Skip to main content

Distracting Moments

Stop distracting your customers and give them what they want.

Stop distracting your customers and give them what they want.

I browse tons of websites, both for work and as a regular shopper, and I am never overly surprised by what I see but equally perplexed on some decisions made.

Here are a few recent observations of what I label as causing “Squirrel User Experiences”: experiences that cause the user to get distracted from their original intent.

Trending Searches in the Search Bar 

Trending seems like a great idea, before someone searches and injects the top searches of others. But why? If someone is going to the search bar they are not going there to discover something completely new, they have the greatest intent of any shopper. Imagine someone is about to search for “jeans” and you inject  trending searches. They see it and the squirrel moment starts. They click on the first one and off they go, but they want jeans and in the middle of their squirrel moment, the phone rings, the kid screams and they abandon.

Cluttered Autocomplete 

This one is similar to trending searches, and rather than just autocompleting what the user is searching, sites want to display products and sometimes categories in the autocomplete box. Baymard studies have shown that this is too distracting to users and with 60% of traffic on a mobile device, it is a waste of time since those users will never see it. A  ‘mobile first’ design principle should be followed. Not only is it cleaner, but it aligns the time to design to the value derived.

Third-Party Ads 

Injecting ads has always confused me. Injecting Google AdWords into a site generates revenue, but if you generate more revenue from serving ads and getting a ‘bounce’, your business is likely doomed. I have seen these injected above a search result product grid and even inside a grid.  

Improper Links 

This one is the most basic but all-to-often done wrong. If you want to provide a link for ‘more information’ on a product, or really anywhere, either launch a modal on top of the page so the user doesn’t leave or open the link in a new tab. You never want the user to actually leave your site. I know this sounds elementary, but just today I clicked on “shipping details” and was completely redirected to an FAQ page.

Cluttered Checkout 

Amazon was the first to take the checkout lock-in. They originally had no path out of checkout and have softened it a bit, but directionally it was correct. Once someone enters the checkout, don’t distract them. Your goal should be fast from entering the checkout to reaching the confirmation page. I can assure you that a higher conversion rate will beat out trying to get a customer to click on a deal or special offer.


The goal should always be to have a great user experience and one that naturally invites someone to spend more and come back again. Short-sighted actions often are just distracting your users and causing more harm than any gain.