3 Thing that Professionals do Before Developing a Website

3 Thing that Professionals do Before Developing a Website

With the tools available on the market almost anyone can design a website these days. So why then are so many website designs abysmal failures? This is an important question to ask if you are going to spend your resources of time, capital, and effort. In the end, building a website is a lot like writing a novel or building a house. If you take a little bit of time to sketch out your ideas and then order them in a logical progression, you’ll save a lot of heart ache later on.

Identify the Website Goals

It’s amazing how many people build websites without defining the goal. In Stephen Covey parlance, this would be ‘beginning with the end in mind.’

If you don’t have a clearly defined need, you will not have a good website. Before starting to build a website take care to state your exact needs by establishing your audience and what they are looking to accomplish. Then, chart how your website will fulfill the needs of those people
Berkman, Union Sq., 4/11/14 -- I.W.W. (LOC)

1. Define Your Audience

Your Audience are the groups of people that you would expect to be using your site. Be specific here! Avoid generalities such as “someone” or “anyone.” So many business owners commission a website design without thinking of the exact people who will be using it. Worse, they want to build a website that is good ‘for everyone.’

Designing a Website for Everyone will make you go broke.

Building a website for everyone is useless. It’s what amateurs do. There are just too many different people in the world to serve all of their needs well. As a business owner, you have a finite amount of attention to spend on your website. Make sure you focus on the most profitable pursuits. The specific audience types you define should correlate tightly to your business’s sweet spot – those archetypes of prospects that turn into your most profitable customers. Once you have the best business case audiences decided we can move on to implementing strategies to best serve them. You can always return to other offerings later one after the best ones are complete.

Clark & Norcross (Brown) (LOC)

2. Define Your Audience’s Goals

Goals are what your website’s audience wishes to do. Remember that marketing phrase “No one ever really buys a hammer; they buy the thought of the picture hanging in the wall.” Too many businesses merely list the services they offer on their website hoping that the user will choose exactly what they want from a menu like they would a hamburger off of the menu board at McDonald’s. That’s another poor idea. Your audience doesn’t think like you! They have a different set of experiences and expertise. They use a different vocabulary set to express their issues. Your website design must take this into consideration to be successful.

To start, take your most profitable and / or your most popular service offerings and list them. Now pair each one with a the reason ‘why’ your audience needs that particular offering. Returning to that marketing quote you might have a list like:

Need: Hammer. Why: Hang a picture.

3. Create Actors for each Goal.

Now that you have your audience identified and their goals listed, it’s now time to humanize the interaction of your website. Remember, you’re not creating your website for search engines. You’re not developing the site for the unknown masses who might contract your services. You are doing business with real, flesh and blood people.

Ex. Actor: Mary
Mary is a 25 year old bride-to-be looking for someone locally to take engagement photos of her and her fiance on Lake Norman.

Her decision process when looking for a wedding photographer might look something like the following:

  1. Can this photographer do the job I am asking?
  2. Have they done this before?
  3. Are they reliable?
  4. What do their pictures look like?
  5. What are their rates?
  6. Are they available?

You get the point.

4. Solve the Needs with a Flow Diagram

A user flow diagram is a fancy way of saying ‘a list of steps in box form.’ See the picture below. Just describe the steps a user would take on your website. Begin with how an actor might discover your website. Continue with how the actor would learn that your services can help them fulfill their goals.

This does not have to be a fancy affair. You can do this in may kinds of software or even on a dry-erase board or on the back of a napkin. The important part is a logical flow of events.

Let’s return to Mary from the example above. The flow diagram for Mary might look something like the following:

  • Mary searches Google for Lake Norman Wedding Photographers and clicks the first website link.
  • She sees that the photographer on the website does indeed do wedding photography.
  • Mary sees examples of previous work as well as testimonials of a job well done. The pictures look like something she wants.
  • Mary finds the rate structure and it is within her budget.
  • Mary contacts the photographer to ask about availability.

5. Translate the Flow Diagram to Web Pages

Now that you now your audience, their goals, and a reasonable process they would follow it. Let’s return to Mary in the example above.

1. Mary searched Google so we need to have one page specifically geared to rank highly for that phrase. (Let’s call this the landing page.)

2. The landing page has language on it that speaks to Mary. Remember, she’s not buying the pictures; she’s buying the wedding experience, memories for a lifetime, etc.

3. The landing page has few example pictures of smiling brides, handsome grooms, happy family members, dancing flower girls.

4. There are a few quotes pulled from testimonials in the web page text but also links to to a portfolio of pictures and a page full of testimonials.

5. Since how the photographer acts during her special day is as important as the pictures themselves, there are video clips of the photographers themselves being both ubiquitous at the wedding and discreet.

6. There is even a free download-able checklist for the bride helping her plan the special day, photography options detailed out.

7. On the side of every page is a picture of the photographer with his email and phone number clearly defined. At the bottom of the page there is a button that when clicked brings Mary to a contact form asking a few questions about the wedding and inquiring how the photographer can help.

We could go on for a long time in just this one example, but already you can see that website taking shape. You can also see why this kind of a wedding photography website would do better than a competitor’s as it addresses Mary’s needs.

Once you repeat this exercise for a few actors a full website will emerge. You’ll be able to group similar terms and build elements that serve multiple types of clients.

Conclusion

This set of exercises aid in understanding the psychology of your market. With that understanding you can create a phenomenal website that will be successful. What do you think? Have you tried this with your website? Are you go revisit your site with these questions in mind? Did I miss any steps that helped your website be successful? Let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page.

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