I talked about navigation earlier in the week. At that time, I was discussing how you can find out what visitors to your site do. Once you see where they go, then you can develop a strategy based on that information.
The question arose: what if those visitors are not doing what you want them to? Then, assuming that what you want them to do is connected with their wants and needs as it should be, they aren’t getting what they want and neither are you.
I’m working with Dr. Jane Bluestein, whose website has just this kind of problem. People come to visit, look at one page, and leave. Jane would like them to stay, to read articles and visit her bookstore, and to buy her books.
How can she accomplish this?
Well, we’re approaching the problem on a number of fronts, but one of the biggest issues for Jane’s website is navigation.
Here’s her old website. When you visit, you get a nice welcome and a set of pictures of children. Now what? The collection of handprints gives links for various kinds of people who might visit. You can choose “Elementary” if you’re an elementary teacher, or “Media” if you’re in the media — well no, it doesn’t work quite that way, but something along those lines.
Just below it is another group of links. In case you can’t read them, here they are: About Our Company • About this Site • Contact Us • Site Map • About Jane Jane’s Schedule • Where Jane has Been • Press Kit • Testimonials • Jane’s Blogs Bookstore • Articles • Handouts • Workshops • Fun Pages • LinksWhat’s New • Other Resources on this Site • Special Ed • Beginning Teachers
Then there’s a bit of text, followed by another set of links:
Contact Us Site Map by Topic Site Map Alphabetical About Jane Bluestein, Ph.D. What Jane’s been up toSchedule Workshops Articles Handouts Bookstore High School’s Not Forever Web site Links
So on the homepage there are three sets of navigational options, all a bit different, and all frankly offering way too many choices. More than seven choices is the same as no choices: it doesn’t sort out the options. Visitors may feel overwhelmed.
The other pages are similar, so a visitor coming by search to one of her articles usually just reads that page and leaves.
Here’s Jane’s new homepage:
She’s compressed the navigation down to seven options (the maximum you should use) and put all the choices on handy buttons in one of the places where people expect to find them. The choices she’s offering are also better: people are directed to the places Jane wants them to go (like the bookstore and the page with information about hiring her as a speaker), to clear and appealing options like her blog and her impressive collection of free stuff, and to readily understandable places like “home.” Instead of getting lost on the page and leaving, visitors will be able to grasp the information they need quickly and move on to the next place they want to visit.
If an analysis of your visitors’ behavior shows that they’re not traveling through your website the way you’d like them to, try making it easier on them. A good signpost or two, a helpful trail of breadcrumbs to guide them — it’ll make all the difference.