In an ideal web development world, visitors would read every word on a website before making an informed decision on a product or service. Unfortunately, that never happens. Instead, today’s web visitors are fickle and uninterested in what you have to say. They click the ‘Back’ button at the first sign of boredom and are more interested in pretty pictures than long sentences. How do you talk to visitors like this? A recent report by a customer experience psychologist named Dr. Liraz Margalit has shed some interesting light on this issue.
Here’s how this study worked and what it revealed:
-Most people go on the internet as an escape. After a long day of work, immersing yourself in digital media is an excellent way to relax your brain. During this switch, the brain changes the way it processes information. Instead of mentally straining itself, the brain passively absorbs its surroundings. -This ‘switch’ leads to two different types of website visitors. Visitors taking the central route and visitors taking the peripheral route. –Central route visitors are searching for particular information. A shopper may be comparing prices of two different products, for example, and is actively seeking out pricing information. –Peripheral route visitors are unable or unwilling to perform a specific task online, often due to mental exhaustion. Peripheral route visitors unintentionally visit websites just to pass time, see what a website has to offer, and hope for entertainment. -These two visitors perform extremely differently online. In a study, Dr. Margalit analyzed the behavior patterns of each group and “uncovered a number of significant differences”. Those differences include: -Goal-oriented visitors were more likely to ignore the featured elements on a page and go directly to the search box and navigational elements. Peripheral route visitors, on the other hand, casually examined the features elements of a page, including images and larger text. For the purpose of the study, peripheral route visitors were automatically redirected to the page while central route visitors clicked on the page themselves. -There were also considerable differences in mouse movement. Unintentional visitors displayed typical “f-pattern” mouse movements while goal-oriented visitors focused largely on the navigational elements and menu bar. -Unintentional visitors were intrigued and attracted by “evocative” keywords like “shocking” and “temptation” while goal-oriented visitors largely ignored sensational text -Unintentional visitors viewed approximately twice as many pages on average as goal-oriented visitors
What can you learn from this study?
Here’s what you can learn about web design from Dr. Margalit’s report: You need to simultaneously optimize your site for two types of website visitors: goal-oriented visitors and unintentional visitors. You need to have the strong navigational and search support for the first type of visitor along with the sensational language and imagery for the second type of visitor. For goal-oriented visitors, you should add the following elements to your website: -Strong navigational tools -Easily-accessible customer reviews -Site maps and easy access to all website assets -Pertinent information from other websites For unintentional visitors, you should consider adding the following elements to your site: -Embedded videos, colorful images, and bold, loud headlines -Colorful and attractive text and imagery A good way to separate the two visitors in your mind is to think of a product review site and a distraction-filled website like Reddit or Buzzfeed. Visitors to the product review site are looking for a specific type of information about a specific product. Visitors to Reddit and Buzzfeed are looking for any type of information that will distract or entertain them. The layout of a product review site offers links to customer reviews, specific product information, and review summaries. The layouts of Buzzfeed and Reddit are filled with images and sensational text. Which types of visitors are visiting your site? Are they goal-oriented visitors comparing products or services? Or are they distracted visitors who stumble upon your site while seeking entertainment? If you can answer that question, then you can more easily design your site to attract the type of visitor you want.