You know that trick where you remember a long list of people or things by making up a story about them? It works because you take a bunch of unrelated items and link them together into a journey. For very sensible evolutionary reasons, our brains are pretty good at remembering journeys.
In the same way, your website will make the best impression if there's a clear start and finish, with some nice (but optional) experiences along the way.
Here are some tips to help you improve the flow of your site, and build a coherent, memorable story.
1. Draw your audience in with benefits
Your homepage is most often the beginning of the journey to becoming a customer, as long as you can draw your readers in.
To attract readers, be clear—succinctly and above the fold—what you do and how you benefit your customers or audience.
2. Allow them to skip to the end
How do people become your customers? By 'finding out more'? No.
Put a call to action on your homepage that allows people to jump to the very end of the journey: conversion. Make it short and understandable and write it on a satisfyingly clickable button, right next to your benefits, above the fold:
- Book a class
- Contact me for a quote
- Shop now
Feels pushy? Think about it like this. Some of your website visitors have already made the decision to become a customer. When they arrive, you must open the door, smile warmly, link your arm through their arm and walk them to the end. Beat around the bush and you risk them giving up and going elsewhere.
And don't stop at the homepage. It's a good idea to put your call to action on every page, so people always have the option to skip to the end as soon as they decide you're the one who's going to meet their needs.
3. Make sure clicks meet expectations
Internet users are famously time-poor (blame Facebook), and every click is a blindfolded leap into the unknown. Your audience will feel rewarded if the next page loads quickly and meets expectations, but could click away in confused disgust if it doesn't.
Test your call to action and menu links. Does your About page explain briefly who you are and what you stand for? Does your Services page provide an at-a-glance description of what you can do for your customers?
Most importantly, if someone clicks your call to action, will they immediately be able to take that action?
If you're feeling brave, get someone else to click around the site, thinking aloud. This can be a revelation, but has definite soul destroying potential. Mentally prepare yourself for what may feel like insensitive commentary balanced with a lot of useful observations.
4. Write scannable headings and contextual links
When a reader quickly scans a web page the first thing they see is links and headings that indicate whether they're in the right place and where they might go next.
Take a step back from each of your pages and see what pops out. Do your headings provide a table of contents for the page content? Do your links describe what they link to? Tweak them so they make sense even in the absence of any other text.
5. Make it look good
Like any journey, your website will be all the more enjoyable, memorable and cohesive if it looks nice.
A website that looks dated, takes a while to load or has errors is a bad reflection on you and your business. Consider a professional job if web development is not your forte. It's well worth the outlay.
Our eyes are naturally attracted to visual content, and images break up text nicely, so use them where you can. Make them beautiful, well-composed and sharp. Pictures of people attract the most attention and their eyes are the most compelling part of the image. The very best images tell a story themselves. Check out these tips for selecting images.
Consider infographics and videos instead of text. Vlogs as well as blogs.
6. Don't forget to say thank you
Whenever someone signs up for your email list, donates to your cause, shops with you or books a course, don't forget to send them a nice thank you note, so they'll come back for more.
Your website is an opportunity to lead your readers from introduction to conversion. Make it a trip to remember.
Thanks for reading!
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