Well that probably depends who you ask.
Ask the owner/writer/webmaster and they’re likely to tell you how great it is and why it’s in the running for this year’s Pulitzer. Ask a typical person trying to find info on the web and the answer is likely “who cares.”
The reality is the website visitors are in a hurry and most of the time, especially if they come from a search engine, they actually want to leave your site as quickly as possible. When I examine my own surfing habits, it takes quite a magical set of circumstances for me to actually settle in and read a web page [not in a hurry, the information is deeply appealing, the website seems credible etc.]. This can be true even on sites that I read everyday.
Thanks to SpinMe I found a book that supports these ideas. The book is called Don’t Make Me Think! A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability and is based on the author’s experiences as a web usability consultant.
Here’s an excerpt from a sample chapter available online:
What they actually do most of the time (if we’re lucky) is glance at each new page, scan some of the text, and click on the first link that catches their interest or vaguely resembles the thing they’re looking for. There are usually large parts of the page that they don’t even look at.
We’re thinking “great literature” (or at least “product brochure”), while the user’s reality is much closer to “billboard going by at 60 miles an hour.”
The sample chapter has diagrams and illustrations that will make it very clear that things are not what you imagine in website-userville.
My experiences have shown that this is true. One of the ways a webmaster can take advantage of this knowledge, especially if you are trying to convert visitors using pay-per-click or newsletter signup is to remove other options from the page. If a visitor is in a hurry and they are likely to click on the first thing on the page that remotely matches what it is that they are searching for, then by reducing their options, you can dramatically improve your conversion rate.
When you are planning or tweaking your site, it’s good to keep the billboard analogy in mind. The other question that is relevant is: What is the goal of this page? What result does this page seek to achieve? To click an AdSense ad? To sign up for a newsletter?
Probably your answer will be a mix of many results, but keeping these user outcomes in mind and prioritizing them can lead to a much more profitable website.