Gina Smith writes freelance articles for magazines, online outlets and publications on behalf of a number of companies, including Spanning.com. Smith covers the latest topics in the business, golf, tourism, technology and entertainment industries. In today’s guest post, she’ll share tips on ensuring your website will be a crowd pleaser.
So, you think you have developed an incredibly awesome website and cannot wait to take it “live.” Before you call it complete, it is a good idea to take time to objectively analyze it from the end-user perspective. In fact, keeping a few thoughts in mind throughout the development process can help ensure customers will be awed by your online masterpiece.
Develop your website for the customer – not you
Know who the ultimate end-users are and target your website to suit their needs. Too often, businesses and developers create websites which have a plethora of information and a number of neat plug-ins, tools, and features, but little content or function which appeals to the target end-user. An example I’ve seen quite often is with some Information Technology (IT) service providers who sell their outsourced IT services to businesses. They tend to fill their websites with IT jargon and lingo targeted toward “techies,” when often their target market is actually non-techies seeking basic information on what IT services they provide. In this case, the end-user gets “lost” in the information and moves on to another website. So, knowing your target market is key to developing an effective website.
Gather a focus group of current customers
Don’t be afraid to ask your current customers their opinions. Find out what features they would like to see on your website. Tune in to what is important to them. Once you create a shell, ask them to test function and ease of navigation. Tweak your final design based on feedback from your focus group.
Look at it objectively from the end-user perspective
Take a step back and place yourself in your customer’s shoes. Explore your proposed website as if you were a customer. What about the website appeals to you? What do you not like? Can you find information easily? Is the content useful? Is it simple to navigate? Fine-tune your website based on what is important to your end users.
Test all software and apps before going “live”
Be sure your website functions properly before going live. Don’t forget to test your plug-ins, third party apps, and response forms. Observe the navigation, download times and speed using different browsers to ensure functionality across different platforms. There is nothing more frustrating to an end-user than a website which is not working properly!
Innovative ideas are exciting, just make sure they will appeal to your end-user. Remember, the ultimate goal of your website is to impress your customers!