Everyone has their own idea about what a good website design is. Since design and aesthetics are so subjective, there is no right or wrong about good web design. Normally, a design that appeals to the “client’s” aesthetic tastes is accepted as a good website design. But is it really? Does a web designer’s responsibility end with appeasing the “client”? Or is the web designer really duty-bound to design websites that appeal to the real customer?
Who are web design customers?
Web design customers are not those who spend the money on the domain registration, hosting and website design. The real customers of any website are those who visit it every day and consume its content. The real customers are those who transact with a website. Ultimately, if visitors to a website loved it, would the paying client not be happy? Isn’t that the ultimate goal of every website owner?
Tools for building customer-centric websites?
There are many tools and techniques available today that help website owners to fine-tune and refine their website till it serves the needs of their customers. Some of these include:
Focus Groups and Surveys:
While a website is under construction, many companies test the designs, user experience and functionality with a limited group of people who represent the website’s target user group. These tests often help website owners understand and meet the expectations of their customers even as the website is being designed.
A/B and Multi-variate testing:
Even when the website goes live, the design, layout and functionality can — and should — be continuously tested with A/B and multi-variate testing to identify what exactly does or doesn’t work on the site. This way, website owners can refine their website till they hit the sweet spot where engagement with the target audience is at its best.
Not all companies can afford a dedicated team for continuous testing or surveys. However, web analytics can provide insightful information on how visitors consume content on your website. Google Analytics even offers real-time analysis that lets you see what visitors on your site are doing at any given point in time.
There are tools available to do click-tracking to see where people click on your website and what they engage with. You can analyze whether visitors are behaving the way you would like them to behave. If not, this analysis allows you to make refinements to your website design till it meets customer expectations.
However, all of these are tools that help you improve a design. Often websites get designed to the CEO’s tastes and have to undergo time consuming and costly changes till the customers like them. Also, web designers who charge rock-bottom prices for a web design project have to execute to the instructions from the paying client in order to make the project profitable. This does most businesses a great disservice when visitors do not like the website. The number of poorly designed websites that hardly anyone visits stand testimony to the pitfalls of not designing customer-centric websites.
How to design customer-centric websites?
There are many challenges to designing customer-centric websites. Often, the aesthetic elements of the website contribute the least and the content contributes the most to whether or not the website is customer-centric. So let’s focus on making the content customer-centric:
- Talk the customer’s language: If the customer is searching for clothes and your website sells apparels, it is unlikely to resonate with the customer. It is important for every website to understand what the target customer is searching for and to include those terms in the messaging.
- It’s not about you, it’s about them: Understand that your website belongs to your customers and they need to relate to it. Instead of I, we, our…try to structure your language around you and your. Address the customer and make the website about him/her and not about you.
- Say what they want to hear — not what you want to say: A common mistake is to try and showcase what a website owner wants to say to the customer. No one likes to hear a monologue of self-promotion. Instead, focus on what the customer needs and satisfy this need through your website.
- Build Credibility: Testimonials, accomplishments, awards, recognitions, certifications, etc., go a long way in building credibility with the visitors.
- All customers aren’t the same: Every visitor to your site is potentially different. However, different user groups may show similarities in preferences. Understanding these differences in your customers and segmenting them intelligently is the first step. Next, you need to decide whether you want your website to meet the needs of one segment or all. If you opt for all segments, then your website needs to treat each segment differently offering what they seek — either through different functionality or through different sections in the site.
- Allow them to engage: Once visitors land on your website, do not make it difficult for them to engage with your website. Display social sharing buttons prominently allowing them to share your content. Have engagement elements and calls for action displayed prominently in a customer-friendly manner and language.
Seek interaction, feedback and engagement. There’s more to a customer than just an inquiry or a sale. There’s a lot more a customer’s behavior can tell you about your site than you imagined possible. If you listen to your customers, there’s a lot of insight you can gain.
Professional Web Design Services from Flying Cow Design
Flying Cow Design has a track record of over 20 years of professional web design. What differentiates us from most web design companies is that our focus is not only on web design, but on building a strong online presence for our clients. Understanding the changing web development standards and search engine guidelines has helped us build a strong web presence for many of our clients through a combination of our web design and internet marketing services. To see how we can help you build a strong web presence, write to us today!
CEO, Flying Cow Design
Attended University of Auckland
Lives in San Francisco Bay Area