Most important variables of any website

There’s a lot to get right on a website.

A lot of plates and pixels spinning in the air. A lot of variables.

How do you know what’s more important? What to focus on to make a website more easily understood and appreciated? More effective?

Thankfully there are just seven key variables. Here they are in order of importance.

1. Readability. Can visitors actually read the headline, subheads and copy? Can they read the words? On any device? Is any lighting condition? This is the most important variable because if they can’t read it, nothing else matters. It doesn’t matter if a website loads slowly or quickly, doesn’t matter how much you charge, what the headline says or the color of a button. How easy is it to read the words?

2. Comprehension. If they can easily read those words on a website, do those words actually mean what you think they mean in their brains? Don’t presume they understand what you think they understand. Especially if you don’t speak their language.

3. Message. Now if they can read and understand those words, have you created the right message. Does it resonate with whatever they’re struggling to resolve, whatever outcomes they’re seeking? This is where you need a smart writer. You need to iterate and test and see what messages make the most impact. Write, test, rinse, repeat. Don’t dawdle. Write and test new messaging regularly. Don’t limit the messaging to purely functional benefits. Cover social and emotional benefits too.

4. Psychological triggers. Free, novelty, scarcity, reviews, social proof, recommendations, favorites, bestsellers, curiosity, scarcity, urgency, common enemy, numbers, statistics, authority, reciprocity, community, color, emotions, anticipation, story. You know what they are. You’re not stupid.

5. Pricing. If visitors aren’t buying or becoming users, the first reaction is often to reduce the price with a discount. But discounting your offering is literarily discounting the value you produce. Don’t assume people aren’t buying because the price is too high. It might well be that it’s too low. Or they can’t read the website page. Or they don’t understand the words. Or it’s the wrong message. Lowering the price should be your last resort.

6. Traffic quality. If you’re getting low-quality visitors, you can be doing everything right up to this point and still not converting them into users. You need to find and generate high-quality traffic that’s going to resonate with the previous five variables. Choose highly relevant offerings and propositions. Aim to filter out any low-quality traffic. Don’t talk to everyone. Talk to the visitors who want to become users.

7. Page load times. Some people (including UX designers, developers and coders) think page load speed should be the number one most important variable. It makes sense to them because they don’t know hot write or channel emotions and behavior. Yes, a slow website page can be a bit of a drag. But it’s easily fixed and never the reason for an ineffective website. Speed doesn’t help a website that’s unreadable, misunderstood, and confusing with the wrong triggers, price points and traffic quality.

Improve the first six variables before you worry about jacking up your website a millisecond or two.

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