My mom lives out on a big piece of land in the sticks.
I’m no fisherman, but from time to time we take our little tin row boat out into the middle of her pond and drop a line.
I’ve come to realize that the only thing worse than not getting a bite, is losing the tug of war between one that you’ve got hooked.
Losing a good catch is a lot like losing a valuable website visitor. It’s not uncommon for someone to visit your site, browse one page, and then bounce.
This hit it and quit it approach to web browsing is reflected in your company’s website bounce rate, a tricky number that serves as a good indicator of the effectivity of your marketing strategy.
The fact of the matter is, we want our website visitors to take off their coat and stay a while.
An unparalleled amount of time and effort is poured into the creation of a great website, which is why it is important for your visitors to get as much out of it as you put into it.
If you’re company needs help keeping your visitors hooked, we’ve drummed up a few functionality considerations that are worth making note of.
Define a Clear Navigation Path
Your website’s navigation should be high up on your list of priorities.
If visitors have a hard time figuring out how to get from point A to point B, it’s likely they won’t stick around.
If you’re website implements a navigation bar at the top of the page, consider how implementing one in the footer could improve the user experience.
Drop-down menus are a great way to segment your pages into a series of relevant categories. However, if you are going to implement drop-down menus, make sure that the contents within them is completely relevant to the categorical devisions in your navigation bar.
Before a visitor even clicks on a link, they should have a good feel for what type of content will be on the page that they are navigating to. This means that you must come up with comprehensive section titles that spell it out for them.
It’s important that everything is clickable. Check, and check again to be sure that all of your navigation links lead you to the correct page.
The easier it is to explore your website, the more exploring people will do, which in turn will increase the chance that they will convert.
Implement a Responsive Design
Mobile web adoption is growing 8 times faster than web adoption did in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
In fact, mobile-based searches make up one quarter of all searches. (Source: Digital Buzz)
With mobile usage quickly changing the way in which we gather information, it is important for your website to keep pace.
This quote sums up the importance of responsive design fairly well:
“Day by day, the number of devices, platforms, and browsers that need to work with your site grows. Responsive web design represents a fundamental shift in how we’ll build websites for the decade to come. It’s more than likely that a sizable amount of your website visitors are coming to you from their smartphone or tablet, which is why your website functionality needs to carry over to mobile seamlessly.” – Jeffery Veen
Responsive design calls upon grids, images, and the use of CSS media queries to provide users with a consistent, functional web browsing experience across a variety of devices. Whether your visitors are coming to you from smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop, your website should accomodate them accordingly.
A responsive website eliminates the need to create a new design every time a new device makes its way onto the map.
In order to avoid having visitors leave your site due to a messy mobile layout, you want each variation of your site to be easily accessible, and visually pleasing.
According to the Associated Press, the human attention span is a mere 8 seconds. Believe it or not, goldfish have a longer attention span than you and I!
In order to avoid your visitors departure, create a website that lends itself well to that 8 seconds. This means that your website should be easy to read, and comprehend.
Avoid dishing out a lot of long-winded written content. Do your best to implement headers and visuals in between blocks of text to ease readability, and make the information seem less intimidating.
You want your visitors to be able to digest the message you are trying to get across, because if they are unclear about it, they may not stick around long enough to figure it out.
When you are creating written content for your website keep it simple. Avoid going off on a tangent and focus on consolidating your information into a more welcoming, user-friendly format. Don’t be afraid to make it conversational. The more you engage your visitors, the more they will be willing to interact with your website.
Utilize Interesting 404 Pages
Ah, the 404 page.
While the goal is to limit the amount of 404 pages your customers come face to face with, you can’t win them all.
Rather than welcome your visitors with a useless error page, consider peppering in a little bit of humor.
Even if they land on a broken link, the quality of your 404 page has the potential to encourage your website visitors to keep exploring.
Be sure to include a search box and a link back to your homepage so that users don’t feel like they are stuck at a dead end.
If you need a bit of inspiration, check out what Lego and The Rolling Stones have done to spice up their “oops” pages: