Usability is something that product designers work long and hard to perfect—and then test and test and test. You might have heard of UX, which is short for user experience when it comes to web design or application design.
Once again, this is a fine art of translating your product or service—and your website—to be user friendly and intuitive to a customer or prospect. Translating what you do in person to an online experience is the challenge of creating an effective website. Web designers have to understand not only who the target audience is but also your buyer’s process, and marry that to your selling process.
Build Persona Profiles
Strive to understand what motivates a prospect, what is appealing or interesting, and understand their lifestyle and cultural proclivities. People buy either out of need or desire. Those needs are born from emotions. The emotions that trigger a buy are basic: fear, love, pride, guilt, or greed. Your website should first and foremost identify the need or desire that your product or service fulfills, and visually and contextually deliver this message immediately. This applies to both consumer and business buyers.
The next challenge with your website is how well and how quickly you help a visitor answer the question, “Are you right for me?” If you’ve ever been in therapy, you know the most commonly asked question is, “How did that make you feel?” which can either be annoying or enlightening. But if you think about it, this is the question we should be asking every prospect and every customer as well as every online visitor. I know that isn’t really possible, but you can run tests and conduct surveys to help you gain insight.
Facilitate the Buying Process
And finally, incorporate usability features that facilitate the buying process at every step. Remember you have some trigger-happy buyers, some slow-to-go buyers, some drag-it-out buyers, some buyers who use the internet often and others who are still a bit uncomfortable at the keyboard. You have those who buy through their phone or iPad, while others have to speak to a person first. Some have dozens of questions, and others seek confirmation or affirmation and check with their family, friends, and Facebook first.
The last challenge to building an effective website is the hardest. Usability. Think about the last time you wrote out some instructions for someone to do something, and yet they still got it wrong. The reason is usually that there were little pieces of information missing. These little pieces of information are the steps for people to take the right action.
A suggestion is to begin with paper and pen or some mapping, charting, or drawing software and run through several scenarios. There are tons of mind mapping applications online that you might find helpful. The idea here is to think in terms of ‘if this then that, if that then this’ as each step or choice and option begins to play out. Working with your web developer to communicate your sales and service process along with the desired user experience will help your developer build a better website, and that in turn should generate more leads or sales.
My dad used to say, “Assume nothing—it just makes an Ass out of U and Me.” Know whom you are striving to attract online. Understand what problem or challenge you solve, and get in touch with the emotion that drives them. Then, in painstaking detail, map out the buying process from need and emotion to thought, from thought to action, and then to post-sale support—and know how you make them feel.
Mardy Sitzer is a certified inbound marketing professional and president of Bumblebee Design & Marketing. Since 1993, Mardy has been delivering creative and innovative marketing solutions. An avid reader of all things internet and marketing, she also writes blogs, articles, and web content for industry magazines as well as for Bumblebee’s clients. She is an adjunct professor at Fordham University and instructor at Rutgers University teaching social media for business. Follow her on Twitter or email her at email@example.com.