How to create the perfect welcome for your web visitors
How annoying is it when you search for something, land on a site and feel totally at sea about where to go? Do you hang around, staring at the screen and hope it all becomes clear or do you hit the back button and try somewhere else? Be honest – how patient are you when you’re searching for an answer / product / solution? It is essential to keeping visitors happy and browsing that your site’s structure is clear and easy to use. Never mind keeping calm, if you keep it simple, then they’ll carry on.
First let’s get clear about what I mean by structure:
So in web terms this is:
- how your information is organised – the grouping and hierarchy of pages / articles / blog posts / case studies, products etc.
- what labels you use – literally what you call the sections and pages
- how you encourage people to move around the site – when they’re done with a page or article, where do they go next?
So, what sort of things might you need to organise?
- your services or products,
- some information about you / your organisation / your credentials
- examples of work, [case studies, images, videos]
- testimonials from happy clients,
- blog / articles
- videos, downloads, hints and tips
- key contacts / team members within your organisation
- functional information such as terms and conditions, or returns procedures
These are some ideas of what you might need. It’s helpful to make a list like this before you start thinking about how to organise it.
Keep to the point
When you are deciding how many pages you need there’s a really good principle to stick to. Make every page focused on just one key point. If you can’t describe what the page is going to be about in a single phrase then maybe you are trying to say too much. You need to think of each page as a possible landing page for someone searching for the answer to a query.
Labelling the sections and pages of your site
When you pull together the information you want to include you will probably use your own ‘in-house’ terms or jargon as labels. It might make perfect sense to you but do your potential clients use the same terms? Take a step back and come up with some alternative labels that sound a bit like search terms. I have a client who is currently launching a new range of beauty products into the UK, the names are unfamiliar to the UK market so it’s important that they use more generic terms such as ‘anti-ageing cream’ rather than the name of the products.
If you get stuck – ask some friends to help you with the simple question “if you were searching for what we do / sell, what would you search in Google?” You can also use Google Adwords to help you find phrases that are searched most regularly or simply start typing something that sounds about right in the search box and see what the suggested search terms are.
Getting the right search terms into your site structure is really important for your search engine results – we’ll look at this in more detail in another post.
“What do I do next?”
This is the question you don’t want your visitor to get stuck on. At every stage and on every page you need to have a clear next step that you want them to take. They’ve read a description of a product or service what should they do next? This might be a simple call to action: “add to basket” or “call our friendly team on…” or at the bottom of a page include links to relevant articles, similar services, the specific person responsible for that service, ask a question and request feedback.
Creating pathways through your content
To help you work out the best call to action or next step for each page you might try creating ‘personas’ of your ideal site visitors and imagining what they are going to want to find out as they look through your site. You can then plan a journey with helpful sign posts at every stage to encourage them along the path to a conversion (whatever that is for you).
A well thought through structure takes something complex and makes it appear very simple. If you keep it simple your site will be easy to use and visitors will find what they need. You solve their problem. They have a good experience. They recommend you / buy your product / ask you to quote for new work. Your credibility increases along with the possibility of further interaction.
- Keep it simple
- Avoid jargon
- Always include a next step
Which in this case is to recommend Jane’s post on “How to create good copy for your website”.
In my next post I shall look further at the issue of site structure focusing specifically on Mobile sites.