The Pyramid of Web Optimization

Published in Online Marketing.

We all want to improve. To get a better job, a better salary, a better house, to be better persons, to be happier, etc. The difficulty lies in knowing where to start, where to put more resources or what our priorities should be.

We have the same goal in the web world. We like to improve our website, the way we communicate through it, and our participation in social networks to attract more visitors. But the funny thing here is that most organizations still focus mainly on attraction and little or nothing on optimization.

Attracting more visitors to your website should be a priority, but also optimizing your website to make the visit profitable to both your visitors and your own organization. However, and going back to the beginning, it is difficult to know where to start when we want to optimize our website.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Image by Tim’s Printables.

Just as there’s no sense in saving to buy a Ferrari when you’re starving, you shouldn’t focus on just attracting new visitors if your website crashes all the time. This that seems so obvious is what Abraham Maslow explains in his pyramid of human needs, where as the most basic needs are met (bottom of the pyramid), humans develop higher needs and desires (top of the pyramid).

Following this same idea, Bryan Eisenberg adapts Maslow’s pyramid to the world of web optimization, creating his own hierarchy of optimization. As with Maslow’s hierarchy, Eisenberg’s pyramid indicates that only once the basic needs of the base are met, potential buyers can ascend to address the next need. As they reach the top of the pyramid, they are persuaded to perform the conversion action.

Eisenberg's web optimization pyramid.
Eisenberg’s web optimization pyramid.

In order to determine at what point of the pyramid we should devote our efforts to optimizing our website, we must start at the bottom and move upwards as the different aspects are covered. Let’s see step by step, each level of the pyramid in some detail.

Functional Optimization

It’s the bottom of the pyramid. If our website does not work properly, takes a long time to load or even breaks, we must focus on ensuring a sufficient level of reliability in terms of functionality before we want to optimize any other aspect.

In our blog we have already talked about this type of aspects, such as when we dealt with the issue of backups or the importance of choosing a decent hosting provider.

To find out the level of optimization of our website at the functional level we must study aspects such as the loading time, the number of requests to the server and its load, the file transfer from the server, service downtimes and 404 errors, or the quality of the images we use, among others.

For this task, some tools that can help us are:

  • Google Test My Site: Google‘s utility to measure the loading time of your website on mobile devices.
  • Google PageSpeed Insights: Google‘s utility to measure the speed of the web in general.
  • GTMetrix: utility that analyzes your website and details the improvements you should apply both at the server level and at the web itself to load everything better and faster.
  • Pingdom Tools: utility that like GTMetrix shows you the whole process of loading your website with suggestions for improvement.

Once you have covered the minimum functionality that your website needs to work, you can focus on the next level of the pyramid.

Accessibility Optimization

This is where you have to check if your website is easily accessible to your visitors. You should focus on whether the font combinations used make it easier to read, as well as whether you are using sufficiently large font sizes. You will also need to check the colors used on your web, as not everyone sees them the same way, so you will need to choose a correct color palette with enough contrast.

On the other hand, if your audience visits you from different geographical areas, bear in mind that you will probably have to offer the possibility of being able to access your content in their own language. In our case, we offer our content in Spanish and English, to cover the maximum possible amount of our audience but always bearing in mind that our resources are limited.

You can still find websites like this kebab stand in Berlin that work with Flash and are an example of anti-accessibility.
You can still find websites like this kebab stand in Berlin that work with Flash and are an example of anti-accessibility.

You should also make sure your website looks good on all kinds of devices, including smartphones and tablets. And you should also check that the different browsers are able to display your website correctly. This is quite obvious nowadays, but you can still find many websites with problems here, either by ignorance or simple laziness.

Usability Optimization

The usability of a website is essential. Facilitating the user’s life so that they can navigate our website without complications is key to optimization. A website with good usability is one that provides users with a simple, intuitive, pleasant, and safe interaction.

Make sure your website satisfies a minimum level of usability. Otherwise, you could end up with a website that is too complex for the visitor, such as this online store.
Make sure your website satisfies a minimum level of usability. Otherwise, you could end up with a website that is too complex for the visitor, such as this online store.

Maintaining a consistent design and similar to other websites within the same area, avoiding the abuse of animations that may distract and confuse the visitor, or placing navigation menus on all pages of the website are clear examples of recommendations to make your website more usable.

Intuitiveness Optimization

Does a visitor to your website know quickly what your organization does when they enter the main page? Is your purchase process simple and guided? If you don’t have a clear answer to these types of questions, you should dedicate yourself to improving how intuitive your website is.

Don’t force your users to take unnecessary steps or perform unnatural actions when they visit your website. If you ask them for information in a form, ask for what you really need and avoid all the secondary stuff. If you sell products, describe them well so that they always know what they are buying and thus avoid later problems. Make it clear to your visitors where they are, what they can do, and how they should do it.

If you have an online store, make sure that searching for products in it is intuitive for the visitor. This will make it easier for you to become a customer. A good example of this is the Amazon store.
If you have an online store, make sure that searching for products in it is intuitive for the visitor. This will make it easier for you to become a customer. A good example of this is the Amazon store.

All the messages that reduce friction during the actions that the visitor makes, anticipate their questions, and offer answers when the visitor asks them will be great to improve the intuitive aspect of your website and, therefore, its degree of optimization.

Persuasiveness Optimization

Only when you have all the levels of the pyramid properly resolved you can focus on reaching the top by working on the persuasive aspect of your website. This is where you have to include messages on your website to convince your visitor to end up performing the action you want, whether it’s a purchase, filling out a form, or reading content.

Hotel booking websites, such as Booking.com, are serious about showing persuasive messages to future customers.
Hotel booking websites, such as Booking.com, are serious about showing persuasive messages to future customers.

Establish a relationship of trust with your visitors by showing them the value you are going to give them and by generating peace of mind. This will make it easier for them to convince themselves to become your customers. It is very important that you work on the content and images to make your website more persuasive, avoiding crossing the thin line between persuasion and annoyance.

Final Remarks

Remember that you shouldn’t only focus on attracting new visitors, but you should also dedicate a minimum of resources on optimizing your website. For this you have the Eisenberg optimization pyramid that will help you understand the different levels of optimization. Following these levels is the only way to improve your conversion and get more leads and sales.

Are you already doing all this on your website? Tell us about your experience in optimization. Leave us a comment down below. Surely you have something interesting to say on this topic.

Featured image by Paul Dufour via Unsplash.

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