15 November 2011

How to Make the Most of Your Website | Part 1

This is part 1 of 3 of our series “How to Make the Most of Your Website”. In this post we’ll discuss the importance of understanding your website’s target-audience and what you can do to optimize your website with that information!

Part 1 – Understand Your Audience

The first thing you need to do with any website is know your website’s audience. Having a website is a lot like writing a book or an article for the newspaper; you need to know who’s going to read your book and why their reading it. Imagine for an instance of the people who wrote children’s books didn’t consider their audience. Instead of 10 page books with pretty pictures we’d have 100 page books with little to no pictures and lots of big words. I could be mistaken but I don’t think most of our children would find these books very interesting to start.

The first step in understanding your audience is to try and figure out exactly who they are. If you have marketing or customer demographics in your business plan you can refer to those. Otherwise just look at your customers and pay attention look for any things your customers might have in common. Are they all from one or more geographic locations? Are they mostly men, women, middle-aged, younger, or older? Do they have common interests – such as most your customers enjoy baseball or most of them have families? Understanding who your customers are allows you to understand how you can relate to them and create a positive experience for them through your website. This is the first thing you need to do to create a foundation for customer satisfaction in your business.

Once you understand who they are you need to understand what they want. Ask yourself: What are the needs & expectations of my customers? What do they want or hope to get from using my website, purchasing products or services, or contacting my business? What is their motivation for doing any these things? Understanding what your customers want from you is half the battle. If you can figure out what your customers want from you (or from their experience using your website) then you can adjust your website accordingly. Something as simple as rewording a paragraph of text, or adding a FAQ’s section on your site to address your customer’s needs & wants can make a huge difference in the efficiency of your website.

The next thing you need to look at is realistically what are they getting from you right now? You know who your clients are now and you know what they hope to obtain but if you don’t know what their getting from you right now then you won’t be able to figure out how to change that to get better results. Visit your website and try to see things through the eyes of one of your customers. If you were looking to buy your products / services, would you do it through your current website? Are you giving users a positive experience and helping them meet their goals? Where are the areas you can improve and help give your users a better experience by fulfilling their goals faster? Once you understand the experience your customers are getting through your site right now it should become obvious what areas you can improve on.

Lastly now that you have all of the information you need it’s time to apply it. Look over all of the information you just gathered about your customers & their current experience then look at your current website. Maybe the design can be changed around to give your customers a more pleasant experience. Maybe you need to adjust your content, add some new pictures, or just move some things around. Whatever ideas you come up with write them down and work on putting a plan together to put them into action.

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