Eye tracking heat maps show that our gaze is longest at points on a web page that grab our brains attention first. For men and women, the results can be different depending on the type of items being offered.
Men are known to be more visually oriented and women more analytical and detail oriented.
What we nearly always do, no matter our gender, is scan online content, whether it is text, images, video, forms, etc.
If you believe that content is king, you may want to reconsider why you think that. I think content is cool because of what I can do with it to increase web site conversions.
Some people think content is the nectar of the search engine gods and they put in huge amounts of text on their web pages written in SEtalk, not people talk.
Some people agonize that if content is vital, what happens if they dont have much to show? Chances are they do, but arent sure what content is or how to present what they have so that it works in their favor.
The ultimate truth is that to increase web site conversions, you have to motivate your visitors to do something. They simply dont miraculously part with $430 without a good reason to do so.
Your text, headings, sub-headings, navigation link labels, button labels, form instructions, picture captions, picture images, videos, video transcripts, video and web page meta data and even in comes cases, actual URLs, must motivate people to take an action that you want them to take, and persuade them to take an action they didnt expect to take (such as also purchase the item you recommend with the one they chose.)
Be Readable, Findable, Desirable
1. Limit paragraphs to no more than 250 words each and absolutely no more than 2 embedded links to inside pages.
2. Use bullet points in place of straight chunks of text.
3. Use verbs in link labels, all links, Meta title, Meta description, headlines and image captions. People subconsciously react to action words, so use words like Go, Try, Find, Gain, Read, Run, Buy, Order, Explore, Browse, Imagine wearing, test, etc.
4. Related: Dont explain it. Help customers experience it.
5. Use terms your target users understand. Define new terms for them.
6. Use font sizes that humans can see. We are not tiny little mice.
7. Choose soothing colors around content if you want people to read, browse and purchase. Patterned backgrounds create tension, especially for those using wide screen monitors.
8. Test your color contrasts. Blue text against blue background is one of the most overused designer favorites despite failing contrasts testing. Remember to test what your pages can look like to colorblind users too.
9. Avoid an element salad. This is where a page is jam packed with images, slider, forms, buttons, content, links, headings, buttons, social media buttons, 3 or more navigation schemes.sheesh!
10. You can have all of number 9 if you organize your pages logically so that everyone can find what they want, what they need, when they need it. This takes a lot of practice.
11. Remember the eye tracking heat map? Look at http://www.curtainsmade4u.com This web site is surprisingly complex and application driven, but it is designed so that the lead task is obvious, findable, fun and ready for use. Curtainsmade4u is 100% user controlled (do it yourself window treatments). They had to be readable for people with varying experience with home dcor, be intuitive and easy to use.
12. Add feedback. When someone completes a task, offer a response. This is a subtle thing. Site visitors want pages that are readable, but also that acknowledge their visit. Its similar to walking into a store and feeling whether or not you are welcome or not.
13. Be consistent about where you put page elements. A quick way to decrease momentum is to move around the navigation layout from section to section. The alternative is also bad. When every single looks identical, this is just boring.
14. Aim for pleasure and comprehension. We like to enjoy what we read and look at. We want to understand your content, relate to it and read it; so of course, it has to be legible and grammatically correct. Credibility is tied to content and conversions and one of the first places we look for authenticity is within content
15. Try tools. This one is very popular - http://juicystudio.com/services/readability.php
If youre not sure that what you have presently is working or not, experiment with split A/B testing. Show one version one month and another version the next month of different layouts, text, link labels, picturesanything that you consider important to conversions and task completion. Youre not stuck with something that isnt working and it can be fun to see what your specific customers like the best.
Kim Krause Berg’s long background in web design, search engine optimization and usability includes software application functional and user interface testing, accessibility, and persuasive design. Human Factors and Usability and how it blends with Search Engine Optimization have been her passion for over a dozen years. Kim founded Cre8asiteforums in 1998 and was a self-employed usability and search engine marketing consultant for Cre8pc.com since 1996. In the fall of 2012 she sold her forums to Internet Marketing Ninjas and retired from private consulting to join their Executive Management team where she continues her work in usability and persuasive design in her role as Usability and User Interface Analyst.