This is a guest post by Shabana Shiliwala, who owns The Financial Sort, a financial planning company based in Austin, Texas.
Something about reading online shortens our attention spans. When was the last time you actually waited for a slow homepage to finish loading? If it takes longer than 30 seconds to find the information you’re looking for on a website, do you keep looking or go back to the Google search results to consult a different site (of which there are an infinite number)? It seems there’s an inverse relationship here–the more information is available to us, the less patience we have.
What does that mean for you as a business owner? You’ve got 30 seconds or less to convert visitors to your company website into customers. The easier and faster it is to get the information they need, the more likely customers will stay on your site long enough to purchase a product or service.
Keep the home page simple and clean. Less is more when it comes to the home page, because its sole purpose is to hold a visitor’s interest long enough to entice further exploration of your site. Since most visitors don’t make it past the home page, try to communicate as succinctly as possible how a visitor would benefit from spending more time on your site.
Make details optional. Some people need all the details before they can make buying decisions. Others are turned off by too much information. In order to keep both types happy, stick to the facts on the main interface and add an extra step, such as a “More” link, for those who want to read the details.
Highlight the keywords visitors want to see. When you visit a website, how do you read it? Like a book, starting with the first word on the page? Didn’t think so. Most of us scan the page to find the keywords that led us to the site in the first place to make sure it’s worth our time to read any further. Make it easy by emphasizing the words that would attract visitors to explore your website. Play with italics, bold, color, capital letters, fonts, font sizes, shading, borders, etc. Just don’t go too far–you still want to keep the home page simple and clean.
Offer a short menu. You know when you go to a restaurant and the menu is so long that you feel overwhelmed and can’t make a decision? The same could happen with your website menu. A long menu runs the risk of losing the attention of the reader who doesn’t want to sift through page after page to find what they want.
Try noticing your own actions over the next week whenever you’re surfing online:
1. How much time do you spend on each website?
2. How many websites do you visit where you go further than the home page?
3. Why didn’t you bother moving past the home page on the other websites?
4. What was different about the websites where you completed a purchase?
You could discover some valuable insights about how to make your own company website more user-friendly.