When Users Succeed, Your Site Succeeds

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Good sites meet company goals. Great sites meet users’ goals.

Recall your reasons for having a business Web site. Perhaps it is to promote your company, to expose the public to your products and services, to reinforce your brand, or a variety of other reasons unique to your situation. The underlying goal in all of this is, of course, to sustain and increase profits.

However, the public doesn’t care about any of your goals. They care about their own.

They are only interested in what your company and your Web site can do for them, especially if you can do it better, cheaper or faster than your competitors. So how successfully your Web site bridges the gap between promotion and revenue is determined by how well your site aids and positively impacts potential customers.

Unlike printed media, a Web site requires that the audience personally interact with what is presented. Considering that no basic training is required to use the Internet, your users will come from a varied background and skill level. People think differently too. Therefore, everyone has varied expectations and abilities that ultimately produce a different online experience.

It is impossible to anticipate every individual’s reaction to and ability to use your Web site. But we also cannot assume that what seems straightforward and appealing to us must also be for others.

Whose opinion counts?

When a user judges the quality of their online experience, what was intended doesn’t matter. Users don’t care how well you like your site or what you paid for it. It doesn’t matter how easily you can find what you are looking for, how clear your call to action may seem to you, or what emotions you have towards a specific photograph or colour choice. If the user feels your Web site is dated, unappealing or difficult to navigate, they are gone in an instant. A single click will take them to any number of other sites hungrily waiting for their business.

It is how your users feel that really counts because it is the public’s opinion that determines revenue.

So what can you do? As always, balance is needed. If a Web-forward crowd is not your target business audience, don’t presume to be overly complex. On the other hand, it is just as unwise to be insultingly over-explanatory or sacrifice your Web site’s functionality just to make it easier for someone who is using the Internet for the very first time. A straightforward site using currently-accepted presentation methods and technology is typically the best solution.

Understanding and accommodating users

The only way to truly know what your users think is to ask them and then listen carefully.

Ask them in person or on the phone. Ask them to comment on your Web site or send you an E-mail. Even ask your employees and business associates, your family and friends. Be alert to any unsolicited comments made in passing.

When creating and expanding a Web site, it is ideal to know who the target user of your Web site is, what appeals to him, what his expectations are, what other sites he is accustomed to using, what his typical level of technical knowledge is, and so on.

Just as importantly, as a site gets used over time, cultivate reasonable expectations and be willing to make adjustments. When you obtain specific input (if it seems reasonable that another user might have a similar experience) adjust your site to amplify the positive aspects and address the issues raised.

We are happy to work with you to create a Web site that really meets your users’ goals. Just get in touch.

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