by Jennifer Johnson
According to a study by the Georgia Tech Research Corporation, two of the main reasons visitors leave web
sites are that they found the sites confusing or could not find what they were looking for.
Source: GVU's 10th WWW User Survey (http://www.gvu.gatech.edu/user_surveys).
How easy is it for visitors to find what they're looking for on your site? If you operate an
e-commerce site, this question is especially important to you; it could be the difference between your
company getting the sale and your competitor getting the sale.
There are several things you can do to make your site more visitor-friendly. It might take a
little work and "reconstruction", but in the end, I think you'll find it was worth it.
Make Your Site Easy to Navigate
A first-time visitor should be able to easily find his or her way around your site; the navigation system
shouldn't have to be explained in detail. If it takes a 10,000 word dissertation to tell what constitutes
a link, you're in trouble.
Links that are easily differentiated from the page text are one component of a good site navigation
system. An obvious difference between LINKs and VLINKs should exist as well. I don't recommend using
LINKs that aren't underlined or LINK and VLINK colors that are the same or very similar. Although
these things might make the site "look better", it doesn't help find their way around.
Another quality of a good site navigation system is using one layout consistently throughout the site.
Use the same clickable links or images in the same place on every page. A "You Are Here"-type system is
worth a thought too.
Finding Your Products/Services and Prices Should be Easy
I can't tell you how many times a frustrated site owner has contacted me with this question: "I have a
great product, my site gets lots of hits, but I'm not making any sales! What am I doing wrong?" So many
times, when I visit such sites, I see a glaringly obvious contributor to this problem. You have to be
an archeologist to discover what it is the person is selling and how much it costs.
It stands to reason that if you're selling something, the first step is introducing potential customers
to your product or service. You don't have to assault them with a blinking "Buy This!!!" graphic at the
top of your front page, but you do have to make it very easy for the visitor to find your product or
service. Otherwise, you're likely to have lots of visitors but very few customers.
Develop a Means of Continuing Contact with Your Visitors
At first glance, this might not seem related to making your site more visitor-friendly, but it is,
indirectly. I'll use a newsletter as an example.
Let's say your visitor signs up for your email newsletter. While you want to include articles of
interest, you also shouldn't pass up the opportunity for free advertising. Remember the stat we always
see? It takes 7 contacts with a potential visitor to make a sale? You don't want your newsletter to
be a blatant ad for your site, but some subtle mentions of site specials, products, etc. is usually
So how does this help visitors find what they're looking for on your site? Simple. Many visitors may
not have the time to thoroughly explore your site on their first visit. Discovering the various
products/services your offering through your newsletter may lead them to just what they were looking for
initially, but didn't have the time to find.
This is applicable to any form of continuing contact. Keep it in mind when answering email, sending
invoices, follow-up letters, etc.
Depending on the current state of your site, it might take considerable time and effort to get it to
the point where it could actually be called user-friendly, but making it easy for people to find what
they're looking for not only benefits them, it benefits *you* as well.
Copyright © 1999-2000 Jennifer Johnson
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