Many times during the web design process the focus gets lost. Sometimes we try very hard to create an impressive visual appearance. Other times too much priority is given to designing for search engines. While an attractive design and search engine optimization are both important, ultimately the design should be created for the user.
Nine times out of ten the goal of a website is to create some type of value or income for it’s owner(s). This won’t happen unless the site is useful to its visitors and meets their expectations. By creating a site that is valuable and useful for visitors you will be well on your way to creating value and income for yourself.
Things to Consider:
1. Is the purpose of the site clear to its visitors? If visitors are confused about the purpose of the site it is unlikely to be successful. It may be difficult for you to objectively look at the site, but try to imagine that you are a first-time visitor. Does the design get in the way of clearly communicating the purpose of the website? Is it easy to see what is available on the site and know how to find it? If you are having a hard time answering these questions, considering asking some friends or colleagues for help.
2. How easy or difficult is it for readers to find information? You may spend a great deal of time creating very useful content that your visitors will love, but if they have a hard time finding it no one will benefit. Navigation is one of the most important aspects of designing for your visitors. Hopefully you can anticipate the pages on your site that visitors are most likely to want and make them very easy to find. Don’t count on visitors spending a lot of time and effort trying to find your content.
3. What value does the site bring to its visitors? Why is it worth their time? It’s important to understand that if visitors don’t see a reason to come to your website, they won’t be back. An attractive design will help to create a positive first impression, but after that your content will determine the real value of your website. Be sure to design your site so that visitors can’t miss the importance and value of the site.
4. What will keep them coming back? If you want to have consistent repeat visitors you will need to have a plan to create a website that will make them want to keep coming back. In most cases this means that you’ll have to update and add new content. Blogs are very popular for this reason. Other options include games, polls and surveys, video, etc.
5. How is the website different from competitors? You will need to communicate to your visitors what your site provides for them that your competitors do not. If your website doesn’t stand out from the competition, you will need to consider how you can make it more valuable to visitors by differentiating.
6. How will serving the customer/visitor help me to achieve my goals? As I mentioned at the start of the article, most websites are intended to create value or income for owners. Creating a website that is useful for its visitors is crucial, but at the end of the day you need to find a way to convert that into value for yourself. Will you be selling products, selling ad space, using pay-per-click ads?
7. What else could make the site more useful? In order to stay on top of the competition and best serve your visitors, you will should always be looking for ways to improve the site. Don’t be afraid to ask your visitors what changes they would like to see. This will show them that you’re concerned about meeting their needs.
8. Is your site something that visitors will want to share with their friends? One of the most powerful forms of advertising is word-of-mouth. If you create a website that will cause visitors to share with others, you can benefit from very valuable, free advertising.