1. Create several key use cases for people to use your site – Why are people on your site? You spent energy getting them there, so now what? I always advocate to create a really few well-defined and streamlined use cases. You may already have a working site or be in the process of designing it from scratch. Ask yourself this question: If a visitor to your site was a tourist, what would you like them to see in your “site” or “city”? Are you sending them to a bad neighbourhood, or are they seeing the sights? Here are some examples of use cases:
- Get them to sign-up
- Find out more about your service/product – watch a video or read more
- Get them to purchase or sign up for your product/service
These seem simple stupid, but it is shocking how many sites (especially web start-ups) don’t seem to have simple use cases defined to push people to these important steps. Don’t be one of those sites, make sure you have tightly defined use cases and your website is tuned around them.
2. Make it super easy for them to sign-up, so you can get their information – When a person comes to your site and is about to make the leap of faith to share information, make sure you are there for them. This is a big psychological leap for many; you need to make sure you do the right things to help them take the next step. Here are a few suggestions:
- Keep your form clean (don’t ask for information you don’t need) – People don’t want to feel like they are doing their taxes by entering countless pieces of personal information. Keep things lean and mean, get some initial buy-in and you can always ask more questions after you get to know them. Think of it like dating.
- Add options like Facebook or Twitter connect – This has become a no-brainer these days. Gone are the days where some get uber-concerned about their personal profile (well some people at least). It is amazing how the click of one button vs. filling out a form has reduced inhibitions to share information.
- Style sometimes means substance – People are used to the finer touches when it comes to UI. This could be a refined button, and it could be AJAX/JS pop-ups. The days of boring Post forms are dead. Take a little bit of time and even a bit of money on your primary form to ensure it looks the part in today’s web.
People are not only looking for these refinements, they are expecting them. The bar is set so high by the quality of execution by web start-ups out there. Make sure to spend some time on this. Here is a particularly good article by Smashing Magazine on the topic:
At the end of the day, if you don’t get their information in many ways you are back to square one.
3. Make it easy for people to tell others – So, people came to your site. Did they do what you wanted them to do? Got their information? What happens next? Everyone knows that word-of-mouth is the best form of advertising. Why not make it easier for people to share their glowing recommendations? I know what you are going to say – I have a share button on my site, isn’t that enough? The problem is everyone has a share button and it no longer stands out. You need to spice it up, and make it a part of your process flow. An example in the process flow is when a user completes a key step or when they upload something. Gamification is emerging as a trend to help capitalize on this. If you aren’t familiar with this current trend (not sure how you couldn’t be) but Gartner pegs half of innovation to be gamified by 2015 – http://www.zdnet.com/blog/gamification/cios-pay-attention-gartner-says-over-half-of-innovation-will-be-gamified-by-2015/312
Here are the key reasons that Gartner cited: (I could paraphrase, but copy and paste works so well)
“1. Accelerated feedback cycles. In the real world, feedback loops are slow (e.g., annual performance appraisals) with long periods between milestones. Gamification increases the velocity of feedback loops to maintain engagement.
2. Clear goals and rules of play. In the real world, where goals are fuzzy and rules selectively applied, gamification provides clear goals and well-defined rules of play to ensure players feel empowered to achieve goals.
3. A compelling narrative. While real-world activities are rarely compelling, gamification builds a narrative that engages players to participate and achieve the goals of the activity.
4. Tasks that are challenging but achievable. While there is no shortage of challenges in the real world, they tend to be large and long-term. Gamification provides many short-term, achievable goals to maintain engagement.”
4. Up-sell, cross sell, sideways sell, recommend, suggest, etc. etc. – Your site is chock full of goodness, products and options, but it is more than likely your customer doesn’t have a clue. Connect the dots for them. Why have you turned your site into a scavenger hunt? There is a good chance that if they bought something from your site, you might have something else they might like. The Amazon recommendation engine has set the standard in this regard, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out if they like product A they might want product B. Leverage things like confirmation pages and confirmation emails to get your message out there and get them coming back for more. If you use those tools it won’t be considered as a marketing impression, yet it might spur them to action.
At the end of the day there are some really simple tools and processes you can use to help your next site or even overhaul your existing site.