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Structuring your website for better user interaction and engagement

September 14, 2015Payman Taei

Store entrance Imagine for a moment walking into your local Costco and having an extremely difficult time finding anything you’re looking for. Imagine having to squeeze yourself through a tight entrance with no one there to welcome you and finding the warehouse dark and cluttered with products misplaced and isles setup at different angles, feeling like a mouse in a maze with each corner leading to another dead end, yet at all times seeing a large exit doorway that leads you outside the store. I bet it will not take you more than a few minutes to become so frustrated that you would take the first exit near you and never visit the store again. And that is why every successful retail store including Costco has figured out a customer’s emotional response down to a science to help you find your way through and engage you with as many products and offers as possible during your visit to maximize the amount you purchase on each visit. Their large entrance feels welcoming, the representative with a big smile greets you followed by a bright open space that entices you to take steps forward into the arena that puts you in front of thousands of perfectly placed and organized merchandise. Store Entrance and Web Presence Entrance Each walkway is open with plenty of space to roam through at every angle the proper product and banners are strategically placed to present you potential products you want to grab and place in your shopping cart. Even on your way out the aroma of their famous Pizza and affordable hot dogs that often sell you on yet another purchase, this time to satisfy your immediate hunger so by the time you leave you feel fulfilled and have every reason to come back again and without the consideration of going anywhere else. Most of these experiences are so subtle that they are meant to only trigger your subconscious mind, just enough to affect your decision towards making a purchase. This is exactly how you want to treat your website. Regardless of its purpose, your website is your version of a Costco superstore. It is a virtual presence that must entice your target audience and allow them to want to stay on your website without being bored or frustrated to give them every reason to come back without being asked to and hopefully turn to a qualified lead or customer. Here are a few simple but important principles to apply to your website. If you’re lacking one or more of these, it’s worth taking a closer look and make adjustments necessary to improve your web presence. These improvement can lead to increased user loyalty, lead generation and last but not least: more revenue and sales.. Know your navigation and establish your site architecture Remember the aisles in Costco and how they are separated by wide gaps to walk through, each leading to a main path that allows you to access virtually all areas of the store. That is how your website should feel. Every page of your website should contain an easy to access and simple navigation structure with each tab leading to a specific topic.


These are a few examples of common navigation tabs: Home, About Us, Services, Products, Portfolio, Shop, Blog, Careers, Contact


A common tip is to consolidate your tabs to no more than five to seven tabs, and if your website contain numerous pages, that is not cause for having more navigation tabs. Too many tabs cause confusion and degrade your site’s usability. Instead consolidate secondary pages under your main navigation (ex. use a dropdown menu) or move them to the footer of your site which can serve as sort of a site map. For example visit www.easywebcontent.com or www.hindsiteinteractive.com. You can see top navigation contains only a few primary links. In case of EasyWebContent.com the “Tools Just for You” tab contains a dropdown menu with secondary pages and the footer is expanded to contain all important entry pages of the web site. In short you want to guide your users to where you want them to go without having to force them. They should be able to find their way around, from the moment they access your landing page (which is often your home page) to the deep internal pages of your site. Always ask “If I was the user, where would I want to go?” And use your answers as a guideline to how you can structure the site. User experience matters; a lot! Did I mention user experience matters a lot? It may be worth mentioning a few more times. This is the deciding factor on how long a user stays on your website, how their experience affects their decision making process be it using your services or buying from you and how likely they are to consider recommending your service. User experience is a purely emotional response. As a result there is no single cookie cutter rule to solve the user experience mystery. It’s a combination of a number of factors and it can vary from one website to another. However there are some general rules that have been proven to improve this experience and affect user behavior. Website home page entrance Color: Have you ever walked into a McDonalds and feel attracted towards entering the premise and then half hour later feeling the urge to leave the place? Part of the reason is the color selection. Colors can affect mood and in case of McDonalds they utilize the bright yellow and red colors to attract user attention and lead you through the entrance. And the same colors that got you in, will soon overload your emotional color response and most customers will tire and leave the premise which opens room for the next customers to flow in. In case of your website choose colors carefully. Avoid using bright / neon tones as primary colors. Instead stick to warm and subtle colors for the background and skin of your site. And utilize brighter, catchy colors for your button or call to actions areas which can drive more attention. Design: Design matters and it is crucial when it comes to websites. That is because there is no human intervention when a users lands on your site; therefore the layout and key messaging is the face of your site, the emotional trigger and the factor which relays to your user whether they should stick around or go elsewhere. Great design is achieved through a balance of page elements, color and theirstyle. It should not overtake the content of a site and the message it must portray. Keep it clean, simple and aesthetic. Avoid overwhelming your content with design elements. After all, the user is here to read your content and design and clean layout are meant to house the content and support it, not overwhelm it. Content and Copy: In the world of Search Engine Optimization content remains king and the same holds true when it come to connecting with your target audience. In fact the design and appeal of your website is important in making the initial impression and drive your user through the door, but your content is a big deciding factor in how long your visitor will stick around and engage with your website. Content is the essence of your site and if it falls short you will have a load of traffic flowing in and then bouncing away. (you can actually measure this with Google Analytics). So what should you do?  Write good content. Target it towards your niche and your target audience and speak their language. If you are a fitness trainer, put yourself in your client’s shoes. What will they want to learn from you? What will be their deciding factor to build a sense of trust and connection with you? Give your users real information but don’t go overboard. People are coming to your website to learn about your business, not read a book. For example on your company page you don’t need to write thousands of words about your company’s history, and every event that has occurred since its inception. Instead keep it short, sweet and to the point. Most first time users simply scheme through content and if it is too long and formatted incorrectly (too many lines with no paragraph separation) they likely won’t take the time and effort to focus on its entirety. This is not to say you should have no informative details on your site. Instead reserve the long lengthy details for your blog postings and link to them from your shorter “to the point” pages of your website. Clutter: Let’s refer back to the Costco stores. They stock tens of thousands of merchandise in each warehouse, yet when you walk in, you are not overwhelmed with the selection and choices available to you. Extra inventory is carefully stacked above the general view; each isle contains a category of merchandise and only one or two choices of each product in a single size is available so you can make decisions quickly and go about your next selection. Entrance to costco This is how your web site should be structured. It should not overwhelm your user with too many choices and free of clutter. Each page should contain only the necessities that pertain to the topic needed on the page and one or two clear call to action areas that drive the user to click and follow through the area you want them to go to next. For example if you are looking to generate a lead through your website, a phone number, email or call to action to a contact form will be prominently presented. Of course there are other tips one can follow that are further detailed in other postings, but the above recommendations are a great starting point to enhance your website for better user interaction and engagement which can strengthen your branding, and lead to increased sales and lead generation over time.  

Payman Taei
Payman Taei is the Founder of HindSite Interactive (he doesn't like using the word "CEO" it's way too Formal), an award winning web design and web development company. He's also the Founder of Easy WebContent, Do It Yourself platform allowing everyone to easily create, manage professional websites, presentations & infographics.

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