My friends and family already know this about me, but I’m a bit of a disaster when it comes to navigation. Getting lost is part of my routine at this point, but there are a few occasions where the process turns from “Aw shucks, I’ve done it again” to “I’m late, cold, hungry, and utterly lost. This is no longer funny.” As a business, when you’re trying to direct traffic to your store (online or offline), the last thing you want to do is lose customers. I mean really lose them. As an authority on getting lost, here’s a guide on how to not lose customers (and people like me).
For online businesses/anyone with a website
Check Website Links: Have you ever clicked on a link in a website, expecting to go to a particular page, only to be taken somewhere totally different? No, I don’t want to see men’s watches, I wanted to find that pair of boots…Usually this is an honest linking mistake (other times it’s intentional and shady), but it’s still frustrating from a potential customer standpoint. They might feel a bit misled and betrayed (ok, that’s a little strong, but you get my point). When linking content on your website, check and double check that things are taking you where you’re supposed to go.
Check Website Navigation: Linked to that idea (…heh), does your website’s internal navigation make sense? Meaning, if a person were to start on your homepage, will it be easy for them to get from A to B, or even C and D? Menus and sidebars are your friends here. Speaking of friends, if you need an outside opinion or second set of eyes on your work, ask a friend to go through the ordering process (or whatever it is you need help with). Everyone’s brain works differently, so just because something is laid out in a way that makes sense to you, it may still be confusing for visitors.
For businesses with a website & physical location
Embed a Map: Most business websites have a map embedded somewhere on their site- if not on the homepage, then it’s usually on a Contact/Directions page. Google maps makes it easy to create and embed a map on your website. It’s free, and all you need is a Google account.
Directions and Pictures: A map is a fantastic starting point, but you can also take things a step further and offer written directions somewhere on your website (we have them on ours). If you’re part of a larger group of buildings, have a weird entrance, or a tricky parking situation, adding these directions will help people make it through the home stretch. Displaying pictures of your storefront/office (exterior, interior, whatever you think will be most helpful) means that when people actually get to your business, they’ll have a vague sense of familiarity. It may seem a bit hand-holdy
…and a picture of the building!
Make sure the address is correct in other places: Remember Apple maps? They were useless as a resource because they said they were taking you somewhere, but you always ended up somewhere else. Well, if your business is listed incorrectly on Google (or another online service), you’re setting customers up for a similar ride. If your business has moved, or you’re opening a new business in an old business’s location, take a few minutes to look at the Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, or other places the address may be listed online and make sure the information is up to date. Our friend Jim Leclair helps businesses do this, so if you have any questions about data maps, he’s the man to talk to!
Don’t lose a potential customer on the way from A to B, leading them down a rabbit hole into an Alice in Wonderland type adventure when they just wanted to buy shoes (…it happens to the best of us). Make sure the path is clear for people to reach you on and off line!