Where should I start?, said First-time Visitor

Steve Krug is a web design consultant who published a best-selling book about his experience: "Don't make me think". I heard Garrett Camp (the guy behind Uber's idea and designer of the first prototype) say he was totally inspired by it, so I checked it.

According to Krug, companies often make complicated websites that confuse first-time users, because they put too much text and their navigation system is fuzzy. You have to understand what people want and make it easy to find it. 

Don't make them think!

Here are a few pieces of advice:

  • Delete you copy by half: a lot of text means you will draw the attention on too many things and confuse the visitor.
  • Prioritize information: make it clear what people should read or go to first.

Most of all, answer the 5 basic questions any first-time visitor will have:

  1. What is it? The name of the company, the title and the subtitle of the homepage are crucial to clarify this in 2 seconds. 
  2. What can I do? Make it very clear from the beginning how people can use the website, possibly with a "How it works" section.
  3. What can I find? People need to have a good overview of the content of the website, which can be done by a well-thought navigation menu.
  4. Why should I be here? If you have competitors, you should make a difference, for example with an appealing tagline (near the logo), a display of the logos of famous clients or media companies which have written about you.
  5. Where do I start? A "Connection" or a "Start" button, a clear navigation menu or a search bar will do.

And also, you should make usability tests as soon as possible to make sure people know how to use your website. The book is full of good advice on how to conduct the interviews. Go check it (it has been translated in French: "Je ne veux pas chercher").