Grocery stores organize their products so that in order to find the things you are most likely to dash in to buy (like milk, eggs, bread, etc), you have to wind through half the store to find them, thus forcing you to pass by hundreds of OTHER products that you might pick up on impulse. Their whole goal is to keep you in their store as long as possible, so that you will fill up your cart with tons and tons of stuff you didn’t come for.
Target, Walmart, and all department stores do the exact same thing: hide the items you are shopping for so that you have to look at all of the stuff you did not intend to buy.
It works. It is completely annoying if you are in a hurry, but it works.
A few times a year I chat with someone who wants to do the exact same thing with their web site—bury their contact info, address, etc., so that people will have to click through their entire site before they find it. If it works for Walmart, it should work for your web site, right?
Nononononono. Non. Nein. Nyet.
Why not? Well, let’s think about it.
In order to get to the grocery store, you have to get dressed, get in the car, drive to the store , find a parking place, and walk across the parking lot. If you get inside and what you want is not right at the entrance, you may be annoyed, but the alternative is walking back across the parking lot, getting back in your car, driving to yet another store, finding a place to park, walking across THAT parking lot, and SURPRISE! That store will be laid out the exact same way as the first one. You put up with the annoyance because the alternative is more work.
In order to get to your web site however, at most someone entered a search in Google and clicked on a link. Ten seconds in their pajamas from the comfort of their home. If they don’t see what they are looking for and get annoyed – all they have to do is click Ye Olde Back Button and click on the link to one of your competitors, who will probably have the information they seek right there on the home page or just one easy click away.
Your competitor not only got the sale (you didn’t), they also garnered a little subconscious good will in that customer (again, you didn’t). A little internal checkbox was ticked next to “Easy” for the other guy, and next to “Difficult” for you. Once ticked, those checkboxes are really REALLY hard to un-tick.
This doesn’t mean you need to have everything on your home page – not at all. If you put every single thing someone might be looking for on one page, then you are actually making each tasty little tidbit harder to find, because it has too much to compete with.
What it does mean is that you need to think carefully about the architecture of your site to make it easy, obvious, and fast to get to exactly what your potential customer is looking for. This means a clear and easy navigation that gets people to what they are looking for in 1 or 2 clicks.
If you make it easy, and using your site is actually enjoyable instead of painful – they WILL look at more of it. The easier it is for them to stay on your site and find more helpful information, the longer they will end up reading, thus becoming more and more interested (and invested) in being your customer.
If someone has taken the huge first step of entering your virtual door, make sure they feel welcome and PLEASE don’t hide the goods in the back.