Know your Audience.
Building a website is a very personal thing and that means there are many traps you can fall into. A couple of potential problems are either developing the site for yourself or perhaps even worse is to develop it for everybody. Who have you designed your site for?
The most important consideration is to identify who your audience is and seek to understand their motives and behaviour. This will deliver the following advantages:
- A clear framework from the outset enabling you to avoid developing the wrong features.
- Understanding if additional or alternative features need to be provided if there are more than one site audience (e.g. female + male, teenagers + retirees).
- Understanding of how much detail is required to best suit the site audience.
- Understanding of how much content you need to have before promoting the site (Minimal Viable Product).
- An indication of where on the web your target audience is already hanging out.
Depending on the nature of your online business you may have a highly specialised audience but in general, most site visitors will behave in a similar way and that makes it easier to predict their actions.
Heat-map testing can be a valuable indication of what your visitors are most interested on your site, which will enable some optimisation.
Design an audience model that outlines their attributes (e.g. goals, values, demographics, social status, barriers to purchasing from you etc.). This is often referred to as the customer ‘avatar’ or ‘persona’. Whatever you want to call them it’s crucial to understand who they are, what they are after and how to reach them. Keep this in mind when you add anything to your site – make sure you know why you are adding it and who is it for.
Everyone is an individual right? – Not when it comes to browsing on the Internet.
The phrase ‘surfing the web’ was prevalent in the early days when there were a limited number of sites and search engines were just getting started.
People clicked on a link on a gardening site that took them to a hardware store site where more links were offered – after an hour they forget where they started and hadn’t achieved a thing. Today we are far more goal-oriented which is why the vast majority of visitors to your site will arrive there via a search engine.
What terms, or phrases or keywords people enter into their search box are key to understanding how people find you and there is a massive industry based on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Algorithms are constantly changing so professional help may be required but general advice is to simply make the text and images on your pages relevant to what you are promoting.
People often don’t spend very long on a site to determine if their goal is likely to be served so it’s crucial to match your page content to their goals as quickly as possible. Make sure you are signed up for Google Analytics and have the code added to each page on your site.