The Psychology of the User Journey Part 1


What on earth are people thinking?

Why don't people go where I want them to on our website?

Our site seems simple to me, but our users keep getting confused.

Our bounce rate seems high. Why do users keep leaving?

What should I do?

How do I get inside the user's head to understand the psychology behind the user journey?

Users can get easily overwhelmed or distracted. Users can get frustrated when they can't find what they are looking for in a timely manner. Users will bounce if they feel like they have to work too hard.

A ton of information and research goes into the user journey on a deep level, but today I will give you some high-level takeaways you can start with.

Never make a user work for information you want them to see.

There are so many lights, sounds, notifications, ads, pop-ups, distractions in our daily lives, attention spans have only gotten shorter. If we don't find what we want within seconds, we bounce. We have other things to do.

If we are talking about a homepage, let's say, make sure you focus on one main concept at a time. I generally recommend against "carousel" content as the opening concept for a homepage, especially if each slide has a lot of copy and/or wildly different areas of focus. Or at least keep it to a minimum. No more than three slides is a good recommendation, and know that #3 may not get viewed often, so keep more relevant information toward the first slide. A user just coming to your site is most likely not going to wait around for your slide show to play. They will glance at an image, and if it is relevant or appealing, they will look a few seconds longer, but they will move on quickly.

If you think a user will wait around for five slides worth of info on your company - they won't.

Keep the message simple. Say what you need to say in as few words as possible. Preferably one sentence. You can link to a page with more info, but that initial grab should be one good sentence.

People will quickly move on if you overwhelm them with too much info right away. Visuals are a great attention-getter. So a great graphic, photo, or illustration with minimal copy will keep a user engaged better than a long paragraph of copy.


Don't talk about yourself too much.

It is great to have an about page or a company history page a user can click on to find out more about your company but don't make the homepage about you. Honestly, your user cares more about what you can do for them, how you can solve their problems, what you have to offer and less about who you are or how you got here. Who you are is great support material to speak to the validity of your company, but it shouldn't be your focus. Lead with your "solutions," your "offerings." If they want to know about your history, they will look for it.  

Don't try to cram ALL the info on one page.

Just the most important. The smallest, most digestible piece, then let your audience continue at their own pace. Put the big idea upfront: one short headline, one short supporting paragraph. Or better yet, digestible, concise bullet points and a visual. Graphics, icons, imagery to support the big idea. This part should all happen without extensive scrolling and without waiting. This doesn't mean you should only have short pages, but make sure the initial grab on a page is enough to keep them scrolling down for more or clicking through to engage on other pages.


Decide which journeys your users are likely to take or which ones you WANT them to take. And focus on one journey at a time.

Most likely, users aren't going to just randomly stumble upon your site. They found you through an ad, a search, a campaign, a direct link from a friend, etc. That's where your customer's user journey ACTUALLY starts. That is where a big chunk of your efforts need to lie. But what does the page look like when they get there from one of these places? Does it match? Don't let them wonder if they are in the right place or if the link took them somewhere else. If you are running a campaign, consider creating a landing page specifically for that ad, with content and imagery that match the message in the ad, so your site and your external ads operate as one cohesive unit. If a customer ends up on a page that looks nothing like the ad or email they clicked on, they may bounce because they don't know if the ad was just clickbait or if the link led them astray.


Do you want to lead people to fill out a form? Then make that your focus.

Start that path clearly on the homepage or landing page if you are sending them there from an ad. Use a lead-in form. One or two input boxes. Minimal words. An inviting photo. Then let that action lead straight into that full form prefilled with the input boxes from the home page. Don't overwhelm them. If it is a particularly long-form, consider a stepped approach. Break the form up into sections with a "next" button leading them to the next section. Some MAY still bounce, but at least you can capture SOME information before they do, and that information may help you reach out and guide them to continue.

If you have read this far, you must really be interested. Do you have questions about how your site could be improved? Do you have problem areas that need to be addressed? We can help. It's what we do. Give us a call or send us an email, and we will talk through some solutions tailored for YOUR audience.

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