Focusing on Your Website Users
I will be the first to admit that there is a certain artistry (or at least there should be!) in website design. And when we start talking about art we veer towards subjectivity. However before we head towards the rocks, I am here to tell you a simple truth about great website design:
It’s not about you.
Great website design is not driven by a client’s personal preferences (anymore than it’s driven by the designer’s personal preferences). Great website design is driven by what the website user wants. The better you understand your audience the more likely you will be to have a successful project.
How do I know what my users want?
This is a very good question. Some clients I work with have a lot of research about their target audience and what they like but many are smaller businesses that don’t have such data. Fear not! Here are some easy things you can do to better understand your website users.
Put together an online survey and ask your users what they would like to see on your website. They will appreciate that you are involving them in your decision making process.
Conduct a usability test
If you are undertaking a redesign of an existing website consider a usability test. Invite your users (it can be as little as 5-10 people), sit them down and bring up your website. Your website designer can work with you to suggest tasks for them to accomplish. You’d be surprised how fast you can identify problems that need fixing.
Review your analytics
You do have website analytics, don’t you? If a survey or a usability test isn’t in the cards a thorough review of your analytics software will tell you a lot about how your visitors are using the website. What pages are most popular? What pages are least popular? What browsers are being used? Analytics provides the answers to many important questions.
Take a peek at the competition
If you have no existing website the last two options are out. However you can take a peek at what your competition is doing. A competitive analysis will give you insight to your competition’s target audience, which at the very least will overlap your audience.
Every decision you make about your website should be made looking through the eyes of your users. Let this beacon guide you through the website project and you’re guaranteed not to run aground. I can tell you from experience that when clients take this approach and base decisions on tangible research and analysis the finished product always benefits greatly.