This post is likely to turn into a rant, but bear with me the content is important!
When building or working on your site there's something crucially important that you should have at the forefront of your mind. This point has the potential to entirely flip the effectiveness of your site. This point is simply :
"Think what your potential visitors want, and not what YOU want".
Sound simple right? You will be amazed how many companies or individuals don't do this.
Sidenote : Sometimes I think I should have an arrangement with a banner printer who could supply that sentence, printed in size 70 font so I can send to those that evidently haven't considered it when working on their site.
Why is it important?
Practically every shop you enter on the high street (except TK MAXX, another pet hate) has been designed in such a way that the shopper can easily find what they are looking for. Sure, they throw in curveballs to tempt you to buy more, but that's marketing.
Since the 1980s, there's been a massive movement to make objects more ergonomic. If my graphic design education hasn't let me down, the Ford Escort was the first car to be designed around ergonomics. Previously cars were just thrown together in a "odds-and-sods" sort of fashion without much consideration to the driver. The Ford Escort was the first car to be entirely designed around the driver.
Why? Because thinking about the end-user makes a more enjoyable or efficient process. FACT.
Put it this way, you already know about the product or service you offer. You're already educated on its benefits. Your clients (or visitors) aren't.
CASE 1 : Say you're an IFA and you've highlighted that your target market is those aged fifty or more, with an interest in Drum N Bass (does happen!) and over £100k to invest. You've got a good idea of what your target client is like and decide that now's the time to go ahead and build your corporate site. You get cracking building something you think is amazing.
You saw something the other day on another site, and thought it would be good to build that into yours and you like the colour purple so your entire site ends up being purple with this fancy widget.
The home page discusses your qualifications, employment history and hobbies because, after all, you're who the client is dealing with and you're the most important. Right?
Site goes live to glorious raptures from your friends and family (who also know about the service you offer, and why they should use you). It starts getting picked up by the search engines and you average on an enquiry a month.
CASE 2 : Imagine the same IFA but this time, once they've identified their target client and a need to rebuild their site, they decide to build their site based on what their client wants.
They start the process by making a mind-map (or what ever they're meant to be referred to) on what the triggers my be for that type of client to want to seek advice. They come up with a number of points and use those as the key "Call to action" points on the design of the site. In this case, the key reason why a wealth fifty-plus drum n' bass fan is looking for advice is so that they can continue to invest in fancy speakers way into their retirement.
With the help of their web developer, they put together a site that funnels the right visitor to their contact page, using proven marketing techniques like "AIDA".
Imagine the difference in both quality of enquiries, and number of enquiries. I'll give you some hard stats now...
Give me numbers!
I've worked with a number of clients who initially had business-centric sites and have now embraced the "client-centric" approach. Some of you won't know that I also have four years experience working with IFAs who had template websites which, on the whole, were all business-centric designs.
From the experience and results I've seen over the past five and a bit years, those that embrace this "client-centric" approach always do better. If you're still doubting this approach, here's some figures from projects I've been involved in recently are as follows :
Site A : 20 enquiries last month
Site B : 12 enquiries last month
Site C : 4 enquiries last month
This site (codepotato) : 9 enquiries last month
* masked the company names for their own privacy.
These are enquiries through their websites, not including those from social media outlets.
So what next?
Hopefully this has given you food for thought, and if it has you might like the following links :
- Identifying Personas for User-Centric Design
- How to stop designing for ourselves
- 10 steps for an engaging interactive user experience
I would definitely suggest this book on the subject too!