Have you ever wondered how people experience your website? If you have, you are not alone. Website user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) are focal points in judging how effective websites are. So much depends on a website’s design (or eventual facelift) and look that we scrutinize them in every aspect.
What is Visitor Content Flow?
One way to assess website design is by a website’s visitor content flow. Visitor content flow describes the navigation layout of your website. Website visitors can follow particular paths by clicking on various menus, pages, and links, before leaving. Designing these paths optimally is the key to attracting visitors to your website.
Good visitor content flow helps website visitors find what they are looking for. If visitors cannot find what they are looking for, they leave. It sounds simple, but it is hard to achieve ideal visitor content flow. Website visitors can be put off by the smallest inconveniences, like not finding a particular menu where they expect to find it. So it’s important to structure your visitor content flow in the most intuitive way possible.
With so much competition on the internet, you need to make sure your website’s visitor content flow is top notch. Otherwise, you will push potential customers to your competitors. Visitors who don’t understand how to navigate a website opt for one with a more intuitive navigation. They can afford to give up easily because competitor websites are just a click away.
Analyze User Flow
To start optimizing your website’s content flow, you must analyze your website’s user flow.
User flow is how users navigate your website. It is the steps they take through menus, pages, and links, whether it leads them to purchasing a product or leaving the website all together. Understanding user flow is the first step to optimizing your visitor content flow.
To access user flow data, you must use a web analytics tool. Popular web analytics tools include Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics.
Google Analytics Visitor Behavior Flow Report
No matter which web analytics tools you use, you will be able to access user flow reports that give you insight into website user surfing behavior. Audit your website regularly to keep a pulse on how visitors navigate through your website. This tells you not only about your website’s visitors but about how good it’s content flow is.
To get the most out of user flow data, pay attention to the following:
- Find out where visitors are landing on your website. Just because your website has a homepage does not mean that’s where visitors land first. Perhaps most of your visitors are referred to a popular page on your website. Find out what landing pages matter to your customers and highlight them or add more content like it.
- Find out which pages and resources are used most. If you find that most visitors use the blog on your website, figure how you can direct more visitors from the blog to the product shopping cart, for example. After all, your website should help your business and not just be ornamental.
- Pay attention to when visitors are leaving your website. If most visitors leave your website on the shopping cart page (for ecommerce sites), perhaps they are getting stuck somewhere along the way to completing the purchase. Maybe high shipping prices are turning them away. There are numberless ways to explain user flow behavior. Try to narrow them down and eliminate reasons for visitors to leave, so you can get as many to stay or respond to calls to action (CTAs) as possible. How many visitors leave your website upon arrival, without exploring another page, is measured by the bounce rate. The bounce rate will be high if user expectations are not met. So keep the bounce rate low by identifying user expectations and delivering on them as much as possible.
- Identify conversion paths. On a web analytics user flow report, you can trace how visitors navigate through your website. These are called interactions. Depending on the size of your website, there could be countless unique interactions (paths). The key is to identify interactions that lead to conversions. Conversions are actions you want website visitors to take. This could simply be buying a product. However, conversions can also include smaller goals, like visitors signing up for a newsletter or answering a survey. Look for trends in which interactions lead to conversion and see how you can optimize other user flow paths to do the same. In Google Analytics, you can find conversion path data in “The Top Conversion Paths report” under the “Multi-Channel Funnels” section:
- Compare user behavior on different devices. You may find that your visitors behave differently depending on which device they are using. Different devices include computers, tablets, and mobile phones. If, for example, you discover that you get more conversions from mobile users, find out why. Maybe your mobile site is more user friendly than your regular one. Whatever disparities you find can be useful in optimizing your website for all devices.
- Compare organic vs. paid website traffic. Web analytics allows you to see how visitors land on your website. This can be valuable information because it tells you where to focus your marketing strategies. If visitors find your website through a web search, it’s called organic traffic. This means visitors found your website through a search engine like Google. If visitors are referred to your website through paid ads, it’s calle paid traffic. This means a user clicked on an ad for your website. Web analytics will tell you how much of your website traffic is organic vs. paid. If you find that most of your traffic is paid, it could mean your ads are working and you should focus more on content and search engine optimization (SEO) to increase organic traffic. The reverse is also true. Too much organic traffic may mean it’s time to improve your paid traffic with better ads.
- Compare time periods. Find out when your website received the most traffic. Did you offer any special promotions or deals during that time? Did you post a popular blog post that week? Analyze the peaks and troughs over time to see what you can learn. Consider also what time of day you get most visitors. Do most people visit your website in the morning or at night? Analyzing when visitors use your website can help you know how to design the content flow.
With all this user flow information available at your fingertips, you are off to a good start. Here are some final practical tips for testing insights gained from user flow data:
- Imitate user flow to get a better understanding of user behavior. Go to your website as a regular visitor and mimic the user flows you identified previously through web analytics. See why some interactions lead to conversion and others do not. Nothing will evidence good or poor content flow like hands-on testing.
