Changing online methods to benefit users

Understanding what your users want, whatever you’re selling, is the key to accessing the rewards of running a successful business.

Whether you’re selling a product or providing a service, responding to web user needs involves really understanding who your customer is, in human terms rather than segmented into more typically categorised target market groups.

Find out what it is your customer wants, then provide it

The value of responding to customer need seems so logical, doesn’t it? However, I’m constantly surprised by so many businesses who really don’t bother as much with this as they perhaps should, especially when it comes to how they market their business online, via their website.

The trouble is website’s are still being sold on the way they look, rather than from the perspective of how to benefit the user.

Website owners generally, in my experience, spend far more time concerning themselves with the visual aspects of their site than with the content. The truth of the matter is the majority of users are interested in finding an answer. Users more often visit websites to find solutions to a problems, which they expect to be able to find quickly or they’ll move onto the next.

Now, if you’re a photographer, or a designer brand it could be argued that this isn’t the case and the images used are enough to sell the proposition. I’d agree, to a point, but it’s a mistake too many make of relying on images, when users actually want signposts to information such as facts about the product or service and feedback from customers. Isn’t that how many of us determine providers of services offline?

Websites and what the customer wants

I’m shifting the focus here, from customers visiting websites, to business owner preferences for a website solution.

There’s no doubt about it, there’s been a huge shift over the past 12 months towards business owners wanting to DIY, rather than pay a web developer for a website solution.

The explosion in Freemium website solutions, where users are enticed in through the door via promises of a free website,  is a pretty powerful lure to many business start-ups. Of course, the “free” aspect doesn’t take them very far along the website development path before the pop-up boxes start requesting credit card inputs, but by then the hapless would-be site owner is hooked; easier to pay up than start-over!

Some of these Freemium solutions (so-called because those who pay are in fact subsiding the ‘free’  users)  can provide credible results for a business start-up, or even one that’s been running for a while. However, the medium and long-term development potential is not as wonderful as it’s made out to be, with ongoing costs for all the extra add-ons loading running costs to a point the site owner would not have willingly entered into, with hindsight.

Great thing hindsight, if I could sell it I’d make a fortune!

Changes in website development services

Business owners want websites they can DIY. I find myself wondering if the decline in the fortunes of DIY stores is due to the fact that people are spending less time on DIY home improvement project and more on DIY business websites. The statistic of 80% of business websites being’ not fit for purpose’ is perhaps not as surprising as it might appear?

I deliver courses on planning websites (what you really need to know before you start) and developing effective web content. I’m surprised by some people who think there’s a check-list for success and that setting up a website is something that can be achieved comfortably within a week, especially when they’ve seen the adverts on the TV that make it look so easy. Luckily, within a group of 15 or so there’s usually someone who’ll be honest enough to share their experience of using one of these solutions, making the rest of the group more aware of the pros and cons.

So, all this has quite fundamentally changed the way I do business too. I’ve always prided myself on adapting to changing market needs and have constantly evolved my business offering, shaping and re-shaping it until I feel I’ve ‘got it right’, then adapting the business model accordingly.

I try to blog quite regularly, but I’ve not been doing so as regularly on this site because my attention has been over at the teaching arm of my business at Wings Academy. I’ve been delivering training in WordPress for years now, both setting up installations for businesses, managing them if required and delivering training on how to use the platform.

What I’ve noticed over the past year are companies providing WordPress websites at a price that seems too good to be true, but very attractive to business owners who don’t understand the bigger picture. I won’t go on about it here, but pop over to Wings Academy and read a blog post about being better informed about what you really need online, if you’re interested.

So, if you’re wanting a new website then please consider getting in contact for a chat, I may be able to help, but I may not. What I will do, however, is tell you exactly ‘how it is’ in the world of web development options, hopefully steering you to learn more before you buy, which in the long run could save you considerable cash and heartache.

Other posts you may find of interest

Getting started with using social media

5 reasons to consider using WordPress




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