Help your website visitors do what they want to do!
Imagine you recently took over the ownership of nice little sandwich shop.
You’ve improved everything about the business. The shop now makes the most delicious sandwiches, salads and desserts for miles upon miles. You’re proud of your shop and you know it would be exceptionally popular if only more people gave it a chance and just tried your food.
And that’s the problem. People aren’t trying your food.
You’ve watched day after day as a large portion of potential customers walk in, stand by the door, take a look around your shop, shuffle about, look around a bit more, whisper to their friends (if they didn’t arrive alone), then walk right back out the front door.
You can’t figure out what’s going on.
There’s an enormous, beautiful new sign hanging outside the shop. The renovated interior was designed by one of the best, trendiest designers in the area and looks fabulous. The shop is sparkling clean. And again, your food is absolutely delicious.
So why is everyone leaving before they even give your product a chance??
Psst... You forgot something
Even though you make delicious food, even though your place of business looks nice, and even though you have outstanding customer service, you completely overlooked what most of your new customers want to do when they first arrive at your shop.
Upon arriving, most new customers want to see what food you offer, determine if the food sounds appealing to them, and make a decision about what they might like to eat. Unfortunately, you didn’t place a large sign displaying your menu above the front counter, nor did you place menus near the front of the store.
You’ve failed to make it easy for many of your customers to quickly accomplish what they want to do upon arrival.
You haven’t made it effortless for them to locate the info they care about most. You’ve essentially been asking them to wait in line and potentially waste their time to learn whether or not they might even like the food you sell. You’ve been asking them to risk receiving a sales pitch and engage with your company before they even know if your products would be of interest to them.
Let's calm down and make sure we remember what's important.
Though the concept of seeing things from your visitors’ perspectives may seem painfully obvious, business owners often toss it right out the window when it comes to their company websites. Left unchecked, many small business owners get excited about and place nearly total emphasis on exciting new designs instead of first ensuring their sites focus on helping visitors get what they need as quickly, painlessly, and easily as possible.
Remember: your website’s visitors aren’t showing up to see a fancy design; they’re showing up because they have a goal in mind and want to accomplish something specific.
To make it as effortless as possible for your visitors to accomplish their goals, you must first have a clear understanding of their needs.
Without this understanding, your website updates and redesigns will be misinformed, and you will waste of time and money. This is why, before we even begin thinking about the design, copy, structure, or coding of a new website, we make sure that we and our clients have a clear understanding of visitors’ most important goals.
What do your website’s visitors want to do?
- If you own a lodging company, can visitors immediately begin searching for lodging directly on your site’s homepage? Is it easy for them to begin a lodging search from any page in your site?
- If you own a restaurant, is it obvious how your site’s visitors can make reservation requests and view your menu from all pages in your site? Is your menu easily viewable on mobile devices?
- If you own a ski rental company, can your web site’s visitors instantly figure out where to go to view your rates or to book online within a few seconds of arriving? Or do you perhaps have too many ads and photos and clutter that vie for your visitors’ attention and pull their focus in different directions?
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: How can you help your visitors do what they want to do?
Give a great deal of thought to your visitors’ highest priority tasks and the links/buttons that point people toward key pages.
- Give tasks prominent locations (near the top of the page, whenever possible)
- Give tasks visual contrast—make sure they stand out visually or ‘pop’ from the rest of your site’s content
- Include links to critical tasks and content not just on your homepage, but throughout your website—making it easy for people to access them no matter what page they’re on
Links that are strategically placed, buttons that stand out from the rest of your site’s content, key functionality placed near the top of your pages, or arrows guiding customers to what’s most important can make the difference between customers showing up and leaving… and customers showing up and buying a sandwich (and ultimately becoming steady, repeat customers).