The thought of planning your website might be a foreign concept to you. Unfortunately, many companies put very little thought into the structure and flow of their website and the results reflect lack of thought. If you are a company that has taken the time to think through the structure and flow of your website, congrats! I am sure you are seeing excellent results. Even so, this post might help you improve your already good results.
The best way to tell if you have an effective website structure and whether the flow of your site is working is by looking at the analytics of your site. If you don’t currently have an analytics program on your website, do it now! You can get a Google Analytics account set up for free and install it on your site within minutes. Looking at your website statistics can be an overwhelming task – you will be presented with such a vast amount of information. Don’t worry. We’ll make it easier for you by pointing out the most important information.
What is bounce rate?
Bounce rate is a term used in website traffic analysis. It essentially represents the average percentage of initial visitors to a site who “bounce” away to a different site, rather than continue on to other pages within your site. If you have a high bounce rate like 65% for example, that means that 65% of the people who arrive at your website are leaving your site without making even one click deeper into your website. If you had a store and knew that high of a percentage of people that stepped into your store left without looking at anything beyond the first display they saw, you’d do something about it immediately! Why wouldn’t you do the same with your website?
Each page must have a purpose
When you’re planning your website and developing the site map, it is extremely important to spend time thinking about each individual page of your site and asking yourself, “What is the purpose of this page?” When a visitor arrives at your website they have a goal in mind and know what they are looking for. If they immediately get the sense that it is going to be challenging to locate that information, they will leave. If you’ve taken the time in the planning phase to clearly identify the purpose of that page and you’ve created content that will answer the questions the visitor is looking for, they are far more likely to dig deeper into your site to find more information – if it’s easy for them to dig by having a clear navigation path.
Logically lead your visitor to take the next step
When you are creating content its important to keep in mind what’s next in the mind of your visitor. For example, if your organization is focused on spreading an idea and gaining further awareness of a particular social issue, content on the page should cover as many angles of this issue as possible and give a clear, compelling explanation as to why your organization has its point of view.
This is where you can take the opportunity to provide a clear path to the calls to action. If your visitor wants to get involved in your cause you should provide a clear link within your content leading to a page that allows them to view and sign up for upcoming events. If your visitor is a potential donor, you’ll want to provide an easy way for them to click within your content that leads them to a page providing them with all the benefits they’ll receive by becoming a donor. If your visitor would like deeper information on something that could be a fairly confusing part of the issue, you should provide a link to another page that gives more information on that aspect of the issue.
This makes logical sense but the challenge is the time and thought it takes to accomplish. Well, it’s worth it! Unless you are happy with 65% (or much worse, in some cases) of your visitors leaving your site without looking at any other page, then you need to take the time and effort to work through this process.
I’d love to get some feedback from you on this issue. If you’ve already taken the time to plan your website in this fashion, please share your results with us. If you have questions, please feel free to leave those as comments as well or you can go to our ask the Web marketing expert page and submit your question. We’ll follow up as soon as possible.