Friday, November 5, 2010

Ask and You Shall Receive

It’s easy for a website project to get off kilter. Understandably, those on the web team have their own ideas of what works and what doesn’t work in terms of web design, features, navigation, content and so on.

Everybody on the internal team has an agenda, and a stake, when it comes time to building a website.

But for a business-to-business web project, whether you sell software or professional services or widgets, it pays big dividends to keep the typical, average user in mind. Why? If the goal of a website is lead generation, it should be extremely fast and obvious for a prospect to take action (sign up for a newsletter; follow social media; complete a contact us form). It should also be obvious, within seconds, what it is you sell. If it isn’t, your prospect will quickly click away.

What Do Your Prospects Think?

How would you know if your website is easy to use and navigate? You would ask your prospects. That’s right! You would seek out typical users and buyers of your product and ask them a few questions about the flow of the site, the navigation, the content and other key elements. Ask them informally - sit along side them with a few open ended questions and note what they do. (future blog post: ideas for a simple, DIY user testing project)

From design to content, the user can shed light on the following:

· Information architecture that matches the users' model of the information. Would your prospects be more interested in a menu list of your services, or do they want to see a description of how you serve their industry. How would you know this. You ask them.

· An intuitive navigation system to move people around this architecture. How would you know if the navigation was easy to use? You ask them.

· Chunked text, short and with liberal use of bulleted lists and highlighted keywords. Users scan, so content should support scan ability.

· Reduced use of jargon. Are you speaking the prospects language? How would you know this. You ask them

· Prioritized content availability – can your prospects find what is important to them? And how would you know what is important to your prospect? You ask them.

Parting Thought

Websites influence 97% of prospects’ purchasing decision. Doesn’t it make sense to take some time to ask a typical prospect if your website makes it easy for them to evaluate your product or service?

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