There are hundreds of best practice guidelines to follow when designing a new website. If you have a good website designer, they will look after most of them. There are some, however, that you will be involved with, including the most important of all. That’s right – you play a crucial role in getting the most important part of the website design process right.
So, this is most important web design tip you’ll ever hear.
Here it is: make sure you design your website for your customers.
It sounds simple, but you don’t have to look far on the internet to find websites that are not designed for users/customers. Here are some tell-tale signs:
- Homepages that talk about the size of the company, when the company was founded, or the size of its turnover
- Service and product pages that have very little information
- Unnatural and/or counter-intuitive navigational structures
The above are all examples of website elements created from the perspective of the company. Take the last one, for example. This often happens when website menus are designed according to how the business operates rather than how users search.
Benefits of Designing for Your Customers
- Visitors will spend more time on your website
- Visitors will find the information they need faster and with less hassle
- Visitors will get a better understanding of what you offer as well as your capabilities
- You will convert more of these visitors into customers
How to Design Your Website for Your Customers
- Start by defining who your main customers are. Think about things like age, gender, interests, and more. It is also important to think about the motivations that bring visitors to your website. This will influence the overall style and design. For example, if you are a financial advisor, the motivation might be security and preparing for the future. If you run a nightclub, on the other hand, your website visitors will be more interested in fun and entertainment.
- Visitors to your website will have a problem they need an answer for. That problem might be finding a contractor to renovate their home, a mechanic to fix their car, or a plumber to install a new hot water cylinder. Identify the problems your visitors are thinking about when they visit your site.
- This final stage may involve you directly if, for example, you are providing the content for your website. In addition, you will be involved in guiding the website designer and approving design elements. When doing this, make sure everything appeals to the customer you defined in point one above. Make sure all design elements fit with the visitor motivations you identified too. Your website should also answer or solve the problems you identified in point two above.
An example of the last point is the homepage of your website. As mentioned above, many companies use the homepage to tell visitors how good their company is, i.e. when it was founded, how big it has grown, etc. The vast majority of your website visitors don’t care about this information.
Instead, your website visitors care about the problem they have. There are three things they want to learn:
- Do you understand their problem?
- Do you have a solution?
- Will your solution solve their problem?
The pages you create, the navigational structure of your website, and the information the website contains must provide answers to all the above.
By doing this, you will get the most important element of your website right – designing it for your customers.