Day 11: Not even the Romans could see through this trick

Have you ever been left completely dumbfounded by a magician? Take for example the “cups and balls” trick in this video. If you’re like most of us, your jaw probably dropped at some point during the act.

And it’s been this way for a LOT of time. Cups and balls is one of oldest magic tricks around, with traces of it going back to ancient Rome.

How’s that we are so blind to magic?! What do magicians know that we don’t?

Well apart from the obvious technical knowledge, magicians are naturally trained in exploiting our brain’s blind spots and inefficiencies. What’s really behind the cups and balls trick is nothing more than an exercise in multitasking for our brain. And we suck at it.

Just think that our grey matter runs on just 12 Watts of power. That’s ⅙ of what you need to power a standard light bulb. You can see how our minds are subject to trickery with such limited resources available.

That’s why whenever we try to multitask, we’re actually only switching from one task to the other in an effort to make the most of the brain power we have. And that’s why magicians fool us.

Magicians are experts at commanding and diverting our attention to whatever they want and need us to pay attention to.

What has all of this got to do with your website you might be asking?

If there’s one thing you can learn from magicians, it’s how easy it is for people to get distracted and lost. This is what you have to avoid for your website visitors. If you run a website, you are in the attention management business. Just like a magician.

It’s your job to direct and guide the user’s attention to the next step.

It’s important that you start planning the structure of any page (or site), by asking yourself one simple question:

What is the one goal you want to achieve with this page?

Notice that we’ve mentioned one goal, not many.

As you’ve seen in the cups and balls trick, when you use too many cups and even more balls, you lose the audience. This is good in a magic trick, but when it’s your page that has too many goals, you inevitably lose your visitor. Which is pretty freaking bad for conversions.

Distraction is your enemy, and it can come in the form of too many calls to action, too many sections or links, a confusing navigation menu and on and on.

Planning your site and page structure

This is a vital part in user experience design and copywriting and it’s not as straightforward when you start considering the purpose of different pages.

  • What’s the goal of your Pricing page? Well to have users buy or add to cart. Easy.
  • What’s the goal of your FAQ page? To educate users on the most common answers customers have. Again pretty straightforward.
  • But what about your homepage? People might be getting there from all over the place. Where should you lead them from there? What should they do to get closer to a conversion?

This is where we slightly violate our “one page, on goal” rule. I say slightly because the rule still stands, it’s just that as we’ve already mentioned in some of our first posts, the user comes first.

So after you’ve asked yourself what goal you want to achieve on your page, it’s time for another question:

What is the goal your users want to achieve on this page?

This one helps you balance your business goals with your customer goals and it’s how you find out what secondary goals you should include on a specific page.

On your homepage for example, you might want to send people to your Pricing or Checkout pages, but at the same time you know (through research) that when your users land on your home, they want to learn more about your product features or about how your service works. Hence you’ll add secondary calls to action to your “Features” or “How it works” pages.

Everyone is happy. And your users won’t space out staring at a myriad of distracting cups and balls.

Your homework:

Take a look at your research and jot down which one goal your page has to achieve. Then brainstorm a few potential secondary goals that your visitors might need to achieve, before you can take them further down your conversion funnel.