Usability: the longer people stay on your website, the worse

Gerry McGovern - right- at one of our events
Gerry McGovern – right- at one of our events

Content matters but so does the context in which it resides. In a website context, user experience, usability and navigation are just some of the elements defining the success of your content marketing and – more importantly- the customer experience. Do your website visitors have a terrible time finding what they are looking for? Is it visitor-centric or all about you? Does the fact that people stay on your website for a long time mean they like it or that they have to search themselves nuts to get what they want? Enter Gerry McGovern.

Gerry McGovern was a keynote speaker at one of our events and is probably best known among many Web marketers from “less young” generations (that include myself) as the expert in usability, content management and writing content that sells and converts, still one of the essential missions in many (digital) content marketing goals. You might know titles such as “Killer Web Content”, “The Web Content Style Guide” or “Content Critical”.

However, Gerry is about much more than that…

Gerry McGovern is a mix of a conversion, usability, content and marketing expert who always advocated the thought that only website visitors, customers, subscribers, fans or whatever other names, we give to people these days, matter.

Proof of this is his 2010 book “The Stranger’s Long Neck: How to Deliver What Your Customers Really Want Online” and the work he has been doing with another former keynote speaker, Kristin Zhivago, who wrote a book on “How to Sell the Way Your Customers Want to Buy“.

Facilitating the buying process, voicing the impatience and anger of a frustrated customer who does not care about your nice Flash intros and removing all possible hurdles to enable people to achieve their task when they visit your website (or offline shop, for that matter): that’s Gerry. It’s all about getting results by focusing on what people want. Usability and the customer experience. An excellent example is the video below.

Usability: make it easy to optimize conversion

One of Gerry’s main tenets is for businesses to help visitors to perform their tasks, the reasons why they take the trouble to visit you online or interact with you in another way. So, it’s not about keeping people on your website for a long time. If they find what they seek fast, you have done your job.

Generally, how long someone has to stay on a website is an indication of how difficult it is for the person to find and understand the information they need, Gerry wrote in a blog post on the Giraffe Forum (the “long neck”, got it?).

It is common thought that the longer someone stays on a website, the better that website is. It must be more engaging and interesting to visit if visitors are staying for several minutes at a time. However, the opposite is likely to be true, according to Gerry. If a person wanting to know how to install a water purification system needs to quickly find the guide to complete the installation, for example, he doesn’t want to spend five minutes looking through tabs and drop-down menus.

The easier it is to navigate a business’ website and the more detail the website provides, just some usability parameters, the better the user experience is. Detail doesn’t mean lots of words and pages, however. The fewer words a website uses to say what it needs to say, the better the site is. Short and to the point is what Internet users look for. They need detail and tips that support their use of products and services, but they don’t need an essay to explain them.

Website content should be tailored to the needs of visitors. Extra fluff and general information should be eliminated. Gerry covered these points in depth at our Fusion Marketing Experience in Antwerp.