Knowing your audience is key to designing your website
The key to the success of any business is knowing who your customers are and how to position your products or services so that they are of interest to them. Fans of The Apprentice will recall the product development episode where each team conducts a series of focus groups to find out what their potential clients are looking for.
Focus groups, like user testing, help you to identify new ways to package your product or service so that it's of interest to your clients. They're also a great way of testing your product, marketing messages and USPs within a safe group of people representative of your client groups.
When designing your website knowing who you clients and what the USPs are that will help them make informed purchasing decisions is going to be crucial to the success of your website. Most businesses find that in identifying their clients they can group them together by interest, location, type, demographic, purchases, age or gender and then target their marketing messages towards these different groups, increasing their conversion ratios.
When we're working with a client on their website or ecommerce store design our first questions are always around their clients and what they are looking for. We'll often help identify different personas, or types of client, that we can build user stories around as this helps us to design a website that meets their needs. It also helps us better understand crucial areas of a site which can have multiple marketing messages and how best to present them so as to maximise the return.
Understanding their clients helps us to design the best user journey through the website and ensuring that we're making it as easy as possible for them to make an enquiry or purchase.
Be the best at one thing, rather than average at a lot of things
It's easy to get caught into the trap of trying to offer something for everyone. In doing so the reality of this strategy is that at best you'll only be average at everything and offer your clients very little in terms of quality. A better strategy is to use your client research to identify what you're really, really great at and how best to present this to your clients.
In summary, it's easy to forget that running an online business takes as much effort in the design, planning and implementation that an offline business does, and that the more market research you can do into your clients and what makes them tick the more successful your website is likely to be.