Most of us have been there before. We build a new company website, and we drink a toast to our success! We may have re-branded the site, restructured our content or just simply brought it into the 21st century (believe me, it still happens). The more exciting part is we promote the new site, our vision and we watch the spike in traffic as long-time customers come to take a look. Then, it happens, within a week the numbers drop to pre-launch numbers or worse. What gives? We worked so hard to build the website of our dreams. The answer may be right in front of you.
You will like your site more than your customers
First things first, the odds are customers will not appreciate the new design nearly as much as you. This is okay. The truth is your customers just want to come to your site and do business. You must also think of design in terms of usability. Usability will retain your online consumers more than a design. The design (look and feel) plays a small part of it, but ultimately if your site is hard to use or doesn’t get your customers from problem a to solution b then you have a usability issue.
So what do you need to do to build a user-centric website?
Think like your customer
You know the destination. You want your customer to comment on your blog, buy a product, register or fill out a form. How will your customer do that? I like to build use cases for this. Use cases allow you to easily work through the steps to reach the target goal. Remember your customer doesn’t want to spend a lot of time looking for how to do something. Your customer wants to find the content they came for and move on. Make it simple.
Don’t be shy – ask for feedback
We always want to have the grand opening or launch premiere of the site. That can still happen. While your site is in progress, don’t hesitate to bring in your finest customers and ask for their opinions. Is the process too hard? Does this make sense to you? When you see this, what do you think first?
Asking questions like this can give you insight on how your customer is thinking which goes back to the first example.
Less is more
Long pages that require a lot of scrolling or columns full of widgets and options can be overwhelming. It can cause overstimulated customers to hit the back button and leave. Keep a clean site with the most important content up front. Don’t ask them to dig.
This is in contrast to how grocery stores are laid out. The milk, eggs and other items are always in the back. Forcing you to walk by countless items to and from the shelf. You don’t want your web content to be managed in this way. Get the good stuff up front. If they like you, they’ll keep looking around or come back for more.
What user-centric tips do you have? The comments are yours below.