When building a website for your business, it’s *so* easy to fall into that trap of building something that appeals to you or wanting to build something that looks similar to your competitors’ websites.
But what appeals to you personally and what your competitors are doing may not necessarily align with the expectations of those who actually matter: your target audience.
After all, it’s your target audience who buy from you and pay your bills. If your website doesn’t resonate and align with them, then you’re not going to have much luck winning them over.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to make sure that your website has been built with your target audience in mind, which we have listed below.
1) Understand who exactly *is* your target audience.
Sit down with a pen and paper or your laptop and list out all the superficial information about someone in your target audience – things like: age, gender, occupation, location, income and hobbies.
But then dive deeper.
What kind of problems & issues do they face on a day-to-day bassi? What are their life aspirations & dreams? What obstacles do they face that are preventing them from achieving these? Why do they have the hobbies they have & what do they get out of these? How do they deal with conflict?
By truly getting to know as much as you can about your target audience, you can make confident decisions about all aspects of your website including design, layout, functionality web copy & even options on how they should contact you. For example, perhaps people in your target audience typically don’t like picking up the phone (as an introvert, it takes a lot of courage for me [Korii] to pick up the phone sometimes), so maybe you should offer a chat bot or a contact form that gathers as much detail as possible from your leads.
How can you find this info?
Look at your current analytics
If you have an existing website that collects analytics, this a great place to start. If not, well you can always check your social media analytics for insights into the typical traits and behaviours of your target audience. Even seeing what time your IG followers are typically online provides useful info – if you’ve noticed that most of your followers are online around 9pm, it’s most likely because they’ve had to do the whole evening rush with getting kids sorted and into bed and can finally take a breather and get on their phones later in the evening.
Analyse the interactions you have with your current clients/customers
What kind of tone do they use when speaking or emailing you? [Sometimes people can come across passive agressive in email but are actually incredibly friendly when you see them or speak to them on the phone, so do keep that in mind]. What kind of words do they typically use? What do they do? How long have they been doing what they are doing? What is their home life like? What are their struggles and aspirations?
Not sure if you can answer all of these questions straight off the bat? Not to worry, you could always consider conducting a survey or jumping on a Zoom call with your customers to gather more information and paint a bigger picture.
How valuable and juicy will this data be? Not only for your website, but your business overall – from your processes all the way to how you start interacting with your customers moving forward; we know this could make a profound difference in your business.
2) Get feedback on your current website
You could set-up a strategic pop-up inviting website visitors to leave feedback via a survey. Or you could invite people on your email list to do such a survey (if they’re on your email list, chances are they’ve been to your website AND they fit your target audience). Consider providing some sort of incentive like a gift card or a small gift.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure that whoever you survey is actually someone you’d consider part of your target audience. After all, if you’re a high-end interior designer, getting feedback from someone on a DIY budget isn’t going to be overly helpful.
3) Study your current website analytics
If you have an existing website connected to an analytics tool, you should be able to gather all sorts of useful data such as:
- Which pages get the most engagement.
- The typical journey someone takes through your website.
- What devices are mainly used to view your website.
- How do people find your site and if it’s through search, what keywords do they use?
- Where do people typically click and how far down pages do they typically scroll?
- At what point do they exit your website?
4) Conduct user testing on your website
A common UX (user experience) practice, user testing is an incredibly valuable way to get feedback about your website at any stage (but particularly while you’re still building it and before you’ve gone live).
So how to run a user test? Firstly, try and get a good amount of people to test – we suggest 5x or 6x at a minimum. The key is (to reiterate) that these people must fit your target audience.
Come up with 4 – 5x key tasks that you’d like your testers to perform while on your website. Some ideas could be:
- “Find a gift for your mum that costs less than $50.” (This type of task will demonstrate how easy it is to search & find a particular product on your site).
- “Book yourself into the next available workshop located closest to you.” (This is another example of a task that requires searching based on a particular set of parameters and then actually being able to go ahead and book).
- “Find out which areas we service for our dog walking servies.” (This type of task will demonstrate how easy it is to find particular information).
When running your tests, first get each tester to read the task out loud. This helps with digesting what is actually required of the task. Then while they perform the task, get them to “think aloud” – this is where they basically say out loud *everything* they are thinking. Be sure to take note of pauses – these could indicate they are stuck. If they pause for too long, ask a prompting question such as “what are you thinking?” to get them talking again.
If the tester asks you a question during the test, don’t give them an answer. Instead, put the question back on them and ask them what they expect the answer to be and then wait until the end of the test to tell them the answer. If they get really stuck on a task, then just stop and get them to move on to the next task.
By running user tests, you are going to get all sorts of valuable feedback as to how people are using your website and whether it’s as intuitive as it ought to be. How cool is that?
Don’t let your personal preferences and what you see your competitors doing drive major decisions in the design and build youf your website. They’re a good starting point but at the end of the day, it’s your target audience and their needs that really matter.
It’s vital that you keep your target audience front of mind at all times when working on your website – after all, they’re the ones you need to buy from you.
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