The average visitor to your website will leave within 5 seconds if they can’t readily discern what you’re offering and how they’ll benefit from it. I know…internet users are a fickle bunch.
I’m sorry to say that I’m one of these “leavers” who increases a sites bounce rate, or the number of people who leave a site before clicking anything else. But, you probably are too. We can’t help it though! With almost innumerable sites at our fingertips, there’s no way that we’ll spend extra time reading all the text on a site and clicking through its various menu options to figure out what it wants from us and why.
Why does this happen though? What causes people to “bounce?” They bounce because the site’s designed wrong. How is the site designed wrong? The designer didn’t ask the right questions at the onset of the project. The site needs to be built right because behind word-of-mouth, websites are the second most influential means to guiding purchase decisions.
Are we talking questions about layout, ease of navigation etc.? Yes, but has website formatting alone ever made you want to look into a product and buy it? Doubtful. Various formatting issues will definitely push a visitor away but fixing those issues won’t always make them stay and buy either.
Products, services etc. are purchased because their benefits speak to their target audience on both a rational level (“This stain remover works 5 times faster than the competition”) and an emotional level (“This stain remover will save you from those embarrassing moments when everyone’s staring at that nasty stain on your shirt from that raging party you went to last weekend”). In order to convey both rational and emotional benefits of a brand, the web designer needs to ask questions about the brand to get to know those rational and emotional benefits. The designer then needs to ask questions about the target audience in order to figure out how to convey those rational and emotional benefits to them in a way they will connect with them.
What Questions need to be Asked Then?
That’s a good question. Some web designers do in fact ask the right questions while some do not. Below is a list of links to some of the most thorough site design questionnaires I’ve seen. Study them; compile your own list; use them in-house or give them to your contracted site designer. You’ll notice there are far more questions about your brand, its purpose, its competition, the feelings the site should exude and elicit, the demographics and lifestyles of the brands target audience rather than how the site should be laid out and how navigation should function.
This last link provides a website questionnaire that seems thorough but almost completely lacks any questions about the brand or its target audience. This is what not to do.
What Design Elements Convey Rational and Emotional Appeals?
Once the web designer has asked all the right questions about the brands rational and emotional sides, it’s time to figure out the best ways to convey them so the site visitor connects with them and gets drawn into the website and its offer. The only way to do so is through using both images and textual elements, or as we will call them, “visuals and verbals.” But how do you select the right visuals and verbals to convey a brands rational and emotional appeals?
The visuals and verbals a brand employs in its communications should always convey its lifestyle, personality and voice. This is because often times, these are the aspects of a brand that act as rational and emotional appeals that connect with the consumer.
Regarding visuals, the models used; their facial expressions; the lighting in the image; the clothing the models wear; the location of the shot and how the product is used in the image (if included) all convey the lifestyle, personality and voice of the brand. If you saw an ad with a man in ragged clothing, crouching over a toilet throwing up while holding a bottle of Sprite, the lifestyle, personality and voice you hold in your mind about the brand would be completely different than if you saw the image to the left. Would such imagery appeal to the consumers rational and emotional sides? Would they feel that it is a logical choice to go with Sprite as their beverage of choice because of the lifestyle and personality portrayed here? Would the imagery make them feel excited about and happy to try the brand? No, on all accounts. Visually convey the right lifestyle, personality and voice in order to convey the right rational and emotional appeals for going with your product.
The same goes for verbals. The font type; word choice; how the text is arranged and where the text is placed all work to convey the right lifestyle, personality and voice for the brand. If the font type doesn’t match the personality and voice of the brand, the message can be off. Consider what the consumers brand perception would be if the World Wrestling Federation began utilizing a font with a bunch of artsy scrolling to it rather than a blocky, bold font.
Word choice is obvious. Would Disney have ever risen to be the largest purveyor of entertainment if their slogan was “The World of Disney” rather than “The Magical World of Disney?” Based on word choice alone, without the word “magical” in the slogan, the Disney lifestyle would be indiscernible, it would have no personality and its voice would be ineffectual. Based on word choice alone, it would have no way of conveying the rational and emotional appeals of its brand.
“The Magical World of Disney” slogan immediately conveys a rational and emotional appeal to the reader. “Magical” conveys a rational benefit of Disney; its capability to provide something you can’t find anywhere else, something that is better than other amusement parks. “Magical” is an emotional word as well that elicits a sense of curiosity and excitement in the reader.
Of course, no one stops to analyze a brands visuals and verbals when they arrive on their website to see if they appeal to them in a rational and emotional manner. Only marketing guys like me do. A brands appeal is often discerned subconsciously. This is why relevant visuals and verbals need to be placed in every marketing communication piece. Without them, the brand won’t be able to build an understanding of how it fulfills rational and emotional needs in the consumer and thus the consumer won’t stick around on your site to try and figure it out.
There’s a lot that goes into designing an effective website. Visuals and verbals aren’t the only thing that will keep a site visitor from leaving too soon but they certainly won’t scare them off if created properly.