Doubtless, there are many answers to this question and perhaps most of them, if not all, are true. This is because to select a working strategy for improving a website and turning passing visitors into usual users, there are many considerations that should be taken into account.
Type and goal of website, potential users, and business policies behind it are only some of the essential factors that could affect the strategy. So it isn’t possible to determine a general roadmap to cover all probable scenarios.
We want to simplify this process by going in reverse and solving the problem by converting the case. In other words, instead of introducing the ways to attract visitors, we shall survey the ways that deter visit ors. After we know about them we try to not catch in their hollows.
In a probability sense, we have a law that works similarly. Instead of finding all members of a large set, we exclude members that aren’t its member from a universal set: P (a) = 1 – P (a’).
In this article we’ll introduce some important factors that could be influential–in every situation–on the visitor’s decision to continue their journey on the website and/or return later.
Most often, intro pages are unwelcome and visitors dislike them.
This may be because they have nothing useful for visitors but undesirable animation or a mispositioned introduction. While intro pages sometimes have useful information, it would be better to not use them at all.
It’s betting on the visitors’ center, don’t rely on probability for them.
After visitors enter the site, the most important element for them is the navigation system.
A well-designed navigation system would be useful in several ways. It can assist visitors to find what they want and also facilitate the process of performing actions that it provides. It should be measured by two aspects. First, ease of use and appearance and second, architecture and good categorization (to cover all sections of the website).
A deficiency in each will result in visitors’ dissatisfaction, and finally (most likely) they will leave the site. In fact, the navigation system is the heart of any website without which it definitely be inefficient and user-unfriendly.
As you may have noticed, we’ve used the term “navigation system,” which denotes that there should be more than one element in it. The navigation aids should cover the entire website, not only in the forms of main navigation (usually a horizontal bar at the header), footers and site map, but it should also be dispersed in the content of the website in the forms of embedded hyperlinks and directional sentences. This type of navigation could be regarded as hidden navigation.
Moreover, don’t forget about search functionality that works as an important alternative, or even competitor, of other elements.
Another thing that can be painful for visitors is lengthy pages, especially at the first step – Home page.
If you do not have a single-page website, be careful about the length of the Home page, as well as others. In addition to difficulties it makes for visitors, it will have a longer loading time. Unfortunately, this problem is very common and something designers often don’t care about, so be aware of that.
The Home page, among others such as landing pages, should have enough information about everything visitors can find and do on the website.
If you like to stick to the minimalist design school–as I do–keep in mind that the Home page isn’t the appropriate place for showcasing minimal ideas. Try to strike a balance between efficiency and novel ideas. This rule of thumb is to put essential pieces of information on the page and then inject design elements, which must be applied to the other pages, as well. Remember there shouldn’t be any unimportant pages in the website. if there are any, eliminate them.
Another facet of information on a web page is a crammed one, and it’s just as dangerous. A web page that is crammed might have irrelevant and useless data, which makes finding essential information difficult. Whenever you are faced with such a situation, you need to revisit your site’s information architecture. Pay attention to this fact: The amount of information a given page needs to have is dependent on its type and goals. Moreover, overflowing a web page, under any conditions, is not allowed.
Findability and readability problems are common for such pages.
This is a tool for directing a visitor’s eye on the page; without it or when it’s more than a limited number, it can lead visitors to confusing and/or misleading information.
Think focal points as visual navigation aids. Also remember that you must select a focal point appropriately, or it can be confusing to the visitor.
The layout and structure of design should be selected according to the context. More scope is official and potential visitors are of those folks the design should be crafted accordingly.
Furthermore, when a broad range of people visit a site, avoid bizarre layout and design elements and stick more to accepted patterns. That doesn’t, however, mean denying innovation. Everything in its right place is important.
Visitors shouldn’t have trouble finding/reading information. Although it seems very commonplace and even a bit silly, there are many examples of trouble with that issue. So pay a close attention to it, and also be aware of hidden pages, such as those not pointed out in main and secondary navigation menus, even on the site map. Personally, I have seen some of them myself!
As color affects emotion, it’s very critical to select an appropriate color scheme for the design.
To do so, take into account psychological characteristics of those who would view the site. Whenever possible, don’t use passionate colors (like red) as the main color of the scheme. Those colors are good choices for creating a focal point to drive visitors’ attention to a particular section.
I’m not very patient with pages that have a long loading time, and I know that most visitors are like me.
Do your best to reduce loading time by eliminating unnecessary objects and using techniques suited for this purpose like image pre-loading and CSS and JS file compression. Also, use Flash animation and movies wherever it’s necessary.
As every single user is valuable (she/he could invite or recommend others, for example) we should provide complete contact information and facilities, including phone, e-mail, and social connectivity gateways.
Newsletter subscription is another applicable method for getting in touch with visitors, and engages them for later visits. In short, we should not leave visitors without any connection. To do so is to lose them.
The existence of a help system is one of the vital must-have features of most websites, and the more complex the website the more important it is. Through them, visitors will be able to find answers to their particular questions about different aspects of the site or product/service it provides for visitors. They usually appear in the form of Help/FAQ/Support pages. Without them, visitors who get into trouble with something on the site are forced to call the help desk. This is time-consuming and expensive for both visitors and owners.
The fact is that most times, instead of pursuing their questions beyond the site, visitors will choose to leave it.
Appearance, especially nowadays, plays a key role in the success of any website. In fact, one of the factors that visitors pay attention to when using a website, besides its content, is its attractiveness.
So to attract visitors, the design should look inviting. In other words, we don’t want visitors to leave the site because of an awkward and unprofessional design.
Although in recent years it is rare to see that a website recommends visitors to use a specific browser like “best viewed in A, B, C browsers,” it is still a potential peril that should be considered. Don’t forget that visitors can be flexible and might have outdated technologies.
Now , for the sake of clarity, we want to analyze a real-world example and explore the above-mentioned features through it.
Our example is winner of WEBBY Award of 2011 in the field of BEST HOME/WELCOME PAGE, Lego.com.
The overall design is quite neat and clean. White space is used appropriately to separate different sections from each other. The loading time is reasonable, and the length of the page is within standards.
The amount of information is sensible, and the layout is simple and easy to navigate for all visitors. As the site is dedicated to the game, the general feeling gives visitors some clues about it.
The navigational elements are well-positioned at the top and bottom of the page, and almost nothing is forgotten.
The help system here can be found under customer service label in the footer.
There are some focal points at different levels of importance. The above fold is the most attractive section because of its different colors and illustrations. Also, call-to-action buttons and icons that support the heading create focal points.
The hierarchy of design is another important feature. Every part is distinguishable from its adjacent sections and in this way readability and findability are increased.