Tuesday, May 10, 2005

What are the Top Ten Things People Need to Get Out of Your Web Site?

An interesting question in a page from the University of Texas at Austin on Developing Usability Test Documents:

What are the top ten things that visitors need to get from your web site?

That's a good question. I'm going to ramble about what I think those are. I've come up with four general areas where those top ten could come from, after reading that question. I think they are a good start, but I'm going to have to think about this more.

1. Contact Information

I would have to place contact information on that list. I'm not sure I would call it number one, but if the site is an ecommerce site, I like having at least four different types of contact information on a page: email, phone, fax, and mailing address.

Even if people don't use them, just having them there makes people feel confident that there is a real organization behind the pages.

2. A Unique Identity

Chances are that your site isn't the only one that occupies the niche it is in. What makes it different from the others? What do you tell people about yourself, and your business? Why are you different from all of the others?

Seems to me that some of the things that make up a unique identity could fill up a "top ten" list.

3. Promises

There are a lot of promises you make when your run a web site.

You may not even be aware that you are making them, but you are. If someone orders something, you promise to ship them what they've ordered in a reasonable amount of time. If they trust you with personally identifiable information, you may be making a promise in a privacy policy that you will be responsible with that information.

Many of the promises a merchant makes are about things that both the merchant and the purchaser take for granted. For instance, your butcher doesn't have to tell you that the meat he or she is selling to you is fresh. The news reporter promises to follow some set of ethical and editorial guidelines. Those promises are taken for granted, that is, until they are broken.

How would you articulate the promises you make to your customers, and how important are they?

4. The Ability to Make an Informed Decision

Most people are going to be making comparisons between sites, and looking at what they can get offline. If you are going to offer services online, or offer products, give people the information that they need to know that they are making a good choice. Your best customers can often be your present customers.

Let people know they are making an informed decision. Make them feel comfortable and confident, and welcome. And when they come back, welcome them back.

What is the most important information a potential customer should know about what goods or services you have to offer, and how are you telling them about it?

How would you describe the top ten things people need to get from your web site?

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