If you're looking at your Google Analytics stats you'll see a percentage labeled "Bounce Rate". This number shows how many users visit your website without visiting any other pages.
That's not good! You put a lot of heart, sweat, & tears into making your content engaging & interesting. How then can we deal with users "bouncing" off our homepage and leaving a user-shaped dust cloud behind?
Now of course, optimizing your website's performance is important. We all know that. For the sake of brevity, we're going to assume you have already addressed the following:
- Page loading times (<500 ms is ideal) - Users won't stick around if they have to sit around and wait.
- Making your website fully responsive - a mobile user's worst nightmare is having to pinch and zoom.
- Attractive above-the-fold content - something eye catching and simple.
- General usability - no annoying popups or gimmicks.
- Web accessibility - You can quickly check your site for accessibility issues with this simple tool.
If you haven't yet, we highly recommend running a Google Lighthouse test on your homepage to diagnose these issues in depth!
So with that out of the way, let us present...
The Zeigarnik Effect
People remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks.
Discovered by Bluma W. Zeigarnik in the 1920s, the Zeigarnik Effect sought to demonstrate how the human memory favors certain information over others.
Zeigarnik first discovered this after observing a server at a restaurant. While serving and processing the bills of various customers, the server could easily recall the details of each customer's order. However, after the completion of the task— after everyone had paid—they were no longer able to recall the order details.
After further tests and experiments, it became apparent that human memory favors incomplete information. Thus, we may not remember where we left our car keys, but we can easily recount the looming list of weekend chores that we'll have to accomplish come Saturday.
So what's the point? It may seem crude, but one simple way you utilize this fact is to use...
😁 By adding visual indicators of incompleteness to your content, people will be subconsciously motivated to continue reading.
Now obviously this doesn't have to be (...) ellipses per se. There are a host of Zeigarnik strategies you could use. These can include...
1. Extending page content
By providing clear indications of additional content, you can encourage content discovery. Social feeds tempt us to scroll or swipe downwards because we recognize that additional content awaits us below.
2. Fake progress indicators
Users will have a greater motivation to complete tasks if they can see progress toward a goal, even if it's completely artificial. Remember all those endless loading screens in your favorite video games as a kid? Even though the progress bars didn't tell you actually what was happening behind the scenes, your patience was more likely when you're given visual feedback.
3. Real progress indicators
Motivate users to complete longer tasks by clearly indicating their actual progress. Why in the world would someone wait for half an hour while their computer updates? Because the process provides clear feedback about its progress! Even if it hangs at 99% for two hours...
And that brings us to our...
If you're having issues with high bounce rates, don't reach for your wallet to hire a full-time SEO manager. Instead, you can save yourself time, money, and a headache by simply adding small changes to your content. That way, you can get back to what really matters—completing your own task list! 😊 📋 ✅