What do visitors want from a website part 2

In my last post I explained that people really want text to read and they want it too be up to date.  They will go to somewhere that is updated often.  However that’s not the whole story.  Just because you put up nnew material each day doesn’t mean that people will find it interesting.  So today’s post is about making the content on your site targeted at your visitor.

  1. The first thing to consider is who is your visitor.  For most sites they fall into three camps:
  2. People that have arrived from a search engine or a link on another website
  3. People that know the site and visit often to see what’s new
  4. People that come because they are members and know they can access information on the site that they can’t get else where.

Each of these groups has a different set of needs and you need to think about them separately.

For example at Websites4Christians we build websites for churches, charities, Christian organisations and businesses.  So a large part of what our site has to do is provide information about our service.  What type of thing we do and how to get in contact with us to take things further.  This information is pretty static.  You can only say this is what we do so many ways.  Things don’t change much so there isn’t opportunity to update often with that material.  Once it’s been read then the reader is done with it and unlikely to come back to it.  So we provide a blog.  This changes regularly and enable us to writ on topics that people might find interesting.  Stuff to do with websites and website design and build.  We also have hidden areas for customers to log in to get access to additional information like billing and support tickets.

So if you think about our model it’s pretty straightforward:

  1. Static material to cover the basics
  2. Contact info to allow people to contact us
  3. Updating content (a blog) to provide an interesting distraction
  4. Hidden members only areas to provide customer specific information

Now if you take this model it can easily be applied to any website.  Let’s look at a church website.  What does the site need to do:

  1. Provide links opening times, contact information, locations and event information
  2. Provide useful info like members names and addresses
  3. Provide updates about what the church is doing to give people an idea of the type of church it is.

This is pretty similar to the model I described.  The static material is the stuff that changes rarely like contact names, location, etc.  The members only stuff like names and addresses would be kept in a members only area.  An area you’d need a password and user account to access.  Finally a blog or similar saying what’s going on at the church and so giving people an idea of what the church is like.

In terms of the site then you have a model.  One which is prescriptive but fits with what people use the websites for and one which will keep people interested and coming back for more.  We set up sites like this all the time and help churches, charities, Christian organisations and businesses to understand why this works.  The model is a powerful one.  It allows you to give your visitors what they want and in a format that’s not too hard to keep up to date.  So if you’re planning a site try thinking in terms of this model.

Next time I’ll have a look at how to make the content your writing readable and how to structure is so that people can easily find what they are looking for.

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