Website Strategy and Mirrors

by Christi on July 25, 2011

website strategyWhat do mirrors have to do with website strategy? You’ve probably heard the story about why many tall buildings have mirrors near the elevators. The story goes that at one building, people often complained about the waiting time for elevators. They maintained that the elevators were just too slow. The people who managed the tall building called in engineers and gave them the challenge of fixing the problem. They came up with ideas for speeding up the elevators, but all of the solutions were too costly and inefficient.

One of the persons who studied the problem determined that the elevators were not too slow, the people were just bored while they were waiting for the elevator and became impatient. He suggested that the solution was not to make the elevator go faster, but to distract the people who were waiting for the elevator. They put up mirrors by the elevators, and it worked! People were distracted by seeing themselves (and others) in the mirrors and no longer complained about the slow elevators.

What happened in the story is that the solution was found by finding out what motivated the user. We should do the same when we are building websites or any type of internet presence. Too often as business owners and web designers, we focus on the product or service that is being offered instead of the user experience for our customers or potential customers. Studies show that what people want most from any website is to be able to easily find what they want. They care about that more than design or color or anything else. While they may be initially impressed by the aesthetic beauty of a website’s design, the real test comes in its usability (i.e. how quickly they can find what they are searching for).

Always keep in mind that when someone visits your website, they came to you because they were looking for something specific. They usually typed words into a search engine, you came up and they land on your site. Now is the time to give them what they are looking for. Think about what motivates the end user. In website design, we don’t want to distract our users with mirrors (or anything else). The internet world is not known for its patience. Things that load slowly or flash are distracting from what they really came for, what they were looking for when they found you. If people who come to your website don’t quickly see what they are looking for, they leave. Just like the elevator story, the best and simplest solution is found when you look to the end user and satisfy them.




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