Does Your Site Communicate Its Purpose Clearly?

by Colette Mason on September 25, 2009

Punk man with mohican covering his mouth not speaking

When you’re thinking about how to make a website better, it’s a good idea to make sure your site shouts out the site name, what the site is for and what the user should do first.

If you concentrate on content you’re going to cut and paste in, or what colour the menu should be, you’re heading for troub;le – because people won’t understand what you’re trying to tell them.

Jakob Nielsen, a leading web usability consultant, says the three main questions that a user must find answers to in the first thirty seconds of viewing a site are:

  1. Who are you?
  2. What do you do?
  3. What should I (the user) do next?

If these questions are not satisfactorily answered in thirty seconds or less, a website rethink should be done pronto.

Let’s look at these “how to make a website” questions in detail

Who are you?

Eyemapping studies have shown that upon opening a website for the first time, users’ eyes automatically go to the top left area of the site. This explains why good web developers place the company’s logo in this place. Users immediately spot the logo and this helps in building on brand awareness and orientation.

What do you do?

This question is a little bit more difficult than the first, especially for companies who have several different products or services or those that have internal uncertainties in defining what they do. If the target audience comes from varied classes and backgrounds, the challenge gets even bigger. Users want to be told what you are offering rather than trying to figure out what your tagline or sales pitch means. Simply stating what you do is the best way to manage this. Putting an image of your product  or service (range) on the homepage lets the user know right away what you are selling.

What should I (the user) do next?

Users generally don’t linger on the homepage. They want to go to the product descriptions, the entertainment, service or how to contact the site owner. A broad target audience will have different requirements. Address this complexity with calls to action such as: Contact Us for a Free Evaluation, so that each customer is handled personally. A good designer should be adept in attracting the user’s eyes to your calls-to-action.

If your website passes the thirty second rule, good for you! You have a web site that is high in usability. Otherwise, it’s time to rethink your design and revisit your web strategy.

If you concentrate on creating the right rapport with your customers rather than focusing on the techincal aspects of “how to make a website”, you’ll get a much better end result.

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