In our previous post, we talked about what we like to call the “Field of Dreams” approach to web design … “If you build it they will come”. We spoke about how important it was to design a user experience that gave the user what they needed in a very short period of time (on average about 10 seconds). We also spoke about how SEO alone could not deliver that user experience and maximize your company’s ROI. But that “Field of Dreams” fallacy is just one of several common assumptions companies make that impede user experience and prevent effective marketing communication. Read on to learn some of the other missteps companies often take when beginning their web design approach.
Let’s start with the big picture. According to Internetworldstats.com, in 2008 there were approximately 387 Million users in the Americas accessing the more than 40 Million active web sites across the Internet. That’s a lot of digital design work!
But many of these sites are not adequately servicing the needs of the millions of consumers who are visiting them every day. The majority of these web site owners assume one, some or all of the following:
• If we build a good looking site they (customers) will come (and do business).
• Upgrading our web site will serve as an expansion of our storefront and get us more business.
• We know our customers, we know what they want and we have a good reputation.
• We have Voice of the Customer and Active Listening programs and we’re very responsive. So we have all the user input we need.
• We have made an investment to optimize (SEO) our site so we are good to go.
These assumptions tend to overlook the end user of a site and their needs. They also ignore the fact that the way Internet Search Engine rules work is constantly changing.
It’s important to understand the personal goals of users for a given series of interactions so the site can best match the personal goal and optimize their use experience. Successful interactions that create meaningful and positive emotional outcomes have a higher potential of generating repeat interactions and repeat business.
It’s also important to understand the business goals of users so that the investment of the web site delivers a sustainable outcome in line with the corporation’s business model.
Contemporary research shows that the medium of the Internet can provide one of the most cost effective approaches for achieving marketing reach among a widely used set of investments. Adding strategies like the use of search engine optimization (SEO) and click through advertising can generate direct exposure to people searching your specific goods or services.
In the business world it is commonplace to conduct various forms of research or due diligence before making any type of investment decision. These investments could be business acquisitions, new product developments or as simple as marketing plans.
Each of these decisions demand some form of prior knowledge that can successfully drive strategies that will work. Misaligned strategies usually fail to meet consumer and business needs and can cause wasted investments or even business failure.
Remember the four big questions from our previous post?
• Who are your customers, what are their computer skills and what problems do they face on your site when trying to achieve their goals?
• What type of experience are your customers looking for, what emotional outcomes are they hoping for and how many of them achieve their personal goals when visiting your site?
• Do you know what sort of repeat interactions users would like; user perception of your site vs. competitors site or if your site is being used for the purpose you intended?
• Do you currently have an effective SEO strategy or reporting metrics for your site?
Each of these questions is designed to provide a better understanding of your customers, their goals for their user experience, and how you can design a site that meets their needs and maximizes your ROI. Once you have this information in hand you can avoid the common assumptions that lead to bad design and create a digital deliverable that provides your users with an outstanding online experience.
In our next post, we’ll start looking at these questions in more detail, and identifying the best way to get the information required to answer them. In today’s market the key to creating effective digital design is establishing a targeted, two-way communication between your company and your consumer.
Are you ready to start listening?