Workshop Summary: If you've ever tried to find the spare toilet paper in someone else's bathroom, you've experienced a usability issue. Just like the owner of that bathroom, we sometimes get so used to our own sites, we can't see what needs to be fixed. In this workshop, Matt Bailey, Founder of Site Logic Marketing will walk you through common problems that can make your site a hassle for visitors to use. Find out how even the smallest change can make a dramatic impact on your site's conversion rates.
Preface note: Matt did an excellent job showing us several pictorial examples of "usability problems" that I really could not reproduce here. Rather, I have tried to capture some of the tips and advice he provided in the workshop.
The number one rule of usability is to call things what they are. This is where keyword research really comes into play. Use it in navigation, content and to point user where you want them to go. The second rule in usability is if they don't see it, it is not there. That is the webmaster's problem - not the user. If you have to explain to users how it works, then you have a problem.
How do people search? First example is a sharpshooter. They are very specific in their search, pinpointing exactly what they want. Next set is the concept searcher (shotgun searchers). They shoot for broad terms and see what will pop up. After this are the artillery search. They either have no idea what they are looking for or want to learn as much as possible about a particular subject.
There are various personalities of how people shop sites. The planner - detailed research, the browser - slow to make decision, the price shopper - looking for bottom dollar price, the last minute - price not important and very last minute.
Sales 101 - explain the purpose of your site, sell to needs and personality of the visitor, provide action benefit type of language and links and finally show personality and a unique "voice." Your web site is in front of potential buyers more than your sales force ever will be. Persuasion is based on three things - logic, emotion and credibility. Your web site has to be able to provide all three. The design of our web sites have to establish credibility more than any other thing. It is not about fancy design but rather consistencyy of presenting information.
Biggest readability problems include small text. Then there is scrolling text, rotating, blinking and low contrast. These are all things that will help users to overlook your content.
Usability rule number three is to write for users, not for search engines. Not to neglect search engines but consider users first and then worry about the search engines.
Alice in Wonderland School of Web Design - very pretty pictures and appealing design but where's the content and direction. No goals defined for end user - just browse the site and you'll end up somewhere. Users will wander aimlessly just as Alice did in the original story and animated feature.
Users are not dumb but rather our web sites are often dumb. Navigation labels should be goal-orientated and b very easy to understand. Be redundant in navigation. Taxonomy = hierarchal structure, classification and grouping. Matt uses the example of how a person would set up a wine store - by region, by type, by price? That is taxonomy
Grouping and labeling is simply grouping links together without having to rely on main navigation. provides an excellent example of this. They group links in 5 - 7 links and offering variety as hey understand people shop for wine differently. The home page should have clear directions. What you sell should be evident and clear. Good web usability always lets people understand where thy are at in the process.
Provide links within the content as more people will naturally click on them rather than go back to main navigation.
When putting together product and/or service descriptions, sell the benefits. What is in it for me? Avoid specs unless people want them as they are boring and do not include keywords relevant to that product or service. When you sell the benefits, you make a connection.
Don't up sell until the user has actually committed to buy the product (e.g., placed in cart, ready to check out).
Building trust - about us, contact us privacy policy, etc. - provide these to establish trust with your users.
Note: These are raw notes taken while live-blogging sessions at the Small Business Marketing Unleashed conference in Houston, Texas. Please excuse any spelling or grammar errors.
April 22, 2008

David Wallace is CEO and founder of SearchRank, an original search engine optimization and marketing firm based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is experienced in search engine optimization and marketing, pay per click and pay for inclusion management, directory submissions and web site design usability. David is a frequent contributor to various search engine related forums, an active editor of popular directories such as, Joe Ant and Zeal and has had several articles published on industry related sites. Since 1997, David along with his company have helped hundreds of businesses both large and small increase their search engine visibility and customer acquisitions.

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Search Engine Guide > David Wallace > SBM Unleashed: Usability and Conversion Workshop