I want you to imagine the dream scenario when online shopping.
No, not being able to use The Sims ‘motherlode’ cheat to get ALL THE MONEY and actually buy your huge ASOS basket. I mean: how you would describe the best online purchase experience you could have?
Well Gaby, I want a smooth and fast journey guided by helpful signposts (menus, calls to action, links e.t.c) to reach my desired product and checkout without leaving the website or abandoning my basket in a huff.
I hear you. The last thing you’d want is to have to take a step back or rummage through text like you’re searching for Wally to just find a contactable email address or – website gods forbid – the shop page.
It’s all about user experience
Visitors generally click on a link to access a site because they want to either gather information about the business, make a purchase, or get in contact.
The more effort and time it takes someone visiting your site for the first time to find what they need, the more likely they will give up and close the tab in frustration.
It’s no easy task attracting visitors to your small business website. So when your milkshake has brought some buyers to the yard site, you want to keep them as long as poss and make it an easy experience to navigate your pages.
I know how much effort you’ve put into that milkshake.
The last thing you want to do is drive them away, and good user experience means creating a website which funnels and directs your visitors where they want to go.
As with little Nemos and sea anemones, it’s a symbiotic relationship. Unfortunately, websites commonly fall victim to harbouring cul-de-sacs. And that’s a one way street to losing site visitors and potential customers.
What are cul-de-sacs, you ask?
Don’t leave your site visitors feeling lost!
Let’s go a little deeper…
Every small business has goal that they’re using their website to fulfill. Let’s peruse Aime’s five fab site goals:
- Data Commitment – get visitors to take the relationship to the next level by sharing some personal details
- Checkout – commercial sites just wanna have sales
- Invest/ Wholesale – secure an investment in your business
- Inform – coffee shop sites are a key example, you just wanna spread a bit of info about the business
- Dwell – common on blog sites, you want to max the time that visitors spend on the site
Firstly, I want you to pick the goal that best matches what you want visitors to do on your website. Then go through your website and check how smooth and easy the user experience is to fulfill this goal.
The journey from your stunning homepage to your contact page or store (or other goal page) should be streamlined, simple and quick. Cul-de-sacs are barriers which obstruct your visitors from accomplishing the goal and any delay can harm the number of potential inquiries/ customers your business receives from your site.
We’re all an impatient bunch when it comes to online thingymajigs. The longer it takes for a website to load (for example due to harbouring colossal images) or to find the contact page after encountering dead end pages, the more visitors you’ll make grumpy and leave.
How to patch up those dead ends
Now I want you to check for pages where a visitor will spend lots of time (reading about your life updates or scrolling through your gorgeous images), but not take any action that leads them a step closer to your goal. About pages, 404 pages and ‘websites in progress’ (holding pages) are key culprits. If you spot any cul-de-sac pages and find yourself needing to click back or returning to the homepage without having fulfilled your goal- note ’em down and DON’T FRET. I’ve got a few solutions for ya:
- remove or combine any short pages with limited info. Ya don’t need both a contact page and commission page – combining the two can streamline your site and simplify the user experience.
- direct visitors to your contact page or form. Get some data commitment from your visitors and initiate a dialogue.
- link to your social media and add a call to action for visitors to follow you. While you don’t usually want to be sending your valuable visitors off of your site, gaining an interested, human follower is a great way to play the long exposure game.
- slap a simple sidebar onto your blog page. This helps with navigation and prevents visitors having to use the dreaded back button.
- link to relevant blog posts at the bottom of the page to get your visitors to dwell on the site and absorb more content.
- suggest your visitor signs up to your mailing list or creates an account to save time and effort next time they visit. Sign up sections are also awesome on holding pages to keep visitors updated on your businesses journey.
👏 Bonus Tip 👏
- check your external links open in new tabs. You don’t wanna be shoving your visitor out the third-floor, you want to be opening relevant doors for them to head through after they’re absorbed everything they can from your site.
It’s important to always be checking the user experience of your website after every update. We’ll be releasing a super checklist on how to check your site’s UX in an upcoming September blog post, so follow us on social media to keep updated!