Screaming Girls: Every Web Site Has 'Em!

Screaming Girl

So, about a month ago, I got bitch-slapped. Literally.

Yes, I know, for some of you that was the best thing you heard all day monthyear.

To make a long story short, I was in the airport. There were two soldiers (in uniform) in front of me and a very smelly (read: hadn’t showered in weeks,months, years) woman in back of me.

As I always do, I thanked the soldiers for their service to our country. No, I don’t want to get into a political debate about whether this was right or not – I don’t have enough readers to lose any of you – so I am just going to say I have traveled all over the world and I know firsthand how incredibly lucky I am.  (Whatever your political beliefs may be, you know it too.  We are unbelievably fortunate.) Personally, one of the many things I am most thankful for is the folks who valiantly protect our rights & freedoms.  The least I can do is express my sincere gratitude.

The lady (and I use that word VERY loosely) in back of me heard what I said and went into a loud, violent tirade.

I ignored her. She got louder, repeatedly tugging at my elbow, all the while screaming about dead babies and murdering innocent civilians blah-blah-blah.

The boys (look, they really were kids) had beet-red faces and kept staring straight ahead, as if they were frozen. Mortified.

“I’m talking to you – YOU – look at me – YOU look at me now.” She tugged once more at the back of my shirt – hard enough that you could hear it snap – so I whipped around and looked at her square in the face.

Ms. Hippie-Crunchy-Granola was frothing at the mouth. Quite literally. She was VERY angry, emphasis on VERY.

I was about to say something snarky and she hit me.

Smacked. Me. Right. Across. The. Face.

As much as I’d like to say that I brought out my inner Gandhi or called upon the Nelson Mandela who sits on my shoulder, the truth is it took every ounce of control to not pummel Ms. My-Armpit-Hair-Is-Dreadlocked.

Basically, I had two choices. One (and admittedly, the more appealing of the two) was that I could beat her to a pulp. In my brain, this was unequivocally the most pleasurable choice short-term but long-term, it was fraught with negatives. Let’s not kid ourselves. No matter who started it, if I retaliated, I’d be the one who’d get sued and even though my lawyers (who eat raw steak & mainline Redbulls for breakfast) would decimate her in court, I’d end up with a lot of legal bills. (And let’s not pretend that even though the judge would order her to pay, she would. Hell, the woman could obviously not even afford deodorant.)

The second choice was that I could call for Security. There were at least three dozen witnesses nearby and twelve intimately involved in this soap-opera who’d vouch that the Chiquita was mentally more twisted than a pretzel. If I played my cards properly, not only would she miss her plane and get hauled away in cuffs (insert diabolical laugh here) but she’d get blocked from this particular airport for a minimum of six months.

So, what did I do?  Screamed bloody murder like a five-year old, pig-tailed girl who just had her lollipop stolen by the boy she kinda-sorta-liked, of course.

And how, praytell, does this all tie into the internet?


Your web site is filled – and I mean jam-packed-overcrowded-with-more-folks-than-a-Mexican-bus – with screaming girls.

You may be thinking to yourself: “Screaming girls? Amy’s obviously two sandwiches short of a picnic today.”

But whether or not you want them – you have them. And just like airport security didn’t really want to deal with me and the Commie-Mommy, you don’t have much of a choice because really, as we both know, they just get louder when ignored.

Yes, it’s true. Your users are wailing on your web site right this very moment. They are crying because they can’t complete their order… They’re sobbing because they can’t find what they want using that dreaded thing you call “text search,” which would be more aptly named “Can’t Find”, I might add. They’re whimpering over error messages that refuse to be cleared; forms that can’t be filled; drop-downs that do anything but drop; “enlarge this” visual boxes that get smaller, not bigger; pops that won’t close; and live chat that appears to be, well, dead.

So, what do you do to identify these blubbering bimbelinas? How do you soothe these sniveling, squalling Suzys and yammering, yowling Yvonnes?

Here are three tried-and-true things you can do:

First, look at your bounce rate. If your bounce rate is high, you’ve got screamers. (Hint: they are likely either screaming “I should NOT have gotten here in the first place” or “I hate what I see. You should have shown me something better.”)

Second, look at your exit rate. The only acceptable exit pages are confirmations and thank you pages. If you’ve got a lot of exits in other places, you’ve got screamers.

Third, look at the time spent per page. Lately, there have been a couple articles floating around the internet that time spent is a useless metric. Just because you don’t know how to measure it oh-so-lovely bloggers, it means it’s useless? Yeah, not so much.

While I agree that AUS (average user session) is not always helpful, AAUS (average active user session) can be INCREDIBLY beneficial to measure.

Every site – yes, even yours – has an acceptable number of drills (or page views if you can’t calculate drills) for every minute that the user spends there. If you see that a user is struggling on a particular page, chances are that they are screaming – screaming for an action button (or other action directive)… screaming for better navigation… screaming for instructions on how to get into (or out of) their cart… screaming for how to get to the next step… and so on.

Sounds like a lot of work? It’s actually not. Try it. Look at your top 10-15 exit pages now.Take out the good ones (in other words, the acceptable exits) and then delve into the rest one-by-one. If one of your biggest exits is a lead form, try to identify where the screamer is hiding. Are there BIG, bold call-to-actions? Is the form easy to fill out? You should be using server calls (or more advanced sniffers) on form and checkout pages so you know EXACTLY where people are abandoning. Are you asking irrelevant questions? (Remember, relevancy is determined in the mind of the user.)

