There’s nothing quite as exciting to a techie as a smooth-running, functional, all-around squeaky-clean website. However, building the perfect backend to a site is really just the first step towards the finish line — especially if the site is geared towards a specific audience of readers or customers.
Here are a few tips and suggestions to keep in mind as you go about crafting the front end of your site. Whether you’re assembling a complex e-commerce storefront, an information-heavy company blog, or a run-of-the-mill homepage, these strategies will help you stay true to your organizational mission while simultaneously ensuring that your site is optimized specifically for the consumers that will be using it.
Remember the Art of It All
There’s no such thing as a perfect website, nor is there a single formula that equates to success. Trying to marry design, content, and user experience is no easy feat. With that said, one of the most important things to remember when building the consumer side of your website is the simple fact that you’re shifting into the role of an artist more than anything else.
With fluid, nuanced elements at play, it’s crucial that you step back and approach your site design with flexibility. This allows you to adapt to ever-evolving customer expectations as you work toward established organizational goals, both of which are critical to a properly functioning site (more on that below).
Sync Up Goals and Customer Expectations
The principle focus when designing your site really should revolve around marrying two essential elements of success: goals and customer expectations. While typically not at odds with one another, your company’s aspirations won’t necessarily fall in line with what your customers are looking for — at least not without a little help.
One of the first things you should do when you sit down to strategize how your website will look and function is to consider how you can sync up your organizational goals with the expectations and needs of your customers. This knowledge will help you craft a user experience (UX) that can truly draw a customer in and provide a solution for their problem while simultaneously increasing your bottom line.
Though you’re likely already aware of your business goals, you may not have a similar familiarity with your customer’s expectations. Fortunately, there are many ways that this can be gauged. For instance, you can collect information through surveys, gathering feedback, interacting with potential customers on social media, and tracking customer behavior through analytics.
As you build up knowledge, you can begin to utilize things like A/B testing and confidence intervals as tools to narrow your focus on your customers’ needs and expectations. As you identify pain points, you can use the information to identify the path to demonstrating how your products or services can solve your customer’s needs.
Always Put Yourself in Your Audience’s Shoes
The last thing to remember before you begin actively working on the user-oriented side of your site is to proactively and consciously put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Consider creating “buyer personas” — that is, fictitious characters who represent the ideal real-life customer. These can help you maintain a perspective that is pinpoint focused on what your audience is looking for.
As you lay out pages and create content, this can help you genuinely communicate with a reader. You can connect with them, relate to their struggles, and then shepherd them through a simple journey that demonstrates why you are a solution to their problem.
Consider All Angles
Once you’ve shifted into an artistic, customer-centric mindset and strategized how you will connect your audience’s needs and expectations with your company goals, it’s time to actively integrate that knowledge into your website. As you do so, it’s important to remember all of the angles that can affect your customer’s overall user experience, including:
- Aesthetics: Remember to integrate eye appeal that resonates with your audience (consider studying competitors to see what colors and designs work best) and remember to maintain a customer-friendly tone in your writing.
- Functionality: You want your site to run smoothly and provide a fluid customer experience. This includes site navigation, being mobile-friendly (over 48% of web page views are from a mobile device), maintaining fast loading speeds (a single second delay could cost you thousands even millions of dollars per year), and properly organizing your site to avoid a cluttered appearance.
- Customer journey: Always remember that the goal is to create a simple user journey that subtly yet confidently guides the reader towards your solution. This often begins by adopting a content marketing strategy that uses online material to stimulate interest through quality content rather than explicit promotions. As your customer is drawn into your ability to relate to their problems, you can shift your tone towards highlighting solutions that naturally revolve around your products and services.
If you can keep aesthetics, functionality, and the overall customer journey in mind as you build your website, you will be able to communicate with your audience on their level.
Prioritizing UX When Building a Website
While building a website can be a tech-heavy task, it also involves a lot of artistic nuances — especially when it comes to connecting with your audience.
That’s why it’s essential that you make a conscious effort to maintain an artistic, customer-centric mindset that focuses on aesthetics, functionality, and the customer journey. If you can do this, you will be able to design a website that uniquely and effectively communicates with consumers, no matter what the topic, industry, or niche that you’re operating within.