- Perform A/B testing. Another way to test user flow is through A/B testing. A/B testing involves creating two different versions of your website and seeing how users respond to each. Compare the performance of both versions of the website to see which design is superior. This can be a foolproof way to determine the best visitor content flow design.
Improve Visitor Content Flow
Now that you know how to access and analyze user flow data to your advantage, you are ready to design your visitor content flow. You can never be too precise when it comes to visitor content flow, but here are some general guidelines to move you in the right direction:
- Plan your website design carefully by anticipating questions your visitors might have. If you can put yourself in their shoes, you can better know how to design the content flow of your website. For example, if you find that your About Us page mentions your company’s services, ensure that it includes a link to the page that lists those services. Anticipatory content flow design keeps visitors from losing interest when they cannot easily find the information they want. There are definitely pros and cons to hiring a web dev agency vs. designing the website yourself.
- Remove unused or irrelevant navigation or menu items. This will free up space and give the important navigation items more attention. After all, if your user flow data shows that nobody looks at a particular menu item, you may consider removing it from the main menu and including it elsewhere. For example, a history of baseball page, though interesting, may not be worthy of being on the main menu of the Major League Baseball (MLB) website. Perhaps most visitors just want to look up game scores and statistics, so removing the history of baseball page from the main menu will streamline visitors to more important pages.
- Avoid drop-down menus. Drop-down menus allow visitors to skip important information that they may need. For example, if your website includes a drop-down menu under “Menswear,” in which you can select from different clothing articles, they may never get a glimpse of your general menswear catalogue or your company’s beliefs, values, or mission when it comes to men’s clothing. Your visitor may land straight on the men’s socks page without much context. Instead, have your website show larger menu pages that lead to smaller ones, so visitors don’t miss vital information. They can always bookmark specific pages on your website for future reference if they want.
- Beware of dead ends. Dead ends on your website include broken links, missing pages and resources. They can be hard to spot because you don’t realize they exist until you run into them as a regular site visitor. This is where effective user testing comes into play. Essentially, you want to eliminate all dead ends. But you should also have a good 404 error page in case you do have a broken link somewhere. A good 404 page will direct the visitor to another part of your website to keep looking. Similarly, if your website has a search function, you need a good “No results found” page. Instead of leaving the visitor hanging, suggest common searches or other places to look. Always leave the visitor with somewhere to go.
- Include links to the homepage. Capture interested researchers who land on a lower-level page by directing them to the home page, where they can find the source of the information they found. Some visitors may land on a very low-level page of your site that appeared in a Google search for something they’re interested in. Don’t let organic traffic like this slip away without getting to your homepage. They may find that your site has more to offer than just the answer to their initial question.
- Include CTAs on every page. You want to guide visitors toward conversion. One of the easiest ways to do this is by including voluntary calls to action (CTAs) on every page. Of course, having a good product is important. But even if you have a good product, you need to make the path to becoming a customer as easy as possible for the visitor. Instead of making visitors look for a product, why not link to it on every page? Or at least link to some action, e.g. a newsletter sign-up or survey. Purposeful content flow should not rely on visitors exploring your website and using navigation menus. You should guide them along every step of the way via CTAs.
- Add internal links. Internal links are links that direct to other pages on your website. When done well, they create a little ecosystem within your website that keeps visitors cycling through your content. For example, if your website includes several blog posts, they are bound to overlap. Try linking to related blog posts within each to keep visitors on your site. Pay special attention to older posts, where you could add links to newer posts. These are often overlooked if you don’t ever go back to review published material. The more interconnected content you have to offer, the more likely visitors will trust your site as a reliable source.
Benefits of Improving Visitor Content Flow
The benefits to improving your visitor content flow are obvious.
For one, your website will be more attractive to the first-time visitor. Making a good first impression is essential on the internet. If your website’s content flow is inconvenient in the slightest, visitors know they can look elsewhere. Make the user experience (UX) a breeze and visitors are bound to stay.
Good visitor content flow reduces leaks in your sales funnel. Not every website visitor will become a customer, but you can at least ensure you don’t lose potential customers to poor website design. When it comes to content flow, find out where the funnel is leaky and fix the holes.
Finally, good content flow helps your brand and public image. You want your website to communicate a professional, capable, and intuitive design, so visitors trust it. If they don’t know how to navigate your website, they won’t trust your product.
Working with Dev.co
Does your website content flow need a makeover? Maybe you have a great product, but you aren’t seeing the website conversions you expect. Then it may be time to apply the guidelines laid out above.
If you find yourself without the know-how or ability to implement the required website design revisions, consider outsourcing the User Interface (UI) design to an expert. Dev.co prides itself in designing websites that deliver optimal site ROI. We can help you eliminate barriers to conversion, deliver a branded online experience, and create clear calls to action (CTAs).
Whatever your UX/UI design needs, Dev.co is here to help. Optimize your visitor content flow by contacting us today to get started.
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