Cater to your visitors

As I said in an earlier post about picturing your visitors, it's safe to assume that people enter your site voluntarily and for a specific reason.

If a visitor's reason for entering your site is not aligned with your own goals (say, they’re looking for career opportunities and your current goals don’t include connecting with potential staff members) they won’t find what they came in for. That’s OK—You can’t please everyone every time and your target is NOT the entire planet.

Illustration of two people in front of groups of food items they may like

Your challenge now is letting them know that it’s a match in the first seconds of their visit, or else they’ll leave. The site navigation and content must be structured in such a way that it’s very easy for them to know this.

This doesn’t mean that all the content should be in their face the moment they land on any part of the site. That would just confuse them. What it means is that the navigation, content and its design should make their path as evident as possible.

For their path to be clear, the steps need to be labeled in the terms that visitors expect. Links, introduction texts, headings, should be written in a language that makes sense to them.

The paths should be planned to guide them with the least friction possible to the contents and actions that will fulfill their motivations, and your goals.

For example, if their motivation is to be informed about UN Agreed Language related to Sexual Rights, and your goal is to be in touch with people taking part at UN negotiations, you might want to guide them to the newsletter subscription form. It should be made very evident what they'll be getting from subscribing to your newsletter.

In many cases, we might want to lead users into new motivations. Common cases are newsletters and donations. Some visitors might come to the site looking for information on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System because they are into marine life and diving. We might want take advantage of this motivation to inform them about the degradation of the reef, about sustainable tourism, and invite them to donate or take action to help conserve biodiversity.

Whether we personally like something or not is not the most relevant factor. Catering to users’ reasons and achieving your project’s goals is.