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What question? The one in the visitor's mind when your site springs into view on their browser. They won't have found their way to your website by accident. They'll have come with a purpose and behind that purpose is a question.
For a few precious seconds, you'll be presented with the perfect opportunity – a potential customer giving you their undivided attention. Unfortunately, you won't be present in person to seize the moment, so it's the responsibility of your website to capture and hold their interest – by answering their question.
Whether they walk into a shop or click through to a website, everyone brings a question with them. It might be: 'Do they sell what I am looking for?' Or: 'Do they have it in the colour I want?' It could be: 'What will solve my particular problem?'
The simplest, and most common question is: 'How much does it cost?' For what could be the briefest of moments, they'll scan your webpage for the answer to their question. If they see it, or at least get a clear indication that they're very close to finding it, they're likely to stay longer. But if, during that handful of seconds after they first arrive, they can't see the information they're looking for, they'll be gone.
Design your website to answer visitors' questions and they're more likely to stay. That's why sites such as Amazon do so well. You arrive wanting to know whether they stock a particular product and how much it costs. The site tells you the answer immediately and also lets you know how soon it could be delivered. It's not just about selling products.
The BBC news website is a model of good design because you arrive wanting to know what's going on, and it tells you. Think of the questions that potential customers are likely to have in mind when they arrive at your website. Do they get the information they are looking for within seconds of arriving? If not, why not? And what changes can you make to improve this?
To keep people looking at your website for longer, you need to give them a reason for staying. The most effective way to achieve this is to answer the question that's on their mind when they arrive.