The problem with websites…
How many websites do you search that are easy and intuitive? If you are like most of us, not many. I can probably name 5 that I like to use… Not because they are the most incredible, easy-to-use sites I have ever been on, but I have a need for these sites and I use them often, so, they are easy for me. I have adapted to their site in order to get what I want.
But that is not the case for most websites — and it is certainly not the case for most users. There is a great book out called Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug. If you have not read it, get it! (You’re welcome, Steve). It is spot on. The bottom line is your customers want an “easy user experience.” They don’t want to think. If they have to think, you will undoubtedly lose them.
How many firms, when designing their sites and developing content, really think it through from the user perspective? Most firms know their companies inside and out so they feel if they divulge all this information, everyone will get it. Not so. Your mindset needs to change if you really want to engage your audiences. It doesn’t matter if you want to generate awareness or increase business. If you truly want to engage your audiences you absolutely have to have an easy User Interface (UI) and the User Experience (UX) will be positive.
The solution? Simplicity.
So where do you start? Easy, easy, easy. Know your customer. I know you have heard this before. I know you probably don’t want to hear it again. But trust in this process. It will save you a ton of money and grief later on by asking questions and getting input before your site is developed, redesigned or revamped. Don’t shortcut this aspect. User testing before you delve into development and post-testing of new concepts is critical to success.
Remember, you are not your audience. Yes, it’s your company, your products, your services and your budget. But you are not the user. I am now going to do what I really don’t want to… I am going to repeat myself. You are not the user.
Not sure if your website is user friendly? Test it.
We recently tested a software site for a customer that thought they should unify their suite of products. They were right, they needed to do this. But, they weren’t exactly ready or willing to listen. So we asked them if we could talk with their customers. They felt they knew their customers well but… Okay, let’s see where this goes. Before we met with their customers we interviewed our clients. They insisted their existing web pages needed everything that was currently on the page. “Customers use this, they need this, they need to understand our entire suite of products, they can get anywhere easily and they know we have everything…” They could not have been more wrong.
Our client sat in on the sessions so they could hear the customer input first hand. We were thrilled. We started with the home page. The customer(s) did not know what most of the listings on the home page meant. Not only that, they did not care. Then we moved into the products they were using. There was a ton of copy on the page and several columns, colors, clickable areas and more. Again, our client insisted the customer understood and used everything on the page.
The real answer was their customer had no clue what the left hand column contained much less how they should use it. They also did not understand what the entire right column was for or for whom. They only used a few items in the middle of the page. Then we navigated… right into oblivion. We were there to explain it to them and they still did not get it. Nor did they want to understand it. They just wanted to do their job, using this buy proxy software as quickly and as easily as possible.
With this information we eventually used the customer input to simplify the site, unify the products and create one user interface to enhance their customer experience. We also developed a UI/UX guide so going forward the client would have standards for their programmers that would maintain the consistency we developed. It was not a quick process. From start to finish, it took a year, but now they have basics to move forward with that will create continuity for their brand on-line–and enhance their customer’s user experience.
From website development to optimization, Paragraphs can help you with any aspect of your digital marketing. Call us today at 312.828.0200 to find out how we can help.