What Does Your Visitor Want? The Wisdom of the Web Design Ages
What makes a website tick, holistically?
I’m not talking about individual aspects like working on the architecture, layout and design, then SEO, and then working on content and so on, but rather what makes all of them come together into a single holistic plan of action.
The plain answer: usability and utility of the website to the user before the screen.
This requires thinking of web design in a more fundamental way: the principles and heuristics that need to be employed so that it delivers exactly what the user wants it to deliver.
What Does the User Want from Your Website?
The first fundamental principle of the website design is to know how the user is thinking, or will be thinking when using the website. We could lay a lot of “from-scratch but highly personalized” tests and surveys for your website, but I believe it is better to share the tried and tested wisdom of the “Web Design Ages” (which might be at an impasse as mobile apps grow, or not!).
Nevertheless, here are the salient points that you must remember while working simultaneously (content first ofcourse) across all aspects of your website design:
How a user sees your website — They randomly scan (in a F fashion from top to bottom) and they click on the link that catches their attention or vaguely resembles what they are looking for in the first place (the service that your website is selling or information about how it works). This means, large areas of your website will be left out. Hence, you must leverage the white space and leave much less to actually leave out.
What are they looking for — The next step. They are strangers on your website, tell them what they can do, or should do. If they’re on home, perhaps read more about your products. If they are on blog, perhaps subscribe. Services, buy, and so on. They will be looking for things that seem useful or interesting. As soon as a user finds the most promising candidate for their interest, they click it.
Then it’s the next page that is scanned and assessed if it meets their expectations.
What will they always insist on? — Instant gratification. Your visitors want to be able to know their way around and easily find what they are looking for. They want to know the next step instantly. They also want the website to load faster, be easily accessible, and presents the content in an easy to scan and consume manner.
What will they always want — More control. Your visitors want a streamlined and predictable experience surfing through your website. Don’t make your website generate pop-ups at the wrong moments especially if they have clicked on a link to another page. If they want it to open in a new window, they will simple click or tap and select the open in new tab/window option from their browser’s drop down menu.
In Conclusion: What they appreciate the most — Quality and Credibility
As long as your page provides high –quality content, they will willingly compromise with the design of the site. This is the long term strategy for the website for the years to come. So your on-site SEO will not do much if you do not start your website with a strong content strategy, content calendar, and editorial calendar BEFORE initiating the website.
Remember that your visitors will never make optimal choices, and that their search will never be linear. Hence it is best that you spend more time satisfying of the visitor by making important links available on every page and allowing them to experience page depth at every turn instead of optimizing a linear funnel for the visitors on site.
All the best!