Is your website guilty of bad “body language?”

Last week, I was part of an event marketing team that had the opportunity to welcome body language expert, Kevin Hogan to New Jersey. Having read some of his books, hoping to gain a bit more of a poker face (it’ll never happen), I learned that more of his research can be applied beyond the “body” and onto the web. For instance, body language is a two-way communication process. Both parties engaged in conversation are displaying silent signals that will likely affect the outcome of the dialogue. Essentially, we are silently persuading each other well beyond our words.

Persuasion – that’s the keyword here.

So what signals are being set off by your site that may either be enhancing or killing the persuasion process? For example, how you dress in a meeting can directly affect how you are perceived by the person on the other side of the table. “Mirroring” is a popular technique that people practice in a sales dialogue. Your prospect sits upright, so do you; they dress in business attire, so do you. Same goes for your website. Here are a few items to review to get your website’s “body language” in good selling shape.

Are the colors appropriate for your market? Younger viewers may appreciate more trendy looks; more mature viewers may connect better with a traditional or conservative pallet.

Is the text size appropriate for your target viewers? How many times have you visited a site and wondered how they expected you to read it? Again, consider your viewers and their age. A viewer over 40 will be frustrated by small text. You do not want to frustrate your target viewers.

Are navigation patterns comfortable and familiar? Don’t make people have to search for a Home button or contact information. Use conventions that viewers have become accustomed to and keep it consistent throughout the site.

Does the copywriting style match the look and feel? I’ve come across countless situations where the design of the site was conservative, yet the content was written in a very loose and conversational manner. Within seconds, a viewer connects with the overall design, setting the tone in their mind. Then they start to read. The connection can either be maintained and enforced, or broken by the tone.

Are the calls to action clear and set within the viewers’ eye path? There’s been a lot written lately about “eye tracking” studies and hot spots on a page. Great information that further qualifies usability studies defining “hot spots” on a page. Yet many site designers still don’t pay attention to this valuable information. I’ve been to sites where I felt as though I was begging them to sell me what I wanted because someone decided it would be better to move calls to action off to the bottom right, where few people look.

Ultimately, your site’s design and content – together – are sending off signals far beyond looking and sounding pretty or cool. Remember that your viewers have choices. And on the Internet, these choices are just a back button away. Make sure that you are setting the proper tone for persuasion and conversion, and they are more likely to make a choice that will make you happy – and your business profitable.

About Caryl Felicetta

You can find Caryl on Twitter @CarylF.

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