On April 10, 2012, Hubspot writer Corey Eridon posted a blog summarizing a list of some of the most annoying things seen on websites. This post continues some dos and don’ts she recommended and our additional thoughts to help increase the satisfaction quotient and reduce the frustration quotient of most site visitors especially Baby Boomers and senior visitors.
Automatically Playing Multimedia Content When a Page Loads
Provide visitors a choice to play multimedia content. Animations, auto-play videos, blinking and flashing paid advertisements, and other interactive entertainment may seem really cool but it detracts from a visitor's focus during the first critical three seconds on your site. Keeping simplicity and purpose at the center of design decisions is generally better, and translates better across multiple browsers, channels and devices.
You Don't Have a Blog
Blogs can improve credibility about your subject matter expertise. Baby Boomers and seniors value credibility, want to learn about you and perform in-depth company research on their own before ever contacting you and 'About Us' pages aren’t enough to tell the full story. After reading through a sample of blog posts over a long span of time, visitors have a much better understanding of who you are, what you believe, and the culture of your company.
Place a Newsletter Signup Box on the Site
If you can offer a newsletter or other periodic information that provides value to your site visitor place a simple signup box prominently on each of your pages. If you use signup forms, including unnecessary fields (e.g., job title or age) are turn-offs.
Unintelligible 'About Us' Page
Does your 'About Us' page (for that matter all your pages) explain what you do in business jargon (speak), or do they use the words and phrases common to the general population? If you design your site for business visitors, using limited business jargon may be appropriate. If you’re selling directly to the customer, speak their language. Talk to them using a casual conversation tone. Test your content on “the woman/man on the street”.
Titles and Content are Incongruous
If you're an avid content creator, you know how important a well-crafted title is. Great titles are what cause people to click through in their RSS, emails, and search engines to read what you have written. But if you push content unrelated to the title you provided, you'll disappoint visitors -- and they'll abandon your site.
Your Call-to-Action Copy Doesn't Align With the Offer
Along the same lines, your call-to-action should align with what visitors receive when they redeem your offer. There's nothing more frustrating than promising a 50% off coupon in the call-to-action copy, only to attempt to redeem it and find there's a caveat that says you must first spend $500 on select items or it’s for in-store purchases only. This is insulting to your visitors and will also damage your reputation and the conversion rates of your calls-to-action and landing pages.
Not Including Social Sharing Buttons on Your Content
These buttons make social sharing easy for your readers so they don't have to copy and paste your URL, shorten it, and compose a tweet. And easy social sharing options means your content gets more visibility, which means more site traffic, better search engine rankings, and more lead generation opportunities.
Visitors Don't Know What to Do
When someone lands on your site, do they know what to do? Do they immediately see what your website does, what the value of that is, and what they should do next? Does it include clear headline copy, jargonless page copy clearly explaining the value of what you do? Do you have one clear primary call-to-action per page that shows visitors how to take the next steps e.g., subscribing to your blog, getting a free trial, watching a video, or any other action you hope visitors will perform on your site.
Your Internal Linking Isn't User-Friendly
Internal links point readers to other relevant information, adds value to your site and helps you to improve the organic ranking for important pages on your own website. Include the link on the anchor text that makes the most sense. Also, recognize that sometimes, the link that makes the most sense isn't keyword-optimized anchor text. Be sure to have all links open into a new tab in your browser, not the same window to avoid navigating them away from the original page they were reading.
Many designers use an abundance of Flash on clients' websites and it's enough to make Baby Boomers and senior site visitors cringe. Visitors are often looking for a very specific piece of information when visiting your site. If they have to wait for an 8 -10-second visual introduction to unfold on the screen before they can find your hours of operation, you're going to have a frustrated customer (or would-be customer, depending on their level of patience). Also, from a practical matter search engines won't index your site because they can't read Flash.
Both Parts I and II of this blog offer advice to make your website more user friendly. If you take the suggestions to heart, trust me, your boomer and senior website visitors will thank you for it and come back more often and increase your conversions and overall revenue. Moreover, your site will be more visitor friendly to people in all stages of life resulting in more abundant returns on your investment of time and money.