Ever visited a webpage, then looked around, wondering “what can I do here?”
If you have … that web designer failed!
I think every webpage should answer the question “what can I do here?” either visually, or by spelling it out:
- Visually: design in such a way that the stuff you can do on a page, like clicking a button, filling in a text box, or even just reading or watching content, is extremely noticeable. Amazon does this by using complimentary colors that “pop” out on the page. They often use blue as a header or sidebar color, but the buttons they really want you to see (ie, the “buy now” button) are orange – a complimentary color.
- Spelling it out: Use words, colors, graphics, etc to “spell it out” for people – tell or show website visitors what to do on the page. For example, we try to do this at my library’s website. The main page directs people to “Get a Library Card,” “Donate Now,” “Find Stuff,” “Ask a Librarian,” or Subscribe to our blog posts. People know what to do on our site, because we direct them.
On your library’s website, do people know “What can I do here” when they visit the main page? How about the catalog page, the “you didn’t find anything” page, or on your blog? At the comment box? On your Facebook Page even?
Think about it … and make sure to answer the question “What can I do here?”
Are your library blog posts getting read? If not, here are some possibilities as to why:
Bad content. Simply put, your content might not be all that good to begin with. Maybe it’s stuff you’re interested in, but your patrons don’t share that interest. How to fix it – Why not find out what your patrons are interested in, then write about that?
Poorly written content. Maybe the topic is on-target, but your writing stinks. If your writing is hard to read, guess what? Your patrons probably won’t read it. How to fix it – Why not work on improving your writing skills? Go consult some of those “How to Write” books in your library’s collection. Let the good writers on staff write your blog posts. Use modern web-writing standards.
Your website looks bad. If your website site looks icky, people will assume the content is icky too. How to fix it – update that website. Use a modern CMS like Drupal or WordPress, and use a nice-looking visual template design (or find a talented graphic designer that understands how to design for the web). Make it look as professional as the rest of your library.
Your content is hidden. Is your content hidden under multiple links? Not pulled out in an obvious way so people can find it? If so, that could be the problem. Why? Because your customers aren’t going to hunt for it. How to fix it – pull that content out. Put obvious links on your library’s main page that lead to your great content. Make sure your site is easy to use.
You’re not promoting your content. Maybe your writing is good, the site looks inviting, and your content is easy enough to find – but you’re simply not telling your patrons about it. Instead, you’re playing that passive “oh, I hope How to fix it – promote your blog posts. Instead of making a nice mystery book display in the library, write some short, pithy book reviews. Post those. Then drop the link onto your library’s Facebook Wall, and ask for responses. Ask people to Like it, for their thoughts … which helps spread the joy of your writing into other people’s walls, potentially lead to other comments, etc. Then rinse and repeat.
What would you add?
pic by vial3tt3r
We’re in the midst of a website redesign for our library. As we start looking at content, links, buttons, headings, etc – stuff like that – you know what we’re thinking?
We’re thinking this: does this link/content/heading/etc answer these questions for our customers?
- What can I do here?
- What can I do next?
- Why should I care?
Answering these are really hard! Think about it for a sec – take a pretty normal link, like the library web designer’s favorite – “Library Databases.” Answering that “what can I do here” question certainly gets into how you label that section of your website (’cause we all know that “Library Databases” means nothing). Perhaps something like “Find articles” or “do some research” might work better?
Or think about a blog post – answering the “what can I do next” question can be as easy as linking to a set of related articles, topics, or even related books at the end of the post. I do this on my blog – when you’re reading it on the actual website, when you finish reading the article, you’ll see a list of related blog posts I wrote. What’s this get you? Website visitors staying on your site for longer amounts of time. More clicks. Hopefully, more conversions – more people clicking “attend this event” or checking out a book, etc.
“Why should I care” is a favorite one of our library director, and it’s probably the hardest of the three questions to answer. One way to do this is in the content itself. So your first couple of questions get the customer to your content … and then your content itself will need to answer that “why should I care” thing.
The answer could be any number of things, ranging from “because you can borrow it for free” to “because you’re a small business owner, and these resources will help you be profitable.” See where I’m going with this? Another way to say “why should I care” is to ask “what’s in it for me” or “why is this interesting?” Give them that reason.
Give your customers a reason to stay on your site by having great content AND by actually telling them why they might want to stay. Do that, and my guess is that … they actually WILL stay on your site – your digital banch – longer, doing more things.
Could be a good thing!
pic by Marco Bellucci