An alternative approach to website navigation

One entrepreneur's remarkable website makes us question what we really know about this interweb thing...

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Like every self-respecting business website, we’re fascinated by the increasingly sophisticated techniques companies use to draw readers into their sites and (in some cases) persuade them to part with their cash. And we don’t just mean the extraneous use of words like ‘nude’, ‘Britney’ or ‘Spears’ in the copy, in order to attract a particular type of search engine user (much like we’ve just done there, in fact).

So we were interested to see a release today from Ling Valentine, the entrepreneur behind car-leasing firm LingsCars.com. Ling has apparently undertaken ‘extensive research into the psychological surfing habits of over 50,000 visitors to her website’ and identified three distinct groups: scrollers, who read pages like they’re looking at a big picture or a newspaper; nit-pickers, who read frame-by-frame (like a book); and trackers, who jump about all over the place in search of the content they need.

Ling reckons (not unreasonably) that understanding website navigation is essential for an online business: ‘Very few people have the slightest idea about the mental processes that trigger buying impulses or cause people to click into or off a site and look elsewhere,’ she argues. Her solution, she goes on to say, has been to turn her site into an ‘an online playground’ for visitors to find about her company. ‘Everything I've learnt from my research has been applied to the website,’ she boasts. ‘I aim to provide entertaining and interactive content that will stimulate the user and get them hooked.’

So far, so sensible. And then we had a look at www.LingsCars.com, the result of Ling’s ‘extensive research’ – which really has to be seen to be believed. If you can’t see it, it’s without question the most cluttered website we’ve ever seen – in fact it looks more like the Million Dollar Homepage than a proper business site. The description in Ling’s release (‘multiple indexes connect users to an array of video and cinematic links’) completely fails to do it justice…

Presumably this site is aimed at trackers – those ‘inquisitive and creative’ surfers that Ling reckons are ‘stimulated by the pictures, film clips and graphics they discover, rather than just by the written word’. So if you’ve just spent thirty seconds looking at it and ended up with nothing but a headache, you’re clearly just a bit retrograde in your online viewing techniques. (It also means you missed out on excellent features like a video of Ling posing on a converted Routemaster bus, Ling's commitment to the Human Rights Act (Chinese rules), and Ling's promise to give 10 people a day a free lunch - plus pudding and a hot drink).

The future's here, and it’s slightly bonkers websites...


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