How Do Visitors REALLY Experience Your Website?

Many small business owners don’t look at their websites through the eyes of their visitors. As long as it looks good to them, they are happy to sign off.

Even worse, very few web designers look at the websites they build through the eyes of the prospective visitor. They just want to make it look good.

Why?

user experience, website, lisech, marketing strategy, consultantsBecause they know that – typically – small business owners only look at the appearance. Nothing else matters.

The result is one problem feeding into the other, with (usually) no end.

After all, you don’t know what you don’t know.

Think of it like this:

If you know nothing about cars, and you go out to buy one based on looks and price, chances are you will be buying a lemon. Websites are very similar.

Think of your website like a shop: What will it take for your customers to be able to not only find their way around, but to actually buy something?

Fair enough, the requirements of your website will differ from one industry to the next. Some industries are simply more visual (travel, weddings, fashion), while others are geared more towards information. In some industries you will need to pay more attention to the design of your website than others, but you will still need to pay attention to several other factors too.

If you don’t, having a fancy design won’t help you.

Here are 3 ways in which your website can lose your customers, regardless of the design:

1. Not having a clear visitor journey laid out.

Think logically: When someone arrives on your website, what are the logical sequence of actions they would take before they connect with you?

a. When they land on your site, they want to know whether they are in the right place or not. does your website look like a place where they can get what they need? If there is any doubt, they leave immediately.

b. Next, they want to see if you can address their specific need. Again, if they cannot see that within seconds, they are gone. Hence the need to state the main components of what you offer as early on the home page as possible.

c. Following that, they want to know whether or not you can actually deliver – hence the need to have a few testimonials high up on the home page. Depending on your niche and the price range, you may need to link to more testimonials, or even to case studies from that section.

d. Once they have determined that, they may want to dig into some more information.

Yes, some people may skip a step or two. And some of them might not “come through the front door” – they may, for instance, find a blog post or an FAQ page in Google.

The best you can do is to (a) make the information available in a logical order, and (b) lead them from one step to the next.

At any point in time, if the next bit of information they need is on another page, there should be a link to it – directly. And at any given point in their visitor journey, if they might be ready to reach out to you, there should be a button leading them to your contact form.

2. Not enough information, or irrelevant information.

The first could be a double edged sword (depending on what you offer): You don’t want to provide so much information that the visitor makes a decision without your input (unless your marketing is product-led, and your products are low ticket.

On the other hand, the website visitor needs access to a basic amount of information in order to make an informed decision.

However, there is one more caveat: Don’t drown the visitor in information. We have seen it on so many websites where there is an ever-growing knowledge base: You ask a specific question, and you get 50 results. That is 50 results your visitor has to work through in order to find what they are looking for.

The second one is critical: When someone comes to your website about (for instance) home improvement, they don’t need to have to fist through generic content about how improving your home is a good thing.

3. No call to action – or too many.

At any given time in the visitor’s journey, there has to be something that leads them to the next logical step. It could be a button or a text link, or even a “what would you like to do next” sub-heading with a few links below that.

Think of it as extending an invitation to discover more, or to engage with you. Some people actually do need an invitation before they take action.

On the other hand…

Depending on your business, there could be more than one action the visitor can take. For instance, one website we recently worked on recruits staff from other countries, and then helps them to immigrate.

That means the website is aimed at both job seekers and potential employers.

In addition to that, each of them could take various actions: There is direct outreach for more information, more information that can be read (including the FAQ), a needs assessment form for employers, and an immigration assessment form for job seekers. There are also pages with more detailed info for both employers and job seekers, and additional forms relating to immigration for job seekers.

Instead of having multiple different calls to action – which could confuse the visitor, or leave them unable to decide…

We simply had “start here” pages for both employers and job seekers.

And every subsequent call to action further down the page led to one of them as well. On each of the “start here” pages there is more information, as well as a “what would you like to do next” section with action buttons.

But on the home page, depending on who you are, there is only ONE action you can take: Visit the “start here” page.

When creating calls to action, keep the following in mind:

a. Keep friction to a minimum.

b. The more options you offer, the larger the percentage of visitors who simply won’t do anything. Yes, you can have home page blocks linking to specific items inside the website – but the general idea at that point should be to either get them to the information they want, or to reach out to you. If you give them a choice of those, plus booking an appointment, plus downloading an ebook, plus social media links, plus a newsletter signup…

They might now know what they want to do next.

c. Remember that visitors who arrive on your website arrive with different levels of awareness – some know what they want, and some don’t. Some know they can get it from you, but most don’t. Make it as simple and as convenient for everyone, regardless of their level of awareness.

3. An uneducated chatbot.

Ever since AI became available to the public, AI chatbots have been a growing craze. And depending on what you do or offer, having one could be a good thing.

But…

There are a few things to keep in mind:

a) Any AI chatbot is only as good as the information it has access to. If your website visitors can have a wide range of potential questions, your chatbot needs to have all of those potential questions – and their answers – in its brain.

If not, you WILL frustrate your website visitors.

b) Some people simply don’t feel comfortable talking to a bot. In the future that may change as AI evolves, but for now, they don’t. Considering who our typical clients are, we decided to not add a chatbot to this website.

c) If you do decide to add a chatbot to your website, make it easy for people to contact you regardless. We have seen chatbots that make the visitor jump through hoops before they are allowed to talk to a human. In cases like those, many people will simply give up and leave.

Note: Don’t confuse a chatbot with a messenger bot – a messenger bot is simply a mechanism that allows you to talk to a real person, or send them a message if nobody is available at that time. Those work just fine in most cases.

An AI chatbot that is going to be worth its salt will probably set you back a thousand dollars or more (unless your business and your offer are very simple). Building it takes time, even if you do have a decent knowledge base in place.

In conclusion:

How do you know if you got it right? How do you know if your visitor journey is set up properly, and whether it is working as it should?

Well, in Google analytics you can view the pages visited, and the numbers of visitors to each page in a give time period. You can also see the “bounce rate” – the percentage of people who landed on a page on your website, and left without doing anything else or visiting another page.

The bounce rate differs not only between industries and niches, but also varies according to what exactly you offer/do, and where you are located. If you are in an area where there are many competitors, people are more likely to leave your website if they don’t find what they are looking for within the first few seconds.

In some cases the bounce rate could be as low as 50%, and in other cases it could be 90% or more. Unless yours is very low already, and needs some work, the only thing you can do is to make small changes, one at a time, and test to see which changes result in improvements in the bounce rate, and the number of people reaching out to you.