View Full Version : It's How You Say It

09-30-2006, 12:17 AM
It's Not What You Say, but How You Say It
By Matt Bailey

One of the easiest ways to lose a customer is in the navigation. Visitors
to your site are looking for answers to a specific question. Many times
parts of the visitors' questions are uncovered through the analytics, as you
can get a sense of what was in their minds.

The mind of the website visitor is a complex thing, as the closest you may
come to understanding their thinking is in a testing lab, which requires a
lot of time and money, but it is well worth the investment. Until then, you
have to rely on practical analytics and usability in order to determine what
people are looking for and the best way to help them find their answers.

Because people are coming to your site looking for answers, you need to know
the types of questions they are asking. This is the first step to building
a usable navigation scheme. In evaluating the terms that they use and
building on some "anchor" terms, as I like to call them, you can begin to
build taxonomy (a classification of things, or the principles underlying the
classification) in your navigation structure.

The main problem that navigation presents is just that -- it does not
anticipate the main problems. People are searching for an answer, which
inherently means that they have questions. Questions are derived from
trying to solve problems, such as buying a new chainsaw, curing poison ivy,
stopping blood from a chainsaw injury, finding local hospital locations,
repairing roofs, etc.

Visitors are welcomed by your navigation as the primary means of traveling
your website. Your navigation can be friendly and lead them to the answers
they seek, or it can be confusing and not provide any indication of where to
go. Most confusing are the terms "Products" and "Services" in the main
navigation. Considering that keywords are an anchor to your business and
search engine ranking, I can't understand why someone would dedicate prime
navigation space to two words that do not mean anything. Investigate your
keywords and how you can better classify your site's information, products,
and content.

Start by asking yourself the following questions:

Can I be more descriptive in explaining what makes my site different or
What questions do my site visitors have?
Does my navigation answer their problems?
Do my conversion pages answer problems and provide specific direction?

By using your analytics, you can narrowly define a group of visitors coming
to your site, ideally by keyword group. From this, you can determine a
conversion rate for that specific group of visitors -- are they finding what
they are looking for? Using this information, you can begin to determine
the problems on your site at a granular level, which will work together to
improve the site as a whole.

Matt Bailey
Site Logic Marketing
http://www.SiteLogicMarketing.com/ (http://www.sitelogicmarketing.com/)