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Web Design and Review - reviews Abbeymoore Bed and Breakfast

From the WebDesign-Review discussion list:
Lots of visits...
but they don't stay long

> I've had this site up for about 10+ years in various forms. It's done well. I'm getting about 7-10K hits a month right now and business is OK... but improving. But the logs tell me that over 80% of my visitors to this site are gone in 10 seconds. Poof! Turned their computers off and went fishing! They don't even stay long enough to read the first paragraph. In 10 seconds, they don't even let the page load.
Now I'm asking for some help here... what the heck is wrong? ... what makes them bail out within 10 seconds?

Can't see the forest for the trees. . .

Here is one of the reasons this sort of site will not hold the visitor's attention very long: it is NOT an impulse site.

This is an IDENTITY site, and when not catering to an impulse market you need to build strong identity, 'promise' and 'memorability'

A key question to ask in the critique of this situation is:
Do the other 12% stay and fill out the form?

This is a highly specialized site... after a 36.75 second load time (6 am, eastern time, 56K) and content visible after 12 seconds, it's apparent that there's only one thing to do at this site -- sign up for an air discount.

Any visitor just snooping, but NOT buying a ticket today will wander off once they see what it's about.

Just ask yourself:
"How many times do you drive by the auto dealer's lot?"
then ask:
"How many times do you stop in and buy a car?"

More or less than 88%?

SELL THE SIZZLE

You need some visual motivator to make them want to stay long enough to learn more.
___ First, the name is simply vanilla. I know -- it says what it is. But not strongly, and not memorably. Search the web for the words "Discount Air Tickets" and see how many times it turns up.
___ This suggests that you might want to think about the opening name. One of the two key factors to fulfilling the reader's anticipation of promise is the name. It's very important in the instant picture drawn in people's minds immediately upon arrival.

SHOW THE SIZZLE

Next you need to show images of "promise" ... Ideas could possibly be:

Photo of happy travelers, or business man, and attached type like a testimonial
"I saved $300 on my fishing trip"
or
Perhaps images of exotic places they might want to travel to.
"I saved enough to go 'here' too!"

Note the Buttons

I know Jacob sez "Make'em simple" -- and they are simple and easy to read. But you've got enough room to make them a little more appealing.

Overall it gives me a sort of "ho-humm" feeling.
The bars, and the "decoration" behind the name of the site do nothing for the site visually. The bars then trickle down the page with no apparent connection to getting "great discounts on air fare."
Remember to always ask: "What can I remove and not miss?" Certainly we can remove those bars and no one will miss them.

The Text

That longish body of Helvetica text is too long not to be broken up some how. Long, solid text puts the reader off... looks too much like work.
___
You need a head, and perhaps a sub-head at the second paragraph. There are some enticing "keywords" in your text, but I dare say no one will get to them. Pull those "motivation" words out and make sub-heads of them.
___ Then make the text block half as many words, and half as wide. Make the table "auto" to scale with the users' window. You'll like it better, and your readers might actually read it.

COLOR

Overall color scheme: COLD! I realize you like blue, however, BLUE is COLD and does not induce an inviting or welcome feeling in the reader.

Did you ever go to the hospital?
It's sort of cold and blue, and the first thing they say is "I need you to fill out this form"

Warm it up a bit. Get rid of the blue. :-)
If you push more into the darker blues, getting perhaps over into the green/blue spectrum you'll do much better. You'll retain the established "Corporate" look and maintain your calming effect. However, you need some warm earth tones in there somewhere to break the ice and to humanize the overall effect.

Pop a stock photo of a person's face, aligned right, into that block of text and see if it doesn't instantly change the whole personality of the approach.

The form.

It's been said that a form can only take two answers.
Yes or No.
So far you're losing the game by 88%

Perhaps it's not good to slap them with the form immediately upon arrival.
The form could use a bit of cleaning up. Do you really need the brightly colored borders around the fields? (Remember our rule above: "Can we loose it and not miss it?")

Summary: The site needs
a) warming it up
b) offering "promise" immediately upon arrival in other words, "sell the sizzle"

A famous and successful designer once said:

" No one ever bought a box of TIDE laundry detergent in order to obtain a cardboard box of white powdery substance...
nor did they even put their money into a vending machine for a brown, sticky, liquid in an aluminum can.
Readers come for the "ACTION" or "BENEFIT" of the subject...
NOT the subject itself."


Face it. Yours is NOT an impulse-buy web site.

Your challenge is making them bookmark the site so that when they DO reach the decision to purchase they remember your "promise" and return to check out your discounts.

When you decide after all to BUY that car...
... which auto dealer's lot will you go to?

It's as simple as that. Identity.

:-)

Fred

Follow Up:

After about a week, the listee was back on the WebDesign list saying:
"Now check it out and see how we've done..."

WOW... the biggest difference as night and day!

Now the eye flows into the content well... the text is simply easier to read because the line lengths are shorter. And we've got that all-important "lead in" to the body of copy offering promise that we will benefit if we read on. We're no longer slapped in the face with a complicated form to fill out. We're automatically more comfortable... more welcome.

I'm still not thrilled with the buttons, even though they are now roll-over buttons.
And, the pictures could still be warmed up a little more.

All in all this listee is on his way to a more productive and successful web site.

BRAVO !
Oh yeah... the URL    http://www.airdiscounters.com/


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