Your customers are distracted.
They are REAL people with REAL every day problems / issues / stresses / admin overloads; Meaning, they are not always fully focused on you and your website.
How can you maximise the chance of people staying engaged on your website and staying for longer? What can you do to keep their attention?
1. Ensure your website is quick to load AND is mobile optimised
90% of consumers use multiple screens in sequence over the course of a day (reference: Harvard Business Review). This just shows how you simply cannot escape a mobile-first design. Your website simply HAS to be mobile optimised, or those people on-the-go throughout the day are lost to you!
Your website should also be quick to load. It doesn't matter how good the rest of your website is. If those pages don't load within the first few seconds, then your customer is going to be gone.
2. Keep the design simple and professional
Bad design overloads users’ working memory, increases their cognitive load, and raises their stress level (reference: NN Group). In other words, an over-whelming cluttered design heightens stress. Now this may not be so bad if your user is sat at their desk with a big screen and lots of time to browse through your site. They have lots of patience and you may convert that person.
However, picture a busy Mum or Dad, trying to scan through your site whilst at the same time listening to 4,556 child demands, feed a small baby, do their admin and look after the cat!? They aren't going to have the time or patience to put up with a cluttered and unprofessional website. These people are going to leave and jump into the arms of your competitors.
3. Ensure your website is usable
Your customer could arrive on your website at any page. It doesn't necessarily have to be the homepage. They could be coming from a direct link to a specific page, or from a Google search, or from email marketing you've sent out. It's therefore imperative that each and every page is self explanatory in its own right. All of the functionality needs to make sense and the user needs to understand what they need to do immediately. Else, they'll get distracted or irritated and visit a different site!
4. Use real imagery
A picture is worth a thousand words.
We humans are very visual beings and we process visual stimuli almost immediately. Of all the content we see on a website, 90% gets transmitted visually and instantly. Therefore, images can be a very powerful way to capture someone's immediate attention, and differentiate your brand. IF those images are so obviously stock imagery or unrelatable, that distraction is going to creep in again. It will be seen as generic and boring, and is likely to cost you website visitors.
5. Don't make users think
The second you have to make someone think "how does this work?" or "am I supposed to click here to order this size?" you've lost their attention. As I said earlier in the post - your customers are likely busy and distracted and juggling lots of things at the same time as browsing your site. They don't have the time to think. They want it to be clear and concise, so ensure that it is. ("Don't make me think" reference: Steve Krug)