Internet World Stats> Coaching Library> Website Design
Make Your Website Successful
by Enrique De
Argaez, MBA, PE, webmaster
There are the two reasons for a visitor to
go to a website:
- One is to purchase something and Unless visitors click on "buy"
they are doing research. They may want to contact you, to
complain or to compare your products to a competitor’s. If
they are not purchasing from you, they are researching
you. Whatever their reason for visiting, your website’s
goal is to satisfy their needs and wants.
- the second
reason is to do research.
This coaching article will help you to make your website a
targeted destination of choice in seven steps:
1 - Determine Visitor Goals.
2 - Make the Path Obvious.
3 - Keep Expectations in Check.
4 - Allow Visitors Quick Success.
5 - Make Visitor Goals the Site Goals.
6 - Successful People are Persuadable People.
7 - Using Log files for Traffic Analysis.
The art of persuasion is as old as humankind itself and it all
comes down to two closely linked abilities; (one) recognizing and
(two) capitalizing on goal-seeking behavior. Here are seven steps
to persuading visitors to seek their goals on your website. If
you follow these steps you’ll quickly be able to tell the
difference between serious traffic and casual browsers, and this
means that you can stop watching people kick tires and you will
start turning profits.
Step One: Determine Visitor Goals.
Recent surveys to website owners addressing
the following two questions:
* What do visitors use your website
* How effectively is your site meeting the
show that the most chosen answer to the
first question was "Not sure." The most chosen answer to the
second question was "Very effectively." That may seem a
contradiction, but it isn’t. If you want to ensure a
bull’s-eye every time, first shoot your arrow, and then
declare whatever it hits as the target. The results demonstrated
that few survey participants had a value proposition for their
websites but most thought the website was doing a good job of...
Therefore most website owners or designers
aren’t sure of what they want their visitors to do nor
their goals. Remember that your first step is to determine your
visitor's purpose, either to purchase or to do research.
Step Two: Make the Path to the Goal
A fill-in, on-site search option is not an
obvious way to do research. It implies the searcher knows what
they’re looking for. A searcher looking for 32" flat-screen
wide-screen HD-ready flat-panel TVs under US$1,000 probably
isn’t going to type that into the search field. If they do,
they know what they want and your job is to get them to the "buy"
button as fast as you can. Most people will start with "TV" and
go from there. You can ask them to refine their search over a
number of screens, but take note: the number of screens
they’ll navigate indicates how far along they are in the
Visitors ready to purchase want to get to
the price. That’s their goal. They’ll go through some
work to reach that goal. Browsers and tire-kickers won’t go
to the effort.
An interface that includes a "Researching a
Purchase? Click here" option is an interface that understands
visitor goals. The visitor may be skeptical, but they'll also
appreciate the honesty and want to be honest in return. Give a
researcher this option and they’ll click on it.
Step Three: Keep expectations in
Visitors doing their search need to know
when they’ll get the results that they want. Something like
"Page 1 of 5" with interim results on each page lightens the load
on a visitor’s mind, rather than leaving them wondering
"When is this going to end?"
Once a visitor has committed to a course of
action -- whether purchase or further research -- by filling out
a form, a site should help the visitor achieve the goal of that
action (complete the purchase, download a paper, whatever) in no
more than five pages. Once that first goal is rewarded, get another
goal commitment in there fast -- you don’t want them to
wander away once you’ve started satisfying them.
Several years of research have shown that five pages is the max the
average visitor can address before losing sight of their reason
for filling in the forms in the first place. This comes down to
keeping expectations in check, and specifically the expectation
of when the visitor can achieve a goal.
Step Four: Allow Visitors Quick
Keeping expectations in check by giving
visitors quick successes. People will continue doing what they
successfully did in the past. Visitors will return to and
purchase from websites that make them feel successful -- even if
the same product is less expensive elsewhere -- because success
is a behavioral goal. Once you demonstrate that your site is
going to make them successful, the visitor’s ego kicks in.
They’ll say "I just like this site better" and you will
Step Five: Make Visitor Goals the Site
Remember that visitors come to your site
either to purchase or to research. Those are their reasons, not
their goals. There is a difference.
A goal is something I
don’t consciously know about or recognize. A
reason is what I tell myself and say to others when
I’m attempting to meet that goal. Behavioral goals are easy
to work with because they’re fairly simple and direct: Ego
(You’ll look better driving this car), Shame (What happens
here stays here), and there are many others.
