By Sue Brady
Read on for 5 tweaks you can make to your website for immediate improvement. Part 1 from a few weeks ago covered some very obvious tweaks (Obvious Things Part 1). These are less obvious, but equally important. Remember, your website is the window into your brand’s world, but it won’t do you any good if your visitors don’t read what you want them to, or take the action you desire.
Assuming your website goals are engagement and conversion, here are some things you should do:
1. Images. Images on a website are of course important. The key is to make sure they have the desired response. There are several things to consider:
Images of Humans. The risk with showing people is that a visitor might immediately think “that person is nothing like me,” and assume your product cannot be for them. We tested this a lot during my days at AOL, and almost without exception, showing people depressed our response.
Faces of your images. If you are showing faces, make them work for you. Make sure photos of people are looking where you want the consumer to look. One example is illustrated in this KISSmetrics article, and there are many others. This example shows that when a baby’s image was moved so that rather than facing front, he was facing towards the copy, viewers tended to read the copy (and spend less time on the baby’s face). Note, some heat-mapping is created using eye-tracking where users are in a lab and actual eye movement is captured. The more common (and less-expensive) heat-mapping these days is based on mouse movement.
I’ve read other tests where having a person in a photo pointing in a direction caused viewers of the page to look in that direction. It’s worth a test!
2. The Rotator (aka sliders or carousels). The rotator is the large ‘changing’ image that frequently appears at the top of a webpage. They look great and tons of sites have them. But they don’t work. Consumers don’t like them. This is not new information. Web experience designers have been saying this for years. Here’s a good article on the subject written by Shane Melaugh, aptly titled “Why Sliders Suck” that quotes several web experts who have a lot of experience in this area. Generally, findings show that sliders are ignored or annoying, and click-thru rates are awful. He also includes a list of marketing, website and user experience optimization websites that don’t have sliders, just to further illustrate the point.
3. The text. Break up your text. There are so many studies that have been done that prove that readers like bulleted or formatted lists, rather than straight type. Typical consumer behavior is to scan websites to find relevant information. Make it easy for your potential customers to do that.
And only use text that’s necessary. Shorter is almost always better. And small, easy-to-understand words are your best choice. Unless you are writing for a highly technical audience, keep it simple. I’ve been marketing Internet products of one kind or another for many years, and I still have to convince others in my industry that over 50% of consumers do not know what the term broadband means. We know what it means because we’re in it everyday, but the average person understands ‘high-speed’ much better.
4. Search Engine Optimizaion (SEO). There are several things you can do to improve your SEO, and they are not difficult.
Sitemap. Make sure you have a sitemap on your home page. It should be in the footer of the page, and it can be in smaller sized type. Basically, Google can find you more easily if you have a site map.
Page titles or meta tags. Each of your web pages has a title that’s searchable by search engines. Use keywords in your titles, as well as your company name. You can read more about that here.
Keywords. You should have some of your important keywords visible on your home page. Don’t overdo it, but use your real estate to help make your site searchable.
5. Breadcrumbs. Consider testing breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs allow your visitors to know exactly where they are on your site. They can help with your bounce rates (rate at which users leave your site) and seem intuitively to be a good thing. There are two kinds: Path-based and Attribute-based. Path-based provides an easy method of navigation for a user because they can see where they are and easily click back to a prior page. Attribute-based follows various specifications a user has made while traveling your site and is usually found on ecommerce sites. The first is more common and easy to set up, the second, not so much. You made want help setting up that method because it can cause problems with search engines and duplicate content.
In the picture below, the path-based breadcrumbs are Footwear and Women’s Footwear. The attribute-based crumbs are Ankle Boot and Water Resistant. Those aren’t clickable, but a user can ‘x’ out of them to remove them from their searching.