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It's Not What You Say, It's How You Say Itby: Matt Bailey
October 4, 2006
One of the easiest ways to lose a customer is in the navigation. Visitors to your site are looking for answers to a specific question. Many times parts of the visitors' questions are uncovered through the analytics, as you can get a sense of what was in their minds.
The mind of the website visitor is a complex thing, as the closest you may come to understanding their thinking is in a testing lab, which requires a lot of time and money, but it is well worth the investment. Until then, you have to rely on practical analytics and usability in order to determine what people are looking for and the best way to help them find their answers.
Because people are coming to your site looking for answers, you need to know the types of questions they are asking. This is the first step to building a usable navigation scheme. In evaluating the terms that they use and building on some “anchor” terms, as I like to call them, you can begin to build taxonomy (a classification of things, or the principles underlying the classification) in your navigation structure.
The main problem that navigation presents is just that — it does not anticipate the main problems. People are searching for an answer, which inherently means that they have questions. Questions are derived from trying to solve problems, such as buying a new chainsaw, curing poison ivy, stopping blood from a chainsaw injury, finding local hospital locations, repairing roofs, etc.
Visitors are welcomed by your navigation as the primary means of traveling your website. Your navigation can be friendly and lead them to the answers they seek, or it can be confusing and not provide any indication of where to go. Most confusing are the terms “Products” and “Services” in the main navigation. Considering that keywords are an anchor to your business and search engine ranking, I can't understand why someone would dedicate prime navigation space to two words that do not mean anything. Investigate your keywords and how you can better classify your site's information, products, and content.
Start by asking yourself the following questions:
By using your analytics, you can narrowly define a group of visitors coming to your site, ideally by keyword group. From this, you can determine a conversion rate for that specific group of visitors — are they finding what they are looking for? Using this information, you can begin to determine the problems on your site at a granular level, which will work together to improve the site as a whole.Matt Bailey
Site Logic Marketing
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