The links that don’t mean anything

Yesterday I discussed the shortcomings of the classic ‘pyramid’ website structure, where visitors are directed further and further down the site, then have to come all the way back up to the top to get anywhere else. It’s like a hotel with no corridors, only separate stairs into each room from the lobby. This kind of arrangement:

pyramid

There’s another problem though. Supposing you’re in that hotel lobby, looking at all these sets of stairs, and they’re labelled in a way which only the hotel staff can understand? You’d like to find the dining room, or the swimming pool, and there are just code numbers on every stairway.

Maybe you know what I’m about to point out. Time after time, you visit websites which say on the home page: “We’re a manufacturer of all types of widgets”, and there are links to pages about red widgets, blue widgets, etc. So far, so good. When you get those pages, there’s a nice explanation of what blue widgets (or red widgets) do, what the benefits are of this company’s blue widgets (or red widgets), and so on. Still good. And then there’s a list of all the company’s blue widgets (or red widgets) …by part number. So to find the right one, you have to click on each of the links in turn, examining the product page to see if any are what you want. Effectively, you’re having to go down each set of stairs and open each door, to see which one is the dining room or the swimming pool.

labels

Prospects visiting our websites don’t know the differences between the different models we sell. Hilariously, one site which I visited recently showed 10 products one above the other, each with a part number and a photo – and each photo was the same! Then I saw it was page 1 of 3…

Never present website visitors with links that won’t mean anything to them. This isn’t just because it irritates them. If the product I’d wanted in that previous example had turned out to be on page 3, I’d never have got there. Think like your visitor would. In leading them to the right product, ask them the questions which a salesperson would ask.

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Discussion

  1. Andy Harris

    Had to laugh (and agree) Chris – on such sites there may as well be a banner to the right of the mystery links that says something like “Use your psychic powers to work out what each link relates to”!

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