10 Things Readers Find Annoying About Your Blog

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How many readers are you losing because of these things that people find so ANNOYING?

10 Things About Your Blog That Annoys Readers (and how to fix them)

This is an obvious list but sometimes it helps to have an “in your face” reminder of things that readers absolutely hate about websites and to make sure YOUR blog isn’t an offender.

This isn’t just a list that I put together with my personal dislikes.  It’s based on studies done by various marketing organisations around the world as well as one by Towson University. If you are so inclined, have a read of his paper by Dr Jonathan Lazar – What Frustrates Screen Reader Users on the Web: A Study of 100 Blind Users. (Very academic, but you’ll definitely get the gist of how it applies to food blogs when you see the study results!)

This is another of my no-BS posts. If it hits home, don’t take it personally, it just means you’ll get something out of this. I am no martyr and at one point or another, probably even now, I am guilty of some of these things. But I am constantly on the look out and thinking about how to avoid / control / minimise the things on my blog that annoy readers.

10 Things People Absolutely HATE About Blogs

1. Annoying Pop Ups. ANY.

I see this repeatedly at the top of “hate” lists. Whether it’s new subscriber pop ups, Facebook likes or ads, people hate them so much that you have to wonder how often they just leave the page without even bothering to find the teeny tiny cross on the box to close the box.

I can’t stress enough – get rid of / CONTROL those pop ups. They are hurting your blog.

IMPORTANT: Read on to see how to work around this problem for Mail List Pop Up Boxes. 

2. Poorly Designed Blogs

Foodie Pro Theme by Shay Bocks for food bloggersI was not surprised to see how repeatedly this made the top of research lists. I don’t need to spell it out for you so I won’t spend time on this. It’s obvious: A well designed blog is easy to navigate and a pleasure to read. And they are the blogs that people like to read.

Both the FBC website and my food blog, RecipeTin Eats, use the Foodie Theme. It’s a theme custom designed specifically for food bloggers. The current version (which the FBC website is using) has loads of options that makes it really easy to customise the look/feel. Whereas this was more limited using the previously version (which my blog is still on), but doable using some basic coding.

3. Automatically Playing Videos – especially with SOUND

Oops, did you just get caught browsing the web at work when you were supposed to be working?? Another top 10 pet hate are auto play multi-media videos with sound. Even worse is that some of the less reputable advertisers (you know those “spammy” types) have either very small mute buttons or the mute button (mysteriously) does not work. (Surprise, surprise, I shut down that page within 2 seconds).

So whether they are your own videos or ads, make sure you have the settings so they don’t auto play, ESPECIALLY with sound.

4. Not Knowing Who “You” Are

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 11.04.42 amEspecially for new readers, there is an instant level of trust that is inspired if they can see and read about who the mysterious person behind a site is. This is easy to relate to if you put yourself in this situation: You want to buy a fabulous new dress, jump on line and start browsing. You see a dress you love on Pinterest, click through and land on a new clothing website you’ve never seen before. Without validating who they are, would you input your credit card details?

OK, so we bloggers don’t ask for credit card details. But the same principle applies.

Disclaimer: This is not really a “hate”. More of a key source of distrust. But I thought it was important to include.

5. Not Including Social Media Buttons

This one was a surprise! It’s started appearing on survey lists in recent years. But actually, I have first hand experience with this. When I was playing around with share buttons to find the one that suited my blog the best, there were patches when key buttons like Facebook and Pinterest were either missing or not working. And I had people email me to complain!!

Though we bloggers might be familiar with browser extensions for social media, most readers won’t be. So make it easy for them not only to share and save your recipes so they don’t lose them. After all, remember that while bloggers may have a tendency to focus on sharing friends’ recipes, “ordinary readers” use social media sharing for saving recipes. :-) <–KEY TIP!

6. Big Titles, Big Promises, No Delivery

Confidence is fantastic. As are catchy titles.

But if you are really cocky with your titles and “selling” the recipe but the recipe is total bollocks, you’ve just lost readers – and your reputation.

Example? Big in-your-face Pinterest graphic for crunchy breaded tenders made in the slow cooker. Um….I don’t think so…. Quite a few pinners left comments on that pin, calling it out. I even clicked through to the recipe and there were comments saying the recipe was bollocks too. (Don’t go looking for it, I changed the description of the recipe!).

This point is not about every reader absolutely LOVING every recipe you share. After all, we all have different “standards”and palettes. Just don’t blatantly lie. :-)

PS Same goes for “I got this recipe from a restaurant!” If you didn’t really….don’t say it. Especially for ethnic foods….’cause someone who is actually from Japan (or wherever) will call you out on it (or just never trust a recipe of yours again). I found that my ethnic recipes which I believe to be “authentic” are the ones that have drawn the most discussion forums and even on my blog.

