Posted to Volacci's blog on February 24th, 2011
Help! My Drupal is leaking (customers)!
So you've got a Drupal site and customers are constantly leaving your webpage in waves. You're dismayed to discover this and you shout, "Help! My Drupal is leaking (customers)!". Well, there are many reasons this could be happening, but we're not going to focus solely on technical issues. Why not? Because it's easy and fast for a websmaster to identify bugs in the code and is (typically) easy to fix, but conversion "leaks" are harder to spot.
No worries though, because that is what I’m going to help you with today! So put on your rain coat because we're going to look at:
The 5 Biggest "Cracks" That "Leak" Customers:
"Crack" Number 5: Slow-Drip Sites
"Slow-drip" sites are websites that have long and seemingly never-ending load times. Time is precious to your visitors, and visitors are precious to your site, so don't waste their time! Turn your sluggish pages into speedy ones. You can search Google for ways to speed up your Drupal site, but one good module is Boost: http://drupal.org/project/boost
"Crack" Number 4: Unusable Brokenness
When glass breaks, you could make a mosaic out of it. When a computer dies, you can salvage or sell its parts. However, this principle does not apply to websites. Because a website is not tangible, when it is broken it is completely unusable to anyone. Check often for broken links and other technical issues affecting usability. A good module that will routinely check for broken links is Link Checker: http://drupal.org/project/linkchecker
If you're looking for more control over the web links in your Drupal site, the Web Links module is good as well: http://drupal.org/project/weblinks
"Crack" Number 3: Befuddling Navigation
Imagine that you're going to be driving alone towards a place you've never visited. What if when you entered the destination address in your GPS, it came up with five routes all displayed simultaneously. Now imagine that at one point, two of the five routes take you to one highway (the highway you’re on), but later split in different directions from the highway at the same time. So, when you reach that split, your GPS blurts out, "Turn left in 1 mile. Turn right in 1 mile."
Your head would probably explode.
Is your website doing the same thing to your visitors? Is your sitemap and "navigation system" well thought-out? Is there one clear path for your users to get where they really want to go? Do you even have a sitemap?
Don't forget to try usability testing to ensure that user tasks can be achieved easily and intuitively. If you don't have a sitemap, the XML Sitemap module is good for building a sitemap that also helps improve your SEO efforts:
"Crack" Number 2: Your Site Makes People Bored Stiff
You may be selling the cure for cancer or offer the secret to eternal youth, but if your website has the tone and drone of an 80 year-old Corporate Law professor, you're not going to "wow" anyone. (Or for that matter, keep them awake!)
So how do you engage and excite visitors about your product or service with your website? Remember: It's usually the professor's presentation of a subject, not the subject itself, that's boring. But even if the professor has the most polished presentation possible, not every audience is interested in (or suited for) the subject matter. It's all about knowing your audience and creating a presentation that is appropriate for that audience. An Art History professor wouldn't describe the details of a painting without showing it to you! ("Uh, well... there's this painting of a lady named Mona Lisa who is smiling. Or isn't. I'm not sure which. It's too difficult to describe, but you really ought to see it!") Nor would an Art History professor be likely to give lectures to a class of Entomology majors.
The moral of "Crack" Number 2: Create a polished presentation appropriate for your audience. ThinkGeek.com is a great example of a website that caters to their audience with a presentation that appeals to that audience.
Now, finally, we present to you the final "crack"!
"Crack" Number 1: Bad Customer Service and Support
Come on... surely you know better than to have bad customer service and support. Surely, your website doesn't have this problem!
Before you dismiss this, have you actually looked at your website lately? Have you checked your inbox either? Are you getting feedback, good or bad? And don't take silence to mean that you're doing things right. Maybe your users can't find an email address, a phone number, or feedback form to actually complain! Or maybe, even worse, they just think you don't care.
On the internet, silence is not golden; it's deadly. Buzz is the lifeblood of websites and without a place to buzz at on your website, rest assured, they will buzz elsewhere, good or bad.
Make buzz possible, but don't force it. Have a "Live Chat" button visible and easily-accessible at all times, but don't unexpectedly pop-up a live chat conversation in the middle of their browsing experience. Don't force feedback or user experience surveys, incentivize them to interact. Better yet, just making your support available instills a stronger sense of trust in your website than websites that don't. A good "live chat" module is Zopim Live Chat: http://drupal.org/project/zopim
If you make your support available for your customers, and you deliver top-notch customer service, in the long run they will reward you with their loyalty. This is true because if they are mad about something at some point, their past experience with you assures them that you actually care enough to fix it. That is the model of a healthy relationship.
Fixing any of these cracks you may have will stop any customer "leaks" they cause. When you think about your audience and what they want from a website, they're really not asking for much from you. But as for what they do ask you for: Drupal can be a powerful tool for your SEO, conversion, and web experience needs. And so can Google Analytics! To learn more how Google Analytics can help you identify if you’re “leaking” customers and where your “cracks” are at, watch this short video: