Website Design: Designing for Yourself or for Your Customers?
A business website is your window to a worldwide target audience and it has to be designed in a way that it appeals to them. You might have certain expectations and ideas about your site, but they may fail if they do not match up with the expectations of the users. Therefore, you should focus on a website design that your customers need, not what you want or what you would like to see in the website. You can get website designers to make great looking website for yourself, however you cannot get customers to visit and re-visit your website just because you have got a great looking website, or you cannot convert visitors into customers just because you have a great looking website design. Neither do you need a website that offers a lot of functionality if your customers don’t need them. If you are selling flowers, the functionality your customers desire from your website will be different to the functionality available on a tyre manufacturer’s website. So, in simple terms, you need to develop a website design and functionality that your customers expect from your type of business.
What Should You Be Aiming At?
Even before you go to a see a website designer to undertake website design for your business, you should do your fieldwork.
It would be useful to understand:
- Who your audience is? This probably is the most important step before your website design and development process begins. You have to understand who your audience is in terms of the gender, age groups, location and other factors. Try and estimate who are the people who would regularly come to my website.
- What does my audience expect? Once you have identified your audience, the next step is to understand what they expect from a business like yours and your website design? Understanding this will not only help you understand the path you should take in your website design, but will also help you in explaining your requirement to the website designer.
- What will bring my audience back? An important aspect of a good website design and a successful website is the ability to bring the visitors back to the site. In marketing terms, it is like customer retention. For any business it is important to retain customer loyalty; similarly for any successful website, the ability to bring back your customers is paramount. Customer loyalty leads to increase in traffic and improvement in the conversion rate. Look at some of the successful websites around you: amazon.com, YouTube and MySpace, and you would understand the elements that they have incorporated in their website design by giving a reason to return to the visitors. The success of these websites is an example of the power of customer retention and referrals. If you analyse the website design of these sites, it is fairly simple but it offers its visitors what they need: products and services that matter to their audience.
If you think through the above points, you will realise that a lot of information is already available to you (especially if you are an established business). Your website in many terms is an extension of your physical business. Talk to your sales people, look at your customer files and your sales pattern, try and source information from your suppliers. For a new business, it could include analysing your competitors.
In conclusion, I would remind you that it is important to try and understand your market before you undertake any part of website design or website development process. Without knowing your market you won’t be able to communicate your requirement to your website designer. It is important to go through this process before you start website development instead of re-inventing the loop after you have developed your website and realised after one year that you are not getting enough leverage from your web design. At the end of the day you will only achieve from your website design what you tell your website designer.