I’ve been accused on occasion of being a next steps junkie. What can I say, I get wrapped up in something, and I want to know what’s next. So, it’s no surprise that I think the best webpages are those that have a next step. What do I mean?
I just finished reading the latest blog post from Wegmans Organic Farm. Courtney the intern had a fabulous trip to a local Virginia farm and had loads of great facts and pictures about their yummy produce. By the end of the post I could almost taste those tomatoes, and thankfully, she ended with a link to a recipe for tomato salad. Great next step.
Another example: a theater review article in City Newspaper gives ticket information at the close, along with a link to the theater website, so you can buy tickets.
And of course, the obvious, if you tell me about a product, also link me to where I can buy it. Cnet does an especially nice job of this even though they’re not the ones making the sale (phone example).
That said, next steps don’t always make sense. Latest example – epicurious and their new wine widget. Here’s the idea: they pair several wines with each recipe, and give you links to buy it (for shipping). Here’s where it falls down: if you’re like me, you look up a recipe the day you want to make it. By the time you order wine and it’s delivered, the meal is long gone. What would be really cool, is if they linked you to your local wine shop for the sale, instead. Nice business arrangement there, too.
My point is that no matter what message you’re trying to convey to your website visitor, you can always win points by anticipating their next move, and making it easy. It's good usability, and good business.