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How to guide visitors when they get to your site

I can bet good money that we’ve all ended up on random websites after absent-mindedly clicking through from Google, Facebook, Pinterest or well, anywhere.

Perhaps it was a headline that grabbed us, perhaps it was a delicious looking green-smoothie. Perhaps someone we know posted a link on Facebook telling us how hi-LAR-ious something was.

So, we do what anyone in the midst of a HUMUNGOUS procrastination session would do. We click that motherbitch.

I can also bet good money that on some of these links we click on, we arrive and think, “huh?” because instead of seeing the story about the penis pyrotechnics in Glasgow (actual story. You can read this here.), we get to a 404 page. Or, instead of seeing the recipe for the delicious smoothie, we just see a page with the very same  image of that smoothie with NO EASY WAY TO FIND OUT WHAT’S IN IT.

Annoying, isn’t it.

But perhaps WORSE than that is when you visit a website you’ve actively searched for, and the whole damn page confuses the buggery out of you.

Sometimes its too many images with lots of animations BEGGING for your attention. Other times, it’s a crappy “Welcome” intro without much great information and that’s it. Sometimes, you’re ALMOST FORCED AT GUNPOINT TO BUY THIS SHIT.


How might you know this is happening on your site?

First of all, have a good, hard look at your site. Start with your main entry page (normally, your home page).

Ask yourself:

  • How many things do I expect the user to do? (Sign up, read posts, view products etc.) More than two or three? REDUCE IT.
  • Is one of the things I expect someone to do BUY MY SHIT? Ever been approached by a guy in a bar who pretty much assumed that you saying hello was an invitation into your knickers? THAT.
  • Do I have more than one animated element on your page?(image slider, rolling news, flashing adverts vying for attention). Pick the most important that actually follows one of the three main actions you want the user to take. Get rid of the rest.

So now you have at the very most three actions your user could take, and you’ve dispensed with the fluff. Now, you need to prioritize them.

So, let’s say that you have decided the following are what you want:

Read the blog
View the latest projects
Sign up to the email list

Can you immediately see where to read blog posts? Do you have the most recent (or most popular) clickable post excerpts or titles on the home page “above the fold” of the page (that is, in the top 700px of your page before you scroll down)? No? CHUCK THOSE MOTHERS IN THERE, SWEETCHEEKS. 

Do you have a list of your latest projects? Enticing images to click on that leave visitors GAGGING to find out more of what you do (and how you can do it for them)? No? Get them front an’ centre!

Want to have your Mailchimp  account bustin’ at  the seams with email addresses? Put a damn sign up form where people can see it.

Look gorgeous, you want people to read, view and sign up? Stop hiding away under layers of unnecessary crap. Put things where people can get to them.

Online, we’re TOMs. (Totally Obedient Morons, that is).

Sorry, it’s true. I don’t care what Mensa has to say about your brain, but how many times have you found yourself reading blog post after blog post, clicking through gorgeous recipe after gorgeous recipe, or Facebook-stalking ex-boyfriend after ex-boyfriend when you only planned to have a “quick Google-break”. These sites are geared for people. They focus on the stuff they want us to do and we do it.

So, what have YOU been wanting people to do on your site that you’ve been hiding away? Is your sign up form the smallest thing known to man and living in your page footer or is there no link to any of your blog posts? Make your focus points JUPITER-SIZED.



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