Don’t forget to help your visitors

All newspapers, magazines, and catalogs work the same way – you start at the front cover and keep turning the pages. That is not the case with websites.

When visitors arrive at a new website, they pause, look around, and figure out how to proceed. There are a lot of question marks in their head and as soon as your website answers them the better. Otherwise, your visitor will leave and may never come back.

Websites are difficult to use

All visitors suffer a moment of difficulty in a website. Some find it a simple annoyance while others become frustrated. Recognizing that websites are still not as easy to use like a newspaper is the right attitude when designing webpages.

Who does not want a visitor-friendly website? I’m sure you do but your actions do not say so. Too often your websites serve the needs of your company, or sometimes, even your egos. You cannot accept the truth that your visitor are finding it difficult to move around your website. This has to change.

When building the pages of your website how often do you ask yourself this question: “Am I helping my visitor with this webpage?”

We understand the pressure. Different people in an organization have different and often conflicting goals for the website. You throw up your arms and give up. Helping visitors requires fighting some fights. You may need to fight with the sales guy, the programmer, your boss, and yourself.

Yes, including yourself.

You thrust your own views upon your visitors. You want him to accept your website, your design, your creation. You want your visitor to change to satisfy you. When she does not, you call her stupid.

It is not just layout and colors

You have spent a lot of time designing the layout and choosing the right color combinations that you believe would appeal to your visitors but you forgot how to talk to them. Just like any human being on the planet we use words, not colors nor diagrams.

If you want to help your visitors, then talk to them in a language they understand. Use words and terms that are relevant to your visitors — not words only you and your friends understand. Craft your messages the way you would talk to a person face-to-face. The online world is a lonely place — your visitors need company.

Does it matter?

At one point, you have also visited a website that is inconsiderate of you. How does it feel? Don’t forget that you are a visitor, too.

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