Understanding Website Users

by Jerry Bader - Date: 2006-12-07 - Word Count: 993 Share This!

Understanding Website Users Is your website doing all it can to improve your company's bottom line? Before you can answer that question you need to understand a little about how people use websites.

User Interface Engineering in Massachusetts has done a lot of research into how people use websites, and their findings can help in determining if your website is doing it's job to your best advantage. How Do Visitors Use Websites? What UIE has found is that websites fail when visitors can't easily find what they're looking for. Now that may sound obvious, but the fact is most websites do not do a good job of presenting appropriate useable information to their users.

In designing a website we must take into consideration these facts:

1. people find it harder to read text on a computer screen,

2. people read 25% slower on computers than from print material, and

3. 79% of people merely scan Web-text for headlines, captions, and bulleted points, ignoring the rest until they find what they're looking for.

Faulty Design Loses Customers and Business This scanning process has a definite affect on the information visitors are able to garner from your site. Unless your copy-text is specifically formatted in this type of headline-point-form style, you stand a good chance visitors will: 1. miss your critical marketing message, 2. only pick-up a portion of your message, and/or 3. misunderstand your message altogether.

UIE's research has come up with some startling facts that most IT people will find hard to accept:

• on-site search engines receive a consistently low level of user satisfaction,

• on-site searches only receive a 30% satisfaction rate,

• well-organized links are more effective than searches, and

• appropriately categorized links receive a 53% satisfaction level.

Seducible Moments Jared Spool of UIE also found in his research that you couldn't attract visitors to company-desired information until those visitors have at least partially completed the task they initially intended when they entered your site. There is an appropriate spot on your site to present website visitors with the information you want them to see. Spool refers to this as the 'seducible moment,' the time when a visitor can be lured away from their quest to respond to your pitch.

Finding the seducible moments on your site requires an understanding of how people look for information. Instrumental and Causal Searches There are basically two kinds of information searches: instrumental and causal. Instrumental Searches occur when a visitor knows exactly what he or she wants to find; for example, a parent might be searching for the latest edition of a specific video game for their child. A Causal Search is more general; the same parent may be searching for video games but not know which one they want to buy.

Recognizing how people search and what they need to find to satisfy that search will help in deciding where your lures and pitches should be placed. The Pitch and The Palaver Most business websites deliver too much extraneous material and not enough decision-making information: the information people need to answer your call to action. To avoid frustrating Web-visitors and losing them to alternative website options, your Web-based information should fall under one of the following categories:

• how to use the site,
• defining the need,
• describing the solutions,
• refining the choice,
• building confidence, and
• call to action

The question remains, no matter how many headlines and bulleted lists we use to present this material, how much of it will attention-deficit, time-constrained visitors actually scan, and more importantly how much of that will they retain? And what if your offering is complex?

The abbreviated short-form information presentation approach may lead to confusion rather than clarification. The Answer Lies In the Sound of the Human Voice With the advent of high-speed connections, more and more websites are employing audio voice-overs to resolve the problem of ineffectual Web-copy and the need to get to the point quickly and effectively before the prospect loses interest.

Unfortunately many of the audio voice-over installations that now populate the Web are 'home-made' and as a result are amateurish and counter-productive. As important as it is the to add a human voice to your site; it is more important to do it properly.

One of the things we have always said to clients is that the Web offers small companies the opportunity to look competent and substantial, and the danger for big companies to look inept and irrelevant.

Having a CEO drone-on in mind-numbing market-speak is as damaging as having an overly excited entrepreneur indulging in exaggerated hyperbole. Even highly successful sales people can fail at delivering effective voice-over messages because voice-overs alone lack the visual clues used in face-to-face sales presentations.

Effective website voice-over presentations require:

• properly written scripts designed for oral presentation,
• professional voice-over talent with a signature character,
• an understanding of how and where voice should be used, and
• accompanying key-phrase visuals to increase memory retention.

A lot of the sites we see, or should I say hear, merely parachute audio into their sites without a great deal of thought as to why and how it's being used. Adding voice to your website is not about implementing the hottest trend or using the newest do-it-yourself presentation application; it's about giving website visitors the information they need to do business with your company.

As mentioned earlier website visitor satisfaction is measured by whether visitors find what they're looking for. In order for prospects to find what they're looking for, they need to know

1. how to use your site,
2. what problems your offerings resolve,
3. what choices they have to make,
4. how to refine those choices to the best option,
5. how to respond to your call to action, and
6. what you do if things go wrong. All these customer satisfaction elements can be delivered with a properly planned professionally executed audio voice-over implementation.

Jerry Bader, is a partner in MRPwebmedia, a website design firm that specializes in creating multimedia websites that enhance their clients business opportunities by delivering their marketing messages using the latest audio, video, Flash, and interactive techniques. MRPwebmedia developed the Sonic Personalities© concept that effectively conveys your brand, image and message on websites and DVD/CD presentations using custom-crafted voice-overs. For more information and sample sites visit http://www.sonicpersonality.com or contact Jerry Bader at (905) 764-1246. Your Article Search Directory : Find in Articles

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