35% of visitors fail to achieve their goal when they visit company websites! By following 2 simple rules, you can increase your web-derived revenue by 1/3 or more!
Renowned website usability researcher, Jakob Nielsen, published results of his latest study. His test subjects used 139 websites. On average, they failed to find what they were looking for 35% of the time. Shockingly, 37% of users couldn't even find company location details!
What was surprising was that users didn't give up. They generally found the information they were after but they found it at a competitor's site!
So how do you stop potential customers falling into the hands of your competitors? Nielsen is right when he suggests user research. Yes, it's imperative that know what your users need at your site. But what he doesn's say is how to structure your website so it meets users?needs.
There are two golden rules:
1) Write first, build later
2) Write to your customer
Write first, build later
The real message on most websites is in the writing. It makes sense, then, that the writing should determine the structure.
Unfortunately, this is not the case for most businesses. For them, the writing is an afterthought. They structure and design their website first, then try to fit the writing to the structure. This flies in the face of common sense. When you speak to someone, you structure your speech around your message. You don decide on a structure, then change the message to suit!
For a truly usable website, you need to plan what you want to say before you create the site ?perhaps even write the whole thing. The message ?the writing ?should determine the structure.
Write to your customer
So how do you decide what to write?
Firstly, don't think, that do I want to say?? When youe writing a website, you have to think, that does my customer want to know?? It's a very subtle difference, but it the key to engaging writing. And that's what you want to do engage the customer.
Most customers will want to know the basics:
- What do you do?
- What benefit do you offer them?
- Why should they choose your service or product?
- Why should they choose your service or product and not your competitors?
- What does it cost?
- How can they contact you?
- Where are you located?
Your website has to communicate a lot of information. And to make matters worse, you are going to have limited screen real-estate. Ideally, your customer won't have to scroll ?especially on your homepage (all your information will fit within a single window). And you can't fill the whole screen with writing, either. The design and navigation elements take up about a third of the window, and you should leave a bit for white space (you don't want to overwhelm your customer). As a rule of thumb, you should expect to have about 1/3 of the window at your disposal for the writing.
Chances are, right now you are thinking, how am I going to fit it all in?? Well, that't where your writing skills come in. Choose your words very carefully?
Websites can be an extremely powerful piece of marketing collateral. You can reach millions for just a few hundred dollars. Unfortunately, your competitors can do the same thing. It's a level playing field, but there are a lot of players. It's important that your thoughts are structured, otherwise your site will be a mess. If your message is clear, your site will be simple and easy to use. It's all in the words?
8 More Reasons to Write for Your Audience?
1) There are approximately 550 billion documents on the web
2) Every day another 7 million are added
3) Workers take so long trying to find information that it costs organisations $750 billion annually! (A.T. Kearney, Network Publishing study, April 2001)
4) Reading from a monitor is 25% slower than reading from paper. (Sun Microsystems, 1998)
5) Helpful content develops site loyalty. The average person visits no more than 19 websites in the entire month in order to avoid information overload. (Nielsen NetRatings in Jan 2001)
6) 79% of users scan read when online (Sun Microsystems, 1998)
7) Information gathering is the most common use of the Internet - 73% (American Express survey, 2000)
8) 48% of people use the Internet to find work-related information as opposed to 7% who use magazines. (Lyra Research, 2001)