October 17, 2013 | Web Design
There are three different and important target markets that should be considered for every web site design project. These three groups, and what they are looking for, all factor into decisions about design, development, content and messaging.
1. Your audience of ideal customers
As a general rule, the most important group to think about when working on a web site is your audience. The design, navigation, imagery and text should all make sense and be appealing to your prospective clients.
Many small business owners fall into the trap of making their web site all about themselves. Rather than talking about how they can help a prospect, they write too much about the services they offer or the features of their products.
Consciously think about using the word “you” more frequently. And make sure the way you tell the story about your company or offerings answers the questions that your ideal clients want to know.
Some people use the idea of personas to help them visualize the person who will use their site. Giving your ideal customer details such as gender, age, job title, family details, even a name, can be a good reminder about the types of messages, images and benefits to focus on.
Other people use the word “user” to focus on user experience. This means to think about how someone will use your site. Do they start on your home page or some other landing page? Do they use the navigation bar, the search tool or inline links to get around? What type of device will they most likely be using to access your site?
2. Google (and other search engines)
Another critical “audience” for your site is search engines. When you realize that a search engine such as Google can funnel people to your site, you understand the importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
With every new algorithm update, Google attempts to mimic the audience of your ideal clients (#1 above). But the reality is there are ways to improve the search rankings for your site. At times, these strategies can be at odds with what your real human users are demanding, and if that is the case you need to determine which is more important.
You can do many things to optimize your site for search engines and it will have no negative impact on your ideal prospects. The way a web site is built can make this easier for you, so it’s important to make plans for this as the design and development are in progress.
3. Yourself (if you are doing the web site updates)
Yes, a web site should get real people to your site, via search engines. Then, whether they got there by search or by directly typing in your URL, they should find an easy-to-navigate, visually appealing web site with a message that connects to them.
But the overlooked backdrop to all this is the administrative interface that supports the site. We’re talking about your Content Management System (CMS) and the person or team who uses it.
Whether you need to add and update text, upload photos or link to documents and videos, if you don’t feel comfortable doing it, it probably won’t get done.
We prefer to use WordPress for nearly all of the web sites we design. But there are alternatives. Even within the scope of WordPress there are different ways to configure templates, plugins, galleries, etc. If these are not optimized for the person who needs to use them, the web site should not be considered a success. As we make decisions about how to build out the functionality of a site we take into consideration the aptitude and interest of our clients.
Additionally, if the person is not properly trained on how to use the CMS tool it really doesn’t become an effective tool. For our web sites, we always provide a customized user guide and phone based training.
Make all three a priority
There are still far too many web sites that focus on the business and not the audience. There are far too many web sites that with minor adjustments could get much more search traffic. And there are far too many web sites with owners who had great intentions, but never get updated because they don’t know how to use their own CMS.