Web design has changed. The novelty of going to the World Wide Web and exploring this new medium has worn off significantly. No longer are users visiting a site and reading through lines and lines of text or watching humorous animated gifs online.
Nielsen & Loranger’s extensive research uncovered four questions users ask when arriving at any given web site: what site have I arrived at, what are the benefits the organization offers, what does the organization do and/or what are the newest offerings, and where do I go next to find what I’m looking for?
What site have I arrived at?
The URL has been entered, but the name of the organization, logo, and tag line should be displayed in a prominent place. This information should remain in the header and carried throughout the site.
What does the organization do and/or what are the newest offerings?
State it clearly and prominently on the home page. It should not be buried in 500 words of content. Images used should also support what the organization does (i.e. a landscape architect shouldn’t have a photo of a city skyline).
What are the benefits the organization offers?
Get to the point. What separates you from the other thousands of sites offering the same services or products? 70% of users are experienced enough to scan a page for the information they are looking for. Adding visual cues as to the benefits of your site will bring you closer to converting that user into a customer.
Where do I go next to find what I’m looking for?
The navigation should be visible and instinctive to use. Drop down menus work well for easily referencing sub pages. Calls to action should be clearly defined with verbiage like, ‘Buy Now’, ‘Call Us Today’, ‘Fill Out this Form’, or include a video with a big play button icon. The less users need to think or read, the more open they are to suggestion.
If you keep these questions in mind while designing your website, you will be on your way to lowering your bounce rate, increasing user time on the site, and raising your conversion levels.
For further reference in designing user friendly sites, see Prioritizing Web Usability.