Heres how the story goes
A business owner engages someone to make them a website, they tell them that they need an about page a services page and a contact page. The developer obliges and makes these pages based on a template and gets content from the companies internal documentation. They launch the site and wait to see what will happen.
What could possibly go wrong?
The only problem is
When a potential customer from outside the industry visits the site they are faced with a walls of text full of corporate jargon. Confused and intimidated they leave. The website hasn’t achieved it goal, why?
A website is a tool for communication.
To communicate effectively we need to know what our message is and also who our audience is. Often our audience doesn’t have the same knowledge, preferences and goals as us.
As a business owner, employee or marketer you have an intimate knowledge and connection to your company, its products, and what makes it unique. The frequency with which you deal with this information and constant proximity to those who also share the same knowledge can put you into an echo chamber of common knowledge.
Don’t get stuck inside an echo chamber of corporate jargon
Your users and customers however come from a wide variety of backgrounds, educations, and familiarity with your industry. Company marketing websites often miss the point of what is important to their customers and focus too much on what is important to them.
A website should be formed in the overlap between what is useful to your customers and what provides value to your business. Being able to achieve this means having a clear understand of what constitutes ‘useful’ to your customers.
A common example which illustrates the trap many brick and mortar business fall into on the web is a focus on the technical details behind their products and services rather than a focus on the value to the customer.
How can we do better?
So how can you implement these principles into your own website? There are several techniques which can be applied but they all revolve around one central idea:
Ask your users and customers questions, listen to their answers and make changes accordingly.
While this sounds obvious, it is often neglected or ignored entirely in practice. Even simply talking to members of your team who interact directly with customers such as those in sales or customer support roles will give huge insights into what drives your customers to buy and some common issues your customers face.
Get feedback at every stage of the project
Even better is getting direct feedback from customers for a website design. A simple question such as ‘We are in the process of creating a new website, if you visited what would you want to see?’ asked only a few times to existing or potential customers gives great insight into the desires and motivations of your customers.
This process shouldn’t only be done once at the start of a project but should be carried out at every stage to catch potential issues early and move to avoid them.
When making decisions for a website it can be all too easy to stick to the status quo or make assumptions based on our own subjective values. However as the strength of your website rests in the value it provides to your customers, it is vital that you understanding of their motivations. The simplest way to get this information is to go to the source and talk with your team and customers directly.