Don’t Make Me Think!


By Marie Allen

“Don’t Make Me Think” is the title of one of the classic books on web design, written by Steve Krug in 2006. Its premise is that website visitors are in a hurry and don’t want to have to spend time making choices and decisions.

Human beings are inherently lazy and if something seems difficult we are more than likely to ditch it and move on. Website visitors want to be taken by the hand and guided through a website to reach their desired outcome. They don’t want to be left stranded, unable to figure out what they should do next.

How do you feel when you hit upon a website that’s a bit of a muddle, where you can’t work out where to go for the information you are looking for? Where you get stuck in a dead-end and can’t find a way back to where you started? Annoyed? Frustrated? Websites like this are one reason why the Back key is the most used key on the keyboard!

Within a few seconds you are off to the next website on your search results list.

So how do you ensure that this doesn’t happen with your website?

The key, as with so many things, is good organisation. Organising your website so that it is easy for your website visItors to find their way around Is not a quick and easy task, but if you do it successfully it will really pay dividends in terms of website conversions and happy clients.

When someone visits your website for the first time they are generally looking for a specific product or service. You need to organise your information from your potential client’s perspective, not yours, so they find what they want quickly.

You are an expert in what you do, living and breathing your business, but your clients are not. You need to get inside their heads and work out how they think. Then you can get ahead of them so that they don’t have to think when they visit your site. This theory of putting yourself in your clients’ shoes applies across all of your marketing, but it is particularly relevant for websites because it is so easy to bail out and move on to the next one.

How do your existing clients categorise the services you offer?  What words do they use to describe the services they buy from you? Have a look at past emails and think about conversations you had with your clients when they first came to you. What were the areas of confusion? Think it through and work out how you can make your website answer their questions, without them having to think!

Try to replicate your clients’ language, as far as you can, on your website. If you use the same words that your potential clients use, not industry-speak or techno-babble, they will feel at home and are more likely to stick around and buy from you.

Getting your website to pass the “Don’t Make Me Think” test

The best way to pass the “Don’t Make Me Think” test is to get the structure that you come up with checked out by a variety of people who are not directly involved with your business. This can be done as a paper exercise, using a separate sheet of paper or index card for each web page.

Get your friends and neighbours and some existing clients to “test drive” your site structure. You will be amazed at the number of different ways in which different people’s minds work. I can guarantee there will be some tweaks needed for things you would never have thought of!  There will be some difficult decisions to make, but if you keep the client’s perspective at the front of your mind you cannot go too far wrong.

The great news is, that with a robust, client-friendly website structure in place,  your website will convert more visitors and win you more business.

Make your website an oasis of calm in the busy world of your target audience, an ordered place where they can find what they are looking for quickly and easily. No thinking required!


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