I was recently shown a link to a website where people are quoted – not famous people, average people. Two notable quotes that I’ve shown on this slide are “We shouldn’t assume that everyone knows what a hyperlink is.“ and “Oh, you mean the web? You said the internet, and you meant the web? I don’t understand how you can expect me to do things when you can’t even call something by the correct name.” Now, sure these are average people quoted, but they belong to a specific segment: business owners – and the quotes are context from their conversations with their website designers. The point: even the people who are responsible for funding and creating parts of the internet don’t always understand it.
By the way – the site where I found these quotes: clientsfromhell.net. Some of it is pretty funny. But first, let’s learn a thing or two.
So what about people who just use the internet? Some people think that the internet changes so fast that you need to constantly modify your approach to keep up with changing trends. The thing is, people take longer to change their habits than what you may expect. One of the most famous books on conversion improvements and usability, “Don’t make me think” by Steve Krug, asserts that point specifically.
Steve suggests that your site should have a natural visual hierarchy to it – that users should be visually directed to the most important things first, if you will. He thinks that sites often lack elemental breakdown – where text seems to float aimlessly in space, but actually does belong to other elements. His recommendation – nest them next to one another. He thinks its best to stick to conventions unless you have a great reason not to do so – people don’t have to think as much when it’s a convention. Clearly define different sections of a page – visitors shouldn’t be forced to squint their way through a page, but rather should see the big picture of top level elements from distance so they may choose where to focus their energy and not waste brain cells constantly scanning. Finally – to keep the most important elements popping, reduce noise or those parts of the page that don’t help the experience in that section.
So it’s simple. Don’t assume that people will notice what you want them to. Don’t expect them to be motivated to buy all on their own. Don’t expect that people want the newest and coolest. When you google the term “don’t assume”, you’ll find an interesting article on wikipedia, where I quote from the unsanctioned advice given on the page: “… when you make any assumption, even one of good faith, you are creating for yourself an illusion from which the truth may disappoint you.” Very wise, wikipedia – thank you for that.
When you control a website, you need to be willing to boil everything down to the lowest common denominator – your least internet-savvy users. Strive to create clarity and simplicity and even a person who thinks there is a difference between the “web” and the “internet” will be able to use your website – or internet site. While your competitors feed their egos with the new and fancy, you can satisfy your customer’s basic need to shop and make more revenue.
I hope you enjoyed that – have a wonderful Wildcard Friday!