There are two principal reasons why a person would build a website: to sell a product or to gain attention through stories. In both cases, you need to appeal to your visitors and make sure they do what you want them to. Once you have visitors, it’s important that they stay on your site. To do that, you really need to keep their attention by providing content and products that appeal to them.
Analytics provide deep insight into whether your site is appealing to visitors. It’s not enough to just have visitors, they need to stay on your site. Here are two ways to know if you really need to perform CPR on your site:
- Your bounce rate’s high. When a person enters your site, looks at the page they landed on, and leaves, this is known as a “bounce.” The “bounce rate” determines the percentage of visitors who leave your site after looking only at one page. A “high” bounce rate (above 70%) isn’t always bad. If you have a blog, for example, you can’t expect many people to gain loyalty. If the bounce rate is close to 100%, no one is really finding your site very interesting. When you’re seeing rates of 80 or above, alarm bells should be ringing. To find our your bounce rate, implement analytics software for your site (Google Analytics or Clicky are good starts).
- The average amount of time spent on your site is low. If your bounce rate is high, but the average visitor spends more than the amount of time a fast reader would read the page he/she landed on, you’re engaging your audience. The amount of time someone spends on a page is a good measure of engagement. But you must be aware that cumulative engagement doesn’t tell you the full story. Some of your visitors may spend 10 minutes on a page while spending only 20 seconds on another before pressing the “Back” button or closing the tab. If you’re noticing that people are spending a grand total of 20 seconds on average through your entire site, though, you really need to consider remodeling.
If you fulfill any of those criteria, here’s the procedure for CPR:
- Label sections of your content correctly. This is more a piece of advice for those running blogs, but retailers should take note nonetheless! Readers have the attention spans of sugar-rushed toddlers. They don’t like reading enormous blocks of text. If you have a gigantic masterpiece on your site, split it up into sections and label them properly, using an H1 (biggest) or H2 (“not-so-big-but-still-relatively-large”) tag. I wouldn’t go any smaller than H2 unless I’m marketing something. The smaller you go, the less clear the divisions will seem (unless, again, it’s strictly marketing material, a whitepaper, or it’s a “product details” section). If you must use a smaller tag, provide sufficient spacing to make it clear to the reader that they’ve entered a new section. The ideal size for one block of text should be 250 words. If you feel uncomfortable with dividing things, just do what I do: Make each major point in bold writing.
- Go mobile! When a run-of-the-mill site is seen through a smartphone, it takes quite a painstaking effort to actually read everything on the page. If you get a mobile template for the site or hire someone to develop it, you will be giving a whopping 29% of the internet’s users an easier viewing experience. This percentage will continue to grow as mobile adoption becomes more commonplace. Also, when adopting a mobile viewing platform, make sure that all text formatting is visible on the screen. Some site templates give mobile users a minimal rendering of the text, which makes it difficult to tell where the section headings are. Bold text will appear normal and section headings will be reduced in size considerably.
- Keep it simple. Not all your visitors will be college graduates, and even college graduates get overwhelmed by “sophisticated” language. Unless you’re selling fancy luxury products, there’s no need to be poetic. Your language should be readable even to someone who is taking 6th grade English Literature classes. Use this tool to determine how readable your page is. If its readability is somewhere around 7th grade, you’ll easily engage most of your visitors. This is the sad reality of the internet, but we have to put customers first!
- Get rid of all the clutter. Chances are your site has some element within it that makes it difficult to focus on the primary content (the content you really want someone to read). Eliminate all the distractions that appear around that content, immediately. Distractions can irritate some visitors who believe that they might have reached the wrong site. Make sure that your site is presentable, looks navigable, and says everything it can in the shortest way possible.
- Get someone else to look at your site. Sometimes, the best advice doesn’t come from a professional, but from a person who has no skills in web optimization. Invite a regular Joe to look at your site and ask him to tell you only what’s wrong with it. Encourage this person to look at the site not from an advisory perspective, but as a consumer. What’s particularly frustrating about it? Do this with more people and analyze your results after taking notes. When something appears frequently, resolve it!
This advice, although it looks simple, is easier said than done. You’ll have to spend a large amount of time straightening out your site, perhaps more than you spent setting it up in the first place. However, the benefits far outweigh the costs when you think of how presentable the site will be after this. Always remember to get into your customer’s mind when making any future changes for your site. Print this guide up and refer to it every time you want to build onto your masterpiece!