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01/01/2018 | Consultancy & Strategy | 10 minutes
Giving your customers what they want may seem obvious, but many businesses fail to get this right online. Taking a user-centric approach to developing or reworking your website can pay dividends and there are some simple techniques that can help you to get it right.
By learning more about your customers and creating personas and user stories, you can make your website better suited to the needs of your customers. This can result in significant benefits to your business, both directly and indirectly.
When creating your website the temptation is to represent your business. It's easy to structure the site in the same way your company is structured and to plan user journeys based on 'real life' transactions in order to deliver your goals.
The problem is, your users may not know about your business or care how it's structured. They just want it to be as easy as possible to find the information they need and complete their tasks.
User-centric web design focuses on the needs of users first. This might result in a website that's structured very differently from your business, but makes it simple for customers to find what they need. To achieve this, you need to know who your customers are and have an understanding of their wants, needs and preferences.
Making your site work well for your users can give you a competitive edge. Improving the online experience can encourage your customers to:
Get it right and this can mean more sales, more enquiries and happier customers.
The key to effective user-centric web design is understanding your users. You need to get a sense of who they are, their motivations and desires and what they want from your business.
User personas and user stories are a valuable way of defining your audiences and what they want. They make it easy to create a shared understanding of who your customers are, both within your business and with any external suppliers. It possible to go into a lot of detail about each customer group, but even businesses with the smallest budgets and least time can create outline personas and user stories that have value.
Check out our post on How guerrilla user research can improve your website for some quick and dirty user research ideas.
User personas are fictional representations of your key customer types. A persona is a single page that captures the personality, likes and dislikes and needs of a specific group of customers. By creating an imaginary person with a name and personality to represent this group, it becomes easier to consider their requirements as you plan your site.
To create user personas, think about the different types of customers that are most important to your business. Identify the traits that are common to each group and build a persona around them. You can then refer back to these to test your design, UX and content.
User stories are a way of defining requirements based on the needs of your audiences. Each story follows the same structure, describing the type of user, what they want and why they want it.
User stories always follow a common structure:
User stories are really useful in defining what you need to include on your site because they focus on what the user is trying to achieve rather than on specific functionality.
To create users stories think about the goals that each of your personas has and the steps that they need to go through to achieve these goals. As you're developing the site you can test that each of the user stories is being delivered and therefore the needs of your users are being met.
By taking a user-centric approach you're giving your customers what they need. This keeps them happy and builds trust in your brand, making them more likely to buy or enquire. As a result your website will be more profitable.
There are three key benefits to taking a user-centric approach:
Together these benefits help your users, support your SEO and deliver results for your business.
Giving your customers a good user experience (UX) keeps them happy. This will reflect positively on your brand, helping to improve your standing and build trust with your customers. Get it right and do better than your competitors and you are likely to win repeat customers who will advocate for your business.
Considering your users throughout the process of developing your site will ensure that the content is relevant and appropriate for their needs. This will result in your users being more engaged, spending more time on your site and absorbing more of the information.
The direct benefits of this are better educated customers who can better appreciate the benefits and USPs of your products or services, but there are also indirect benefits. Increased relevance and better engagement will also boost your search engine rankings. Search engine algorithms are constantly updated in order to make them behave more like humans. This helps them to find users the best results. By putting your customers first you're doing exactly what search engines want – providing people with the best, most relevant information.
By providing your customers with a site that meets their needs you make it more likely that they will convert. Whether that's an increase in newsletter sign ups, enquiries or sales, this can have direct benefits to your business.
By focusing on the needs of your customers, you can develop a site that drives better engagement and delivers increased conversions. This can have a direct, positive impact on your bottom line, but also benefit your business indirectly. Happy customers are much more likely to recommend your business, building your customer base through word of mouth. It's also likely to boost your SEO, increasing the visibility of your site and growing your customer base.
For advice on taking a user-centric approach to your new website, or reworking your existing site to better meet the needs of your customers, contact Urban Element.