Web journeys: The Yellow Brick Road or The Road to Nowhere?

Just as Dorothy and her companions travelled down The Yellow Brick Road, your website should also be viewed as a journey, not a destination. After all, you don’t just grow your business when people visit, you grow from the positive actions they take as a result of it. 

The Wizard of Oz worked because of the magical experience it created for viewers. And website success also comes down to experience, specifically in this case user experience (UE). And there are four main elements to think about if you hope to create good UE.

1. What is the purpose of your website?

Some possibilities include making a purchase online, driving people to your showroom or shop(s), getting a quote or appointment or newsletter sign-up. There can be several ‘destinations’ and it may be that travellers have to try several before reaching the final one (e.g. downloading a catalogue before doing business with you).

2. Who are the travellers?

It’s likely your website will attract a number of different types of traveller. What you need to ensure is that you tailor the best experience for those most likely to reach the destinations you’ve set for the journey—your action points.

On the Yellow Brick Road, Dorothy’s companions were Tin Man, Lion and Scarecrow. If these were your website visitors, will they all be your target market? Under the 80:20 rule it’s likely it will only be one of these. Assuming it’s Dorothy, research her likes and dislikes, what she wants and what she doesn’t. Thorough audience research is the only effective way to crafting that great UE that will help your travellers reach the destinations both you and them want to get to.

3. Is the journey all about them?

If you’ve researched your target audience well, their destination should be the same one you want them to get to. But it’s important to make sure that they perceive the journey to be theirs and not yours.

There are two simple ways of doing this: 1) Choose your wording to include words such as “you” and “yours” as much as possible. Make the copy speak to them personally. At the same time, avoid too much talking about yourself. Usage of – “We, our, us, I” (and your company name) should be minimised. And 2) structure the site to suit their needs not yours. Your highly organised divisional corporate structure might make sense to you, but is it the most logical way for your travellers to find what they are looking for on your site? If not the UE will be compromised and the site will not perform as well as it could.

4. Will they travel with you again? 

The Yellow Brick Road was a one off journey. Do you want that to be the case on your website? You need to encourage them to travel it again, because the more times they visit, the more business they will do and the more likely they are to bring their friends.

But if you want them to travel a different route each time, perhaps the end destination could be slightly different (e.g. if you’ve got other products or services that would appeal to them.) The easiest way to get people back is to give them a reason to. You know their needs, so put new and exciting content in front of them.

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