5 ways to ensure your website meets customer expectations
Before you start designing a website you need to know who your target audience is, and how you can help them. So, how can you ensure your site is user-friendly and meets, or exceeds your customer expectations?
The most important factor when designing a website is to know your target audience, and what it is they want. Your site needs to tick all the boxes, so that a potential customer can make an informed decision about buying your products or services. One of the first steps in this process is to make sure your website is user-focussed, and does not frustrate them so much that they go to elsewhere!
A bit like me today, trying to find the answer to a graph-design question that’s stopping me finish a client project. Grrrr..!
Before you do anything website or social media related you need to understand who your target audience is. Otherwise you could be wasting a lot of time, effort and money marketing in areas where you will see little or no return for your investment.
You need to know who is your typical customer, how old they are, where do they spend most of their online time? And what makes them tick? What problems might they have that would make them visit your website? Once you understand what they want, it will be much easier to plan your site’s content and design.
Keep it tidy
Whether you’re designing a new website, or looking to update an existing one, spend time fine-tuning your content. What pages should you include, and what can you say that will help to sell your products or services? Keep your content concise and your website uncluttered.
Don’t put in too many distractions that will confuse, or make people forget the reasons they came to your website. If your goal is to sell a product think about why they might want to buy it? How will it help to improve their home, business or family lives? Cut out or rewrite any content that might navigate your potential customer away from your site. I have reviewed so many business websites that include links to others. There’s nothing wrong with linking if it’s going to provide relevant information, that helps your customer solve a problem. But just bear in mind that once they navigate away from your website, you risk losing them completely. And you could miss out on that all important sale.
Make it accessible
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 1 billion people live with a disability. That can include people who have problems with vision, hearing or physical disabilities. One of the top issues that could impact your site visitors is visual impairment. Colour-blindness is a particularly common problem, so try and avoid certain colours like red and green, if possible. Make sure the font size is legible, and that hyperlinks and Call to Action buttons (CTAs) are not too close together.
Further help can be provided to assist the visually-impaired by making sure you add descriptive ‘alt-text’ to your images. This text is used by screen-reader tools and can help people who are blind to understand more of the information on a page.
There are a number of easy tests you can perform yourself to check if your website is accessible or not. But, if like me you are a single entrepreneur, and your family time is a precious commodity, then I’m more than happy to execute the tests for you, and provide a complete website accessibility report. Just drop me an email or give me a call to arrange a chat.
With more and more people using handheld devices to browse and buy online, your website must be mobile-friendly. Responsive website design means that whatever size of screen people are using to view your site, the images and text are automatically resized. This makes it much easier to load, read and navigate. If your site isn’t a responsive design, then your visitors will quickly lose interest and bounce merrily away to your competitor’s website.
Most self-build website tools have responsive design already included, with options for you to view your site on desktop, mobile or notepad before you publish. If you have that option on your content management system, WordPress, Wix, etc., then I recommend that you use it. Check your content and media display correctly, heading don’t fall off the screen and CTAs are in the right place. If you’re not sure if your business site is mobile-friendly there are a number of free tools you can use to check it. Alternatively, I offer a free website review which includes testing that your site renders correctly on mobile devices.
Give instant feedback
This might seem like an unusual item to add, but to me it’s as important as all the others I have mentioned.
If you have ever completed an online form, and not received on page confirmation that the action has been successful, you have two options. Fill everything in again and hope it confirms the second time round. Or don’t bother. There’s also a third option which is just picking up the phone, but it’s less likely to happen, unless someone desperately wants to buy something you offer.
It’s important that your site visitors see an instant response when they fill in a form or click on a link, to know it works. So test your site frequently. Because there is nothing more frustrating than a website that doesn’t work properly.
A happy customer is a returning customer.
You must meet user expectations, and if possible, go above and beyond what people are expecting. Test all of the elements of your site thoroughly to make sure everything works as it should do. Don’t brush little niggly problems under the carpet, thinking people won’t care, because they will. Poor grammar, spelling errors and things that don’t work as they should do, can make your website look unprofessional. And it might give them the same impression about you.
