The most important rule for any website

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How to lower your bounce rate and invite your visitors to read on

Very often I come across websites that are simply painful to experience. Not because of design, colors or font choices – I’m a professional, I can deal with all that. But because I have to spend time to figure out how to do what I came here to do. This makes me frustrated and I want to hit the ‘Back’ button right away. On some level I conclude that if an organization cannot present the most important information to their website visitors in a manner that is straightforward and intuitive, then this inability will also be reflected in their business, services or products, whatever they may be.

There is a very important rule that every website must follow. Within the first 5 seconds of opening any landing page – your homepage being the most important one – it must provide clear and concise answers to 3 questions: “Where am I?”, “Why am I here?”, and “What should I do?” If these are not easily answered, then your visitors will leave without even wanting to explore any further.

Why only 5 seconds? The world is oversaturated with information. Everything seems to compete for your attention, and, as a result, the average attention span has dropped dramatically over the last decades. Actually, today your “window of opportunity” is closer to 3 seconds. That’s about as much time, as it would take an average person to read this sentence.

“But we have many products/services, and each of them has many benefits, and… also… as well as…” Stop. You have to figure out the main purpose of your website. Note that there can only be one main purpose. Then this purpose must be translated into the language your visitors will understand, in a format that is both concise and one that answers the 3 questions I mention above.

This main purpose easily translates into the action you want your visitors to take. Again, there can only be one action – if you give them choices, then chances are that they won’t make a choice at all. Making a choice takes time and effort, and 3 seconds on a landing page of an unfamiliar website is not the place or the time to make your visitors think. The best example of “What should I do?” is a button – which clearly looks like a button – with one verb: Download. Order. Subscribe.

Once you have the action, you can work backward in this logical arch of questions and figure out “Why am I here?” The answer to this question is somewhat like glue between your brand, and the action you want your visitors to take. Why should your visitors accept your offering? What problem do they have, which you are solving with your offer? How is your proposition unique and better than that of your competitors? The answer to this question has to be a short phrase, not even a full sentence.

“Where am I?” – this is the most important question, and it gets neglected most often. Sure, your company logo is on the page. Even the company name. Great. But what is it? Is it a cleaning product? Is it a law firm? Is it a mobile app? If you’re making your visitors guess, then you’re bound to lose them. The only way your visitors will remain on your site is if you build trust and credibility. These are established with clear and straightforward communication, and it begins with the unambiguous answer to “Where am I?”

When the front page of your website clearly answers these 3 questions in first 3 seconds – congratulations! You’ve made a good first impression. Now you have to make sure that the rest of your website delivers marketing information with the same brevity and clarity.

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On August 14, 2019
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