A visitor arrives at your website – great, huh? Well, yes – but if you are frustrating your visitors, they might as well never have arrived in the first place.
Web users are lazy
I have said it before, and I’ll say it again: Web users are lazy. If you don’t believe me, think of your own experiences. You’ll patiently wait in line at the supermarket for five minutes to be served, but if a webpage fails to load after a few seconds you simply go elsewhere. You’ll wait on hold to speak to someone on the telephone, but if you need to register in order to voice your opinions on a website, the chances are you will simply move along.
Laziness even extends to how much effort a visitor wants to invest in your site in order to meet their goals. If they want to reach your forum, they do not want to click though eight pages of your site to get to it. If they want to read an article you wrote a few weeks back, they don’t want to have to click through pages and pages of archives.
Design with the 3 click rule in mind
Every page of your site should be accessible from any other page on your website within three clicks of a mouse. Whenever you design the layout, navigation and structure of your site, you should always work to the ‘three click rule’.
If you already have an established site, it may be difficult to check that all sections of your site can be accessed within three clicks. In this case, run a random evaluation. Write down five destination pages, and try to access them from various random pages on your site. Count how many clicks it takes you. More than three? Get working on reducing those clicks and you will be making your site visitors happy. Happy visitors are far more likely to become happy members.
If certain sections of your site appear to receive a disproportionately low amount of traffic, consider whether you are making it difficult for your visitors to reach that destination. Are links to that section buried somewhere in your copy? Do visitors need to be on a certain page before they see the link to another section of your site?
Remember that not everyone who arrives at your site will land on your homepage. Design your site with this in mind, and make sure that regardless of the page a visitor lands on, they can get to any other page within three clicks.
If a visitor can navigate around your site easily, they are far more likely to become a member. Make things difficult or long-winded for that visitor and you can kiss them goodbye forever. Don’t make that mistake!