Bananas & Websites: keeping your web visitors focused

Is your website getting the results you desire? Is it increasing your business or merely draining your bank account? Can your customers go to your home page and know exactly what you want them to do? Or are they confused with a myriad of options and animations?

The Big Red Fez

A couple years ago, New York Times bestselling author, Seth Godin, wrote a slim volume on website design called The Big Red Fez: How To Make Any Web Site Better. Remember pictures of organ grinder monkeys? The little monkeys with the big red fez’s? Godin says, when we’re looking at a website, we’re that monkey. And what does that monkey want more than anything else? A banana. So, the websites have an obligation to make the “banana” clear.

It’s a fascinating concept. Go to any website and ask yourself, “Where’s the banana.”

If you go to Seth’s website (sethgodin.com), the banana is very clear. He wants you to buy his latest book.

Google (google.com) also has an obvious banana. They clearly want you to search the web.

Now surf to yahoo.com or msn.com. What do they want you to do? Search the web? Find a date? Watch a movie trailer? The options are dizzying and distracting. Even my favorite site, Amazon.com makes it confusing with ads dropping down over the home page covering their own promotional copy. It reminds me of the old 1920’s song, “Yes, we have no bananas! We have no bananas today!”

What about your site?

Now visit your own website. Is your website signing that same tune or are you naturally leading your visitors to the next step in the sales process? Do you even have a process? If you sell products, is it easy for a first-time visitor to find your product options?

One of the best “bananas” you could offer is a free subscription to an e-newsletter. Most people won’t buy from you on their first visit to your site. They usually need to hear from you multiple times before they remember to buy your service. An e-newsletter can be an extremely inexpensive way stay in front of your prospects. But only offer it if you can deliver valuable content on a consistent basis. With an e-newsletter, you’re offering the visitor something of value and gaining permission to talk to them on a somewhat regular basis.

Go ahead. Sit back and enjoy your banana.