7. Slow Loading

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 11.08.50 amI’m not going to spell this out. All I’ll say is that unless I have to see that recipe (and how often is getting a recipe a matter of life and death?), if a site is really slow to load, I’m outta there.

Test your website speed for free using Pingdom (free!). I compare my loading time to other blogs and major sites like www.smh.com (though obviously I don’t expect to match their speed!).

8. Too many ads and “sneaky” ads

Ads are the main way I monetise my blog. I have more ads than most. But far less than some. Also far less obtrusive.

The world of digital advertising is moving rapidly as advertisers and ad networks try to come up with more and more ways to catch the attention of readers to counteract “ad blindness”. And with CPM’s half what they used to be even 18 months ago, bloggers are turning to more drastic measures to earn as much as they can from ads.

The obvious places to include ads are at the top, in the side bar and in the footer. These aren’t too obtrusive.

Some more “in your face” places to put ads include: in between posts on your homepage and within posts. There are also new ad networks emerging who offer ads that are embedded IN your blog to make them look like one of your recipes (e.g. a photo and title created to match your blog style). So people click on it from your homepage thinking it’s one of YOUR recipes but it goes to the advertisers site instead.

I really want to stress that I’m not judging. I think your blog is your own blood, sweat and tears and you are entitled to do as you please. And many people probably hate the number of ads I have in my sidebar.

But just be aware that too many ads is something that people really don’t like.

9. Slide shows

You know how some websites (commercial ones, not blogs) have slide shows that force you to click through 30 times to see “30 Pot Luck Salads”? And where there isn’t an option to display as thumbnails so you can see them all on one page?

Readers hate them. And yes, they annoy me to no end. I’m sorry if you do them and I’ve just offended you.

I don’t click through them. I know you’ll get 30 page views if I view your round up slide show. But I just don’t have the time. Sorry.

PS I have seen  comments on Pinterest, by readers not the bloggers, that reinforces how much people dislike slidwshows. “This is such a good list – and no stoopid slideshow to click through!”. Seriously. Pinky swear, it’s like a “selling point” to NOT have a slideshow.

10. Can’t Find the Search Box

This one surprised me. Though not a “I want to pull my hair out!” pet hate, not being able to easily find the recipe search box is regularly cited as one of the top frustrating things for readers.

Remember, I’m referring to our readers here. Non blogger-friend readers. Real readers who actually want to search your site to find cocktail recipes or no bake dessert recipes. :-)

Where’s your recipe search box? 😉

Dealing With Pop Ups

Pop ups rate as the #1 most hated thing about blogs (and any site). So here’s my advice on how to deal with them.

1. Ads – Make sure you have ad types restricted to exclude pop up ads. They usually pay more (because the rule of thumb is, the more intrusive an ad is, the more they pay)….but is an extra 40 cents per 1,000 times the pop up takes over your entire site worth losing all those readers?

fb_icon_325x3252. Facebook – I really query the value of having a “Like me on Facebook!” pop up appearing every single time someone lands on your site. Not only did I experiment with it and found it had negligible conversions (plus reach is so up and down nowadays), unless you have a seriously large and engaged Facebook following, your personal Facebook page is not going to have a huge contribution on traffic anyway. Worth annoying readers for?

3. Email subscription (MOST IMPORTANT!!) – I’ve written before about how I believe that growing your mail list is the single most important growth strategy for your blogAnd there’s no doubt that conversion rates increase substantially when you have a pop up that appears when people visit your site.

BUT having a pop up appear that chirps “Join My Mail List!!” two seconds after you land on a blog you have never been to before, even before you have read the 1st line of the recipe is a sure fire way to really annoy someone.

So the trick is having a pop up that does not annoy people.

And that is why OptIn Monster is the single most important plug in investment I have made to date.

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 10.32.58 am

Using OptTin Monster, I am able to control when and how frequently the pop up boxes appear.

Get More Subscribers Without Annoying Readers

OptIn MonsterOptTin Monster lets you control when the pop up appears. So, for example, you can have it appear only if a reader visits a 2nd page, 15 seconds after the page has loaded. Or you can have it on the first page, 40 seconds after the page loads.

And it gets better. You can also control when the pop up box reappears. If I’ve already subscribed to a site, I don’t want to see the pop up box again! So you can set it so it is only shows again after X days.

I currently have mine set to appear on the 1st page after 40 seconds and to reappear after 30 days.

I’m about to switch back to having the pop up box appearing on the 2nd page. I expect to get less subscribers (because not everyone reads more than 1 page) BUT I expect to get higher quality subscribers (i.e. people who really are genuinely interested in my recipes rather than just signing up to get the free cookbooks). (I’ll share my findings when I finish all the conversion testing!).

