Enticing Users with Content

Christine Perfetti

November 29th, 2005

We’ve been spending a lot of time looking at how designs can best entice users with their content. Specifically, how can design teams get users to pay attention to their site’s valuable information when that content isn’t necessarily what the users are seeking?

As we’ve tested sites to see what strategies designs use to entice users with content, we weren’t surprised that the sites frequently feature advertisements and promotions for important content on the home page. The rationale for this design choice is clear. For users, the home page is the entry point for the site, so it makes sense to include content to entice them right away.

Users encounter featured content on the home page all the time. For example, users who visit Citizens Bank’s site, see an advertisement for home equity credit prominently on their home page. This one advertisement alone takes up approximately 50% of the real estate on the page.

Click to see Citizens Bank home page
Citizens Bank home page

Users who visit Merrill Lynch’s site see an advertisement for the company’s new Business Investor Account.

Click to see Merrill Lynch home page
Citizens Bank home page

One of the most surprising findings from our research is that users very rarely click on featured content on the home page. Why? Because when we watch users look for content on sites, they’re on a specific mission. Many of the site’s users might actually be interested in the accounts and credit lines available at Citizens Bank or Merrill Lynch, but they aren’t interested in that information — or looking for it — until after they’ve accomplished what they came to the site to do.

This is where the concept of seducible moments play a role. By observing users in usability tests, we’ve seen that there is a specific moment where designers have the best chance of enticing a user to pay attention to a promotion or advertisement. These moments typically come after the user has completed their task on the site. Jared wrote an excellent article about seducible moments, looking in detail at how Sears and Dell tackled the problem of enticing users to their featured content.

How have you had to deal with enticing your users with your important content? Have you taken advantage of seducible moments? We would like to hear what strategies you’ve tried and how they’ve worked for you.

7 Responses to “Enticing Users with Content”

  1. Daniel Szuc Says:

    Its amazing how many companies still waste the opportunity to capture a sale through a poorly designed landing page; or web address syntax that’s difficult to remember. For example, read an advertisement on a bus, remember the web address, go to the web site and you cannot find the thing being advertised – requiring further navigation, search, scrolling, frustration … ahhhh!

  2. Esteban Says:

    waste the opportunity with a banner!! banner or not, that is the usability 😉

  3. tribeless Says:

    this is as simple as the idea of giving customers what they really and truly want. The problem is marketers get distracted by their own thinking and thus put their own thought patterns ahead of the customers. As you point out, customers are usually singlemined in their visit to a website – give them exactly what they want. Satisyfy them and then sieze the moment to try and cross sell a highly qualified and satisfied customer. well done.

  4. Waratah Says:

    I’m sure it is true that people go to what they came to see first.

    I observed some user testing in which users were given a link to the site I managed. They first checked out the page that they were supposed to visit.

    But in the wrap up they all said that while they were looking for the intended content they saw so many topics of interest in the left and right navigation bars that they were going to go home and revisit the site because the links had attracted them and interested them.

    I can’t remember where I read it but there’s an article, possibly on uie.com about what people find on the way to where they’re going.

    In that book “how we shop” I think it is called the researcher talks about people going into a shop to buy something but seeing other things and other signs on the way. Women at least may go looking after they’ve handled their first priority. I think online may be similar.

    If you don’t advertise the content you’re promoting people wont see it. If the promotional text (or photo in some cases ef photo of a recognisable celebrity) is well designed to be grasped in a glance then people will think about coming back.

  5. Kristeen Bullwinkle Says:

    When I worked at the Minneapolis Fed we placed ads for our interviews with economists on pages we knew were popular, but served a single purpose and were our top exit pages. For instance we had a page that contained only a regularly updated chart displaying interest rate trends. The ad under that graph had our highest click through rate.

    “Here’s what you came for and here’s a little extra if you’re interested.”

  6. Jeroen Coumans Says:

    Yet another confirmation of the importance of the footer… but is it also really the best place to put banners? That must be tough to sell…!

  7. Wanton Spirit » Blog Archive » Entice Users After Task Completion Says:

    […] Interesting user testing results over at UIE regarding enticing users with content. One of the most surprising findings from our research is that users very rarely click on featured content on the home page. Why? Because when we watch users look for content on sites, they’re on a specific mission. […]

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