Designing a website can be very subjective – everybody seems to have an opinion, even the mail boy. Through years on the job I have developed this fail-safe methodology which makes things a whole lot easier. Firstly, set an objective. Most simply, your objective with each page should be to persuade the user to take “Action”. Your job is to determine the role of your website and the desired action that users should perform.
Whilst this process is best performed on a new site design, it can also be applied to existing sites. Follow these 9 basic steps to analyse the performance of your website and design it right.
9 Quick Questions to test your website design
Take a close, fresh look at your homepage. Here’s how: Pretend you are a new visitor to your website. Make your website is full screen (Press F11 on your keyboard). Look away from your screen and pause for a second. Look back at your screen and ask yourself the following questions.
The ideal answer follows each question. If your website does not match these descriptions then its time to get to work!
- What is the first thing you look at? – The attention grabber is a picture or a strong headline at page centre. It should be something which immediately engages, enticing the user to want more.
- What did you immediately think the company did? – Your users should be able to see immediately what your company does and how it can help them. State your products’/services’ core benefit up front.
- What is the second thing you look at? – Offering support to the headline (generally subheads or product thumbnails) these statements should now be leading the user towards the desired action. Often they will be entry points into your major product/service categories.
- What is the last thing you look at on the page? – This last item catches the user’s eye before they click and is often found in the side columns. Use these takeaways to start building trust and credibility.
- Where is the first and second place you would click? – These optimal click-points should be taking the user one step closer to the ultimate desired action on your website – whether to call, engage, make an appointment or buy. The role of your website will determine which of these actions is most appropriate. For instance: is the site a brand-building exercise (engage), an online shop (buy) or an information portal helping build your sales channels (call, make an appointment). Every website will suit one, perhaps even all, of these options and a successful site will drive appropriate user actions.
- What would you expect to be behind those links? – Take a look at your sitemap before you ask this question and look at what page sits behind each of the clicks. Then look back at your design and ask, “If I landed at the page, would the content satisfy me?” i.e. has the promise in the call to action been lived up to? E.g. If you sent a user to a page that said “Free whitepaper” can they get the free whitepaper? Secondly “Does this page help convert the user to a customer?” i.e. Is it continuing the user along the buying process?
- What did you spend the most amount of your time looking at? – Whatever it was that kept catching your eye, make sure that has a strong invitation to interact. Thousands of visitors are going to be doing what you do so try and persuade as many of them as you can to take the action you require. Don’t make your users search all over the page for ways to get into your site. If its too hard they’ll give up before they get started.
- What did you expect to be behind each of the navigation buttons? – Do a sanity check and make sure that there is relevant content behind each navigational link. Don’t use obscure language or untitled imagery as click-throughs. Time is precious and few users want to waste theirs trying to second guess your creative interpretation of content.
- Did all of the questions match your answers? – If yes then you are on your way to internet marketing success, but beware, there are going to be more tests when you actually launch the site! If no, note the changes required and chat with your online marketing agency to create a results-driven website.
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This article was also features in SmartCompany Website http://www.smartcompany.com.au/Blog/Fred-Schebesta-list/NEW-Fred-Schebesta070528.html