How to Keep People on Your Website (And Declutter It)

Here’s the challenge…

You have 5 seconds to educate the person viewing your site on what it is you provide and how to get it. On top of that, you’ve got to convince them that you’re a legitimate business.

The problem is, the time it takes for your website to load takes up some of this time. If your page isn’t loaded within 2-3 seconds, you’re dead.

In this short amount of time, it’s safe to assume that they probably won’t be reading the paragraphs explaining why your business, services, or products are special. It’s a bitter truth, but a truth nonetheless. Only after convincing them that your site is worth staying on passed 5 seconds will they read the bullet points and sales copy you’ve toiled over for hours.

In the first five seconds they just want to know what you do, and how to get it.

So, you might be asking, “how the heck do I make people understand what I do, why it’s special, and how to get it in 5 seconds, Mike?”

And I’m like “I’m about to tell you, Karen.”

Let’s zoom out of a website and look at the major components that makes these things clear.

See the diagram below displaying the following;

  1. An image that represents what benefits your product or service gives people
  2. A headline that clearly states what you do, and an idea of why it’s special
  3. A clear call-to-action (CTA)
  4. A "Buy Now" button in the top right corner (or a way of getting their information)

Now for some examples, and an image, Karen.

Thanks for the original version of this ^, Donald Miller/StoryBrand!

1 - An image that represents what benefits your product or service gives people

Let’s say you’re a craft brewery and you’ve got some incredible local beer.

(Psst, if this is you, and you live on Long Island, give me a ring or email)

Sure, you can show an image of a lineup of beers on a bar, or on a picnic table with the sun glistening on the erupting bubbles in your fresh brew. This is nice, and can feel delicious, but we can do even better.

We want to show image that represents the benefits your product, not only what your service or product literally is.

What does your beer give people? Just luxurious liquid? No suh.

There’s more to it than that, and you know it.

Your beer gives people the following;

  • Comfort
  • Social Experience & Grace (who doesn’t get more open & talkative after a drink or 3?)
  • Comfort
  • Luxury (I don’t mean diamonds and pearls– it’s that they are treating themselves to something pleasurable)
  • Identity
  • Relief

A better choice here would be two people with just-tapped beers, cheers-ing in delight.
(p.s. please correct me on “cheers-ing", I say it every week and don’t know how to be normal about it).

You can also show the brewery, with a crowd of friendly faces, beers in their hands (and some close up), with casks, barrels, and brewing equipment in the background.

This SCREAMS fun brewery.

We are showing the experience that they are getting.
The comfort of a cold beer with a warm friend.
The social scene they are undoubtedly happy to be a part of. The place they belong.
Treating themselves to something they love, cause god damn it, they’ve worked hard and they deserve it.
An unfiltered conversation– their chance to unwind and be themselves.

This is what you’re selling. Your liquid is the locomotive and the motivator for an amazing time.
It’s about the relationships, opportunities, and experience that you’re facilitating.

We don’t need things, we need each other.
Your beer reminds us of that.
Be proud and show that.

P.s. they aren’t sitting around to see your slider load up the second image. They are breezing past it while it loads. Make the header image load instantly and make it fantastic.

2- A headline that clearly states what you do, and an idea of why it’s special

One of my favorite handicapped-mindsets is the “curse of knowledge.” This basically says that you will be bad at explaining your product or service to people that don’t know about it since you know it so well.

You will often explain too deeply. You explain in a way that other people with the same job as you will understand.
You will skip the basics and go way over their heads.

There is a place for this type of detail, but it isn’t in your main headline. It’s deeper into your site when the reader is already interested (and qualified) that it’s time to wow them with this type of information.

The other two issues that I see all of the time are;

The complication of the non-complex.
This is when you use flowery, sometimes pompous language to explain something fairly straightforward. The solution– say it like you’re speaking to a 12 year old. Don’t try to impress their pants off, just give it to them straight.
That’s an extremely common reading level anyway.

The ambiguation of the complex.
This is when you mystify something that has a lot of moving parts.
The solution– simplify. Condense the complex into a bite size summarization that communicates your service/product and it’s value.

Sticking with the brewery example, let’s see some examples.

