As I said in an earlier post about picturing your visitors, we can assume that they enter your site willingly and with some motivation in mind.
If their motivation is not aligned with your goals (say, they want to find job opportunities but it’s not in your goals to connect with potential staff members) they will not find what they want, but that’s OK. You can’t please everybody, nor is the entire planet your audience.
If their motivation is aligned with your goals somehow, then we have a match!
Now we have the challenge of letting them know that it’s a match in the first seconds of their visit, or they will 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 very evident what they will get from subscribing to your newsletter.
In many cases, we might want to nudge 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 to guide that 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.
Every site is unique but something that is common to all sites is that they are built so that other people can get content and do things in them. When designing, reviewing, evaluating a website or any of its components, we should be thinking about the visitors, their motivations and our goals.
Whether we personally like something or not is not the most relevant factor. Catering to users motivations and achieving the goals of the project is.