People familiar with my BizMediaScience blog know I tend to write in arcs, carrying a single theme through several postings. I don’t intend to do that here and, of course, this post is part 2 in an Attract and Stick arc. This arc started last week in Attract and Stick, Part 1 and ends here.
I suggested in Attract and Stick, Part 1 that your real competition for traffic isn’t your business competitors, isn’t the TV or radio nor is it what most people think of when they consider “competition”. The real threat to your online business is every other window your site visitors have open when they’re viewing your webpage.
This competition concept comes from discussions about what competition is in the marketplace. Basically, competition is anything that distracts the consumer. What we recognized in Attract and Stick, Part 1 was that interfaces (ie, web designs) that are unnecessarily complex lose visitors because
- visitors will find simpler interfaces that allow them to achieve their goals or
- visitors will become so distracted by the complex interface they’ll leave without achieving their goals.
Forget everything else. Take a quick look at the two images on this page. When all you want to do is an internet search, which interface is easiest/quickest/least troublesome to use?
Complex interfaces and web designs come from having lots of screen elements (images, menu items, text blocks, action items, links, videos, chat rooms, etc.) getting between the visitor and what they want to do. Can you quickly and easily see where to enter a search query in the second figure? Your eyes are better than mine if you can.
This post picks up where we left off, asking How Many Screen Elements is Enough?. We redefined that question to answer it more easily. The better question is…
How Many Screen Elements Do Visitors Need to Achieve Their Objectives?
There is a simple formula used to answer this question. The formula is one I learned about flying; the number of takeoffs should exactly equal the number of landings. I apply this formula to several things, two of which appear in this column.
First let’s use it to answer the above question. We modify it slightly because there’s an encouragement factor that needs to be included whenever you’re figuring out ways to get people to do things you want them to do. You need to encourage or incentivize them somehow.
The encouragement factor is “+2db”, what readers familiar with statistics might recognize as ±2s. There’s an exercise that’s involved in figuring out how much should go on a webpage, something I first described in Can Customers See Your Information?. It goes like this:
- The visitor comes to a page to make a purchase.
- Make sure there’s a purchase button or link on the page.
Easy, yes? Yes. The number of takeoffs exactly equals the number of landings. Now let’s make sure all three wheels are on the ground when we land.
- Make sure the button or link is clearly visible on the screen. It should be the most prominent visible object on the screen without being so dominating that it doesn’t allow visitors to read the
- descriptive text next to the button or link so that the visitor can rest assured that yes, what they want is what they’re purchasing and
- the little image above the button/link and descriptive text so that the visitor can see that yes, what they want is what they’re purchasing
There will be other things on the page, of course, and all of these are superfluous to your visitor achieving their goal of converting. It’s probably uncomfortable to think that your brand, your logo, your menu, etc., are unnecessary and possibly distracting at this point, I know. What is important is that the number of screen elements should be only those required to help the visitor achieve their goals.
The Number of Reasons to Enter A Page Equals The Number of Ways to Exit the Page
The next way to use landings equals takeoffs is to consider what visitors are coming to a page to do. Homepages are always a challenge when thinking of landings and takeoffs because a homepage is similar to someone opening the front door to a house. You need to be able to easily access every room in the house from the front door. This isn’t the case when you’re in the kitchen, for example. The kitchen only needs to access the dining room, perhaps the hallway? What about the living room? The living room perhaps has access to dining room and hallway? What about bedrooms? A bathroom and the hallway?
If you’re getting the idea that the hallway is your menu, you’re ahead of the game. And I’ll bet the front door to most homes opens to — you guessed it — a hallway. If not a hallway, a great room that has easy access to the rest of the house.
Are people coming to your homepage to learn about your company? Then there should be an “About Us” type offering prominently displayed on the homepage. One takeoff, one landing.
Are they coming to learn about your products? There should be a “Products” type offering. Again, one takeoff, one landing.
Your web analytics numbers will demonstrate two things at this point; what are people most interested in and which links are the most confusing. The most interesting items become prominent and clearly shown, the most confusing items are removed. As before, your goal is to simplify so that the visitor’s experience is the best possible.
Please contact NextStage for information regarding presentations and trainings on this and other topics.
Links for this post:
- Intelligent Website Design: Expand Your Market
- Make Sure Your Site Sells Lemonade
- NextStage Full Day Training “Audience Focused Optimization”
- NextStage Two Day Training “Audience Knowledgeable Design”
- Reading Virtual Minds Chapter 6 “Experience versus Satisfaction”
- Usability Studies 101: Experience as an Equation
- Usability Studies 101: Landmarks Ahead?
- Websites: You’ve Only Got 3 Seconds
- XChange on 20-21 Sept 07
- DC Emetrics Summit on 14-17 Oct ’07
- Society for New Communications Research Annual Research Symposium & Awards Gala on 5-6 Dec 07 in Boston.
Come on by and say hello.