It is tempting sometimes, to mistake your web site for a soapbox. But the best sites keep their users in mind - and give them what they expect to see. It is easy to identify what YOU think should be on a site, but take a moment and consider your target audience. If you get them to come to your site, you will have just a few seconds to convince them it is worth exploring (and that they want to do business with you). What kind of information do they need or expect in order to do make a decision or complete a transaction? Are you providing it?
Case study 1: I visited a site for a Disney vacation. It had all sorts of cool graphics and tools to make you want to take a vacation there. But - and this is where I spent too much time - they had no way for you to go ahead and book it! Talk about frustrating and counterproductive. After wasting my time trying to book it online, there was no way I was going to call and do it over the phone. I was too annoyed that a basic need (and critical part of their sales cycle) was not being addressed.
Case study 2: One of our clients often got a lot of phone calls about something completely unrelated to their business. I suggested we address the issue directly on their web site. Even though it was not related to their business, these misdirected users came away satisfied and with a favorable impression of our client. The client was also able to save a lot of wasted time they had previously spent fielding these calls. So how can you find out what your users want?
- Ask them. Consider placing a survey on your home page asking them what kind of information they are looking for. Or look into surveys you may have already completed about what your customers want.
- Step into their shoes. What kind of information do they gather before making a decision? Does your site offer everything they need? Can your site handle a complete transaction online - everything from marketing to completing the sale?
Remember that the best web sites are a two-way communication. You don't want someone to just read about your business, you want them to engage in some way. Thinking about what your customers expect is a good start.