Okay, you’ve been inspired by looking at awesome webpage designs and you’ve learned the broad rules of web design—using a grid, strategically limiting your colors, making effective use of white space. That’s all fine and good—but where do you start?
Start with the end in mind—your customer.
Who is the target audience for your website? What do they care about? What do they want from a website?
For example, a website/service that targets retirees should have a different look/feel than one that targets young adults right out of college. The latter audience will be (generally speaking) better at navigating a website with “non-standard” elements, where those same non-standard elements may be a barrier to people who aren’t as tech-savvy.
Who is your target audience, not just in terms of demographics? What makes them tick? What are their values?
A website that is designed with a target audience in mind is going to achieve higher Search Engine Optimization. Also, user-centric design will increase engagement and conversion and lower bounce rates. The character of your target audience will determine your choices in typography, color scheme, imagery, layout, navigation.
Doing the detective work
How will you know what your target audience wants? There are several things you can do.
First off, you can check out the competition—not to copy them but to see how they’ve interpreted your target audience. What do they have in common graphically? They are obviously trying to take advantage of something they’ve deduced about your target audience. Look for things they’re not doing so well so you can exploit that weakness.
Secondly, you can survey your customers. Survey Monkey is a user-friendly product that you can take advantage of to create a not-too-long email survey for your customers. According to SurveyMonkey, the average market research survey is about 13 questions long but can be as a short as four questions. Remember, your customers lead busy lives. They have more to do than just buy your products/services. If you make the survey too long, they’ll just give up—and then you have no data.
Some questions you can ask site visitors:
- What brought you to this site today? What were you hoping to accomplish?
- Did this website meet your expectations?
- Does this website contain the information you’re looking for?
- Is there anything we could do to make the site more useful for you?
- Is there anything on this site that doesn’t work the way you expected it to?
When you have your target audience firmly in mind, you want to move to choosing the perfect imagery.