I’ve just read a fascinating and valuable report by Michael Campbell, an Internet marketing expert whom I highly respect.
It’s called ‘The Ultimate Heatmap’ (the term heatmap is used to show the areas on a website that are “hottest” in terms of catching visitors’ interest.)
Michael tested 21 website templates to find out which ones produced the highest conversion. He was doing this to try and generate higher revenue from Google AdSense ads on his web pages – but the principles apply equally to any website.
After evaluating hundreds of website visitors, Michael was able to determine which areas of the web page were viewed and clicked the most.
Here are 3 key points from the report
1. People don’t spend much time looking at your logo and header.
Your logo is an important part of the look and feel of your website and it conveys your brand. So it’s certainly important. But once someone sees it, their eyes tend to skip over it and ignore it.
Michael’s study found that the header at the top of the page is the least looked at area on the webpage. So don’t put any vital information in that area.
2. Headline and navigation links are the ‘hottest’ spots on your web page
People’s eyes tend to go to the headline at top of the page and then they look at the navigation links. This means it’s vital to have a headline that catches people’s interest and draws them in. You can do much better than ‘Welcome to ‘company name’.
Furthermore, keep your main navigation links simple and uncluttered. It’s best have seven links or less in the main navigation and then either add drop-downs or a side menu for additional links.
Michael concluded that people generally hit your site reading the headline, jumping to each sub-heading, then reading the final paragraph. If you catch their attention with any of those elements, they’ll go back and re-read the entire page.
3. Two-column layouts are better than three columns
Two column website templates outperformed three column layouts in almost every test. The reason appaers to be that people prefer the simplicty of two columns versus three. When you have three columsn, they tend to just focus on the centre column, where they assume the “good stuff” is located. The side columns tend to get ignored in a three-column layout.
I’m certainly going to take this information on board for my future websites. I’ll stick to two column layouts (or just one column, if appropriate). If you do use three columns, the best thing to put in the third column is a navigation bar, which would get attention, simply because any section with navigation gets looked at and clicked on.
4. The left side of the page is ‘hotter’ that the right
The Ultimate Heatmap shows the left column to be much hotter than the right. This is partially because the way we read, from left to right, top to bottom. However, you can put navigation links on right of the page to ‘warm it up’.
You can get ‘The Ultimate Heatmap’ here – www.dynamicmedia.com/ultimate-heatmap.
It’s free, which is amazing as it contains information that most experts would charge for. Michael says he simply wants to give something back to help stimulate the economic recovery.
I highly recommend you get this report if you are in any way interested in improving your website’s conversion rate. www.dynamicmedia.com/ultimate-heatmap.