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Website design best practices #1: The milkman test

Does your business website pass the milkman test?

This is the point where you say either “what have milkmen got to do with website design best practices?” or, if you’re feeling more generous,  “I don’t know. I don’t know what the milkman test is. You tell me. You’re supposed to be the web designer.”

That’s a fair point. Bear with me, though, and I’ll tell you:

– What the milkman test is

– What it’s got to do with website design and website design best practices

– Why it’s something you need to bear in mind when you’re looking at your website, whether you’re building one for your new business or thinking of upgrading your old one.

Website design best practice: It needs to answer the question “What do you do?”

One of the key purposes for your website is that it should easily answer the question “What do you do?” within seconds of anybody landing on your site.

People will not spend long on your website if they don’t think it will help them solve their problem. If I’m looking for an online shop to buy coffee makers and I land on a website which sells coffee makers but doesn’t make that clear, I’ll go elsewhere.

You might work in a B2B environment, but that doesn’t mean we work in your industry, so please don’t use any jargon.

For one reason, we might have just started working in this new industry so we might not know what your jargon means. For another, using jargon is lazy and can make people feel small and ignorant.

How do I make sure my site passes the test?

– Explain what you do as simply as possible high up on your home page. This can be easy if you’re an estate agent or a mechanic, but it’s not so simple for everyone.

– Don’t assume anything. If you’re not using a copywriter, ask someone who isn’t in your industry to cast their eye over your site or over the words you’ve written and give you their honest opinion.

– Use pictures to give a better idea of what you do. For example, “Logistics” might not mean much to some, but some pictures of lorries on a websites gives the game away immediately.

So…why do I call it the milkman test?

Well …. you might remember their name. You might not.

But I bet you know their songs.

Stock/Aitken/Waterman wrote and produced hits for Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Rick Astley and many more.

One of their rules was that their songs had to pass the “milkman test”.

If it wasn’t catchy enough for a milkman to whistle and remember, they would bin it.

So…

– Does your website pass the milkman test?

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Last month I made a birthday card for my friend Rachel’s son Josh.

Josh is seven years old and Minecraft mad like the rest of the seven-year-old population, so the first thing I did was find an image of Minecraft character Steve to put on the front.

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