Here is the second part of my series on "Is Your Website User-friendly?"
To recap for those of you who may not have read the first part (shame on you!) - by "user-friendly" I mean "Do you do everything possible to make it easy for your user to make a decision that will help them solve their problems?" If your website doesn't move them in this direction, then there's no purpose in getting them there in the first place.
Their decision might be "I need to find out more before I decide to buy so I'll email her" and, although you'd like them to buy right now, at least they are moving forward in the buying process, rather than feeling blah and leaving the site because you haven't grabbed their attention strongly enough. Or their decision might be "This person seems to know what she's talking about. I think I'll sign up for her newsletter."
Here are a couple more points to be aware of when you're evaluating your site for user-friendliness.
Does your site immediately capture the attention of your visitors?
What gets attention and keeps it long enough for your visitors to decide to continue reading your content? A punchy, benefit-laden headline! Like a trailer for a movie, it implies a promise of something more. It gives a strong focus to the page, offers something they can identify with, and provides a reason to read on and find out more.
Does your site make it easy for visitors to get in touch with you?
Visitors to your website are probably in a hurry and they have a dangerous weapon in their hands - the mouse. In the moment when they decide to take action, how easy is it for them to immediately contact you? Do they have to search through the site for a telephone number or email address? Is your sign up box hidden at the bottom of the page? Or are the details obvious to them, no matter where they are? If you don't make it easy for them to contact you at the moment of decision, chances are they'll leave and never come back. Make it easy for them to take the action you want them to take.
Is your site written in language that your target audience can relate to?
One of the most common mistakes I see is that people write content that would get an A+ from their English teacher, but doesn't do a darned thing to persuade visitors to the site to take any action.
Marketing is about perception, human behavior and the psychology of sales and persuasion: that's the perspective the content needs to be written from. Otherwise it's bland and boring, and you can't bore your visitors into taking action.
And for those of you who are protesting: "But my business is different!" - when it comes to content, no it's not different. The underlying marketing principles are the same no matter what product or service you are promoting. The trick lies in knowing how to apply those principles to YOUR business.
Copyright 2009 Maggie Dennison