Websites are maps, not books. Make content easy to navigate

Websites are maps, not books. Make content easy to navigate

BO_Blog_WEBSITES ARE MAPS_NOT BOOKS_1How easy do you make it for visitors?

Several terms survive from the early days of the internet. Web Page. Index. Sections. They originate from websites as book and information analogies. Then, for some unknown reason, ‘menu’ became the default for the structure for the website. And they were ‘served’ to browsers like some exotic dishes. ‘Browsers’ also was derived from shopping analogies where you simply looked at objects and articles of interest. Or flipped through the pages of magazines

With cross references and inspiration from multiple sources, the way people understand websites has also changed over the years. Simple interactions have been baked into individual experiences. Clicking links.Understanding that brightly coloured buttons will help you ‘submit’ a form. The ‘Play’ button for videos. ‘Like’ buttons on social media websites.Scrolling through pages.

Everyone doesn’t understand things the same way.People don’t have the same level of knowledge, experience and patience. That’s the way it will continue to be going forward. A small, highly informed section of people who know the web like people know the by lanes of giant cities.

Why maps and not books

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A book has a clear structure. You start on page one and unless you like skipping paragraphs and pages or even chapters, you progress in a sequence. Otherwise, you won’t make the connections easily.

Books also demand your full attention and there is an underlying set of thoughts and a logical flow. And they are usually about one subject all through.

Maps are places to explore. You keep looking for a destination or routes. And that’s a good analogy for how people look at websites. You have a different mindset when you are on websites – looking for something you have read or heard about from somewhere else. It’s different from picking up a book and settling down to read. When you drive, you look for road signs telling you how to reach your destination. And that’s pretty close to how websites are approached.

Keywords are the signposts to follow

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How do you create websites where people find information easily and then, go through in greater detail? You need to look at how they search for information and where they spend time. Keywords are good indicators of the signposts. The higher the use of a certain keyword or key phrase, the more you can align content in that specific direction.

With CMS Hub, content creation is better managed because keyword density and ranking is made available to content creators and all they have to do is ensure that the right keywords are used. Not artificially but spread right through the content in a natural way.

There are two audiences to cater to in content creation. People and search engines. Both are equally important. You can’t write only for one and ignore the other. If you create only for search engines, people won’t read. If you don’t follow SEO practices, search engines won’t rank content higher.

Maps help people reach destinations faster

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Here, the map is the customer journey to a product. Ecommerce sites, at least the best ones have found the best ways to steer customers from finding products to helping them make comparisons to putting them into shopping carts and then paying for it.

On mobile interfaces, they had to teach customers all over again because the space was limited and they had to find the easiest ways for customers to navigate.

With B2B sites, the objective is to give customers what they are looking for in the quickest way possible. Hubspot has also found from research that 76% of people decide how good websites are by being able to find what they want.

It is easier when the product can be precisely classified and described. But with abstract services and specialised needs, the customer journeys are not perfectly clear.

Product and service companies have to use their knowledge of the market and the way customers seek their products to create website maps.

Here’s where the word ‘website’ creates the impression that there is a set of pages that define the site. That’s more for convenience and structure. There may be pages on a website that get 50% of the traffic because that’s what people find the most relevant.

This is not clear in the beginning. Like mapping is a process of discovery, you have to find the points of interest by creating content people want to read, watch or hear. Let your customers be your guides in letting you know what they want from you.

And CMS Hub helps you mark out the journeys of customers on your site. The pages they visit the most. Where they enter.Where they are coming from.And how often they return. That is your framework to build on and deliver.

At BlueOshan, we have been working with HubSpot’s CMS Hub for a while and our design and development skills have grown manifold over time. Be it your existing installation or a new one that you are planning, our CMS consultants will be happy to support you.

 

   

About The Author

Venu Gopal Nair
Venu Gopal Nair

Advertising and Branding Specialist, CEO - Ideascape Communications, A professional journey through the tumultuous years of advertising and communication, starting in 1984. Started out in the age of print, saw the changes with the entry of satellite TV and the momentous transition to digital. Advertising and branding today is vastly different from its practices in the 20th century and the last two decades have seen dramatic changes with smartphone domination. As a Creative Director turned CEO, making the transition personally and professionally has been a tremendous experience.

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