Is this the trail for me?
Imagine an amateur hiker being dropped onto a trail with no indication of what trail he’s on or which direction points north. That is what happens on many websites.

When visitors land on your site, it takes an average of only six seconds to decide whether to explore further. How easy is it for them to figure out if they’re where they want to be? They need to know what your organization is about immediately—what you do and why it it’s important to them.

Where is the trail marker?
Organizations spend many hours perfecting the content and visual elements of their website’s home page. But what if visitors land on other pages of the site first? If they don’t see a clear path to where they want to go, they’re moving on…and off your site

Below is an example of poor website usability. This company chooses to showcase an interesting technique of bouncing graphic elements when the mouse hovers over them, instead of displaying navigation that visitors can instantly figure out.

The home page's navigation is a guessing game.

The home page’s navigation is a guessing game.

For another example, land first on this “System for Success” subpage of the site and you can’t tell whose website it is. Is it the grid in the upper left? Is it the rounded rectangle with “SH, SH” in it? What is the company name? What do they do? The navigation is a mystery and makes you work way too much to get anywhere else on the site.

The subpage leaves visitors wondering what company is the website representing.

The subpage leaves visitors wondering what company is the website representing.

Make sure you have these elements on each page of your site:

  • Company name and/or logo
  • A tagline or information included on the page that tells what your organization is about (some logos or company names may answer this question without adding anything more descriptive)
  • Contact information to reach you offline
  • Links to your organization’s social media sites
  • Navigation to go to other sections/pages of the site

Give visitors a specific trailhead to start with
If visitors are coming to your site by way of links included in an email campaign, make sure you’re taking them where they’re expecting to go. Let’s say downloading a white paper is your email’s call to action. Take them to a landing page that includes a prominent link to the white paper. If the link goes to your home page, the reader now has to think too much and try to guess where to go for the whitepaper. Don’t make them work for it because they probably won’t.

Think about where your Web searches took you in the last few days as you surfed for specific information. Did you easily find what you needed when you landed on a site? Could you tell if this website would have the information you wanted or the task you wanted to complete?

There are many tools you can use to make your website an easy journey for clients. Identify the trail, give them obvious trail markers and land them on the right trailhead so your visitors will stay along to reach out to you for your services.