Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Are you using the most important page on your website?

What’s the most important page on any website?

Most people think the home page of their site is the most important, and therefore it has to be the most persuasive to pull visitors in towards conversion, but most people would be wrong. Although the home page is where most internal stakeholders attention is and where most of the time will be spent on any average web design project, it is actually not the most important page of your site. Unfortunately more hours and debate, not to mention opinions will be wasted around this one single page since everyone from each department wants a piece of it. If only the internal stakeholders knew all their concerns were surrounding a page that doesn’t even rank in the top five of importance. The reason for this has to do with how sales works.

Does your website have a sales formula?

Any good sales person knows the “AIDA” formula, which stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. First get your prospects attention, peak their interest for your product, create a desire around their needs and finally get them to take action. The online equivalent of the AIDA formula puts the home page at the interest stage. Attention would be your promotions vehicle used to generate awareness and bring visitors to your site. At the interest stage of the sales funnel your prospect has more than likely arrived at your home page and are scanning the page to see if there is anything relevant to them. Once they find that nugget of relevance they click and poof they’re gone from the home page. Generally the home page has the least amount of time spent on the page and is the least engaging. Think of it like this, a website home page is the front door to your business it’s only purpose is to get prospects to enter to engage with the real content on the inside. It is no more than a hotel lobby, it sets the tone provides an impression and the helpful clerk behind the counter tells you how to get to your suite upstairs. Once upstairs you kick off your shoes fix a drink from the in room bar and relax in chair on the balcony before you unpack. This is where you want to be not the home page.

But what about persuasion?

Continuing the Attention, Interest, Desire, Action formula you can easily see how the interior pages of your site, like your product detail pages are where you create desire in your prospect, these pages are more important than your home page but still are not the most important or most persuasive pages on your site. It is in the desire stage where your prospects are thinking about buying.

On the web your prospects need to explore, the job of your site is to provide them with the tools they need to do this with the least amount to resistance possible. Resistance in this case would be anything that gets in their way from completing their task. This can come in the form of poor usability practices, weak navigation, and pages that have not been designed around your specific prospect. Aligning your prospects needs with the needs of your business is what persuasive design is all about.

The further your prospect gets in the sales funnel the more valuable they become because they are closer to converting into a customer. Therefore the more important pages on your website are the pages that are further into your site, where the customer has chosen to be. These interior pages are where persuasive design can be fully leveraged in order to get the most bang for your buck.

The most important page on your website

The most valuable page on any website is the thank you page, the page that your customer see after completing a transaction. A transaction can include anything from completing a contact form, a registration page or an online purchase. The thank you page is also the most persuasive but often overlooked. At this point your customer is at the furthest point into the sales funnel, they have raised their hand and taken action. All to often this page says nothing more to the customer other than Thank you. A this point your website has the best opportunity to be persuasive.

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