Many organizations treat their websites as little more than an online brochure—purely informative, static, and often quite dry. These websites are misunderstood as only a way of telling the world what your organization is about and as a way to project who you are.
Here at Manning Digital, we take a much different approach. Today, we have accumulated enough knowledge of how users browse the web to consider a different, much more effective method—user-driven, or customer-centric, web design. This methodology puts the user’s needs and desires first-and-foremost, creating a meaningful and easy-to-use experience. Below is a roadmap of considerations you should make when crafting a user-driven website.
1. Consider what the customer wants to know
Instead of thinking what your organization would like to tell its customers, dig into the psychology of your customer to determine what they want to know. A user should read through your content and feel as though you have read their mind. By proving to the user that you know their needs, not only will the user have a much more personal, meaningful experience on your website, but you will build rapport between you and your users.
2. Direct the user to what they want
Creating a path for the user to follow is the next step in creating a user-driven website. Think of the pages on your site that they would want to visit. Make an easy-to-follow trajectory from your homepage to those pages. One strategy that we often implement is placing visually striking calls-to-action on the homepage. Another method is using different sections act as launchpads into important pages. These sections should have visuals and content that tease the user into navigating to these pages. Regardless of how you choose to create these directions, make sure that the user has a clear way to navigate to important content on your website.
3. Keep the user engaged
You do not want the user to stray from the path that you have laid out for them. By burying pages many levels deep, using too much dry content, and not designing a visual hierarchy, you risk the user becoming bored with your website. Make your site easy for the user to digest; we at Manning recommend using strong visuals and succinct copy that is both easy for the user to quickly understand and is also highly engaging for the user. The user should be enticed to scroll and navigate to the next page of your site in order to avoid click-aways. Reducing the number of clicks and scrolls that a user must make to navigate to important content is also paramount—put your most important information above the page fold (where the user must begin to scroll) and make secondary pages easily accessible with one or two clicks.
4. Divide your users into multiple audience profiles
Not all users have the same motivations and you avoid making sweeping generalizations about the mind of all of your customers. Instead, think of the different sorts of users that will frequent your site; think of the various personas that make up your audience. What motivates each persona? What do they want from your organization? Craft a deep understanding of your audience members and their needs. In Manning’s Digital strategy process, this is one of our most important undertakings. Multiple paths should be laid for different sorts of users to get to the content that they want. Of course, not all users are as important as others, so you should prioritize some user groups’ needs over others.
5. Leave in some informational material
One of the reasons why a user might come to your website is so that they can learn more about you, so you should not eschew informative content all together. FAQ and About Us pages are great places to give your audience a better understanding of what your organization can do for them. However, your content in these sections should still be written with the question “what does the user want to know?” in mind.
User-driven web design is certainly the new standard in digital. We encourage you to think of how you can redesign your website with user experience at the forefront and to contact Manning Digital on your personalized steps towards a better web experience.