Think Like a Website User

Planning for a new website can be exciting — you get to share the amazing content with the world, all with fonts and colors that makes your hearts sing! But what if I told you your website isn’t all about you? It’s also about your reader or potential client or customer and what their experiences of you and your website are. Because it is.

Sometimes it’s difficult as business owners to step outside of all of the ideas floating around in our brains and consider what our business looks like from the outside, but this is an important strategy to use when refining your business content and offerings.

Thinking like a first time visitor is especially important when designing, developing, and adding content to your website. How will your potential customers move through your website? Where will they click? How do you sell your products and services on your website? What language do you use, what images, what calls to action?

Here are some tips for making your user experience (the way your potential customers use and interact with your website) the best it can be!

1. Establish goals for your website and prioritize them

This is the basis for everything else you do to optimize your website for your user. It’s also the first question we ask when we start working with a client. What are your top 3 goals for your website? Some examples are to build trust, to educate, or to encourage the user to contact you. You may want them to sign up for a free offer, or purchase a product. Get clear on why you have a website and what its number one priority for your business is, so that you can focus on how to make it easy for your user to accomplish that goal.

2. Make it easy to find important information

This seems like a simple one, but if you don’t regularly approach your website with fresh eyes, you might think information is easy to find, while others must search a long time on your website to find it! Once you have identified your main goal for the user, make sure that it is really easy for your user to find the information they need to accomplish that goal. For example, if your main goal is for users to sign up for your email newsletter, they should be able to find an email newsletter signup form prominently displayed on your homepage (and on most of your other pages as well), so they don’t have to go searching for it. One of the best ways to make sure it is easy to find important information is to add critical pages to your main navigation – this is where users will look first to find the information they need.

3. Give each page at least one clear call to action

Often, we are so busy strategizing about the actual content on a page that we forget to tell users what to do next when they finish reading. This is called a Call To Action, or CTA. Your user should never get to the bottom of a page and feel confused or unclear about their next steps. Use the critical space at the bottom of a page to either push your client toward your goal for them (sign up for a newsletter, follow on social media, etc) or to help guide them to the next logical page for them to visit on your site.

We frequently see a lack of calls to action on website About pages. The website owner tells their story and then it just dead ends there, no further direction on where to go, what to do next, or how to reach out. When you seamlessly guide your visitors through a journey, it builds trust and generates excitement, so by the time they get to the final and most important page in the sequence, they’re ready to take action.

We’ve also seen the opposite problem on a site: too many calls to action. Since we want to make it super clear to our user where to go next, we don’t want to bombard them with more than one action step. Studies have shown that when presented with too many choices users simply choose nothing at all. Do not nudge your users to like you on Facebook, sign up for your newsletter, contact you, and read your latest blog post all on one page! They’ll be overwhelmed and wander off. Plan out your site so that each page ends with a next step that makes sense for your user and moves them toward your goals.

4. Organize your blog

WordPress offers tags and categories to help you organize your blog posts for your reader (and search engines). Categories serve as general groups of things you want to be know for on your blog, and help your website users find information faster. Make sure your category names are broad enough to encompass several different blog posts, but specific enough to help a user know what to expect. Another way to help guide your user through your blog is to offer related post or next post suggestions at the bottom of each page, so when they finish reading one post, they can move onto another that piques their interest.

5. Keep it consistent

When you keep your content, tone, images, and visual elements consistent, it helps your user engage with your brand and know what to expect from your website. Identify the core messages of your brand, and use them throughout your site. What do you want to be known for? What problems are you solving? Whom are you speaking to on your website? Keeping these answers consistent throughout your site will support you in accomplishing your website goals and help you determine what CTA to add at the bottom of each page. The more clear you are on how your website guides your potential customers, the more you will be able to help them!  

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credits

Created with Sketch.

Michelle Viljoen

(website design) is a graphic designer and brand consultant who specializes in creating and developing brands. Her core focuses are logo development, website design and brand direction.

Jane Reaction

(logo and original branding) is a graphic design and art director who works with with small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, creating cohesive and interesting brands and websites.

Carrie Coleman

(photography) is a wedding photographer, whose goal is to capture the visual expression of a couple's love through timeless, organic images. She is based in Charlottesville, Virginia.