Would you want your customers coming into a confusing, chaotic jumble sale, where they get lost and can’t find what they want?
For all online users, your homepage is your shop front where the customer’s journey begins, and therefore the same principles of customer service should apply.
All the blue-chips and corporate folk bang on about the “customer’s experience”. It’s drilled into employees throughout their training and beyond. Whether it’s genuine or just bravado, they see it as the hallmark of greatness.
The problem is, far too often this perfect image of the “customer experience”, which may well be present in most facets of their business, is not reflected in their web presence. It doesn’t matter if you’re Microsoft or Bob’s Corner Shop, a clunky, poorly designed website, which gives no thought to the user’s objectives and overall experience, will result in one thing and one thing only, high bounce rates.
1. Persona Development
What are personas and why are they important? Personas are a representation of a specific target user. Thinking about who your website is for is one of the biggest factors when designing a website. Gender, age, device, and above all, their goals and objectives, all need to be considered when putting together a site map and designing the user experience.
2. User Journeys
Once you have your personas, you then need to design their respective journeys i.e. how they find the information they need to achieve their objectives. Designing the user journey for each persona can be challenging, especially with large online projects and complex web solutions, but doing so will result in a far stronger, more effective product design. Put yourself in the shoes of each persona and picture their ideal path through the site to reach their end goals. Once you have documented each journey, you’ll be amazed at the number of parallels which will further help you with the design of the site map and navigation.
3. Content Prioritisation
Now you have your personas and their respective journeys, you can begin to prioritise your page content based on the relevance to your audience. What you will find is, this process pretty much designs the site map for you, as you will be able to see which pages need to be accessed most. This will in turn, dictate which pages go on the main menu i.e. the high priority page content, which can be sub-pages, which can be footer links and maybe even which pages can be lost altogether if they have no relevance to the user journeys of any of your personas.
It’s important to not only know your users, but demonstrate that you know them too, as this will build their trust and faith in you as a business.
It’s not about treating them like idiots, it’s about lending a hand and ensuring that their online customer experience is as pleasant and as seamless as possible. This approach to web design can be applied to any business, whether it a start-up, SME or enterprise.
If you feel that the issues raised apply to your website, get in touch with a UX designer who specialises in persona development and other initial deliverables that go towards making a strong and effective website.
May 18, 2015, Jonny Miller, Founder & Director