Guest Post by Barbara Austin.
You could say there are two kinds of websites: those that are enjoyable, and those that are downright painful to use. The more pleasant the site, the more we tend to gravitate toward it, spending more time there and going back more often. So how can you ensure that your website is providing that positive experience, as opposed to making your customers want to pull their hair out? Just follow these three essential rules:
Quality of information: Without the right content, everything else is pointless. Ask yourself: “What do my visitors want to see? What specific information are they looking for? What would they find most useful? And what do they NOT want to see (what would annoy or frustrate them)?” By giving people what they seek, you’ll make their lives easier, leaving them happy and more likely to return to your site again and again.
Ease of use: How you organize your site’s pages and the information on them can make a big difference in helping your visitors find what they’re looking for. To use the needle-in-a-haystack analogy, if you have a big messy pile of hay with the needles buried in the bottom, people will either give up looking before they find them, or be so exhausted upon reaching the needles that they’ll never come back again. Better to have your hay organized in small, neat piles with the needles sitting in plain sight on the top where they are easy to find! And while you’re at it, if any of your “hay” is old or rotten (read: outdated or unnecessary), get rid of it. The less clutter there is on your site, the easier it will be for visitors to see the things that really matter.
Overall experience: This is the icing on the cake! With a pleasant atmosphere that personifies your company, visitors get the “big picture” of what you’re offering, along with an enjoyable experience to keep them coming back time after time. Strive to make your website a reflection of your business, to show new visitors what makes your company unique, and if you have brick-and-mortar storefront(s), to give an experience consistent with what they would get in person. Take The Container Store, for example: if you’ve ever shopped in one of their stores, you know that they’re very neat and tidy, streamlined, and it’s generally easy to find what you need. Their website is the same: a clean appearance, organized product menus, and again, it’s easy to find what you’re looking for. And all of this embodies The Container Store’s mission to help people become more organized.
Providing a helpful, enjoyable online presence can improve your business at every stage: new visitors get a great first impression, first-time customers will be pleased with the experience and more likely to return a second time, and repeat customers will remain loyal not only for the product or service you provide, but also for the pleasant experience they have every time they come to your site. Use these guidelines to craft a better online experience, and you’ll be well on your way to more, happier customers.
About the Author
As owner of CreativeGem Designs, Barbara Austin creates sparkling print, web, and identity designs to help passion-driven entrepreneurs capture the attention of their target markets. For a treasure trove of marketing tips, design advice, and freebies, subscribe to her newsletter The Diamond Mine.