In this case the goal is ego-driven and
simple: success. I want to be successful; you want
to be successful; everybody wants to be successful. Make me
successful -- even in something as simple as a product search --
and I will non-consciously tell myself that the way to be
successful when I’m ready to purchase is to return to your
Step Six: Successful People are
The easiest people to persuade are those
with a feeling of success. They already feel lucky so
they’ll go for more. Visitors aren’t coming to your
site to make you money; they’re coming to your site to be
successful, to get something they want, to meet their goals. The
by-product of your helping visitors become successful is that you
Changing someone’s decision from just
buying apple pie to buying apple pie with chocolate ice cream is
Make it simple and easy and obvious for the
person to get the apple pie. Let them know they’re going to
get it and they can have it. Right when they can see it and
it’s almost in their hands, which means they can already
taste it and smell it and delight in it, suggest -- Suggest! --
that they try it with chocolate ice cream.
You’ll be successful because
they’ll be successful, each and every time.
Step Seven: Use Log Files for Traffic
The Server Log Files contain important
clues to the success or failure of your website design strategy
and of your marketing campaigns. You may also determine if the
visitors came to buy or to research.
An important feedback of website traffic is
analyzing the web server log files in order to study the effects
of the campaign on traffic. If you own or manage a website, you
are probably already aware of the importance of your log files or
Such data can give you insights about your
site’s usability, errors in your HTML code, the popularity
of your site pages, the type of visitors your site attracts and
their behavior. This is specific data about your web site
that you should be looking at in your log files on a regular
Several variables should be examined monthly,
weekly, or even daily to ensure your site design and page optimization
is on the right track:
Most sites can be developed and analyzed
around the concept of visitor pathways. If, for example, your
site is a Business to Business (B2B) site and you service small,
medium and large businesses, there should be pathways through
your site designed for each class of visitor. An extremely
simplified example would be:
Clients coming to the site through an
optimized index (home) page:
home page ---> small business page
---> order page ---> order confirmation page
home page ---> medium business page
---> order page ---> order confirmation page
home page ---> large business page
---> order page ---> order confirmation page
index page ---> large content page
---> content page ---> newsletter opt-in page
The site entry pages for these pathways are
often optimized sales pages or optimized content (research)
The final page of this route is often the
action that you want clients to take on your site (e.g., sign up
for your newsletter, buy your products online or contact you for
further information). You can easily determine how effective your
pathways are by tracking the entry paths on a regular basis via
your site stats.
You should have some idea of the main
pathways that clients take through your site, both for monitoring
the effectiveness of your page optimization and conversions, and
for the purpose of subsequent site redesign(s). A good starting
point to track the pathways through your site is via the graph or
chart called "Entry Paths" in your log files / site
2. Top Exit
These are pages from which most visitors
click away from your site. Why is it useful to track these?
Because exit pages can tell you:
* If there is a technical problem with the
page that is causing visitors to leave your site. For example, if
there are broken links, or the form on the page is not working
* If your site design is breaking the
strategic pathway, for example, you may have links to external
sites that are inducing clients to click away before buying your
product or signing up for your newsletter.
* If there is something on these pages that
is encouraging visitors to leave your site. For example, poor copy,
an unprofessional design or confusing layout.
In your log files / site statistics, the
graph or chart called "Top Exit Pages" is the place to learn why
visitors are leaving your site.
3. Single Access
These are entry pages that are viewed once
before the visitor clicks away from your site. Similar to Top
Exit Pages, Single Access Pages can tell you a lot about why
people are not staying on your site for long.
Have a close look at the search terms used
to find your site. Single Access Pages can often indicate that
your target search terms are too broad.
For example, you may be getting a lot of
traffic by targeting "printer cartridges" but if you only stock a
particular brand of cartridge, then people seeking other brands
are not going to find what they truly seek when they arrive at
your site so they will leave immediately.
This can be resolved by narrowing down your
search terms to be more targeted and focused on your niche
products and services, for example, by changing "printer
cartridges" to "HP printer cartridges" and so on.
To see what pages of your site are viewed
once, look for the graph or chart called "Single Access Pages" in
your log files / site statistics.
4. Most Requested
Page(s) and Top Entry Pages.
