, or have “most recent” blog entries that date back to a different presidential administration, your visitors will surely wander off to find something more interesting to look at. If you can’t wait that long, just backdate everything to make it look like it’s been there forever.
- Have Ads Disguised as Content
Software download sites are notorious for this. If you go to any page on a download site, you will see several “Download Now” links. Of the 10 or more of these, only one (maybe) will download the software you’re looking for. The rest are advertisements for other software or perhaps viruses. Sometimes ads look like error messages to entice you to buy a “solution” to a nonexistent “problem.” It takes some planning, but you can do the same thing with your site. Get some banner ads that look like useful content but actually lead users to places that are irrelevant or unsafe. Visitors will get the message pretty quickly: “KEEP OUT!”
If you do all these (or even just some of them), your site will be a colossal failure. But unlike Max and Leo, don’t expect to get rich doing it. Like them, however, you might see the strategy backfire: People might flock to your site just to see how bad it is.
If for some reason you don’t hate your visitors, here are some tips for you, too:
- Want to put a self-launching video on your site? Take a lesson from Facebook: Mute the volume, and make it obvious how to turn it up if a visitor wants to. And use subtitles, so viewers can get the message without turning the sound up at all.
- Want a fancy entrance portal? Make sure it doesn’t take too long to load, and give users a “Skip This” link from the very beginning.
- Pretend you are a visitor, and try to find something on your site. Better yet, have a friend do it. Check the navigation, search tool, internal and external links, everything. If you can’t find what you’re looking for on your own site, there’s a problem. Talk to your web designer and/or developer to find a solution.
- Take it easy on the banner ads. They might be a good way to make money from your site, but at a certain point, they detract from your content.