When you’re planning a trip, you will probably use some sort of map to chart your course. You might break out the old paper map or atlas, a rather old school approach. In this digital age, online maps show a clear route from point A to point B, photos included.
Of course, built-in or stand-alone Global Positioning Systems make traveling even easier by talking to you, telling you when and where to turn on the fly.
The point is that when you need to go somewhere, you must find out how to get there. The easier it is to map a course, the more likely you are to make the trip.
Your Home Page Needs to Be a GPS
When people arrive on your online store’s front door, your home page, they are there for a reason. They have a purpose, perhaps to buy or research a product, and they want to do it quickly. Most of these online shoppers are quite different from their offline counterparts.
Department store shoppers usually like to browse around, checking everything out. They spent time getting to the store; they are going to make the most of their visit.
However, the online customer is usually in a hurry. They searched, they clicked and they arrived. If their search took them to your home page, they need to find what they’re looking for in a hurry. They want to:
- Find it.
- Buy it.
- Get on with it!
Sure, it would be nice if they stayed around and browsed a bit. But look at it this way: the easier it is to find what they’re looking for, the more likely they are to come back again.
But, Is Your Home Page Just a Laundry List?
I’ve been to many home pages with poorly designed navigation. The front door was nothing more than a field of hyperlinks that I had to search and scroll through. More often than not, the item I needed was “below the fold.”
The idea of “below the fold” and “above the fold” comes from newspaper terminology. Editors placed important items in the top half of the first page, above the fold. On a web page, items that are above the fold are located at the top of the page. Scrolling down takes you below the fold.
Laundry-list navigation shows everything a site offers, often in link “field” or “cloud.”
Even if they do break it down a bit, you still get lost in the maze of links. There often seems to be no rhyme or reason to the link list.
This is usually the result of too many people staking their claim on the home page. Everyone wants their stuff visible right away, even if it’s not what the prospect is looking for and needs at that time.
They don’t understand that this is actually counterproductive. If the prospect can’t find what they need from you quickly enough, they’ll find somewhere else to shop. After all, they don’t have to go back out to the parking lot, get in their car and drive across town.
They just point and click away from your site to the next one.
Upgrade to a GPS Page
Breaking your product line into smaller, specifically grouped selections turns your home page into a GPS. Instead of talking to your prospect, it guides him through the process by telling him where to click next, not by making him guess.
To illustrate this idea, let’s say that you are an electrical supply house. You have parts available for the homeowner, the storefront business and for industrial applications. In fact, by identifying your three main customer groups, you’ve started to instinctively build your home page’s Global Positioning System.
Instead of a huge list of products, you can build text boxes with headlines for the three categories: Residential Products | Commercial Products | Industrial Applications
Under those category headings you include links to specific types of products. And you could word them for the customer’s normal expertise level. Here is a sample navigation box, separated into main categories for each type of consumer:
This is just an example, and a good copywriter will work with the page designer, department managers, sales staff and other “stakeholders” to further refine this link text and other navigation. These text boxes would be placed under your title, headlines and introductory text, of course. You’ll choose links to the products your customers are most likely to need.
These text boxes aren’t stunning, award-winning graphics masterpieces. They’re really kind of plain . . . and simple. Think about it, though. When you’re really searching for something, you don’t need “cool,” you need clarity.
Additionally, a well-designed page will show this navigation above the fold where your customer will find it easily.
Instead of a confusing laundry-list approach, your GPS navigation shows your customer the quickest route to their destination: your product. Getting there quickly helps them buy what they need immediately, and encourages them to return to your easy-to-use website for future needs.
Article copyright 2012 – Steve Maurer, Maurer Copywriting
Steve Maurer, Maurer Copywriting
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
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