All Your Pages are Home Pages

By Tim Nekritz,
Associate Director of Public Affairs and Director of Web Communication


Web pages are about making readers informed and ready to take some kind of action ... or, to use a business term, make a sale. (I can feel a few of you shudder.) Whatever you call it, you have to think of the Web as a giant funnel that brought readers to your page, and you have a matter of moments to make the desired connection.

Joseph Carrabis of NextStage Evolution spoke at last year's SUNY CUAD conference for communicators with a session called "Is the Home Page Dead?" His point is that, since the Web is not a linear medium, any page readers reach is a de facto home page.

He said these readers tend to participate in three behaviors as they scan our Web sites:

  • Couple Window ShoppingResearching, which consists of 70% of site traffic but results in 1% of conversations with institutions
  • Deciding, which brings 25% of the traffic and creates 25% of conversations
  • Buying, or taking a definitive action, which comprises 5% of traffic but a whopping 74% of conversations

Think of a busy street and a storefront. Researchers are people who stop in front of the store and look in the window. Deciders are those who come into browse. Buyers are the ones who conduct a transaction. But they don't buy unless they've first stopped to look and come in to browse and nothing has scared them off.

Just like in sales, knowing your customers and giving them what they want makes them more likely to take the action you want. Keeping things fresh and up-to-date is also important; people distrust a clearly out-of-date Web site much as they would food past its expiration date.

With highly selective customers - such as students looking at several colleges - any barrier to making a sale could drive them elsewhere. If the information they want is not readily available or visible on a page, if links don't work or if the content itself is lacking, readers likely will move elsewhere for deciding and buying.

Are your Web pages ready to turn researchers into buyers? Or is there more you can do to make it possible for readers to browse longer, and maybe even want to purchase the Oswego experience?