Users of the Internet are getting ever more impatient. With the huge numbers of websites on-line they are taking less and less time to decide whether a website is valuable or not. If your website is not relevant to them then fine, but what if your website is relevant to them but they don’t know it? This represents a lost enquiry, a lost sale, a lost customer relationship, whatever exactly it represents it is not good!
Web designers have known for a long time that visitors do not look at everything on a website, they scan for important information. So as a minimum your website should do the following:
- Have relevant key words in headers and titles
- Not contain too much text, all important points should be addressed within two paragraphs
- Keep paragraphs short
But let’s take this a step further, wouldn’t it be great to know which parts of a webpage visitors’ eyes are automatically drawn to? Knowing this, you would be able to put your important points in these locations, almost instantly communicating your important messages to your visitors.
Well there is no golden rule, but there are some very well recognised trends. One of these trends is to the so-called “F” pattern, whereby visitors’ eyes make the pattern of a letter F as they scan across your web pages. UseIt.com has a very good explanation of this at http://www.useit.com/alertbox/reading_pattern.html. Building upon this, it is also believed by many that visitors’ eyes are drawn to the right hand side of the web page rather than the left. Presumably this is why Google places it’s sponsored links on the right hand side of the results page rather than the left.
Use this knowledge to place the important messages in locations which visitors are likely to see early. When thinking of what messages to communicate I usually try and think about the main reservation a customer would have about my industry, produce a message to counter that and place that message in the first place I think the user will see. Secondary messages can then be placed in other popular locations on the page.
You may be wondering now how visitors’ eyes see your website. Well there are tools which can help. Visit http://www.feng-gui.com/default.aspx and use the ‘heatmap’ tool to simulate how visitors eyes would see your website.
This information may not double your sales overnight, but this may allow you to communicate with your customer better than you are doing now. After all as I know only too well as a web designer, visitors do not always do as you expect and better communication with visitors should be better for all.