One of the main challenges we have when creating or revamping a website is to visualise your business (and therefore all marketing material) through the eyes of your target client or customer.
When contemplating customer user experience (UX), there are far too many contributing factors that are simply out of our control. This could range from the environment and technology being used to view the website, to simply the mood of the viewer at the time. If you visit the supermarket for your weekly shop with an empty stomach, chances are that you will have a larger bill than usual. The reverse can be expected when you engage in the same activity after a large meal.
We cannot account for everything (we are likely to end up with a disorganised mess if we try), but we can play the numbers game. Customers and clients are complex beings, so therefore we often need to concentrate on the majority of our target audience and their mind set on an “average day”. If your business is going after more than one target audience then your choice is to prioritise one service/product, or to contemplate a middle ground that fits.
How we can break it down into a simple checklist:
It is understandable that you will have an ever-growing list of content and features to advertise on your website. No one will know your business better than you; however it is likely that your target audience will often only be looking for one or two of your product or service offerings at any given time.
For websites, a novel animation introducing the website could be seen as charming to a viewer on one occasion but then irritating to the same viewer the very next day. We do not know at this stage if they have a tight deadline and just need your phone number. I am not saying that animations are not effective, it is merely the case of deciding if it justifies taking up your websites’ key retail space.
Your website header or “billboard” can both prioritise and streamline content. Use it wisely, as content and image selection for this area can make a real difference to the performance of your website.
Finally, you are likely to have around 10 seconds (potentially less) to pitch your company to the viewer. Try and find a way of describing your company’s unique selling points (USP’s) in one sentence and then bring out your big guns. Best sellers and services which generate your best profit margins are some examples that can work here. Professionally taken, well lit photography can certainly help, as do illustrations that can support your key messages.
When time is of the essence, it is vital that your key messages can breathe on the page. The old adage of “less is more” is certainly applicable (especially for your homepage). Try not to preach war and peace before giving your viewer an option to take a breath; there is a very good reason why books are broken down into chapters. The same philosophy of breaking down the content into digestible areas can be applied on the web.
3. Provide clear, effective signposting
There could be numerous ways that a viewer can obtain content they require (Google search, menu navigation, internal website search and banner links are just a few examples). A consistently spaced website with a good content balance can really help to accommodate the above examples and more.
If you make the homepage your index, signposting all key product ranges or service offerings then you are off to a great start.
4. If in doubt, check
The terms “market research” and “focus groups” may sound overkill for small businesses, however you can get very effective results by asking around five of your existing customers that fall in to the “middle of the road” (please don’t tell them that bit!) category as their expectations are easily managed. Try to exclude “perfect” and “nightmare” clients as they can skew the results.
The next step is to draw up a short questionnaire to find out what they would have been looking for as priority when they first viewed your website and again if the focus is different now they are an existing client. A handy, free online tool that can help is Survey Monkey (http://www.surveymonkey.com/). There are also numerous other free online survey tools that can be effective.
In summary, It is really important that certain questions are asked before and during the website process and we work closely with our clients to ensure that the answers result in a website that works hard to achieve your desired outcomes; if you are at the beginning of this process and want to chat through the options, or would like to review your site as you are considering making changes, just give us a call on 02920 480 720 or fill out the contact form below.