Even though you want a website that is attractive to anyone who lands on it, the real goal of your site is to meet the needs of your target audience and convert them from visitors to customers. There are numerous elements most web designers factor into their creations, so it’s easy to lose focus on who you are trying to reach in the first place and whether the customer experience (CX) is everything it should be.
An average bounce rate is about 41 to 55 percent, but bounce rate doesn’t always tell the entire story. Google measures the rates in an odd way that doesn’t account for landing pages with a single click choice or blogs where one article is read and then the user leaves. While a bounce rate is a good starting point to figure out if you’re meeting customer needs, you must also consider it alongside time spent on the site, conversion rates, and even direct feedback from your audience.
Meeting your audience’s needs isn’t always simple, but there are seven clear things that improve your ability to do so.
1. Get in Your Audience’s Head
To really understand your target audience and what they want from a website, you have to know their preferences. Spend time on social media in groups made up of your target audience.
For example, if you run a mommy blog, you should join multiple mommy groups on Facebook. Don’t spam them, please! Instead, just listen to what they’re talking about and their major concerns as moms. Poll your current customers and ask them what information would be most helpful to them. Conduct keyword research and figure out what their pain points are. What problems are they seeking solutions for?
Waves for Water raises money through partnerships with individuals and organizations to bring clean drinking water to areas without any. When you land on their page, it’s clear they understand what drives people to help others. They show happy children who’ve benefited from the water brought to their communities plus the headline, “Do what you love. Help along the way.” The design is simple and points the user to ways to help, ways to raise money, and info on their Clean Water Corps.
2. Write to Your Visitors
Does the copy on your page speak to your specific site visitors, or is it highly generic? To truly meet your customers’ needs, you have to have a buyer persona which represents your typical customers. Then, everything you write must filter through the persona.
If you create a headline, how would your persona react to it? Once you’ve developed a persona and written copy with it in mind, evaluate your copy with some A/B testing to see if your users react the way you think they will. Make any adjustments as needed and retest until you reach the conversion rates you desire.
3. Anticipate User Actions
Have you ever landed on a page with a specific purpose in mind but can’t find what you’re looking for? Think about why a person visits your website in the first place and anticipate their actions so you can place calls to action (CTA) buttons above the fold or offer the information they want most.
One way of ascertaining what users need is by studying heat maps of your site. What areas do users hover over and click on most frequently? You can also study traffic patterns within your site. If a user lands on your home page and clicks on “info,” then “information” is what most users seek from you.
Houston Overhead Doors anticipates that most people visiting their website are looking for a new door for their home or need repairs to an existing door. They place two CTA buttons right at the top of the page, which read “Request Estimate” and “Request Service.” They also place their phone number near the top navigation for those who prefer to call directly.
4. Study Your Competition
You can learn a lot by studying your competitors’ websites. Pay attention to which elements they place near the top of their page, the categories in their navigation and their CTA buttons.
How much information is included on their landing page, and is it more or less than what you provide? You should also take note of any videos on their page and details about those videos. What is the content, length, and tone of their videos and how does it compare to yours? Study the competition not to copy them but to ensure you’re doing more and doing it better than they are.
5. Know Common Pain Points
Part of your research in visiting groups on social media and studying keyword searches is figuring out customer pain points. What drives your typical customer to seek out your site in the first place? If you sell dog harnesses perhaps your target audience has a dog that is able to get out of their collar and is worried about the dog getting injured or lost. You can use this concern in your marketing and on your website to show how your product solves this issue.
Miss A takes a single pain point among young women — finding affordable beauty products online and not paying a fortune in shipping — and offers a website geared toward that solution. Note the ticker at the top of their page explaining how customers can secure free shipping. Perhaps the store owners heard the cries of people online about paying more for shipping than the actual product and decided to find a solution. Most of their items are a dollar or two, so the focus of the entire site is affordable beauty and savings.
6. Choose Relevant Images
Choose images that speak to your audience and are very specific to your product or service. Show the item in use by someone or a close-up of the features of the item.
For example, if you sell cooking tools, a person using one of your spatulas to flip pancakes is a good addition. But a family eating pancakes doesn’t quite hit the mark, as it doesn’t highlight the utensil. Images help send a message much more quickly than words alone, so choose your photos wisely.
7. Avoid Rabbit Trails
As your site grows, it’s easy to add a lot of elements that don’t specifically meet user needs. The community project your brand helped with is a great thing to do and shows goodwill in your local community, but your target audience may or may not care. Leave announcements for your press releases and keep the focus of your home page clearly on the user’s needs. Viciously cut anything not related to solving the problem for your audience.
Revival Rugs does a good job of honing in on their target audience. Note the image of one of their rugs and how it’s used in a room. The rest of the page features some of their popular rugs and information on how to choose a rug for your room. There are no additional side jaunts into decorating on a budget or any other topic. The focus is on the rugs, period.
Meeting User Needs and Expectations
Meeting your users’ needs isn’t too difficult if you think through why people visit your site and the methods they use. You can easily speed up your site, cut down on the clutter, and put CTAs above the fold.
Matching their expectations may be a bit more difficult because you must compete with other online businesses and match the experience larger companies offer on their sites. However, with a little effort and a lot of creativity, you’ll soon have a site that your target audience adores and comes back to time and again.
About The Author
Lexie is a UX content strategist and web designer. She enjoys copious amounts of coffee (with a dash of milk) and walking her goldendoodle. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.