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What Do Web Site Visitors Really Want Most?

What do your web site visitors really want most? If you've been operating your site for any length of time, you know that the majority of visitors want certain basics. These include:

  • Good clean graphics
  • Readability (e.g., no green type on a blue background)
  • Good content
  • Ease of use
  • Speed
Now a survey from what site visitor’s want and what ticks them off.

Here are some of the survey findings:

Slow downloading drives visitors crazy. Almost half of online shoppers surveyed said they left sites when pages took too long to download.

People crave easy site navigation. One of the reasons for Amazon.coms popularity with consumers is the clear, simple design of its online shopping process. In the survey, 45% said they had been frustrated on sites that were too difficult to use. When designing Web sites, apply the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid).

Keep a good inventory or have drop ship relationships with your suppliers. Almost one in three Internet users surveyed said they hate it when the product they want to order is not in stock.

The Need for Speed

In the old days, we cooked dinner in the oven and a baked potato took 45 minutes. Now we put a Lean Cuisine® dinner in the microwave and tap our foot impatiently during the 60 seconds it takes to get the meal ready.

In today's nanosecond society, people have no patience to wait for anything, and that includes downloading web pages. If your site is slow, visitors will quickly abandon them for faster sites.

So, don't over design your Web site. The more graphics you put into it, the slower the pages download to the viewer. Be selective as to what additional graphics or animations you include… for example, you wouldn't want to lose visitors to a highly detailed but marginally impact photograph on your home page.

Web pages take anywhere from 3 to 30 seconds to download, depending on the users modem and Internet connection. The average viewer will "bail out"… click off the site onto another… if a page takes more than 15 seconds to download.

These bailouts cost e-businesses $4.35 billion annually in revenue lost from people who would have otherwise made purchases. Speed makes the difference; one site decreased bailout rate from 30 percent to 8 percent just by reducing its download time by 1 second per page. One study found that 84% of web sites examined downloaded too slowly.

Freebie Frenzy

Despite the rise in e-commerce, the culture of the Internet is rooted in free and open exchange of ideas and information without payment. This continues today as Internet users expect and demand free stuff… and lots of it… on the sites they visit.

Kids love Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. They frequently visit both sites, where they can play… to their hearts content… cool free computer games that rival the cartridges they pay to rent or buy. These sites also sponsor frequent contests with big attractive prizes.

A new report from the Annenberg Public Policy Center shows that approximately one out of five kids age 10 to 17 would happily provide free personal information… including their name and address… to their favorite web sites in exchange for a free gift of an undisclosed amount. If you offer a gift valued at $100, nearly half the kids will share private data with you.

The biggest giveaway on the Internet, even more so than prizes and cash, is content… free information on topics ranging from aromatherapy to zoology. Marketers are wrestling with the challenge of how to make money giving away information, so that people who come to the site for the freebies stay to make a purchase.

Best-selling horror writer Stephen King, who has sold two works of fiction on the Internet (Riding the Bullet and The Plant) commented, "Internet users see the Internet as a great big candy store, and they have to be made to realize that not all the candy is free." IBM CEO Lou Gerstner Jr. says, "The Internet is about business, not browsing; and about conducting real commerce, not merely accessing a bottomless reservoir of content."

Don't Just Tell ‘Em… Sell ‘Em

Whatever you offer your visitors, present it in a web site that's easy on the eye and enticing to read. Everything… pictures, words, buttons, functions… should be designed to give customers what they need and want.

"Go back to the roots of the product or service being offered," says Web copywriter Scott T. Smith. "Why does it exist in today's world, and why does your company sell it?" A good web site communicates this proposition and the product benefits to the visitors.

Ivan Levison, another first-rate Web copywriter, says many sites commit the deadly sin of being flat, sober, and boring, because they think Internet users are averse to being sold. He advises his clients to make their web sites lively and exciting. "The Web today is a text-based medium and you've got to quickly capture the readers interest and attention," says Levison. "You have to establish a relationship with the reader and therefore write with energy, enthusiasm and personality."

One way to do this is to stress benefits instead of features in product descriptions. The benefits should be linked to the features that enable the product to deliver the benefit to the user. "A benefit is anything that will make a customer's life better by using your product or service." Giving web site visitors an incentive to order now, from the web site. This could be a limited-time offer, free shipping and handling, a special bonus gift, or an extended warranty.

Discounts also work. Tell online shoppers that you offer them lower prices than you do through offline channels of distribution. Explain the rationale: Doing business online reduces your costs, and you pass on some of the savings to the customer as lower prices. It’s a win-win situation.

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