When building a new webpage for your site it’s good to keep in mind some basic necessities. Looking at just the content, and not considering things like navigation or design here is a list of the basic elements.
Go ahead, call me the Justify Cop. I haven’t been pointing fingers too much lately about the use of justify, but after a series of events that have taken place with my work, I think I have the perfect excuse. For this post thank you goes to the developers of San Antonio Air Conditioning Service. They occasionally hire me to review their sites, and were nice enough to let me allow to use this new site as an example.
Besides learning when or when not to justifying text, there is something else that this site needs to justify. It’s the content.
Does your website have a primary call to action? I hope so. Getting your website to “do something” should be a goal for all website owners. Getting new visitors to see your call to action, or to even act on that call to action though, is the real trick to having a successful website.
You’re Paying for that Call to Action More than Once!
Assuming you have a call to action on your website, are you tracking how often it gets clicked? A call to action on your website should be managed as if you were paying for every impression of it being there. You are after all, paying for it in several different ways.
Should I say “Call to Action” or “FOUR”? Check out this Discount Golf Equipment site. When you visit you will quickly notice that it is a e-commerce site, and that they sell golf equipment. When visiting one of their product pages the call to action is very obvious. There are product details, pictures, product options, and an obvious method to make a purchase. What about the home page though? Are you compelled to do anything?
Getting Action Out of the Home Page
One of the big problems with a sites home page is that fact that they are usually designed for a general audience. We often design them trying to reveal everything we have to offer, and not really consider what the next action would be.
Here are your options, hope you do something.
So how do you get action out of a visitor without reallying knowing what they want, and without displaying your entire sitemap on the home page? You let them search.
Zappo Into Action
One of my favorite e-commerce sites usability wise is Zappos, the shoe store. What is their major call to action on their home page? It’s their search function. Comparing both sites they are both very similar in content. They both have: a search function, categories of products, and products that you can buy right from the home page. What gets people moving though is the very obvious search box Zappos has. It’s compelling, and once a visitor hits that search button the sale is half way done. Zappos knows the visitor wants shoes, they just don’t what kind. What should the visitor do? They should find it. What should the major call to action be? Make them search.
Not an e-Commerce Site
Not all sites are their to sell, but having a call to action on the home page is still just as important. Imagine if you site was just about golf tips in general like the Golf’s site blog, Golf Equipment Blog. Emphasis needs to be created to why a visitor is there, and what the valuble parts of the site are. Establish specific values, and specific actions will follow.
I just created a new page, not a post, about improving your desired visitor action, and it will not show up in the newsfeed. If you are a subscriber, please visit the home page: http://www.bestwebimage.com. It has a new call to action, titled “Action Starts Here”. Let me know if you can’t find it:)
Well, if you read my last post I hope you see the relation in this one, Suzanne Sells. This Suzanne Somers site is another online store using the basic concept of putting products for sale on the home page. I really am shocked when I find sites that either hide store products below the fold, or even worse, deep in a directory. This sites owner gets it, and they have all their best content right on the home page where it is easy to see.
One thing this online store did a little better than the furniture store I posted about, is their call to action. Though the furniture store had the price and picture for every product they sold, it lacked call to action terms. On the Suzanne site, each item had clearly defined a space for the price. They gave each price the call to action term “Buy Now”, and made it link to the product. Telling visitors what to do, or how to do it, is an essential requirement for building a website. Your not being bossy or rude, you are simply leading them to something they already may want to do.
Every bought a car before? Imagine going through a lot of nice new cars at your local dealership, and NOT have a sales representative approach you. Not a common site. In fact most of us have to mentally prepare to simply defend ourselves from them. Why are they so aggressive? They are aggressive because they want to make a sale, and they know it is not going to happen unless they are there for you every step of the way.
Lead Your Visitors
How are those visitors doing at your site? Are you just sitting in your office, looking out the window, hoping they will buy? I hope not. You need to clearly lead your visitors, and just like the car salesman, you need to lead them every step of the way.
The best method to lead a visitor on a website is by creating clear levels of emphasis, and use that emphasis sparingly. Have something stand out that says “Look at Me” or “Click me, and I will give you answers”. I am not saying to use those words, but as a visitor I should know what is the most important thing right away, and I should know what to do naturally. I was asked to look at this St. Maarten site, and my immediate reaction was no call to action. The site is a vacation information site about St. Maarten. It has the basic information like maps, air fare information, and weather. The site is also extremely overloaded with way too much text on the home page. So much text that I can pretty much guarantee less than a third of all visitors will read. It also has way, way too much text in bold. Doing a quick count, I found over fifty words in bold. In a visitors perspective, the whole site might as well be done in bold. Nothing will be getting my attention or focus this way. In this particular case, the sales rep has simply pushed a flyer in a prospects hand, and walked off hoping for a phone call. Visiting a vacation site I would at least expect a bold statement near the top that says “Stay in St. Maarten for your next vacation”. There may be no call to action, but at least the primary message has been delivered/seen.
The main purpose of the site is to rent vacation villas. The site had no call to action what so ever in regards to this. It was the first link in their menu, but there was about a dozen more menu items to distract the visitor from this. Lead your visitors. They want to rent a villa in St. Maarten, you have a site that can help them, kill all that text and turn it into a giant “Rent Villas in St. Maarten Here” banner or headline. When they click, show them the rooms, the rates, the neighborhood. Anticipate what they would want to next, and lead them to the natural step by clear headlines, and not fifty different words in bold.
It’s a bit of an art directing visitors on a site well, but I wrote a post a while back that gives a great example on how using emphasis correctly can greatly improve your visitors understanding of your site. Grabbing a Visitors Attention