Want to make your site all that it can be, and get an edge on life, in the Internet Army? Well, I don’t know that I’d necessarily call owners and operators of websites an army (I think of them as more like an unarmed, disparate, long-distance, open-access, technological social club), but either way, this series has you covered.
Through the series, we want to improve your site in three key ways, as discussed below, so that it “pops” and engages visitors. In so doing, we hope to increase your traffic and earnings. In Part 1, we discussed how to improve your site’s design. Today, in Part 2, we will look at functionality (usability or UX). And finally, we will look at traffic in the final part, Part 3. (Who says three’s a crowd, huh, traffic?)
Let’s look directly at functionality, since that’s our topic today. (Please, all hands down. No bathroom breaks. We can do this.) We are going to look at a couple of interesting sources I haven’t used yet for this blog, BT Marketing Solutions and Pingler. Note that since these sites are both in the general SEO and content marketing field, that is a service we offer here at Superb Internet. We also now serve snow cones out the side window (extra charge for tropical punch flavor, because we’re running out).
BT gives us a broad overview, via these three basics:
- perspective toward your user
- all eyes on navigation
- interaction via forms and error messages.
Pingler gets into specific tactics to make your site easier for users, with four specific approaches. The specifics we will cover include the following:
- widgets (no that’s not a discriminatory slur)
- social media integration
- world clock
Essentially, all these seven tips will make the site easier for your users to get where they want to go. Happy surfers are exponentially more likely to stay, to buy, and to come back often.
But first, ladies and gentleman (and precocious kids?), right before your very eyes, we will look at facts about website conversions never seen before. Knowing these facts will help you keep up with the Joneses, assuming the Joneses know a lot of amazing web conversion trivia. The first fun fact is as follows:
Fun Fact About Website Conversions #4: Did you know … that religious and online conversion are not one and the same? Converting into a buyer does not necessarily mean that the online user gains entry to a pristine afterlife. It’s important, then, not to lead people visiting your site to believe that they’ve just accomplished a spiritual transformation by buying one of your collectible vintage lunchboxes.
Site Functionality: Broad Overview
Everyone knows that “user-friendliness” is crucial to business success. The last thing you want is your visitors to be unsure where on your site they can go to find the information they need so that they can make an informed purchase. Plus, you certainly don’t want them to be unsure how to complete a purchase. Remember at all times, as we’re reminded by BT, functionality is about interaction. Here are their three core concerns to facilitate that engagement:
- Perspective toward the user – BT recommends treating every user – every person who visits your site – as a story, a story about someone wanting something. I’ll extend that metaphor to say that your role with the site is to fulfill the desire of the user as easily as possible, by simplifying and enhancing operability.
- Navigating your site – Within the realm of functionality, one of the primary fiefdoms (whatever that is) is navigation. You want to make sure it’s easy for users to move around the site seamlessly. Keep in mind that because of how the search engines work, many people will access your site initially from an internal page (not the homepage). BT recommends adding breadcrumbs so Hansel and Gretel (your user – the wolf is malware) can make their way back home if they get lost.
- Forms & error messages – According to BT, make sure you have validation messages tied to any forms. Be specific about any “mistakes”; and make it as easy as possible for your system to perceive data as entered. You want confirmation messages installed, as well as 404 error messages with links to the homepage.
Fun Fact About Website Conversions #5: Did you know … that over 84% of online purchases are made by the owners of the sites themselves? You can’t make this stuff up.
Site Functionality: Specific Tactics
Let’s now move on to some specific alterations and additions to your site to makes it functionality even more memorable than a spring break trip to rural Idaho. Here are three suggestions from Pingler:
- Widgets – Widgets are apps you can put on your site that populate certain types of information or allow functionalities your users might appreciate. Make sure your widgets match the tone of your brand. Widgetbox is custom widgets.
- Social media integration – Make sure social buttons are easily accessible on your site to enhance engagement of your brand across the web.
- World clock – Pingler proposes that sites include a UNIX-based time and date box, which isn’t a bad idea, especially for mobile devices that might require the user to exit the browser to find out if a sale on your site is still active.
Fun Fact About Website Conversions #6: Did you know … that once, in 2006, a website “got flipped” and was converted by a user (all details available through the DHS)?
Design, see ya. Functionality, you’re toast. Next up: traffic. A final note on functionality before closing off this missive: remember that it is primarily about making things easier for your users. Test-marketing (even if it’s your cousin) can be great to find out what the experience is like when someone visits the site. Hopefully that experience is dumbfounded ecstasy.
by Kent Roberts