Website Design Begins With Market Research
Website design is frequently treated as a project “on the side”. Yet, it is the face of your business just like a brick-and-mortar storefront. Why gamble with your website? It takes more than a roll of the dice to ensure your website works for you. Few business owners would select set up their store location without researching:
- if it is a good location to bring in the right foot traffic (locating a childcare facility between a nightclub and an industrial warehouse would probably not lure customers)
- if the signage will attract the target customers (using a small sign with lots of information on it would not be helpful to let people know that your business exists)
- if the interior décor is attractive and functional (using dark gothic colors and adult-height clothes racks would probably not invite customers looking for toddler dresses)
Why Invest in a Website without Website Design?
Since your website is the face of your business online, it should work hard to do all of the things that a brick-and-mortar store does. Invest time, and as required, money, to complete the following:
- Competitor Research
- Industry Trends
- Customer Polls
- Market Persona Development
- Keyword Research
- Website Design Audit
Thorough market research helps you understand your customer, their needs, their concerns, and their motivations. You can then use that information to keep prospective and existing customers engaged on your website. That translates to higher probability of selling more to more customers. Before you start a website project, complete your market research.
Take a look at competitor websites, not only to see what you should include in yours, but also to figure out ways to stand out. Plan to offer something your competitor is not. Are your customers avid outdoors people on the coast? Then include data feeds with weather and perhaps fishing or surfing reports or offer a community discussion forum for recreational topics. Be the go-to website for the community.
Consider both online and offline competitors. A good source of determining strengths and weaknesses of your competitors is to “listen” to social media and to take a look at sources of customer reviews such as Google+ listings, Yelp, or TripAdvisor.
While researching competitors for your website design, consider revamping other aspects of your marketing plan. .
Many industries have published reports about trends and forecasts. If not, reading trade publications will provide a wealth of information about customer behavior, current and projected. Staying in touch with your industry is important, not just for your website design, but also, for your overall business success.
Conduct a (probably informal) poll or survey using your current customer base to identify ideas and ways to do things better. Most will readily offer their opinion, not only to be helpful, but to get more from your business in the future. An informal poll is a cost-effective way to learn a lot about your existing business and to get ideas for what would be helpful in a new website.
Market Persona Development
The effective market persona development exercise is often overlooked when developing marketing plans and website designs. Identify each “market persona” by demographics, personality traits, and other characteristics. Using a spreadsheet makes it easier to analyze, but if you prefer, writing it out on a piece of paper can be just as effective.
The purpose of market persona development is to help you get in touch with each potential target customer type. Often, as you research several of them. As you research the demographic, economic, emotional, or even physical characteristics of your ideal customer, various ways you can serve them better will surface. This is an unfamiliar task to many so feel free to ask our team for help to identify and more fully understand your target customers.
This step is the most crucial for your website design is keyword research. This is a process where you consider how your target customers search for you. Remember that different market personas will search for your product or service differently, so consider that when designing pages of content…and selecting keywords. You may think people search for your business using one set of terms, but through keyword research, you will likely discover other terms or synonyms that will produce higher traffic to your website. You are going to write content for your website so you might as well use words and phrases that are used by your target customers.
Your focus keywords will be used not only in your content, but also in more technical parts of the web pages such as titles, Meta descriptions, image file names, image alt-text, even anchor text of links.
Website Design Audit
A website design audit is different from a website audit (which is also important). An audit of a website design is about ensuring that the architecture, content management system, hosting, and other critical components support the goals of your website. We most frequently see that our clients have beautiful websites with content their customers are looking for. But they lack key components that support search engine optimization such as unique titles for each web page or the ability to tell the search engines that “www.domain.com” and “domain.com” are the same thing. So, as website platforms, hosting, and content management systems are chosen, ensure that they support not only an attractive, informative website, but also a website that search engines can understand, digest, and serve up as search results to potential customers looking for your products and services.
Don’t know where to begin with your website design?
As this post has highlighted, website design is about a lot more than creating a beautiful, content-filled website. It can be daunting. If you would like help with some of these aspects, give us a call. Let’s work together to plan a website that brings the right customers to your online door.
What have your experiences been with designing websites? Have you rolled the dice and won or loss? Have you done your research and had amazing successes? Failures? Share your ideas by commenting below!