Understanding the User 101

The way that your Website is organized and designed plays a critical role in your marketing success. If your site is not laid out effectively and easy to navigate you could inadvertently be driving away valuable site traffic - this is why it is essential that you understand your site users.

Mission Possible

The most important thing to realize about a user is that when they come to your site they already know what they want to find - the question is: does your site have what they're looking for? In some cases the user could be looking to purchase a product, trying to find the answer to a specific question - you get the idea. The point is that they're on a mission, and if it isn't immediately apparent that your site has what the user wants, they'll go elsewhere. There are, however, a series of preventative measures you can follow to keep the user happy and on your site.

Photo by gettyimages

1) Immediate Validation

When a user enters your site they are looking for an immediate validation that they're in the right place - so make it obvious from the home page what the purpose of your site is.

2) Relevant Links

Remember, people come to your site already knowing what they want to find - your navigation should instill confidence in the user that they are getting closer to the information they seek. Link titles should be clear and concise; don't try to use 'cutesy,' made-up names - chances  are they will only confuse the user and encourage them to leave.

3) Think 'Fast'

Avoid anything that may slow a user's progress. Some examples of this include:

  • Intro pages
  • Excessive amounts of copy
  • Forced registration
  • Unnecessarily long forms

4) Don't Make Them Think

Each time you make a user think too much, you increase the risk that they will leave your site. For more helpful usability tips, a deeper look into the mind of the user, and a live peer review of your website, check out our Website Usability Workshop on Friday August 5, 2011.

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