Clarify Your Site’s Purpose and Stop the Terminator

The average web page visit lasts less than one minute.

Humans are programmed to sort everything they see into familiar labels, or buckets. Our brains scan the immediate environment to find threats, food, competitors, and potential mates. Like the Terminator searching for John Connor, we make fast assessments and move on.

The same thing is happening with visitors to your blog or website.

You’re doing the same thing right now reading this blog post. You read the headline, decided it was applicable to your situation, and started scanning. Maybe these quick bullets will keep you reading.

Tactics for Building a Useful Web Presence

  • Use your Google Analytics to view landing and exit pages. If certain landing pages lead to an immediate exit, tweak the content. Keep testing what is resonating with your visitors.
  • Have a clear path. People don’t usually land on the home page and click a giant “buy” button immediately. Have a plan for how you want visitors to progress through your information, and where you want them to end up.
  • Use markers like arrows, visual flow, friendly text. Design can’t be an afterthought. In “Terminator” mode, people need simple visual clues about where to click next.
  • Make your “ask” very clear. Is your site supporting a business? What are you selling? Is it a hobby/journal blog? Are you supporting a non-profit? Don’t make your visitors guess.
  • Declutter. Set up a routine review of your blog or website, with the intention of taking out anything that’s not crucial. Old badges, social buttons, ads that aren’t getting clicks, be ruthless, like you are with your closet.
  • Stop sending people away to other sites. You may have noticed that a lot of the big bloggers have started removing their “follow me on…” buttons from the home page (replacing it with email capture instead). Consider whether you really want to send your visitors away like that.
  • Check your mobile experience too. Whip out your smartphone and look at your site. Is it fugly? Do something about it! Here’s a handy post from Shonali Burke if you’re running WordPress.

Why do you have a blog or website? How do you make that clear to your visitors?

Author’s Bio: Rosemary O’Neill is an insightful spirit who works for social strata — a top ten company to work for on the Internet . Check out the Social Strata blog. You can find Rosemary on Google+ and on Twitter as @rhogroupee

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