35% of visitors fail to achieve their goal when they visit company websites! By following 2 simple rules, you can increase your web-derived revenue by 1/3 or more!
Renowned website usability researcher, Jakob Nielsen, today (Nov 24) published results of his latest study. His test subjects used 139 websites. On average, they failed to find what they were looking for 35% of time. Shockingly, 37% of users couldn’t even find company location details!
What was surprising was that users didn’t give up. They generally found information they were after – but they found it at a competitor’s site!
So how do you stop potential customers falling into hands of your competitors? Nielsen is right when he suggests user research. Yes, it’s imperative that know what your users need at your site. But what he doesn’t say is how to structure your website so it meets users’ needs.
There are two golden rules:
Write first, build later Write to your customer Write first, build later The real message on most websites is in writing. It makes sense, then, that writing should determine structure.
Unfortunately, this is not case for most businesses. For them, writing is an afterthought. They structure and design their website first, then try to fit writing to structure. This flies in face of common sense. When you speak to someone, you structure your speech around your message. You don’t decide on a structure, then change message to suit!
For a truly usable website, you need to plan what you want to say before you create site – perhaps even write whole thing. The message – writing – should determine structure.
Write to your customer So how do you decide what to write?
Firstly, don’t think, “What do I want to say?”. When you’re writing a website, you have to think, “What does my customer want to know?”. It’s a very subtle difference, but it’s key to engaging writing. And that’s what you want to do… engage customer.
Most customers will want to know basics:
What do you do? What benefit do you offer them? Why should they choose your service or product? Why should they choose your service or product and not your competitors’? What does it cost? How can they contact you? Where are you located? Your website has to communicate a lot of information. And to make matters worse, you’re going to have limited screen real-estate. Ideally, your customer won’t have to scroll – especially on your homepage (all your information will fit within a single window). And you can’t fill whole screen with writing, either. The design and navigation elements take up about a third of window, and you should leave a bit for white space (you don’t want to overwhelm your customer). As a rule of thumb, you should expect to have about 1/3 – ½ of window at your disposal for writing.