If you come away from a website consult beaming with ideas for design, thinking about coding and functionality but with no real plan? You’re not alone, but unfortunately for you, that is no way to begin developing a website.
In order to truly succeed in building the ideal website, first you must ensure that the website serves one paramount purpose: to fulfill the needs of the visitors! In order to accomplish this, you need to ensure you truly understand the visitor, what they want and how you can place that desire in the palm of their hand.
Behind every website is a designer, a developer, a client and a group of people that need to be satisfied by the website. But ultimately, none of these are as important as the user. That’s the key. Here is more guidance to optimize the user experience as you plan your website development.
PLAN FIRST, DEVELOP LATER:
You need to put some solid time into investigating the users that you’re targeting with this website. Whether they are females ages 18-25 or men over 75, you will need to ensure that you are getting some data behind your hypothesis and ensuring that your build suits your market. Otherwise, it’s worthless. Whether you have to do a survey, ask some people you know or hold a full-blown market research group-get some information and make a plan.
The website you develop should completely embody the business, and contain everything that a potential client needs to buy right then and there, with the less steps in between, the better. Ensure that you know how to speak to the target audience in a way that they understand and ensure that your site will resonate with them. This is very often the first chance a business gets to impress a customer. Make it count.
SET UP TARGETS:
Ensure you have targets that you want to achieve with this site. Whether it is more traffic, more leads or more sales, you need a SMART target or a set of targets. SMART targets are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. An example of this would be: “I want to get 15% more traffic than the same time last year to the landing page by the end of the month” or “I want 5 more leads this month than last month”.
These goals are achievable, measurable, relevant to the business, specific and time-bound. If you don’t have goals throughout the process, you’re building it with no idea of what success is to you. So how will you know when you have missed the mark? It’ll be too late.
This point links in closely with the first point. If you don’t understand your users and your target market, it makes it incredibly hard to build a website for them to use. So aside from doing some research, you can create a few customer profiles and have these in mind when creating any content, whether it be the website or future marketing for the brand. In most businesses, it will be simple for the company to give you information on who their ideal customer is, but in this case you want not only that, but the other variations of who they have coming through as well. Who buys from them and why? And how can we ensure that we build this site with that in mind?
THE JOURNEY OF A BUYER:
Once you know the customer profiles, ensure that you’re speaking to these profiles at every single stage of the buying process. Insure that your Calls To Action have relevance to every stage as listed here:
STAGE 1: AWARENESS
Describe the issue that you can solve for them. This is the very first step and this stage is the most delicate. They may not entirely understand the vocab, the industry or what you can offer them yet. Be gentle and come across as simply as possible.
STAGE 2: CONSIDERATION
This is the point where you can be forward, give the customer every type of information they may need. They know enough to be considering your business as their solution. Don’t hold back now! Give them valuable information and be remembered.
STAGE 3: DECISION
They’re primed and ready to spend money; they’re just trying to find the right business to spend their money on! You need to secure your position as a market leader and be the solution to their issue.
Now that you’re aware of the three stages, be sure to include Calls To Action that appeal to every stage on the website.
Next, you need to create an overall content strategy. There are a few key things to remember when doing this:
Keep it simple. Don’t create content to impress people, do it to solve their problem! Keep in mind that every single piece of content that you create should be part of a bigger, more important conversation.
Don’t spend too much time talking about yourself. It’s like writing a cover letter. It shouldn’t be all about you. It should be about how connecting the user to your business will help them, not how they will help you.
PUTTING THE PLAN INTO PRACTICE:
You can start your website now that you have done all of this ground work!
Because you have put all of this work into your site pre-build, it’s going to make creating a sitemap a breeze. This framework will make it exponentially simpler for you to formulate the perfect site for your client, enabling you to carefully consider the logic of your target audience.
The plan will also help your with wire-framing (deciding on the content for each page). Your process when creating the wire-framing should be to carefully consider how each user profile (like we developed earlier) would interact with each page, how they got there, and what their expectations would be based on their stage of the buying process as we discussed earlier.
Now you’re in for some excitement. The design process! Of course, the planning will help you with the design process just like it did with the development. You need to ensure that the branding suits the users expectations, the website can establish trust, your brand is familiar and fits within the market rather than suiting your personal tastes.
While it may be tempting to go with the designs and aesthetics that you would employ if this was a personal website for yourself, don’t ignore the research and planning you’ve undertaken. Ensure that every design decision is ultimately based on optimizing conversions for the business.
Well done. By going through this process, you are way ahead of your competition. This basic planning and framework will lay solid foundations for the website build and all of your future websites!