If the user is abandoning on a product page, are they getting the item into the cart? Are there enough Buy Now/Add To Cart buttons? Do you address availability near the photo on the first view? Do they know when it will ship/how fast they can get it? Are you using tabs in the middle of your product pages for more details and user reviews? (A lot of companies find that users get “stuck” in tabbed formats and that users much prefer the spilled out format as seen on Amazon.) Are you giving away too much information on a product page? Is it a coming-soon product? If so, can you preorder it? Are the products out of stock? Do you have an “I Wanted This” button? Sometimes folks lose people because they tell them too much – this happens a lot with backordered products and with payment choices. If you tell someone that an item is on backorder before they add it to their cart, you may never know whether they wanted it or not. If you give them a bazillion and one ways to pay before they’ve even said they want the product, they may get lost in setting up a pay-you-later account and never come back.

The whole process is fun.  ALMOST as much fun as watching them haul off the Liberal-Run-Amok. Funny thing is that she had a chance to make me look like the Bad Guy but being the sharp-thinker she was, she shoved the TSA guy. If only we could send her type to the front line. We wouldn’t have to worry about casualties. Yes, I know. But some of you were going to send me missile-mails anyway.


    • says

      Mike — You know better. If it was Nancy Pelosi, I definitely would have smacked her back.

  1. Monica says

    Best laugh I had all day. I mean, I’m sorry you got bitch slapped, of course, but it was a hilarious story.

    And shame on her! Glad she got hauled away like the ignorant American she is.

  2. Barbara de la Riva says

    First I have to agree, we are extremely lucky to live here, and owe a debt of gratitude to all our man and women in uniform.

    As far as the “screaming” girls on my site… I was wondering that the noise was??? Thanks for helping me figure out how to turn down the volume and up the sales.

  3. Lysander Meath Baker says

    Funny how your assailant’s dedication to non-violence didn’t extend to her own behaviour.

  4. Lois Geller says

    Screaming girl? Amy can take care of her…easy!
    The screaming girls on my website? Went to take a look and want to strangle my own self, because WAYMISH disease has taken over.
    WAYMISH? Why Am I Making It So Hard to get in touch with us…now?
    Thanks Amy for the good Qlog lesson. If you got that girl’s name…I’ll slap her back.

  5. Dan Levine says

    Amy, thank you. A very entertaining read and in the end, informative and helpful. Your point leads me to the “broken windows, broken business” theory. Yes, very impt to know where the problems might be on your website AND it’s critical to do the same due diligence to your other marketing vehicles/outlets as well. Details matter and your customers are noticing — everything. Don’t hope that they’re not — they are. Pay attention to, and fix, your “broken windows”.

    As for the soldiers, right on. Whether we agree or disagree, they deserve our respect and gratitude. As for the angry lady, bravo on how you handled her. That took a great deal of restraint. As for the “overcrowded-with-more-folks-than-a-Mexican-bus” thing … that’s where I’d be careful! :)

  6. says

    OMG, this is hilarious! It’s a very educational and entertaining post. I’m glad that I found your site.

  7. Richard Warzecha says

    I really enjoyed this article, but don’t immediately agree with your claim that “The only acceptable exit pages are confirmations and thank you pages.” You may be talking about websites that only have the online channel.

    Fora retailer that has both online, mobile, and brick and mortar stores, isn’t it acceptable, and even in some cases desirable, for a product detail/description page to be the exit page? What about a Contact Us page?

    By the way, I love that you focus on Bounce Rate and Exit Pages, these tell us so much about what is happening on the site. The struggle though, is properly interpreting what these metrics are telling us.

    • says

      Hi Richard… Thanks for posting…. I’ve done a lot of testing in this area and I still hold that the best exit pages are pages that the user has done/completed — EVEN if you are a multi-touchpoint retailer (or whatever trendy name folks are using these days.)

      There’s a big difference between exiting on the product page versus exiting on the product page AFTER you have e-mailed it to yourself or scanned in a barcode on your cellphone.

      Bottom line — I am REALLY big on actions basically because it means you’ve cemented yourself in the user’s brain.

      Thanks again for commenting. It’s nice to have you here.

      P.S. I completely agree on the Bounce Rate and Exit page comment. Proper interpretation is not always easy. Worth the effort though!

  8. says

    I don’t know anyone else who could work in an acknowledgment of the contributions of our military service members with an informative discussion on understanding top exit pages – but you did it and I’m glad.

  9. Dan Konig says

    I will post on a pink website! I will post on a pink website! My manhood is not in jeopardy!

    Whew! Got that bit of sell assurance out of the way. Now on to business.

    Thanks for the entertaining and informative post. Who said web analytics can’t fun? I have to agree that many of the metrics you look at are very important assuming you look at them in the right context. For example an insanely high bounce rate is likely indicative of a frustrated visitor no matter what type of site you run. But what if your site is an information site? Is exit rate really indicative of a screamer? If it is the latest and greatest article that just posted to their RSS reader then maybe not. Time spent on page is probably a good metric in that case huh? It’s all about keeping the data in context.

    If you want to have some real fun with this throw personas into the mix. It’s easy to identify the screamers. THEY ARE SCREAMING WITH THE CAPS ON!!!(and maybe even slapping you in the face) But the real fun is identifying the guy in the back row that is flicking you off behind his newspaper.

  10. Sari White says

    Amy, Hysterical! I can picture this entire altercation. I kept reading because I knew you, and only you would find a way to turn this into a logical, educational , and enlightening web lesson. Bravo!

    • says

      Hi Sari –

      Nice to have you here! Long time no talk.

      Thanks for the comment. Not sure about logical or enlightening but I can at least keep it educational!


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