Sometimes it’s good to get a fresh perspective on your website or blog. To take a step to one side and look at it in a different light. It allows you to see all of the elements that make up your online presence, break them down, see what they do. Most people when they first start a site or blog think of it just as a mixture of code, information and design sitting in cyberspace.
But just for today I want you to think of it like a shop in a busy main street in your local town, or in the busiest shopping mall in the city. This is really just a preliminary exercise, and I will brush over a number of topics below, each of wish could fill an entire blog if you wanted to. This is just to allow you to start making notes and noticing the subtle way that everything in the site determines the final outcome (clicks, sales, downloads etc)
Just imagine this shop for a moment in your mind, what it looks like, what you are selling. If you are trying to blogg for a living or make any type of income online then you must have merchandise. You must have something that either people are willing to pay for, or that people are going to pay to get them to look at it. Factors that determine the price of things valuable in real life business are scarcity of what you are selling, percieved value (determined by such factors as how usefull it is to them, can they use it to make more money / goods), social value of the item and entertainment/novelty factor. If you are not giving a reason to buy (or click) then it’s time to assess why.
The other factor in the success of the physical store is the amount of people that activly shop there. In retail shops, as well as online site there are two types of shopper, the casual and the directed.
The casual shopper are people that wander by, finds the store by chance and as passing by sees something that catches their eye. The second is the type of shopper that has seen something pointing them to your store (site) from somewhere else and has made the journey there specifically on the notion of what you can give to them.
The casual site visitor is the type of user that finds you from social bookmark sites or random google searches. they land at your page not really knowing why they are there, and quickly want to establish context and content of the site.
In your vitual shop uou must be able to attract the passing shopper as they stroll past your storefront. How are you going to do this. Quality merchandise? Attractive Offers? Great service and attentive sales people? Next time you go to the local shopping center, or even to the commercial district have a look around at each shop. See what type of customers are theere, how many are there. What are they looking at, what are they taking up to the counter and actually paying for? How is the store attracting casual passing traffic?
In the physical world, the directed shopper finds a store via catalogs, advertising, directories, brochures. For your site this can mean traffic via adwords, targeted search, links via other sites and comments that you have made on other blogs. This type of shopper / user is after something specific as they enter the store, and are looking for the quickest way to it.
How are you helping them to do this on current site? You need to give this type of user clear directions to find the information and product they are after, and once that has been done how to then buy it.
The off line and online worlds are really not that far apart, its just being able to draw the analogy and get something out of it.