Bouncing to the next builder – how NOT to lay out a website

I needed a builder this week.

Like anyone who needs anything now, I trawled the internet to find one. I perused websites of independent guys, big companies and everything in between. For each site, I wanted to know one thing – do you do what I need you to do, and how can I contact you for a quote?

It was amazing how much digging I had to do. If I couldn’t find that information within 20-30 seconds, I bounced and went to the next of my thousands of results.

It reminded me of when animated gifs and flashing text were everywhere on websites. Google came along, stripped all that away, leaving a single box on a page asking you what you’re looking for. Undeterred, Flash-heavy websites developed in complexity at the same time. Their fancy images and text swirled and swooped a clever animation (sometimes even related to what the organisation did) your homepage into view. They often looked impressive. But where do i click exactly? How do I extract what I’m looking for from this rubble?

Now, the best websites are clean, text-based and have a clear and simple call to action. They use

Tim Ferris, in his best seller The Four Hour Work Week (great read), asks what you’d do with your work day if you only had four hours. Then, what if it was two hours? You’d have to focus on the absolutely essential, and let the unimportant fall by the wayside, just like so many flashy landing pages.

So, if you could only ask visitors to your website to do one thing, what would it be?

Chances are, a lot of what’s left is not only unnecessary, but actively distracting. So use big text, attention grabbing buttons, and put less popular pages to one side.

At the end of those 30 seconds, make sure your visitor is doing what you want them to, not bouncing to the next builder.

2 Responses to “Bouncing to the next builder – how NOT to lay out a website”

  1. Ashley Clarke 05/10/2011 at 10:40 am #

    Well said!

    And what’s really great about this is we don’t need to actively ask our visitors what they are coming to our site for – a wealth of google analytics data can tell us. Collecting this data (and analysing it) on a regular basis can really help drive constant improvements on your site.

    • Internet Helping Charities 05/10/2011 at 11:05 am #

      That’s a good reminder to set up and regularly monitor analytics on a website. It really rings true with the Lean Startup methodology of constantly responding and tweaking according to what your clients / market / nice people need!

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