“Don’t tell me what to do!”

So you have a website, but will your visitors use it in the way you hope they will? Whether you want visitors to find out information, watch/listen to media or buy/sell something, your aim is to get them to do it before they leave your site. How can you do that when people hate being told what to do?

Force the user journey?

In short, you can’t ever force your visitors to do anything. We call people who enter your website “visitors”, we don’t call them “prisoners”. So it is important to constantly bear in mind that they are usually there out of their own free will. Equally, the way they use your website (their “behaviour”) is their own choice. You may have a very specific and wonderful user journey planned out, but the best you can do is guide and encourage them to follow the path you’d like them to take.

Why carrot over stick?

No matter how much you try to remove your visitors’ choices by limiting their navigational options, there are always two choices – to stay or to go. If you don’t allow them to choose their own journey through your website, they will probably just decide to leave.

Put simply: respect your visitors and offer them everything they need in the most logical, attractive way possible.

Use a logical site structure and layout

Do some user testing and listen to your own instincts. Ask your testers to find certain things or perform specific actions on your website and record their feedback. Could they find everything they were looking for?

If you have any analytics data for your website, check what the most visited pages are, along with the most frequent exit pages. This is an invaluable insight to your visitors’ behaviour. Are they doing what you expect them to do?

The key here is to give visitors lots of what they want and never less than they need.

Attract, coax, intrigue

If you want a visitor to perform a particular action, whether it’s watch a video or click on a link, you need to somehow persuade them to do it.

Dangle that carrot again:

a. Videos

  • Give your videos titles that accurately describe the content and entice users to click the play button.
  • Always pick an interesting, visually stimulating video thumbnail (the freeze frame that shows when the video isn’t playing). The thumbnail you choose can help to sell or repel video plays. You can change YouTube video thumbnails easily.

b. Links

All links within your website should describe what you are linking to and, if possible, why the visitor should click on them. Remember that links are calls to action, so make sure you sell the action well. What benefit will the visitor get out of this click?

c. Section and page names

The titles you give to sections and pages should clearly represent the content they contain. This goes for the page headings and navigation labels too.

d. Page presentation

If you want someone to read a passage of text, make it look as appealing as possible. Break up big blocks of text with smaller manageable chunks. Make sure your content is easy to read – a good way to check is reading it out loud.

e. Image slide shows

Obviously, all of the images on your website should be stimulating to some degree. But if you’re using any kind of image slider or transition, you need to carefully think about the image order. Always try to use the best ones first to hook visitor attention.

f. Cohesion

Think about how all of this ties together. Don’t allow items of content to clash or compete with each other. Make sure the page has a focal point, which is closely related to what action you would like visitors to perform.

A safer “get out clause”

Don’t forget that visitors always have the ultimate “get out clause” – if they don’t like the page they are on, they can easily exit your website. Where possible, always offer an alternative call to action that doesn’t involve leaving the site. For example, if the focus of a page is a video, accompany it with a link to an alternative piece of content.

Your website should be like a pick ‘n’ mix sweet shop; full of choices. But remember to carefully choose which sweets to stock.

More

There’s so much more we want to tell you. For help with information architecture, user experience, web design and more, get in touch with Group Dane.

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So you want more followers on Twitter?

Ok, other than making you appear more popular, how will having more followers help you?

The first thing you need to consider is what you specifically want to achieve as a result of Twitter follows. Examples of potential objectives include:

  • Promote/increase interest in your business/activities
  • Use as a two-way communications channel
  • Increase traffic to website

Once you have your objectives nailed down, you can refine your tactics. Below we have discussed the questions our clients ask us most about Twitter.

How can we get more followers?

A popular question! Think about the reasons for this in relation to your overall objective.

Is your desire for more followers driven by vanity? Many people believe if they have more followers, they will appear to be more popular and this means people will consider them better at what they do. This is a valid reason for wanting more followers, but how will this help you to achieve your overall objective(s)? For example, if you want to drive more traffic to your website, will you achieve this by having a huge number of followers? Not necessarily.

For example, if you have 2000 followers predominantly consisting of students, how many of them are likely to read or react to your tweets if they are about holidays for the over 60s? However, if you have 100 retirement-age followers, the results are more likely to be fruitful.

Therefore, rather than simply looking for more followers, it is more effective to seek more of the right followers.

Why do people keep un-following us?

There are a number of reasons people might choose to stop following you.

