Your editing website is your shop front. It’s the one online space you control – your land – and so it must work hard for you. Here are 3 things you can do quickly to make it function better.
In this post, I’ll show you 3 things you can do quickly to improve the way a visitor experiences every web page on your site. We’ll look at the following:
> Navigation buttons
> Paragraph headings
> Short paragraphs
Being able to navigate a site is key to a good user experience. Buttons signal the delivery of a promise: learn this, go there, download that.
Imagine you’re in a huge, multi-storey department store. Buttons are like the floor plan near the escalator that tells you what’s where.
Make buttons consistent
Check that your buttons are a consistent colour. That way you’re training visitors to understand that there’s something at the end of the click.
A contrasting hover colour signals that the button is active, that it can be engaged with.
Help people find stuff!
Don’t assume your visitors know where to go, or that they’ll go where you want them to go.
Check every page on your website. Can you add buttons that will make your visitor’s journey easier and that tell them what you'd like them to do?
People are busy and might not have time to trawl through text. Buttons stand out, which means they’re scannable. Use them to help the visitor:
> Get to another page
> Get to another section on the same page
> Access a resource
> Get in touch with you
Include a meaningful call to action
A button that’s easy to spot is half the job done. The other half is about meaningful messaging. GO HERE, EMAIL ME, CLICK HERE, GET IN TOUCH aren’t always the best signals for a roving eye, particularly on longer pages with multiple purposes.
Experiment with calls to action that chime with the delivery of a promise I mentioned above. For example: TAKE ME TO THE LIBRARY, TELL ME MORE ABOUT YOUR SERVICES.
Let’s return to our department store. We’ve found the right floor. Now we need to locate the items. H2 headings are the signs hanging above each aisle that say: This is what you’ll find here.
H2 headings are superb visual indicators because they’re scannable.
Check every page on your website. If there are paragraphs that introduce new information but there’s no summary, add an H2 heading.
Make your headings relevant
Busy visitors who are scanning a web page for clues to how it can help them need indications that they’re in the right place.
Headings should be relevant to the text they’re sitting on top of. They should tell the reader exactly why it’s worth investing time in reading the paragraph.
Don’t assume your busy visitor has a sense of humour! A witty paragraph heading that doesn’t stand alone and explain what’s in the text below it is of no use. Boring trumps funny every day of the week!
Offer solutions or ask questions
To solve the boring problem, create headings that signal specific solutions or ask questions that are likely to match a visitor’s query.
Compare the heading The time frame with How long will editing take? The former requires the visitor to ask themselves: What time frame? The latter pre-empts the question.
Solutions and questions will bring the scanning to a halt. That’s where engagement begins. Now you’ve got their attention.
Back to the department store. If the buttons are like the floor plan, and the headings are the aisle signs, then short paragraphs on our web pages are like neatly arranged shelves.
Visitors are more likely to engage with what’s on those shelves when there’s space between each item.
The alternative is rummaging. Busy people want to get their information fast. Short paragraphs help them do that. They’re also far more visually appealing.
Are people accessing your website via mobile?
If walls of text are off-putting on a desktop, they’re impenetrable on a phone.
Do you know how many of your website’s visitors are accessing your site via mobile devices? Google Analytics is free and will give you this information. I can tell you that a third of my visitors use a tablet or phone. A third!
I can also tell you that my mobile engagement has doubled in percentage terms since 2013. Offering a good user experience therefore means attending to mobile users' needs.
With that in mind, do all of your visitors a favour and break up text into visually digestible blocks of no more than 3–4 lines on each of your web pages. It’s one of the fastest and easiest design improvements to implement!
Review the buttons, headings and paragraph length on every page of your website.
Each fix can be implemented in under 24 hours, and none require technical know-how.
More important is the impact on your visitors. The better their experience, the more they’re likely to stick around. That means you’re serving them and your business!
By the time you're done, you'll know how to build an effective web presence!
And take a look at these freebies:
> Library of resources for editors
> How to minimize cancellations and non-payment for editing services
> How to create an amazing portfolio
> 8 reasons to create a learning centre
Louise Harnby is a line editor, copyeditor and proofreader who specializes in working with crime, mystery, suspense and thriller writers.
She is an Advanced Professional Member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP), a member of ACES, a Partner Member of The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), and co-hosts The Editing Podcast.
FIND OUT MORE
> Get in touch: Louise Harnby | Fiction Editor & Proofreader
> Connect: Twitter at @LouiseHarnby, Facebook and LinkedIn
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> Discover: Resources for authors and editors
'Louise uses her expertise to hone a story until it's razor sharp, while still allowing the author’s voice to remain dominant.'
'I wholeheartedly recommend her services ... Just don’t hire her when I need her.'
J B Turner
'Sincere thanks for a beautiful and elegant piece of work. First class.'
'What makes her stand out and shine is her ability to immerse herself in your story.'
'A million thanks – your mark-up is perfect, as always.'