One of the most vital lessons I learned about increasing engagement on my website came from a British equine riding instructor and her flip flops.
Yes, you read that right. If visitors are abandoning your website, not truly engaging with your content or offers, reverse that trend with a website that invites them take off their flip flops.
Oddly enough, a British equine riding instructor and her flip flops drove this point home to me, reminding me that visitors to our websites have an agenda, judge your business quickly, and reward you with their attention if they like what they see.
If visitors arrive, but don’t like what they see or find it hard to navigate, they won’t stick around to find out what you have to offer.
A British Riding Instructor Meets Web Design Theory
It was August in Florida the day the owner of the Cayman Islands Riding School and her clients came to try our horse, Lilly.
They were an hour earlier than they said they would be when we made the arrangements. Even though we hadn’t done anything wrong, as I drove up to the barn, I couldn’t shake the feeling that we were making a horrid first impression upon the people whom we viewed as our last, best hope for our beloved horse.
The owner of the riding school, a lovely British riding instructor named Tracey, was on a whirlwind tour of Florida trying as many horses in four days as she possibly could. Her mission was to source horses for her riding school and her clients, purchasing and transporting them back to the Cayman Islands.
As they waited patiently in the barn aisle they apologetically shared why they were so early. In her sing-song British accent, Tracey explained that the horse they were supposed to see before ours, and the facility he was in, was considerably less than ideal.
“In fact,” she said, “When we arrived to see this horse, he didn’t look anything like the photos. I didn’t even bother to take off my flip flops to put on my riding boots.“
The fact that she stood in the barn aisle in her riding boots while gently stroking Lilly was a very good sign. My hope soared to the rafters.
Here are 3 important lessons I took away from this experience:
Lesson #1: Visitors Have an Agenda
Long before she arrived at the barn to see our horse, Tracey researched and narrowed her prospects down to a short list of horses that matched her ideal. She knew her own needs, and those of her clients, and she was specifically searching to meet them.
Your visitors are the same. They know what they need or want, and they are searching the internet to find it.
Lesson #2: Visitors Judge Quickly
When she saw the first horse, she knew from the general look of him that he wasn’t the horse she was looking for. His care failed to meet her high standards.
Your clients have high standards, too.
Lesson #3: Visitors reward us if they like what they see
On the other hand, arriving at the barn where we boarded Lilly was a pleasant surprise. The barn and grounds were lovely. She found our trainer amiable and like-minded. And the best yet, she found Lilly groomed, trim, and ready to be tried by a professional trainer.
This story brilliantly illustrates that the #1 goal for your website Home page is to create a user experience that makes your clients want to take off their proverbial flip flops.
In short, Tracey liked what she saw. Because it all fit with her idea of the best horse for her clients, she took the time to take off her flip flops and put on her riding boots.
Your home page is the first page people see on your website; it’s also the most visited. When they first arrive at your website, they are on a mission to solve a problem or fulfill a need or desire. Most of the time they have a solid idea of what they are looking for or want.
Statistics show that visitors decide whether you are a good fit for them within the first 8 seconds of arriving on your website. If it doesn’t appeal to them, or they can’t find what they had in mind, they will leave.
That means your home page must be clean, well-designed, and well-kept. It can’t look neglected or messy.
We know this instinctively as consumers ourselves. What happens when you go to a website that is unprofessional? You back out in one click.
If your website is attractive, easy-to-navigate, and inviting for the visitor, they will spend more time engaging with your service or product. They will reward you with more of their attention and time, and eventually, their trust.
Your home page should make them want to take their flip flops off and give your solution a try.
What is your biggest struggle with keeping visitors engaged on your website? Tell us below in the comments.