Web standards provide us with a certain level of instinctual guidance. Our brain associates underlined words as a gateway to access more information. Every aspect of our online decision making has been conditioned into our behavior over time. Some of it started up to 65 million years ago.
With clear focus you can bypass the entire fight or flight mechanism.
You can tap into these instinctual responses by standardizing the approach to your website layouts. Our brain goes into autopilot when it quickly locates the navigation and primary content. The same way you understand, without any active thought, that the steering wheel of every automobile turns; the gas pedal accelerates and the brake stops. It all becomes second nature.
Think of it this way; how many websites look like Chris Brogan’s website? How many websites use the Thesis framework? Not only is it fast to launch but it also simplifies the experience of your user.
Studies show that people in passive activities, like watching television, are much more open to the power of suggestion.
Meeting the needs of your visitors
Users typically access your website with one goal in mind. Once that need is met they are open to influence through impulse triggers. This is why online stores feature similar items on product pages. The initial need has been met. Now your brain is open to suggestion.
Another example is the use of the color red in clearance, or high priority, sales. Red excites our brain. Not only does it direct our attention, if used properly, the result is similar to caffeine. And, if you didn’t know, when you drink caffeine you make more impulsive decisions. Buy things we normally wouldn’t buy. Remember that next time you pick up a CD at your local Starbucks register “on a whim”.
Users want to believe they made the right decision
Even if you don’t sell a product or service it’s important that you still view your visitors as potential customers. By establishing your value they will buy into your brand and then look for additional information to support their decision. Users want to believe they made the right decision. Engage them with the resources they are looking for up front. Each time you peak their interest they browse your website a little longer.
With clear focus you can bypass the entire fight or flight mechanism. Which is a fancy way of saying don’t throw a ton of scary information at your visitor right away. This is also why many websites don’t list the price of their service on the front page. They sell you on it first. To sell more disconnect the association between price and value.
Look at the snapshot of the Kitchen Table Companies website. They sell you on the value. They don’t hit you with the price until you are already invested.
Finding the real focus of your website
I say “the real focus” because many websites try and push certain products, or services, on their visitors. Force feeding does not work if you value your customers and their outlook on your brand.
The best way to find the real focus, and greatest value, is by acknowledging your visitor’s actual behavior. Dig into your website’s analytics and look at which three pages are being accessed the most. Pull focus to those three areas across your entire website and unify your goals to build a stronger web presence. A stronger web presence is the first step to providing a successful user experience.
Providing less options will simplify the decision making process. Our brain has an innate ability to categorize and understand options presented in threes. This is why you see many websites, and landing pages, break down their benefits into three columns.
3 simple actions to implement on your website right now:
1. Determine what your visitors want by reviewing usage trending through software like Google Analytics. It’s important to do this often.
2. Remove unnecessary information and focus your efforts on the top three resources / pages / products that you found
3. After your visitor finds value pull them deeper into the website (suggested items, pricing structure, newsletter, etc).