Identify, Understand and Engage your target audience
Have you ever considered whether your current website actually does anything positive for your business and whether it satisfies the needs of your customers? Does it provide your customers a place to obtain information, download specs etc, supply information on the services you supply or sell your products online? Have you ever asked your customers what they would like to see on your website, have you considered surveying them to find out what they think? Most companies don't ask their customers as they assume they have provided everything that they need on the website.
Well if you actually perform a 'first time user' test on your website you may be surprised at the outcome, many companies do not look from the outside in when planning and building a web solution, they know what they want and they ask the web company to build it for them, but will it work effectively once it goes live?
If you want to offer your customers the best experience while they are on your website then ensure it matches their expectations, how do you do that? Well a 'First time user' test is a very good way to test the site to ensure it works from a variety of aspects, firstly you should ask someone who does not work for you to look at the site from a new users aspect and answer a few initial questions:
- Does the website offer a clear/compelling message about the business, who they are and what they offer?
- Is it easy to find the products and services?
- Can you access most required information within 2 clicks?
- Do the images and overall brand positoin the business into the intended marketplace?
- Do the conversion goals make sense on the site?
- Can they make a purchase or submit an enquiry easily and is the workflow simple to follow?
When conducting a usability test it is very important to have a list of tasks that you need the user to perform and then to let them perform the tasks without any assistance, tasks may be 'recovering a lost password' or 'purchase 3 products and complete the checkout process'. It is amazing how many websites are actually broken in key areas. User testing should not only always be a task performed prior to go live but an ongoing task performed by a variety of different users at regular intervals.
Bear in mind that if a website is built with ROI (Return on Investment) in mind from the outset it should be built to satisfy your customers needs, for example if your company spends 6 hours per week speaking to potential customers about very basic topics and sending them product brochures it will be costing you quite a lot of money each week. Lets say $30 per hour x 6 =$180 per week, that is over $9,000 a year that may be able to be saved by offering your potential customers more information on your website and allowing them to access product brochures and other material to download themselves, not to mention the additional cost for a company to print and post info to potential customers!
So next time you are in the market for a new website for your business consider your desired offering from a new angle - your customers!...