You’ve noticed this is Part II, yes? If you’ve not read Part I, click on over to Every Web page is a Landing Page: Part I and start there.
If you have read my last post, huzzah! You’ll know what I’m talking about. Since writing that last post, I’ve been making a survey of various pages I have stumbled upon since then and have identified some useful strategies for creating “landing pages” out of your hum-drum internal content pages in your website. The idea is to not rely on users to click on your “About” page before they learn exactly what it is that you do.
My top tips—and please note, these DO NOT require a massive overhaul or redesign! These are small-ish changes that can make a big difference to a new user. In the order of favorite to least favorite….
The header is where everyone starts. It’s the first impression before you even get to your content below. I personally tend to jump down pretty quickly so as to get what I’m looking for, but I always at least take stock of the site and yes, judge it and its probable authority, just based on this first glance.
Tagline – quick and dirty, but it’ll do.
This site, EDUniverse.org, just launched, but it is easy, with this header, to see exactly what it is all about. It’s streamlined, easy to read, and to the point. Adding a brief text phrase to an image in your header would NOT be hard AT ALL. Odds are you may have a lot of blank space up there already.
Navigation – make it user-friendly
Social Media Explorer is perhaps my favorite site for their efforts (and theirs is a WordPress site!). Their “New Here?” navigation element speaks directly to any new user who has just jumped into their site from a search result. It stands out from the other menu items around it and speaks clearly to the type of user who is meant to click there. Renaming or adding a new menu item can be easy enough to achieve with certain CMS’s or design themes.
In their Footer, Social Media Explorer includes a brief “About” statement explaining to anyone new exactly what the site is about. Beyond that, they include links (with intriguing descriptions included!) to other areas of the site to which a visitor might be drawn. I can’t say I know their click-through-rates on this content down here, but I can imagine a new user would appreciate its presence. (I’ve referenced this website twice now…. Can you tell I like the way these parts of their site are done!? And the components I have referenced show up on every content page they create. That is a beautiful thing.)
The Atlantic Monthly’s Atlantic Cities Site includes a similar about statement in their footer: just a basic run-down of what type of content they generally provide (Note the strategically placed RSS feed and email sign-up options just next to the description! That was not an accident….just a subtle call-to-action!).
Internal Links – an easy way to answer questions with your own content.
Linking to your own content within a web page helps a user get more information quickly, without another search, and keeps them on your website for a longer period of time.
You all know what this looks like. If not, see above, in the first paragraph? See that blue and underlined text? It’s a link to my last, related post. If you hadn’t read it before, did you feel compelled to click it? That’s the whole idea. When you link to other posts (and the anchor text and alt text DOES matter in this respect), readers can get some sense of what you’re about by seeing what other type of things you are writing about on your website.
I personally think it is about time to shy away from this one. Sidebars are so heavily bogged down with ads, subscribe information and calls-to-action, that anything of real value to your visitor in terms of informing them about your product or business just gets lost in the shuffle. I can’t say I’ve found a solid example of where this is used well.
I just want to say, in the end, that I thought this exercise would have been an easier one. I found it a challenge to find websites that did many of these things well! My efforts included looking at site I peruse regularly for content to curate and random keyword searches and I have to say I was surprised by how rarely people consider their internal pages as an important place for the basics.
What other ways do you think would be helpful to informing your site visitors of your company’s purpose, product or values on internal pages?