you care about this stuff? Sheesh, am I green? If you know
how folks gather information visually from their browser
windows, you've got a powerful design tool you can use
right now to support your mission of persuading your
visitors to take the action you want.
user lands on a web page, she gives the display a quick
scan that starts in the top left of the window, moves
quickly across the center to the right, then returns
leftward, again crossing center1. All this happens in
seconds, without the user necessarily fixing her gaze
until she reaches the center of the display as she's
coming back2. It also usually happens without her being
aware of it.
on a preliminary scouting mission, an effort to quickly
orient herself within the context of a page, before she
makes the conscious effort to engage with the information.
I Use This?
logo should be one of the first elements the user
encounters at the top of the page (so make sure it's one
of the first things that loads). This is your identity,
and along with the url, lets your user know where she's
navigation schemes work well here, as do in-site search
features (if you use them) - they provide the
preliminary assurance of general organization and can
serve as back-up.
Make sure your USP
is clear and prominent.
Spool's User Interface Engineering group has discovered
that a user's gaze ultimately fixes in the center of the
screen, then moves left, then right, a pattern of visual
fixation that was true of both new and experienced users3. A user fixed on areas other than the center only when
she was looking for additional information. The team also
found users pretty much ignored the bottom of the screen
and seemed to interact peripherally with the right area
(folks use their scroll bar without obviously looking at
I Use This?
the center area of the screen is prime real estate, the
"active window" where you will either succeed
or fail in persuading your visitor. This is the first
place your visitor makes a conscious effort to engage
with you. When her gaze returns across the screen from
its preliminary sortie, you want to make sure you
present content that will capture her interest and
motivate her through the conversion process. If anything
on the page distracts her or requires her to disconnect
from the center area, she is that much less likely to
stay rapt in your powers of persuasion. And if you've
learned the Stanford-Poynter lesson, you'll understand
your copy is much more important than your images.
left side of the screen can function as a
"stabilizing window," a place where people
look for particular points of reference that can help
them locate the items that suit their needs.
Comprehensive navigation works well here.
when they remain engaged in the central area, users
peripherally attend to the right area. This becomes a
valuable space to convey confidence through your
assurances, guarantees and testimonials. Calls to Action
do well here, too. Notice how Amazon has their Add to
Shopping Cart and 1-Click action block in the top right,
and below this is their Add to Wish List button. Because
the user is peripherally aware of it, she knows it is
there if and when she is ready to take that action.
this cool eye-tracking stuff, your general order of
business is first to orient your visitor, then use your
"active window" to keep her attention and
persuade her to become a buyer (or subscriber, or whatever
your goal is). The other graphic turf on your website is
no less important to the overall effort, but your users
are simply never going to give it the same visual
priority. For an example of how the folks at Future
Now integrated the full
range of website composition elements in a way that
acknowledges how folks scan, pay a visit to HiQhq.com.
know how folks scan, you have a template for placing
things on your web pages so your visitors will find a)
what they are looking for, b) where they expect to find
it, c) in the way that engages them best. Don't think of
it as limiting your artistic freedom, think of it as
knowledge you can use to meet your customers' needs and
thereby increase your conversion rate!
It is important to note that this is the pattern for
Western culture. The point is cleverly and interestingly
made in "What
You See Depends On Where You're From." The Micro
Human Factors International has a graphic
of this pattern.
Web Sites with Eye-Tracking." Will Schroeder.
User Interface Engineering.
me in congratulating usability guru Jakob
Nielsen for finally letting his own readers
know how important it is to go "Beyond
Usability". Our regular readers know this
is something I've been preaching for over a year
and a half. The July 22, 2001 issue of Jakob's
usability newsletter is titled "Tagline
Blues: What's the site About?" and
stresses the importance of developing a tagline or
USP for your site. What do taglines have to
do with usability? Uh...nothing <grin>.
For a great discussion about developing your
tagline or USP from someone who's really an
expert in writing for the web, read my friend
Nick Usborne's article "Let
Them Know What Your Site Is About".
On September 3rd,
my good friend Roy William's Magical
Worlds of the Wizard of Ads: Tools and
Techniques for Profitable Persuasion is being
released. I just finished my preview copy and I
recommend it highly (it's a wonderful preview to
the Wizard Academy). Get
yours today and enjoy some of the
Its’ NOT the Price, It’s the VALUE!
just read a funny urban legend the other day about an
apocryphal statement any number of former astronauts are
said to have made. The comment went something like this:
"It really makes you think when you realize you are
hurtling through space in a craft built by the lowest
have some interesting notions about what constitutes
value. If they pay a lot for something, they either
think they've purchased a high-quality product or just
got ripped-off. Stuff with bargain-basement price tags
is considered … well … bargain-basement. Find a
high-quality product at a substantially-reduced price,
and, hey, you've just found value!
that's not remotely the complete picture. And online,
it's still an e-commerce legend that value is all about
price even though that balloon was popped in the offline
world long ago (can you say “Nordstrom’s”?). Sure,
you might get lucky and make a few sales based on a
super-discounted price alone. But if that’s all you’re
offering, you're building zero loyalty and you’re
begging for competition. If you want lots of delighted,
loyal, repeat customers, you have to realize superior
value goes way beyond price, and it’s superior value
that keeps ‘em coming back.
are not just offering your customers a price
proposition; you actually are offering them a value
proposition. It's a complete package, filled with
lots of human-friendly usability elements, attractive
but fast-loading and functional design, great
information, great products, appropriate prices,
top-notch customer service, plus lots of nice little
guaranteed-to-make-'em-smile extras you devise to set
yourself apart from the guys and gals that just offer,
this new medium isn't about sustainable value? Then have
a look-see at the results of an MIT study of online
buying that discovered "only 47% of the consumers
… bought from the lowest-priced seller … in fact …
price was the least important factor."1
And what beat price? The biggest factor was whether the
customer had visited the site before (see why I go on
about making the right impression with your site?),
followed by the company's familiarity, then shipping
time (think “service”).
is, value is so subjective you can often be more
successful charging higher prices, provided
you pay close attention to all the other factors that
influence the buyer's perception of the value
your product.2 A lot of that perception
hinges on your market position: if you’re selling
coffee, are you a Denny's or a Starbucks?
image alone ain't gonna cut it, particularly online,
where it's that much harder to enable your prospects to
bask in fancy ambiance. Folks flat out require real
substance, and they consistently vote with their mice.
to make more money? What are you doing you make the
shopping experience delightful? What is the long-term
nature of your guarantees and customer service? How
responsive are you to problems or concerns? Are your
shipping policies reasonable? Do you meet expectations,
fall short or them, or go way beyond?
business people engineer value equations. And they
don't care whether it's about more or less cost:
They only care about whether there's more or less
value. And if they can charge for the value they
create, that's where the successful business
you want real long-term success, set the issue of your
price aside for a moment, and take a long, close, hard
look at your comprehensive value proposition. That’s
where the path to your goal lies.
beats price on the Web, study finds." Melissa
2 Dr. Witt's
Marketing Psychology Report, January 2001.
"An Interview with Jay Walker." Randall
Rothenberg, Strategy & Business, Issue 19,
Second Quarter 2000