Three Steps to An Intuitive Website
By: Thomas Young, MBA
A Website becomes intuitive by effortlessly giving the user what they want. If you have done your homework and you have a solid Web strategy in place, then the user benefits and you have an effective site that achieves your objectives. This is easier said then done. Here are the three key steps to developing an intuitive Website.
1. Market Research & Web Strategy
First, ensure you’ve done your due diligence and conduct market research. This can consist of simply calling a sample of your current and/or prospective customers or conducting an online survey. More in-depth research may include focus groups or a more extensive survey of your target audience. The best way to understand your visitors is to conduct user testing and really find out how they are interacting with your site. Not only will you uncover how they interact with your site, but you will also find out valuable data on their goals and objectives, as well as valuable insights on what works and what doesn’t.
Whatever the method, it is critical to identify and/or confirm your users’ objectives when visiting your site. Without knowing what visitors want, it is difficult to make a site intuitive. The best way to determine that is to ask the user. Along with this research, conduct a thorough review of your competitors’ Websites and determine what they do best.
Next, using the results of your research together with your Web objectives, define your Web strategy. What do you want visitors to do on the Website? What pages do you want them to visit and why? Your Website can serve three major strategies, branding, lead generation or direct sales. Determine a strategy that works best and avoid making the Website an online brochure.
As part of your ongoing Website research, you should also track Website statistics. These statistics will inform you if your Website continues to be intuitive. Look for traffic patterns in the following:
- Unique visitors
- Referrers (where your visitors come from)
- Search engine data
- Page activity (top entrances and exits)
2. Design & Technical Elements
This is the heart and soul of what makes a Website intuitive. Using your market research data and focusing on your strategy will lead to an intuitive Website only if it is designed properly. Here are a few key areas to focus on:
Does the home page make it clear what your business is all about? What you do and why you are better should be understood from the home page. Use tag lines that sum it all up.
The navigation should be easy to use and consistent on each page. Avoid multiple navigation systems as much as possible.
Content should be given special attention because this is what will bring visitors to your Website and keep them there. Check the following content areas:
- Adequate price and service information
- List purchase information
- The content must improve the quality of life or help the user do their job better
- Content must be brief, to the point and scannable
- Updates to the Website must be evident
- Include contact information and locations on every page
Graphics and photos spice up your Website pages and make it easy to look at and read.
- Contrasting colors and graphics are easy on the eyes
- Photography enhances the visit
- Captions on the photos draw in the user
- Consistent fonts make it easy to read
Interactive features such as forms and carts are a must. Ensure that you are providing an opportunity to convert your Website visitors into customers.
Finally, your Website should be technically sound. Everytime there is a technical glitch, you may lose a customer. In choosing your technology platform, also consider what is easy for you and your staff to maintain. Do you have a full-time developer that can manage updates or would you be better off with a content management system that allows you or other staff members to easily update the site?
3. Internet Marketing
Internet marketing brings users to the Website. Most people think just getting numbers to the site is good enough—if you get enough traffic, a certain percentage are bound to covert. However, helping drive traffic to your site in an intuitive manner can increase your conversion rates. Consider the following ideas for improving your Internet marketing:
- Research the keywords people use to find your Website.
- Optimize your Website pages for the words your prospective customers are looking for. Employ SEO copywriting techniques to ensure that you have weaved these key words and phrases into your page in a readable, user-friendly manner.
- Consider how intuitive your online advertising campaign is. Are you integrating the key words and phrases into your paid listings in a compelling manner, motivating customers to choose your ad over a competitor?
- Develop unique landing pages correlated to your paid listings. This is the most critical intuitive step, as you ensure that users who chose your ad find exactly what they are looking for when they hit your site and not just a generic home page or shopping cart.
- Capture email addresses from your home page and send them a value-added newsletter, like this one.
- Set up a value-added blog. Check out www.IntuitiveBlog.com to see how we have done it.
These three key elements are critical to ensuring you have an intuitive Website. To find out more information or review your site to see how it measures up, contact us for more information on a complete Website Review or try out our new Online Website Review.
Thomas Young is CEO and President of Intuitive Websites, a Colorado Springs based Internet marketing, Website design and usability firm. To learn more about Intuitive Websites contact Tom at 719-481-4040 or tom@IntuitiveWebsites.com.