Ever notice that whenever you mention that you work with computers, every Tom, Dick and Harry with an AOL account wants to pick your brain as to why their computer doesn’t work? They can’t wait to get you on their 450 MHz Machine running XP so they can Dial into their AOL account and show you “the Problem.”
While the answer is almost always “User Error”, you can use this opportunity to get a better feel for how Newbies think and act on computers.
If you’ve every watched the web surfing habits of people who do not use a computer every day, you know it can be painful. They always seem to click the wrong things and don’t get to where they want to go. Plus they are slow. . . MY GOD ARE THEY SLOW. But what you will notice is that when a site has been designed to generate ad revenue, these newbies will invariably click the ads.
These people don’t know about adsense or affiliate links. They can’t tell the difference between what (to you) is obviously spam and a relevant link. They stumble through the web hoping to somehow land where they want to be. You need to take a step away from the computer, not give any directions, and just watch them read and click.
Most of your observations should bring you back to the basics:
1. Blend Ads with Content
2. Put the things you want clicked most towards the top and left.
3. The first link in a series gets clicked most
4. Certain Color combinations draw in the eye
5. Standard banner sizes in standard banner positions will get ignored
6. A frustrating or confusing navigation or layout will summon the “back” button
7. Habits are very difficult to break.
8. “Professional” looking sties with nice graphics are trusted more.
While that’s the meat of it, you should still take the time to watch Newbs surf. With the right eye, you will learn something you have not thought of before with regards to design and ad placement.
A click from a newb is just as valuable (and often more valuable) than a click from an expert. If you are only targeting expert users like yourself, you may be alienated 80%+ of the marketplace at your own peril.
You have to know your audience. To know them, you must observe them in action. So the next time you’re asked to help out with the computer problem of the day from someone who can’t even spell RSS, don’t just commandeer the computer: Ask them to show you the problem and just sit back and watch what they do: it may just skyrocket your profits.