User paths and calls to action

Or what my sons have taught me about good online content and looking ahead.

Sunny 01012013

As we were watching the waves at Brighton beach the other day, it struck me that there are many parallels between parenting a young child and website best practice. Here are some of the things they have taught the old man.

Target your audience
One son loves cuddles. One loves tickles. One reads. One is learning to add. One likes anything with chocolate. One likes anything with Kumara (sweet potato) – it’s a safe bet.

Target your articles to appropriate buyer personas and break those down to the phase of purchase that the buyer is in. In search, use categories and tags to narrow results for these users, or implicitly recommend related content.

Prioritise paths
I will corral the boys when we are in a hurry to get to the car and off to school.

Likewise, prioritising and simplifying options in your navigation can aid users in finding what they are after. Don’t give them too many options to start with – think Google. Then prioitise the activities that you would like them to undertake. If you want them to fill out the form rather than contacting you on the phone, put the phone last.


Define strong calls to action
If I tell my son to put his shoes on we are going out, I will need to tell him three times. If I tell my son to put his shoes on we are going to McDonalds and Breakfast closes in 15 minutes, he even puts them on himself.

“Download PDF” – is a poor call to action. What’s in it for me?

Click to download a free Twitter Tweet Sheet explaining all the intricacies of Twitter” – better.

Clear concise instructions are a must
If I tell my son his lost teddy is under the table he will start with the nearest table and progress right through the house. If I tell my son it is under the red kitchen table, by the left leg, he gets it faster. Oh and forget fancy adult words like conservatory or foyer, keep it simple.

Form tags should be explicit – “you must enter your first name here” is far clearer than “name”. and ditch the fancy terms – use common English where possible.

Templates and consistency is your friend
If we always put books in the basket and shoes on the rack they are there when we look for them. It give you more clear space to play in too.

If your call to action is always bottom right just above the fold, we will always look there for it. Also, clear white space helps you find things and calls to action stand out.

Cross platform brand consistency
Just because we are out for lunch doesn’t mean we don’t wash our hands before lunch.

Just because you are on Twitter, doesn’t mean you can be inconsistent in tone of voice or visual branding.

Request only what is needed and keep it simple
When I make him try to put his jumper on himself and I don’t make his life easier, he goes to grandmother who does it for him.

Use LinkedIn or Facebook to pre-populate your registration form, or remember users details with cookies. It makes things a whole lot less frustrating.

Monitor how your competitors do everything
I’m reminded of this as Junior asks for chocolates. If I don’t say yes, he goes to mum or grandma.

If your competitor has better navigation, far simpler registration process, good search, or gives things away, clients will turn to them first.

What have I missed?

I would love to hear your views!

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