We find it takes as much or even more time and money for companies to create poor designs – and thus poor user experiences – as it would take to create good designs and good user experiences. We hate seeing all that money being left on the table. Here’s our take:
1. Know what you want
- What you trying to accomplish with your web site?
- How satisfied are you with the design and usability of your current site?
The first question you need to ask about any website is, “how can we use our site to achieve organizational objectives?” Some common answers:
- Increase sales
- Generate leads
- Reduce support costs
- Foster loyalty among customers
- Generate increased credibility
Because your website is likely among many in your industry another questions to ask is, “what opportunities are we missing because we have a poor or mediocre website compared to our competitors?” Answers to this question highlight the real cost with settling for a below average website… the opportunity cost.
2. Know your Audience
- Why are people coming to our site?
- What are they expecting to find?
- How can we make our site easier for them to use?
Organizations that “get it” start by asking these types of questions. They focus on looking at things from the visitors perspective, which is actually NOT an easy process.
3. Create a website strategy
To optimize a website investment, we believe every organization should create a website strategy. A website strategy spells out the game plan for your site much like a business plan does for your entire business. The absence of a site strategy is a critical omission. To put it another way, if you don’t know where you’re going any road will get you there. The most important elements include:
- Objectives (primary organizational objectives for the site)
- Audience Profile (characteristics of target audience for site)
- Audience Questions (most important list of questions for target audience)
- Competitive Assessment (list of 3-5 major online competitors for site)
- Traffic Sources (brief summary of how site will be marketed)
- Strategies (strategies that will be used to achieve your objectives)
- Metrics (detailed metrics that will be used to measure your success)
4. Measure the right metrics
How does your website contribute measurably to your organizations objectives? Like many important tasks, measuring web site success is an art and a science unique to each organization. The best advice we can give regarding the general principles for tracking success relate to the following:
- Conversion rate
- Most visited pages
- Time on site
Overall, the best metrics are usually a combination of business metrics (revenue,transactions,profit,gross margin), site metrics (the list above), and user metrics (user testing, satisfaction, focus group).
5. Test, learn and repeat
Websites are never done. Except for a few exceptions, web sites should be viewed as a long-term strategic initiative. Technology is always changing, your competitive environment is changing, and most importantly, user expectations evolve. The potential upside for most organizations using this sort of process is tremendous. Yes, it takes serious discipline to adopt this approach to web design and testing, but the benefits are substantial. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.
Having a partner like GLIDE to help you through this entire process is what we’re here for. We truly want to become your profit-focused web guys who just happen to design really great looking websites. I’ll look forward to your thoughts and please expect the site review by tomorrow morning.