Stating the obvious.
Who? What? Why? There are over a billion websites and that figure is rising every day. Many of them are inactive, but that still means that your new website will be competing with over a hundred million others for people’s attention.
You have very little time to grab the attention of a prospective customer. Your website needs to tell them who you are and what you do, then give them a reason to explore further – all in about ten seconds.
So it’s clear you have to do everything you can to make this happen. If your branding doesn’t feel strong enough at this stage it’s a good excuse to refresh that at the same time. Take both design and usability equally into account at the planning stage and make sure that both are compatible. But before you even start to think colours and fonts, take the following into account.
The key thing to keep in mind throughout the process of a new website or app development is the end user. This is who you’re doing it for, and every step in the process should take into account the customer story.
If you’re doing a rebuild, check out your old website analytics and look carefully at the user journey. How do people behave on the site? How they travel through and at what stages do they leave the website.
If you’re starting from scratch; research, research, research. Check out the competition and see what works and what doesn’t on their sites. And don’t just research the direct competition, think about the websites you visit most often, what you like about them and what niggles you every time you visit.
Now this may be a case of comparing apples and oranges, and it’s unlikely you’re going to have the budget to replicate Amazon’s product search system, but the principles of good design are what you’re looking out for. You can then work with your software developers and designers to make sure that these become your priorities as early on in the development process as possible.
Who are your audience? Existing businesses may know very well who their customers are. But that’s not necessarily who you are targeting through your new app or website.
Are you looking to create an alternative destination for physical store visitors – in which case there needs to be a good reason why they would want to choose either option. Don’t dilute your audience, ensure that all destinations offer appropriate and complementary solutions, greater diversity of ranges online, for example, and locally targeted experiences in the physical store.
If you’re looking to attract new audiences (and you really should be), think carefully about ideally who they ideally are. How are they finding you? On what devices? Are they likely to be on the move, in a hurry or browsing at leisure?
Most importantly, what do you want from them? It needs to be obvious. To them. Remember, you’ve got ten seconds to convince them to stay.
Think about alternative routes through the site for different visitors, if you’re appealing to a wide variety of people and offering more than one type of conversion. Don’t make navigation too complex, always channel people through the website in the smoothest way possible to achieve your desired end goals.
So your new website or app is going to designed and developed to attract masses of new visitors. And you’ve thought about the customer journey very carefully and worked with your software developer on the best ways to encourage conversions.
What now? Time to think about how to bring them back again. Search results or no search results, unless you’ve got an extremely niche product, unhappy customers will look elsewhere if they’re not happy. Even if you are the cheapest (and you probably won’t always be).
Even more importantly, unhappy customers forced to buy from you are many more times likely to complain, leave grumbling reviews and tell other people about your failings.
So it’s key to ensure a smooth and painless journey through the website. And give them a good reason to come back, like regularly updated content, targeted promotions, useful newsletters and an enjoyable browsing experience.
It’s a lot more expensive to attract new customers than to retain existing ones. Treat them well, protect their personal data, adhere to data protection regulations (if you’re in Europe take special notice of GDPR) and let them know they can trust you.