How do you make sure your website suits the behaviour of the visitor?

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Few people in today’s crowded marketplace would fail to realise the importance of their website standing out and reaching new prospects. But when everyone is trying to attract the same target audience, how do you make sure your site is the one they land on … and more importantly stay on?

One of the key things to grasp is that people behave very differently when they browse a website than when they read the printed word.

Imagine a wild animal prowling round your site

How do you usually picture the average visitor to your site? I bet it’s not as a wild animal – but that’s exactly how they behave. They are hungry for information about the product or service they are tracking down. They are also intrinsically impatient. Think about how you yourself might visit a site if you’re searching for a holiday, new car or concert ticket. Your priorities are to know what‘s on offer, the price and if it’s available. If your need for information isn’t met quickly and painlessly, you will be straight off to the very next result that the search engine has thrown up. So, it’s important in website design to quickly reassure the visitor that they are in the right place.

Break away from industry tradition

As professional financial advisers you are accustomed to producing lots of paperwork. The tendency is to produce reams of information to make sure you‘ve covered every eventuality and will satisfy compliance! However, writing for the web should differ substantially from more traditional forms of writing. Online content needs to be short and pithy, not overly complicated. Instead of ‘War and Peace’, think nuggets of information that will leap from the page and immediately resonate with what your visitor is searching for.

Think of pyramids

No, I’m not talking Egyptians or some sort of cascade selling! This is simply a recommendation to put your most important information where it will be seen. It differs from a technical paper where you might lead up gradually through detailed argument to your main conclusion. With the web, the visitor needs to know straightaway what you do. After that, they might want a few more details and only then, if they’re still interested, more background information. So if they’re thinking of retiring early, your visitor needs to know right from the outset that you offer retirement planning. Likewise, if they’re looking for information on inheritance tax planning or mortgage advice that needs to hit them right between the eyes.

You’re writing for people that scan!

People will be scanning your site at speed. Research has shown that only 16% of people read web pages word for word. So make sure you break up your copy with headlines, sub-headings, bullet points and eye-catching images. Think about the familiar words people will be searching for and use them liberally throughout the site – don’t try to be too fancy or technical. Try looking at your site as an impartial visitor – which words stand out at first glance? Are they the ones you want to stick?

People won’t ‘knock’ politely at your home page

They may arrive anywhere on your site and dart about at random. Nor will any two visitors take the same journey round the site. They certainly won’t read it in a linear fashion like a page in a book, from top to bottom. If you’re not sure where people arrive on your website, go to Google Analytics >> Site Content >> Landing Pages. This will show you exactly how many web visitors arrived on each web page. As the visitor could be starting anywhere on your site, make it easy for them to find what they’re looking for. Don’t rely on your navigation bar to tell them what to do next but use lots of signposts, links and buttons.
Just by making these adjustments to the way you consider any potential visitor to your site, your website will stand a much better chance of satisfying their appetite.

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