Complication - The effervescence of our Pale Ale enriches your life and provides a sensational mouth-feel.
Ambiguation - Our unique brewing process combines the essence of the hard-fought battle tales of Mordor with the elven principles of Karate, while borrowing the polytheistic ideals of Tibetan monks.

No, Karen, you use the classic ingredients and you do it well.
Let’s tell them the basics first then get into the spacey goodness in time.

You may be saying “but my branding is expressive and funky!”
I totally get that, and you can be expressive and funky.
You’ve got to get the basics across without sounding vague and confusing.

3 - A clear call-to-action (CTA)

What the heck is a CTA? I’m glad you asked. I’m about to tell you just in case you forgot.

A call to action is your “hey you, do this.”
Like a “Click Here to See blahblah” or "Buy This Thing" button.

This should be at the top of your website. In the header (hero) image.

This is the first link they see. The first action they can take.
And you should repeat it as they scroll down the page, convincing them with an explanation of the benefits of your product/service as they scroll.

Make sure you drop it right before the website footer as well.

What should this CTA be directing them towards? What should I be asking people to do?
That depends on your goals.

Your CTA should reflect the most important factor in converting a browser into a buyer.

If a person downloading your catalog and giving you their email for delivery (and email marketing) is always the quickest path to converting them into a customer, put that at the top of your website with a button or link.

If you are selling personal health coaching services, and you need a brief and basic breakdown of your potential client’s health history, ask them to fill out something fun like a “personality profile.” Health coaches, you know that it’s really not all about their diet 🙂

If you are encouraging someone to come into your brewery or bar, consider offering a deal coupon via email. It will get them on your mailing list for continued marketing, and entices them to come in and get that deal.

Another note– for the actual button or link, never use language as simple as “Buy Now” or “Submit.” Make it fun and make it within brand.

To keep the brewery thing going…
If you’re trying to get people to your directions page, or get their email to send a discount, consider saying something like
“Let’s have a beer”
“How about we share a drink?”
or even
“Pour one for me"

That makes it fun to click and shows your personality and branding.

Don’t ask people to submit. This isn’t a wrestling match, nor are they computers.

4 - A Buy Now button in the top right corner (or a way of getting their information)

In the 5 seconds that people take to evaluate your site and decide if it’s for them, one of the main places they look at is the menu navigation. I’ve seen this on countless visual heatmaps.

This is often one of the first changes I make to most of the sites I get to help.
The issue is almost always the same– they aren’t asking for the sale clearly enough.

Within that navigation bar should be a highlighted button bringing them to your main point of conversion.

Basically, a glowing navigation link that screams “DO THIS.”

The background color of this link should be different from the other links, but within brand colors.

If you have a dark brown header with white links, make your “Buy Now” a cream color (assuming it’s in brand), so that it stands out.

I put buy now in quotes because maybe you don’t have an eCommerce site.
This can be your client intake form, contact us form, catalog download, free content giveaway, whatever.

Your "Buy Now” in the navigation should almost always be the same as the CTA you chose in the last step.

Bonus Time…

How many links do you have in your header navigation anyway?
86% of the time I will be correct in saying that… you have too many.

Hop on your Google Analytics and see what the top most visited pages are.

Go to GA > Behavior > Site Content > All Pages

This will show you a list of your pages and posts and the total number of pageviews these pages or posts have received.
A pageview is a load of your page in their browser.
This will tell you your most viewed pages or posts.

This also tells you which pages should be in your menu navigation, along with your main goal CTA, your "Buy Now.”

In addition to this, you’ll want to have a link or two that serves your business like a Directions or Contact Us in case they are ready to visit without taking action on your main CTA.

Chances are that your "About Us” will be amongst the top pages. Make sure to have this in there since this is where you can identify with your target demographic.

What do you do now?

  • Find an image that represents what benefits your product or service gives people
  • Write a headline that clearly states what you do, and an idea of why it’s special
  • Figure out your clear call-to-action
  • Drop a Buy Now button in the top right corner (or a way of getting their information)
  • Consider reducing the links in your header navigation

You rule and you can do this,

P.S., share this for me?