Do you get the message?
In today's world everyone is trying to get their message across. A business wouldn't be a business if it wasn't attempting to sell a product or service. Have you ever stopped to consider however - what the main message of your business is at this moment in time? If you know what your main message is the next question is how are your target markets finding out about it? How is that message displayed and is it clear?
This article deals with the problem of message overload on the web and gives some reviews and advice as to the best ways to display your key message on your home page.
The main complication that most businesses find themselves in is that they have multiple messages they wish to put across to their target audience. This normally leads to all of these messages being thrust into their home page website design - the outcome of which is that a website user has so many options and messages being pushed at them that they do not take in any and so press the "back" button of death and leave your website. If the researchers are right you have less than one second to convey your message to your website visitors. It is clear therefore that having lots of messages, all competing for space is not practical and can be detrimental.
The best thing to do is to try and formulate a list of your key messages. List them in order of priority - the priority in which you wish to present them to a website user. Once you have a list of priorities you can then apply them to your homepage design. You will notice in the website examples below that one singular message is being pushed above all others. It s given the priority, more space, and an image to communicate itself to the user. This message area will attract the most attention, but if it is not relevant to the user they will then look elsewhere on the page which is where the other messages come in. What is good about this technique is that the information is split up into bite sized chunks for the user to digest. The user is not bombarded by messages but will be able to take in the most important one. "Less is more" is a saying we could mention here!
Below are some examples of some successful websites who priorities their messaging and emphasize one simple message.
If it works for these companies why not adopt this technique on your website.
It is useful to note in most of the examples we have looked at so far, that images are also used to help assist the user in connecting with the key message being shown. For example if it's a product which is given the priority - then a picture of the product is used. They say that "a pictures tells 1000 words" and so images therefore are very useful in engaging your audience and helping them to understand your message. Try and use relevant but engaging images which will attract attention.
The call to action means the accompanying text which tells the user what to do about the message - it tells them what action to take. For example the message might be "save money today" and the call to action might be "click here to find out how" or "call us to find out how". Your call to action also needs to be prominent and clear. For more advice on calls to action read our article Calls To Action – Click Here! »
So, lets say you have designed your home page - added your message and launched your website. The message worked well for the first month or so but for some reason it is not attracting the interest it used to (you know this because you have website statistics like Google Analytics which tells you where users are clicking on a page). What could be the problem. Well in our experience it is normally because the message is stagnant. Users who revisit your website have already seen the message and after following the call to action, know it is not relevant for them any more. It is therefore important for this message to be updated and remain "up to date".
Your website is your shop window - and like in retail it needs to be constantly updated to ensure visitors continue to be interested. More on this in this article: The New Shop Window / Home Pages That Sell »
If you already have a CMS (Content Management System) then you or your staff may be able to update your key message yourselves. If not then you may need to get a system in place (for a bit of a shameless plug - contact us »). Another way around it is by actually contacting your website designers and getting them to update it - this may cost you an hourly rate but it may reap great rewards. If you are busy, put a member of staff in charge of updating the site quarterly - it could keep your sales steady.
So - the message is - keep the message simple. Simplify and break down the information that you wish to give your audience and you will find that your homepage will be far more effective. Comments most welcome...