Think like your customer - not like an expert!
Have you ever noticed that every website is set up the same? They have an 'about us' page, a 'contact us' page, a portfolio or services page, etc. I don't know about you, but often when I am looking for something on a website I feel like I'm on a game show called 'Hide and Seek'. What I want is never where I think it's going to be! Why is this?
Website designers for the most part take the advice of the client and simply translate their ideas into web language. So therefore, the responsibility of creating user friendly navigation and content, falls in the hands of the website owner. Most of us business owners know our industries inside and out, but that doesn't make us the best person to layout our website - in fact - just the opposite. You know all of the industry jargon and how people in your industry catalogue information, but do your clients and website users think about it in the same way? How would they catalogue your information? What would they look for and where?
This answer is not short and sweet, but rather complex. Every user is going to be different with various levels of technical ability. So how can you make it work for everyone? It's simple..start thinking like your customers and stop thinking like an expert!
Here are some key ideas to help your website users get what they need without having to play 'Hide and Seek':
Your first level of navigation (about us, contact, resources, etc) should be consistent and be on every page throughout your site.
There should be a way to get back to the start page (home or index) from every other page on your site.
- Include live links in your text to direct your users where they want to go without having to use the navigation bar.
Display the page and path that the user has taken to get where they are currently. For example this page on my site shows you where you are - www.marketme.ca (we've done > clients >)
Put your contact information on every page so that no matter where your users enter/leave your site they can contact you.
Your content / pages should match what your user wants to get, not what you think is good to put on display ie. business plan, history of.. (unless that's what your users want)
- Most importantly, get your users involved - what do they recommend?
Games are a fun way to incorporate user interactivity in your site, but try and stay away from 'Hide and Seek'. Your users will thank you for it!