For your free, no-obligation, website review, just phone, or send me an email. Find out how I can help boost your online business !
Owning and creating your own business website may sound daunting and expensive. But the beauty of it is that you have control of your own destiny. You own it – lock, stock and barrel. If anything goes wrong then it’s generally user error fault, but it is recoverable. The recent Facebook server outage will have given all small business owners a wake-up call. The crash was global and impacted Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. The main advertising and sales outlets for many businesses. Fortunately it was fairly short-lived, but what if it had been longer term, a few days or even a week? How would your business have coped?
We are bombarded everyday by notifications from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc that I wonder how small businesses ever survived before the internet. But they did, and that’s because they made the most of their physical location, sold goods that their customers wanted and thrived on providing good customer service. They were also local and most shops were within easy walking distance for busy Mums and Dads. Nowadays the local shop owner has to compete with global mega-corporates who have automated manufacturing processes that churn out throwaway goods. And they have multimillion dollar advertising budgets. How can we compete?
Social Media business accounts are quick to set up; they’re fairly easy to manage, and free to run (at the minute). But what happens when they change their policies or accidentally delete your account? It does happen, and when it does you could lose your whole business profile, contacts, showroom, pricing, customers. All gone without even saying goodbye.
Personally, I think we can still give our customers what they want without relying solely on social media. But to do that we need to create a great customer experience, have control over our virtual shopfront and be open 24/7 (not literally). I’m talking about having our own website. Ultimately, social media should only be used for the free advertising, building good customer relationships, and driving people to the website.
Choosing a website designer
Once you have made the decision to have your own business website, for it to be a success I recommend using a professional web designer. It doesn’t have to be a big company and it doesn’t necessarily have to be someone local either. However, it can be more beneficial to have someone based in the same country. Because a) if you have any problems they’re in the same time zone and b) they should be familiar with the website legalities for your country.
What else do you need to know? Knowing how much they charge would be a good start, but there a few other questions you should be asking too.
What’s included in the price?
Does it include registering a domain? Will the domain (mybusiness.com) be registered to you? Does is include hosting? 24/7 support? Does it include Search Engine Optimisation? Does it include making changes if you don’t like the first draft? If any of these service aren’t included ask how much extra they cost, and get everything in writing.
How long have they been in business?
You want someone that’s been around a while, experienced and isn’t going to disappear in a couple of weeks. Ask for recommendations and also ask to see their portfolio. Do they have designs that appeal to you? Do the websites look professional? Can you view the websites fully on different devices – laptop, mobiles, tablets? Ask them about Responsive Website Design. If they don’t know what you are talking about, then don’t even think about using them.
What do they need from you?
Obviously if you are paying for a service you want to have some input. You’re the business owner, you know your business and should have an idea of the kind of image you want to present. You need to get this across to your website designer and make sure they understand it fully. Show them some websites that you like the look of and ask them whether they will be writing the content or whether you need to provide it. Have you got a logo? What about your colour scheme?
Most of the web designers that I have spoken to about Cookie and Privacy policies have informed me that it is the client that should tell them if and how they want the cookie banner to be displayed. The onus is on the website owner to make sure the website is legally compliant, not the web designer. So please, bear this in mind and check out the legalities for French business sites
How long is it going to take?
Before you part with any money find out how long it will take them? There’s no point placing an order for a website if it isn’t going to be ready when you need to start advertising your products and services. They need to fit your timetable, not the other way around.
How I can help
I have worked closely with several web designers over the years and I now focus on website usability testing. This is reviewing business websites from the customer or user perspective. If you need any web designer recommendations from me then just ask. I’m always happy to help and can give you some hints and tips on what to look for in a designer’s portfolio. I also offer a free business website review. So if you already have a website but want to know if there are any issues, drop me a line. That’s what I’m here for – supporting small business owners like you and me.
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