The Real Reason People Visit Your Website

One of the biggest barriers that stands between websites that are highly profitable and those that aren’t is clarity, or the lack thereof, about who comes to your website and why.  Until you know very specifically why people come to your website, it will never be very effective.  Website usability experts have a technique that you can use to discover the real reasons people visit your website.

Why You Should Care About Website Use Cases

Creating “use cases” is a technique commonly used in software design that, when applied to websites, allows for insights and discoveries that can make a website very popular and very profitable.  Think of it this way – can you really properly serve an audience of people if you don’t know what they want?  A profitable website happens almost automatically when your website does a great job of meeting people’s needs.

The Real Reason People Visit Your Website

Do you know what people are looking for when they visit your website?

What Is a Website Use Case?

A website use case is simply a list of steps that a particular person goes through on your website.  When a person comes to your website, they are coming there for a specific reason.  Once on your website, they will go through a series of steps in their pursuit of achieving their purpose in coming to your site.  The series of steps that a person takes on your site becomes a use case – or a case of how your site is used by a particular person.

In reality, you should have several different use cases for your website because, the truth is, that one use case will accurately depict only a portion of your audience.  When you put several use cases together, you’re able to build a picture that accurately describes the majority of your customers.

Each case gets named and their goal is described, along with the series of steps that they perform in order to achieve that goal.  For example, let’s consider a set of typical goals that correspond to most websites.

Your Website as a Resource for Information Gathering

The Internet is often used for pre-purchase research.  Prior to making a purchase, whether for a physical product like a cute Scottish Terrier themed Birthday card, or for a local service like an interior designer for an office in Fairfield, CT,  research is conducted online.  This pre-purchase research usually takes the form of Googling a keyword phrase or question and then visiting the websites that look like they have the information the person is looking for.  The initial objective at this point is the same in both cases – the person is looking to identify what is available.  They want information.  They want to see product or service descriptions, pictures, prices, delivery times, etc.  In some cases, a purchase will be made right away, other times this is just their first of several visits to your site leading up to the purchase.

Sometimes the research is for a friend – perhaps the result of a conversation where someone mentioned that they were looking for something.  The loyal friend jumps online to help their friend find what they were looking for.  Does your site make it easy to share what people find?  People may share your site by pasting a link to your page into an email, or they may share it socially using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.  Does your website support this kind of use case?

Many times, and this is much more common for the purchase of big ticket items, multiple trips to the website precede the purchase.  How easy is it for people to re-find what they are looking for on your website?  Consider that on the second visit to your site they know what page they are trying to find, but they may not remember what they clicked on to find it the first time.  Clean website navigation and a functional website search feature are very effective for meeting the needs in this use case.

A Sale from Your Website

How easy is it for a person to take the purchase action on your website?  For a website that sells a physical product, this is the shopping cart.  For a website that sells a service, this usually takes the form of a phone call, or the submission of a website form that leads to a purchase conversation.  Up until the purchase decision has been made, the name of the game is to provide the information that your audience wants in the way that is easiest for them to find and understand it.  After the decision to purchase has been made, the name of the game is about making the purchase process as easy as possible.  In other words, don’t make it difficult.  The average shopping cart abandonment rate is 67%.  This means that 67% of the people who put an item into the shopping cart on a website never complete the checkout process.  You drive this number down by focusing on making it easy for people to complete the process.

The Real Reason People Come To Your Website

What are the real reasons that people come to your website?  The answer lies in approaching your website from their perspective.  Your website is a resource that they have come across when they were searching for the answer to a need or a desire.  Creating use cases will provide you with great insights about why people are visiting your site and what they want to accomplish on that visit to your site.  This becomes a guiding factor in everything from the creating of content on your website to better serve your audience, to refining the website’s design and navigation to improve website usability.  Acting on the insights from use cases goes a long way to greatly increasing the effectiveness and profitability of a website.


  • Maria Nikolaeva Angelova February 9, 2015, 3:44 pm

    Great advice! It is very helpful to refocus my thinking and follow your use case advice when updating my site. Thank you, Charlie!

    • Charles Ogwyn February 9, 2015, 4:28 pm

      Glad you found it helpful Maria.

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