Beyond "clean & user-friendly": websites with a better purpose

Posted by Valarie Geckler on May 10, 2012

When we talk to a client about their initial desires for a new website, 99% of the time the first comment is some variation of: I want a “clean” and “user-friendly” site.

On behalf of the web design industry, let me apologize for every ugly, tough-to-use website you’ve ever had the displeasure of navigating. I’ve seen them too, those websites of nightmares, and frankly, they’re ruining websites for everybody else.

Because the first thought about your new website shouldn’t be related to ease of use. Quality user experience is a given component of any project for any firm worth their salt. No, you should care most about what the website can do for your business.

How can my website bring me more business?

Almost a year ago, I wrote about how to take a hard look at your website and its return on your investment. When I asked “how can my website bring me more business?,” I advised that a website isn’t a good website unless it helps bring you more customers or leads.

That’s still 100% true. Your website and internet marketing efforts should be as effective as any sales person on staff or there’s room for improvement. Compelling content, good SEO and quality calls to action are critical to attracting and engaging customers, but let’s take things a level beyond that.

What makes any of those elements attractive and engaging?

  1. Know who you are - What are your company’s strengths? What makes you truly unique? What will convince someone to do business with you above all others?
  2. Know your audience - Who are you targeting? Don’t guess, know. What insights do you have into their behaviors and habits? If you have multiple audiences, understand what is distinctive about each group so you can address them specifically.
  3. Develop a plan - Everything you do should be informed by your knowledge of your audience and understanding of your unique value proposition. What do they want/need that I can give? That’s key to providing content that draws in customers; that understanding will help optimize your SEO, SEM, social media, website, etc., for greater results.

“Clean” and “user-friendly” aren’t bad but you have more important goals for a truly effective web marketing effort. When you can ensure that everything you do has greater purpose, it’s easier to see greater success.

[Image Credit: thepanamerican]

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