Site Design Essentials
Before going into design for each personality, let’s touch on the foremost design essential – usability.
“On the Web, usability is a necessary condition for survival. If a website is difficult to use, people leave. If the homepage fails to clearly state what a company offers and what users can do on the site, people leave. If users get lost on a website, they leave. If a web site’s information is hard to read or doesn’t answer users’ key questions, they leave. Note a pattern here? There’s no such thing as a user reading a website manual or otherwise spending much time trying to figure out an interface. There are plenty of other websites available; leaving is the first line of defense when users encounter a difficulty.” - Jakob Nielsen
It should be easy to get from A to F, L or Z page. The three-click rule works best as a target. This rule states that if site visitor cannot find what he’s looking for in three clicks, he’s gone. Make sure he can find what he needs regardless of his current location on your site. I find that the best way to approach this is to use links in vertical navigation as section links, and use the right or left side navigation links to guide users within sections. With this approach, links in vertical navigation (left or right) differ from section to section, while the top links always stay consistent. Check the Linkscape help section to see it in action.
Rely on content links. Users are extremely LAZY creatures; they don’t want to spend time looking for what they need. Guide them with content links. SEObook.com does a perfect job of this. Brooks Group and optimization.ca also serve as good examples.
Make your design easy on the eyes. With good taste, you can keep this aspect under control. View bad designs from a usability perspective to see what to avoid.
Feature the search box prominently on your website. Use Google custom search for a $100 per year to make sure your internal search engine does its job, as most others do not work nearly as well. It’s very frustrating when a site’s internal search engine doesn’t return any results or gives a bunch of completely irrelevant links. After being spoiled by Google, users will not tolerate crappy SERPs, so be sure to provide quality.
Include high quality photography. If you’re selling merchandise, product pictures are some of the most important elements on the page. Make sure your photography is of the highest possible quality.
You can find more website usability tips at www.useit.com.
It’s important to note that we as people operate in each personality type throughout the buying cycle. I may want to research a digital camera in detail before buying, which puts me into “Guardian” mode. On the other hand, something can hit me on the head and I would just buy the item without much research.
Website design must accommodate all four buying modes to be effective. FutureNow takes this further and develops entire fictional characters, but this is beyond the scope of any webmaster. Sticking to four personalities is easier and also effective (combined with detailed content/question and concern research).
The top part of the website should be made for:
Those personality types are fast decision makers that come to conclusions instantly. It’s essential to satisfy their buying modes before satisfying Guardians and Idealists. The top part of the website is a perfect place for this. Feature the most prominent and hard hitting benefits in the headline (or subheading if headline is reserved for SEO), followed by bullet points.
Bullet points are perfect for Rationals and Artisans. Bullets are:
Easy to scan
Easy to read
Include your most important benefits and features at the top of the site and in bullet points. This creates an “inverted pyramid” where you tell the best part in the beginning, contrary to print articles, which hold the best stuff back until the end.
I am mostly Artisan in my personality. I don’t really give a whit for too many details, and like cool stuff. I want something NOW and care mostly for the bottom line, like Rationals.
Just as with Rationals, authority is a big factor for me. I have to know who the hell you are before I even read a word you have to say. This brings up an issue – show your credibility builders right off the bat! This is because Artisans and Rationals will not even listen to you if you’re “nobody” in our eyes. Memberships, awards, or a short summary of what you’ve achieved is CRUCIAL to keeping those personality types interested.
Also, use images of well-known or industry logos. Place them strategically in the visible sections of the site and on the home page.
Credibility is a factor with all people, so you’ll kill a lot of birds if you make this section work.
I am attracted to pictures and videos, since those tend to summarize content, saving me the trouble of going through boring text. Use images and video in the top level part of your website to encourage Artisans and Rationals to buy. SEOBook makes perfect use of this technique. Aaron summarizes each page in a video, which helps short attention span visitors digest his long text pages easier.
Borrow this technique and use videos on your page to summarize and describe pages. Keep them one to three minutes in length and stick to the facts. Look at videos as summaries of content – hype free.
On the Topic Of Hype
I personally hate hype. Maybe it’s because marketing has made me hype-resistant, but when I see it, I know it (just like porn). I think hyped pages are a thing of the past, since those usually never make it to high positions on Google SERPs. In fact, the only pages that make it on Google are content-rich sites with no hype in sight.
My advice would be to stay away from hype, unless you’re in a very niche market where sales letters do the job of selling well. Check Clickbank to see HARDCORE examples of what to avoid.
Using the Lower Portion of the Site
The lower portion of the page is perfect for Guardians and Idealists who don’t mind and actually prefer to read through many details before handing over their dollars. There you can list each possible detail relevant to the topic, without worrying about length. The more detailed you get, the better.
Make sure to throw in testimonials for the Idealists who rely on the opinions of others when making their decisions. Plugging testimonials strategically throughout your content is the best approach.
By devoting the lower portion of the site to details, you will also make Artisans and Rationals happy, who will do an unconscious sniff test and glance over long text to see if everything adds up.
Images stop scanning eyes, and our eyes always scan to focus on something. You can use images to strategically divert the eyes towards important text next to the image.
More dominant personalities devote more attention to the page if there’s a well-matched and relevant image in the upper portion of the page.
Make sure to use an image in the top part of the page to stop the eyes and to divert attention. As you move down the text, use images well below the fold to attract more attention to content.
Say you have a 1500 word article. To make more people read it, plug in four to seven images throughout the text. Readers will jump from image to image, reading the text right next to each one. At some point, the content will capture their interest, and they will continue reading.
Follow Content Formatting
Writing for the web is COMPLETELY different from writing for print.
On SEO Chat, writers can get away with leisurely introductions, because the site is big and has a large audience — but if you’re small, there’s no room for small talk. Cut all the “binding” crap out of your content, because it wastes readers’ time. Time is measured in seconds on the Internet.
Use the inverted pyramid format (best points first).
Format for scanners.
Use plenty of headlines.
Use idea and three to four sentences per paragraph.
Put one main topic under one headline. Make another headline if there’s another topic.
Use bulleted lists.
Use bold to highlight important points
Don’t use too much bold.
Learn the basics of writing for the web by reading Online Copywriting Tips. There are plenty of other sites that detail how to write for the web, but here are two more useful resources:
Now you know how to model your site for each of the four personalities that will be looking for what you have to offer. Give them what they’re looking for, and you may see your conversions increase. Good luck!