My face in close-up.

Richard Blechinger

Web developer, designer, caffeine addict

The uni-directional action flow

I’ve hinted on this concept in a previous blog post and today I want to discuss it in detail. I like to call it the uni-directional action flow. If you’re familiar with the React-Redux lingo, it’s kind of like the Flux architecture, but for generating user interest.

The origin story

Before I got started working as a freelancing/self-employed web developer, I worked at a quite reputable web agency in the tourism industry of Austria. You can imagine the most ridiculous stereotypes here: Skiing, alpine hiking, wellness, all that.

The agency always had the goal of generating revenue to hotels by getting users to fill out the non-binding enquiry forms on the websites they made. Thus they used an approach to always link users to the request form at the end of the page.

This basic approach worked quite well for them, and I adapted and distilled the approach to my own.

Defining your website’s purpose

This part may be the easiest or the hardest of structuring a website. The age old question: When a user arrives, what do you want them to do?

For my website this goal was easy enough to find; I want users to end up hiring me for their website project. To this end, there is an enquiry form, my goal is to get the user to that page and fill out the form so I can work with them.

At this point I am of course very much obliged to tell you that you can hire me to work with you!

Your goal: Find out what you want users to do on your website

Of course this may vary from website to website. An online shop for example would most likely set its goal to get the user onto the product page and in a follow-up to buy their products.

The key is just to find: What’s the ideal end result and turn everything in service of that.

How to structure your website

A website can have many entry points: Landing pages, the home page, blog posts, etc There’s a whole bunch of different ways that users end up on your website. If you visualize that, you might end up with something like this

Three disconnected gray boxes juxtaposed against a red box saying 'your goal'

You have your entry points and you have your goal. Now the task is to connect those. And here’s the crux of the action flow. Every entry point should invariably point to your goal! You might want something akin to this:

Four gray boxes connected to a red box saying 'your goal'

In this case I’ve added a portfolio page. You can have something like that, sure. The idea is just that eventually, at the end, every page goes toward your goal.

Structure your website like a funnel: Many entry points that progressively lead to the end result

You can imagine it a bit like a funnel. You go from an extremely broad layer of entry points, to a smaller and smaller collection of pages, all eventually pointing to your end goal.

Ways to funnel your user into checking your goal

Now the question is, I have a bunch of pages, all arranged and nicely structured, how do I get the user to my goal page? Simple enough, you give them lots of chances!

You can see examples of this on my homepage. Each section contains a primary call-to-action. It leads directly to the enquiry form, but the user can also follow the secondary action which, for example, leads them to my portfolio page.

On the portfolio page they have a direct link at the top of the ending paragraph to send me an enquiry. Or they can look at the individual projects.

Offer primary and secondary actions, all which eventually lead to your goal

Then when they reach the project pages, the final out is: You can use the main navigation to look around, or you send me an enquiry. There’s no secondary action anymore. It all leads directly to the form.

Also at the end of the page there’s always a very big call-to-action, prompting the user yet again, to hire me.

Once they arrive at the form, they’ll be greeted with a very friendly message and a single field. It’s not hard to fill out a single field, so they can do that, which leads them to the next step in the form. And bit by bit, in a playful way, I capture all the information for a proper enquiry! The form is also aligned in a way that prompts the user to go forward.

And that is how I capture users. Always look toward the goal but offer a range of choices for more information, which then gets narrower and narrower the deeper the user gets into the page.

TL;DR

To sum it up, here’s your action plan:

It’s really not very hard, but it’s proven to be effective not only for me, but also for many hotel owners.

And now you’re welcome to go and hit that lovely button below! ;)