A big part of building a successful website (and by extension, a successful brand) is in understanding it through the eyes of your visitors. Your perspective as the owner, the creator or the expert in the field is going to be very different from that of someone approaching your product for the first time. For all you know, this may be the customer’s first venture into your entire market!
To help separate yourself from your own highly-informed perspective and envision what the customer is seeing, ask yourself these three questions in sequence.
1. Am I In The Right Place?
The first thing an arriving customer wants is quick verification that they are at a page that can provide the specific service they are looking for. So, let’s say you sell kitchenwares, and you have a customer that arrives looking specifically for copper cookware. Market research studies show that you have roughly one minute for them to find what they are looking for before they get frustrated or make the assumption that you don’t have it and leave. But you’ve got even less time to establish to them that you’re in the right category — potentially as little as a few seconds.
What lesson should you take from this? Your site doesn’t have to showcase every product it sells up front, and indeed it is a counterproductive idea to attempt to cram every service or item you sell into the limited real estate of your landing page. It does need to very quickly establish and reassure your target demographic that they are at least in the right ballpark, however. If the visitor who is looking for copper cookpots at least knows immediately that they are at a retail sore with kitchenwares, you’ve bought some extra time in which they’re willing to explore sub-menus and search bars to find the specific item they are looking for.
2. Can I Trust This Company? What Proof Of Legitimacy Is There?
Once you’ve established to the customer that you have what they are looking for, the next issue is establishing an acceptable level of trust for them to make a purchase. One of the reasons established brand names are able to dominate their markets is simply because they have established an image of legitimacy in the customer’s mind. While they might have questions about the individual products sold, they feel comfortable overall in engaging in transactions in the knowledge that the company is not a potentially malevolent actor, and in the belief that there are customer service policies and consumer protections in place should they experience an issue with their purchase.
Obviously, this is a tougher battle for smaller businesses that are just getting underway and don’t have much name recognition. There is an answer for these businesses, however, and that is third-party verification by an outside trusted source. One example would be voluntary participation with the Better Business Bureau, allowing you to display their logo on your site. Another source is collected customer reviews through an established third-party platform like Yelp, Amazon or Google Reviews. A direct testimonial from an established business can also be a powerful tool for creating instant trust.
3. What Should I Do Now?
Let’s say we’re at the point where the customer has found what they are looking for and has established enough trust to be ready to pull the trigger on a sale. Their final question is going to be, “What must I do now?” Are they expected to initiate contact? Must they click through to watch a video, book a webinar or buy something?
Your web users are going on a journey when they visit your site. Once they have landed on your page you need to make it clear to them what you expect them to do next. This may be in the form of a Buy Now button, or a Contact Us form, or having a video to watch. If you don’t guide your web visitor successfully your web users will leave, and your bounce rate in Google Analytics will be high (> 70%).
As you’re designing, keep these “big three” questions in mind. It also helps to recruit friends, family or colleagues to do a walkthrough of the site and provide their thoughts on what might be confusing or off-putting to them. Feel free to contact us with questions or to learn more about how small businesses can make the web work for them!