Does Your Site Play well with Others?
The number one question I get when I tell strangers I design websites for people is: “Can’t anyone do that now?” After I say some version of yes, I usually ask them, “But will it play well with others?” This is the key differentiator between owning a website URL and owning a brand with a truly excellent and engaging online presence. Here is the surprising reality:
Your brand is not for you.
Your brand (which is lovely, btw) is a product or service you are laying out for others to monetarily engage with on this lively digital playground called the Internet. Your website is a connecter to increase your relationship with others. A virtual handshake or “passing of the tissue paper filled boutique bag”, if you will. So when you bring your brand to a customer playdate, what is the best way to interact? Here are two huge things to consider when entering the sandbox:
Seems a little obvious, but I can’t say it enough. Who is using your website and how are they using it? Can you picture them? Like see their face in your mind? If it’s a little blurry here are some questions to get you to 20/20:
What is the pain point you are solving for them?
What really annoys them about other companies who offer similar products? Why are they coming to you?
What do they wear?
Who do they hang out with?
How old are they?
Are they flowery or straight-to-the-point?
What TV shows do they watch?
What did they do for their last birthday?
Yes, you can and should visualize personal details like this when you’re designing your website.
Let’s talk favorites. You know you have them and so do your ideal customers. But can they find them? When I check a brand’s analytics I always look at their homepage bounce rate. The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors to a website who navigate away after viewing only one page. You want that customer flow to jump from one page to another. One helpful way to engage the customer and lower the bounce rate is to engage them with information easily accessible, a.k.a.: put their favorite things at the top.
You can queue hierarchy (and guide your customers) through the navigation, font weights, and colors you use. Are your most important products or your most popular service options (that you also like offering…it is your business after all) easily available? Your shop, blog, or service offerings page should be clearly labeled and making direct eye contact with your client. Can they easily get to know you and your “why”?
If beads of sweat are forming on your brow because you’re afraid you’re not “getting it right”, put down that 3rd cup of coffee and breathe.
To use my playground analogy from earlier - you have to introduce yourself by the monkey bars before you can be invited to the sweet pool in their back yard. Start with the things you can implement now (which is more than you think!) - engaging the consumer, doing your research, tagging your work, and producing quality content over quantity content (yes, a few great blogs or photos is better than 100 forgettable ones). Try new ways of organizing information. Get feedback from your audience and listen to it. You’ve got this!