What the Grocery Store Can Teach Your Website

Named after a certain animal that was seen stuck under a fence.

               Visit any local grocery store and you will find the milk in the back.  The reason is simple.
The milk is what you want to buy. 
                You have to make it easy for your customer to find what they want, that is a give-in.  Many business owners also follow this rule and construct creative and interactive websites that are very fancy and very good at getting you to certain other parts of the site.  That is great if you customer is looking for fancy, if your market is impressed by the look and feel of your website, then you would do well to utilize the best of HTML5 and the latest browsers.  But is it making you more money?  Looking over your analytics, (you do use analytics, right?) what is the average amount of time that a visitor spends on your page?  Are your customers able to find what they are looking for in 3-5 clicks?  If not you may be doing it….right.

                The many similarities of published text and the web have mashed together the separate disciplines of branding and graphic design.  Many early websites were nothing more than colorful pages created with various levels of interaction, and their flat nature lends them to the fundamentals of layout and graphic design.  Graphic designers have always been responsible for branding, but they may not be the best choice to design the functionality of your website.  Few business owners seem to think of this, and accept the sites they are given.  Medium sized businesses, as well as purely online companies, know and understand how website design can influence a user’s experience and rely on Experience designers, or UX for short.

                Knowing what your customers are looking for will empower you with the ability to influence their choices from the time they click your Google link.  You have a starting point, the Home Page, and an ending, the customer’s destination.  It is upon you, or the UX designer, to fill the space between with a story, one that shares information on new products or helps your brand to better relate to your target market.  The grocery stores put the milk in the back because they also sell chips and, for some strange reason, college ruled 3 hole paper.  They are building their story, “We are here and we have the basics, but we also have all this other stuff.  Isn’t that great?”  The store is still meeting the ease of transfer utility of marketing, that is, it is still very simple for the customer to get milk.  The main value of the business is the ease of transfer; the second value is the placement of secondary, less fundamental, products in your path.  These tactics increase the chance that you may return for a quick candy bar, but more importantly it could spur you to make an impulse buy – the best sell a business could make.

                Think about your website and perhaps the process involved to reach certain parts of it.  Do not be too eager to place all our direct links on the front page like a new version of Craigslist, but rather map a path to each major destination on your site.  Allow yourself the space and opportunity to tell your customer your story, to spur an intimate interaction, and perhaps drive sales in other areas of your business.