The success of a web site relies on it’s users and their actions. To make sure that the traffic keeps flowing and visitors keep coming back, I use a few of these simple rules.
Put yourself in their shoes
Take a deep breath and think about someone visiting your website. A particular person. You’ve probably met this person or someone like them along the road. Now how did they get there and what are they looking for? If it’s an obvious answer then your website should be just as obvious. Think about what they want to see and how much of it. What would benefit their visit and what are some ways of keeping them around?
Next, create a balance between your brand message and the treasure chest of whatever they are seeking out. As exciting as it sounds, let’s not bury the intended information they’re seeking with detours and distracting elements, but integrate items seamlessly. Hurdling takes too long and time is short. Branding is essential but don’t forget your audience is already at your website. You’ve got them this far. Let’s guide them to what they need. The idea is to be respectful of the visitors’ intended reason for being there and to be supportive of the fact that they’re probably as busy as you are.
A Flash from the past?
An example of branding imbalance is the all-hated Flash intro. Creating them was all the rage 7 years ago because audiences were all used to television and broadcasts’ ability to engage viewers. They didn’t work though, because nobody wanted ads for the website they were already visiting. Users wanted control of the information presented, and these days if you don’t allow the visitor the ability to use the information to their liking, you won’t have them for very long. I’m not trying to persuade anyone to give up the Flash, because it’s a beautiful tool if used right. Just like gin.
So try and mix a website martini out of what a potential customer or user would like to see versus what your organization would like them to see before you put any graphics to your site. 2 parts information, 1 part branding. 3 ounces of straight up info with a zest of branding. You get the point. A delineation of user needs versus messaging needs is a delicate thing and it determines a great deal of results when planning the design and build of a website. What this does is considers whether what you want is what they want. It’s never a perfect match, but it’s healthy to think about.