When it comes to an easy to use out-of-the-box content management system (CMS), WordPress is about as good as it gets. For the ready-to-go blogger, it’s a no-brainer and reason why WP is the most popular open source software ever. But what if you want to power a real estate lead generation monster with it?
For the basis of a website, WP is as good as anything out there. Since it is the “CMS for Dummies”, adding content is a breeze. Even integrating various IDX solutions with WP is relatively easy. Where it fails is where they all fail – operator error – and the most common error made with all of them is managing content.
In the article “Picking and Choosing What We Pay Attention To”, SEO and usability expert Gord Hotchkiss writes,
Our minds have an amazingly effective filter that continually scans our environment, subconsciously monitoring all this detail, and then moving it into our attentive focus if our sub cortical alarm system determines we should give it conscious attention. So, as we daydream our way through our lives, we don’t unconsciously plow through pedestrians as they step in front of us. We’re jolted into conscious awareness until the crisis is dealt with, working memory is called into emergency duty, and then, post crisis, we have to try to pick up the thread of what we were doing before. This example shows that working memory is not a multi-tasker. It’s impossible to continue to mentally balance your check book while you’re trying to avoid smashing into the skateboarding teen who just careened off the side walk. Only one task at a time, thank you.
If your eyes didn’t glaze over by the end of the first sentence, I applaud you. If you are like the majority of people on the web though, you didn’t catch any of it until “This example shows that working memory is not a multi-tasker” jumped out at you. You then either envisioned the skateboarder, or you wondered why I had ‘multi-tasking visitor” in the headline.
And The Answer Is…
I don’t have a clue. I really don’t. I keep losing count every time I see the gorilla. If you didn’t see it, watch it again, but this time don’t count. It’s much more obvious when you know what’s coming.
The lesson here is your web visitor likely has tunnel vision as well. If they clicked through from a search engine on certain query, that is likely the primary thought on their mind. If they are a very targeted visitor, its probable that they are only focused on the result that matches their intent. If it’s not obvious, they may miss it completely. That’s when they hit the back button and bounce. Multi-tasking visitors? That’s a myth.
Your Attention, Please?
Theories abound on the web, but one of the most documented facts about the Web is that we don’t read most web pages. You have just written the next Pulitizer Prize winning piece, but the odds are that many will not read it. Instead we scan pages and look for words or phrases that get our attention.
Too. Many. Choices.
Ever heard of the “Rule of Sevens”? The theory tested by psychologists is that seven seems to be the “break” spot for memory and that the human mind tends toward groups of seven. If you give people too many choices, there is a tendency to not make one at all. The frustrated or confused visitor then takes the safe bet – the back button to where they started. So how do we make it easy for the visitor to focus their intent on our desired course of action when we have all this killer content on or for our site?
We need to do two things:
1. Make it obvious what is available on your site
2. Make it idiot proof for them to find it
We start by taking all of our content and putting it in a pile.
Card sorting: Its Just Like Doing The Laundry
I was raised by a single mom, so sorting laundry was learned early on. Everyone has their own way of sorting, but the end result is to make sure each article of clothing is in the right load. Since the Maytag at our disposal had a slot for coins, this also meant that everything had to be done in “X” number of loads.
For me, this chore started out by throwing everything into a big pile. Same with web site content, and it doesn’t matter if its new or one being re-worked. In the olden days before WP, I did this with a stack of index cards. Each page I had or was going to create was represented by a card with the page title. Once I had my pile of cards, it was just like sorting laundry and knowing it had to be done in seven loads or less. If you have a lot of content, it is a bit more work, but it can be done. The best tutorial I know on card sorting is here.
WordPress Makes It Easy
With WP, I don’t need the index cards. I simply create a page for everything. At this point I’m not worried about the main content, or even the SEO meta tags. I just want to make the pile and start sorting. WP makes the sorting easy too. I create a page each “pile”. These become my parent pages. Then each page is sorted and made a child of the most appropriate parent. You can see what I’ve done so far here. The sidebar is my partially sorted pile.
Now we are pretty much caught up. I have more pages to add and sort, but soon I’ll have the basic blueprint of the site complete.
And if you are wondering about the home page, “Yes Virginia, it is static”. The blog is just one component, not the focus.
Sign Photo courtesy Phil Romans