Websites that work – convert visitors – Alex Nurenburg

Alex encouraged us to think about our visitors online journey in order to help them complete transactions on our websites. Even though we’re not really in an eCommerce environment for most of our services it can benefit visitors if we follow the steps suggested in order to ease journeys through our content.

  1. Bring me to the right page – this might be through AdWords, organic search (on own site or search engine or offline smart URLs but not getting visitors to the right place undermines everything you want them to do afterwards. In lots of cases being in the wrong place, or at least not obviously in the right place, will mean visitors leave straight away.
  2. Make your homepage useful – visitors are going to land on your homepage at some point so it needs to support what they are coming to your site to do not just broadcast your choice of messages. This view is what Gerry McGovern is always saying – task orientated homepages organised on the long neck.
  3. HelpΒ  me navigate – something local gov websites don’t always do thanks to the plethora of taxonomies out there. I think we’re getting better though as the last five years has taught us a lot about online organisation. Perhaps the best navigation now though is powerful search?
  4. Give me the right results when I search – manage your search so visitors get relevant recommended links, have the ability to sort the results themselves, they can give feedback on whether the results were useful and, most importantly, they can find the search box in the first place.
  5. Display services clearly – make sure visitors know what you are offering. Explain it in plain language. Have cross-references to other content on your website and the Internet.
  6. Give me the details I need – don’t be coy with only telling half the story. Be explicit in describing services and what visitors need to do to access that service.
  7. Make registration optional – this is perhaps more relevant for eCommerce but don’t force visitors to register before they can purchase something from you.
  8. Make it easy to enquire – make your process transparent , only ask for the necessary details to make it quick and don’t give the visitor distractions so they abandon the process.
  9. Reassure me – when transactions are being made make the process secure, transparent and let visitors know what will happen next.
  10. Let users design your website – this is necessarily about customisation or personalisation (more of which later) but more about profiling your visitors in order to drive your design forward.

And Google have some tools to help with all of this:

  • Optimise content with Google Web Optimiser
  • Monitor performance with Google Analytics
  • Drive the right traffic to your site with Google AdWords

There is more about this at and they’ll also be publishing this stuff as a booklet pretty soon.

11 thoughts on “GoogleLocalGov

  1. Thanks for some really detailed notes. I just wanted to ask you to clarify what “The Ordnance Survey” question is, for those of us not in local government and who can only guess at what it might mean πŸ™‚


  2. Ah, yes, sorry!
    It is around the issue of copyrighted information – I’m not completely on top of the details but understand OS have some issues with putting geo-information they see as theirs into Google or some other mapping systems. That is a very broad overview and may be slightly missing the finer point of the issue! Hopefully someone will correct if I am wrong / missing something!

  3. Great write up, Sarah! Just to elaborate on the OS issue, it’s basically that any GIS data produced by an OS system is then subsequently owned by the OS and cannot, say, be exported to use in GMaps. Microsoft seem to have an agreement with OS that gets around this and Google aparently do with their pro version of the maps API, however it’s not clear if these issues have been cleared up for the basic version. It’s kind of akin to Microsoft turning round and saying “Okay, you’ve made that Word doc. You can’t now turn that word doc into a PDF because we now own it. Kthxbai!”

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