It honestly is the best plug in investment I have ever made. My sign up rates were already pretty good just with a sidebar sign up box, probably because I was offering free cookbooks. With OptTin Monster, my sign up rate has more than doubled. Even better – the sign up rate quadrupled for my friend Amanda from Chew Town (who, by the way, introduced me to OpTin Monster so pop over and say g’day to her and have a drool at her amazing photos and food!).

What are you waiting for? Control your annoying pop ups with OptIn Monster! :-)

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So there you have it! There’s the top 10 list for things that readers find the most annoying about websites. I really want to stress again that I am a far cry from perfect and that my blog has been an offender of most of the things on the list. Unintentionally or simply because I didn’t know how to fix it.

Oh, as a side note – you can filter ad types religiously but sometimes the odd spammy ad will slip through. That’s why blogger friends are gold. They will send you a heads up when a spammy ad takes over your site or pops up, or does something it clearly shouldn’t be doing. Because you will rarely see the same ads other people are seeing, so it’s almost impossible to check.

If you found this useful, share it with your friends!

Top 10 Things That Annoys Readers About Your Blog (and how to fix them) #FBC #bloggingtips Click To Tweet

HAVE I MISSED ANYTHING? WHAT ELSE DO YOU THINK ANNOYS READERS? SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS BELOW!

– Nagi x

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The Food Photography Book by Nagi from RecipeTin Eats

Comments

  1. says

    Fantastic article.

    Yummly would have to be the worst site on the internet. You can’t find a recipe without answering about 15 questions and then entering your email and password (every single time). Once you do that, the page “sometimes” appears.

    So many other recipe websites, you’d think they would make it easier or give you an OPTION for those questions.

  2. phyllis dippert says

    please don’t post 6 or more photos of the same dish. it takes forever to scroll thru them all. i just leave when this happens

  3. says

    Hi there…I am interested in the foodie template you talk about but wondering if I can use it on my website which is powered by square space? It looks like a great tool if I can. Thank you!

  4. Ginger Wroot says

    This is such a fab “down-to-business” article with valuable info that waaaayyy more bloggers should heed. I started my blog just over a year ago, and I often look at blogs similar to mine, many of which are sluggish with ads. Because there are seemingly infinite blogs out there, my rule now is that if the page doesn’t load quickly (like within 10 seconds), I’m outta there! I find your blog, btw, so appealing, and will be back to soon to read more of your informative (and fast-loading) posts! –Ginger
    http://gingerwroot.com

  5. says

    Thanks for an interesting post. Lots of food for thought here. So much for beginner to learn – we may want to write or cook or whatever but first there is all this learning and understanding to do! Thanks for your help.

    • Nagi says

      I know what you mean! I was so overwhelmed when I started out :) Just take it one day at a time, one little thing at a time. You’ll be an old pro at it in no time, trust me! :)

  6. Linda says

    As a blog reader (not writer), one of the most irritating things to me (besides those you listed) is when the blog is written centered on the page instead of left justified. Drives me nuts!

    • Nagi says

      I can honestly say I’ve never seen that….. thankfully! I think some centred text is ok, but I agree, the whole post? Hmm,….I think not!

  7. says

    This is such a great list and resource! I cannot stand those pop ups that are placed in the middle of someone’s blog post and then the sound comes on. Drives me nuts and I think it is so tacky. I think I made the cut though…WAHOO! HA!

  8. says

    Thanks so much Nagi! I finally changed my pop-up window from a Facebook like to a Subscribe box using Opt-in Monster this weekend. Guess what? My first day got about 5 times my regular daily subscribe rate. Now that is impressive! You are the best! :)

  9. Christine says

    Sorry if this is a dupe. Something timed out? Anyway, I get bummed when there’s no profile pic/introduction of the blogger on the home page. I want an image to go with your voice. Also bummed by blurry profile pics. We spend so much time making our food look good that a poor quality profile pic stands out and makes a negative impression.

    • Nagi says

      I agree Christine! I personally like seeing the face of the person whose words I’m reading. If I don’t, I feel like I’m reading one of those big recipe sites :)

      And it is so true about blurry images for profile photos! I had a dodgy one for ages and you are right, it is so skewed. We spend ages working on food photos and can’t take 2 minutes to snap a good pic of ourselves! (Nice profile pic, by the way!! :) )

  10. says

    Wonderful list, Nagi. I am now going to get rid of my Facebook pop-up (you’re right it doesn’t convert very well) and get around to installing opt-in monster.
    The pop-up one is the one that annoys me the most – I hate it when I spot one on my site. Thanks to you, I caught one last week (well, I hope I did – none of the ad companies admitted responsibility for it though!) :-)

  11. says

    Nagi, this is an extremely useful reminder! Thanks for all these tips that may seem very common-sensical, but we may often forget. Optin Monster sounds good…. I’ve been using SumoMe the free plugin that pops up to get email subscribers and it has helped me double my email list…. Not sure if i should switch to Optin Monster for a service that is already free!