One reason could be that they don’t have an interest in you or your business. In this case, don’t lose any sleep because they were probably not the right followers.

Are you tweeting too often – or not enough? If you’re flooding your followers’ feeds with tweets, it’s likely they will quickly want to restore some balance and un-follow you. Equally, if you don’t tweet often enough, you might be considered inactive and fall victim to your followers’ spring cleaning.

Are your tweets interesting enough? Make sure you only tweet when you have something worth saying – people quickly grow tired of bland, uninspiring tweets.

Do you follow back? Digital manners are important, so if someone follows you, they probably expect you to follow them back. If you don’t they may choose to un-follow you.

Why aren’t followers clicking on the links we post?

People don’t like clicking on links if they aren’t sure where they go. Make sure you clearly state what the link is for and tell your followers why they might be interested.

Make links worthwhile. If followers are interested enough to click on your link, don’t let them down with an irrelevant, uninspiring destination. If they’re disappointed this time, chances are they won’t click any more of your links.

Why don’t we get many ‘cold’ followers?

By ‘cold’ followers we mean people who follow you first. To attract cold followers, you’ll need to get onto their radar. You can do this by encouraging people to retweet you (more on this below), use hash tags (#) and engage in conversation with followers.

When followers retweet you, your tweet appears in their followers’ feeds. This can extend your reach significantly (depending on the amount of followers they have).

Using a hashtag will group your tweet with other people’s tweets that have used the same hashtag. When people search for the hashtag you’ve used, they may see your tweet. This is a good way of attracting the right followers – the fact they have searched this keyword means they are likely to have a shared interest with you.

Engage in conversation with your followers, even if using Twitter as a communication channel isn’t one of your objectives. Not only will this help to get your @name onto the other persons profile, it will also help to build lasting relationships with your followers.

How can I get people to retweet me?

People will only retweet you if your followers consider your tweet to be of interest to their own followers. So, keep your tweets relevant, interesting and current. You can ask your followers to retweet your tweet (many tweeters add “please RT” or “pls RT” to the end of their tweet), but don’t forget that the “pls RT” part will be visible on the retweet. When a retweet has obviously been requested, it sometimes has less impact.

If you’re expecting people to retweet your tweets, the least you can do is occasionally return the favour. However, make sure you endorse the message and any links/or images in tweets you retweet.

More tips and support

For more help with social media strategy, management and monitoring, get in touch with Group Dane.

Post by Frankie, Social Media Adviser at Group Dane

Umbraco, we love you

So you’re looking for a content management system (CMS) for your website? At Group Dane, we usually recommend Umbraco to our clients.

Read on to find out more about Umbraco and why we love it so…

What is Umbraco?

Umbraco is a free, open-source CMS platform that helps web editors to quickly and easily update and publish content to their sites.

Currently, Umbraco is a privately held profit-making company with about 10 permanent staff, who are supported by an additional 15 volunteer developers.

How did it come about?

First developed by Niels Hartvig in 2000, it was released as open-source software in 2005. By 2009, it was widely considered to be one of the leading .Net-based open source CMSs around.

Who else uses it?

Umbraco is used by some of the biggest organisations in the world, including Peugeot, Heinz, Microsoft and Vogue.

umbraco clients

What sets it apart from competitors?

Umbraco is free and easy to use for both editors and .Net developers. Because it’s open-source, it thrives on collaboration, which means that anybody can submit their own bug fixes, features and extensions to be considered for inclusion in the CMS. This means it is quickly and constantly improving.

The diverse usage of the CMS and collaborative development effort means it’s highly flexible. Almost everything in Umbraco is customisable and extensions are available that can enhance the standard installation. These extensions are mainly provided by the community and most are free or available for a small charge.

Umbraco offers support via the community site Our Umbraco, which is not only huge (it has more than 55,000 registered users), it is also extremely knowledgeable. Many of its members are top notch developers keen to help and advise on all things Umbraco.

Although the CMS is free to use (and according to the Umbraco Corporation, it always will be), there are additional options you can opt in for, which include productivity enhancing add-ons. For a small fee, you can also add a support package to the CMS for guaranteed and professional help and bug fixing warranty.

Find out more

Hear it from the horse’s mouth at the official Umbraco website.

Group Dane is a Liverpool-based digital agency, with more than 15 years digital experience. Get in touch if you’d like to know what we can do for you, whether you need a new website/CMS or not.

Post by Louise, Head of Development.