Tracking these pages is key to measuring
the success of your SEO campaign.
If your optimization is effective, the Top
Entry Pages and Most Requested Pages should be those that you
have optimized for target keywords.
The Top Entry Pages are particularly
relevant as you consider the pathways through your site. Do the
most popular entry pages have any relationship to the start pages
for your plotted visitor pathways? Or are visitors entering and
navigating your site via ways you didn’t intend? You can
use this information to continually tweak your page optimization
to guide visitors to the right pathways.
To see your most requested pages, look for
the graph or chart titled "Most Requested Pages" in your log
files / site statistics. Also look for "Top Entry
Why are visitors refreshing pages on your
site? Are the pages not loading properly? The "Page Refreshes"
variable is another one to monitor on a monthly basis via your
site stats to ensure that there are no site usability issues for
6. Referring Domains and
Where are your visitors coming from? Are
they coming from sites that are linked to yours? Are blog authors
or forum members talking about your site? Referring Domains will
tell you what sites are linking to yours, while Referring URLs
will list the actual pages where the links are
These can be little gold mines because you
can often find valuable sources of traffic via links to your site
that you didn't even know existed.
In terms of an SEO campaign, these links
can all add to your site’s overall link popularity, an
important factor in the ranking algorithms of many search
engines, particularly Google. Monitoring these metrics can tell
you if your site requires a link-building campaign or help you
measure the effectiveness of various online and offline
In your log files / site statistics, Look
for the graph or chart titled "Referring Domains" and "Referring
7. Search Engine
How many of your visitors are coming
directly from search engines? What percentage of overall traffic
does this represent?
This is a good variable to track to help
you keep up with how many search engines are listing your site
(both free submission and paid submissions), how much traffic
they bring and whether to renew your paid submissions.
It can also tell you whether you need to
increase the number of search engines your site is submitted to
in order to build on your link popularity. As a very rough
guide, you should be receiving at least 30 percent of your site
traffic via search engine referrals.
To see search engine referrals, look for a
chart or graph called "Search Engines" within your site
8. Search Phrases and
This topic is related to search engine
referrals generally, but gives added insight into what terms you
were actually found for in the search engines.
Do these terms match what your site was
optimized for? Are there any surprising terms that you might want
to develop site content for? Some log file analysis programs will
even break down what specific phrases your site was found for in
which particular search engines. The more detailed the data you
have, the more closely you can tweak your optimization campaign
to your precise market.
To see the search phrases your site was
found for, look for "Search Phrases" or "Search Phrases by
9. Landing pages for PCC
If you run a pay-per-click campaign or
dedicate specific pages to advertising product specials, you may
use special landing pages or tracking aids to monitor your traffic
Your site logs can help you track these by
showing you how many visitors they each had and what they did
after they visited those pages.
10. Metric values that
show a radical change from developing trends.
Any site metrics that show a dramatic
change from one month to the next could pin-point a problem with
your site or with your optimization campaign.
For example, if your search engine
referrals have dropped dramatically, it could indicate that you
have been penalized in a search engine (or more than one).
Noticing changing trends early gives you the chance to
investigate problem areas and make adjustments if
Please note that all log file analysis and
site statistics programs are different and use slightly different
terms to describe the metrics listed above. If you're confused,
ask your site admin or hosting provider to highlight these for
11. Web statistics
You can actually read the "raw" log files
produced by your web server. These are plain text files that can
be read by any text editor and even Word. However, if you do
generate some traffic, you will find it hard to make any sense of
the amount of data generated.
You definitely need some software that can
analyze the log files for you and generate statistics in a useful
If you use a good web hosting service,
chances are that your provider already has installed a web
statistics program for you. Some of them do so by default. Check
their web site or send them an email. One of the most frequently
used program is AWStats.
Alternatively you can buy and install your
own software on your server, or sign up for a monthly service.
The packages that let you download the log files to your PC and
analyze them there are less expensive in the long run.
Here are some examples of log file analysis
Remember that your log files are gold mines
filled with nuggets of information about your Internet traffic, for
any web site. If you keep digging on a regular basis,
you will eventually strike it rich with success.
About the Author:
Enrique de Argaez is the webmaster of several
international Internet websites and the author of four
newsletters. He is active in Internet Market Research. His main
websites are http://www.internetworldstats.com and http://www.allabout