    • Nagi says

      I used to use SumoMe. :) It was a huge drag on my site performance because it has to do calls back to their own servers for social sharing etc. That’s why I switched to Simple Share Buttons (free), lightweight and does exactly what I need. SO much faster! Does SumoMe have time pop ups? Ie only show on 2nd page, don’t show again for 30 days?

      • says

        Hey Nagi!

        I’m using the free version of SumoMe, which lets you decide after how long you want the first pop up to appear (e.g. X seconds after they arrive – but not as specific as to let the pop up show only on their second page).

        SumoMe also allows u to decide when to show the popup again after the frist time, so X days after first pop up.

        • Nagi says

          I’m glad SumoMe is working for you :) I found that because it connects to their own servers, it really slowed down my site and also, I had readers complain about the confirmation pop up that appears when you social share a post. :) N x

  12. says

    You hit the nail on the head with all of these tips! As a blogger hunting for new inspiration everyday, I HATE having to deal with the subscription pop up before I even get a chance to look at the post I was so interested in! For my own website, what would you recommend for a non-Wordpress user to use in order to have a sidebar with the subscription option displayed there? (I use Weebly). Thank you so much for sharing this info Nagi! Have a great rest of your weekend! :)

    • Nagi says

      Hi Ariel! I’m like you, I love reading blogs for inspiration and learning and yes, it is irritating! :)

      My sidebar subscription option is the MailChimp box (not sure if they have one for Weebly) PLUS I’ve used an image I created myself which takes people through to MailChimp if they click on it. :)

  13. says

    Great list Nagi! I really need to get sorted on OptIn Monster or something similar, as like you, I wanted to control the time frames. I hope you are sleeping and are taking care of yourself. I worry about you, you know its a mom thing…

    • Nagi says

      You make me smile! My own mother doesn’t worry about me like that!! :) Yes, it took me ages to get my head around paying for OptIn Monster but the irritation of subscription pop ups appearing every time someone visited my site is what made me do it!!! :) Thank you for your concern and I promise I am getting my minimum 6 hours of sleep (most) nights!! N x

  14. says

    May I add – that floating Share bar that so many blogs have over on the left. On some (not all) it floats right over content on my monitor. If I can’t read the blog or see the full pictures…

    • Nagi says

      Ohhhhh, that’s terrible isn’t it? That’s a plug in flaw. I feel so bad for bloggers who have that problem. :( I always give them a heads up. So many dodgy plug ins out there!!

  15. says

    Thanks for the list Nagi! I can resonate with most of them as they bother me as well. By the way, when you use Optin Monster, if someone is browsing in private mode (which I’m often do with my mobile phone) or have cleared caches since they visited your website last time, they will reappear before the next (pre-set) interval.
    I tried Optin Monster for a few days but for some reasons, I couldn’t set it up to display properly on a mobile device. Also ‘Exit intent’ didn’t work for me. It must been crashing with some other codes or plug-ins with my website. So I switched to different company, which offer less opt-in options (unfortunately).

    • Nagi says

      Hi Sue! ME TOO! When I was doing the research, I kept thinking “YES that annoys me too!” That’s a bugger about OptIn clashing with one of your plugins or a code. Did you ask OptIn to have a look at it? I had display formatting issues and they were really great. I gave them my login and they fixed it right up for me. My problem was my theme, it was overriding OptIns formatting.

      What’s the service you use? Aweber?

      • says

        I use Bloom (part of Elegant theme package. Though my website uses Genesis theme.) for email pop up. It’s a lifetime membership, so it’s way cheaper than Optin Monster. I’ve tried SumoMe -free version as well before everything else. Bottomline is that the conversion rates across these three services are very similar to each other. :) Yes, my email service is done via Aweber. I really like it.

  16. says

    I use popup ally which is a free popup plugin that also let’s me time delay it and choose how long it shows after someone has clicked the x. I’m just having trouble sending subscribers to a specific list since I segmented my list to offer a daily or weekly subscription option. Love this list! I hate intrusive ads and mid post ads and ads that pop up as a bar across the bottom of my screen or over the bottom of a photo.

    • Nagi says

      Hi Meaghan! I’ll have to check out PopUp Ally, I didn’t realise there was a free one that let you time delay it. I’ll have to look into it.

      Oooh, yes, I dislike mid post ads too. They disrupt my reading!! :)

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