Often times creative professionals overlook one key aspect when creating their website design. The importance of a user-focused website.
Your website is not for you, it's for your users.
Basing your design decisions on your personal opinion can lead to horrible results.
One problem with design in general is that design is subjective. One person will absolutely love it, and the next will hate it with a fiery passion. What you as the business owner thinks looks cool, may not benefit your users.
Say for some reason you like a slider as a hero image to your website. Push aside the fact that you simply like how it looks. What value does that add to your user's experience? Probably nothing, it's a slider after all, they're almost all useless.
Consider your users. They're busy. So they aren't going to take the time to wait for a slider to reveal more information to them. Most likely you're hurting yourself and your user by hiding information on a slide they'll never see.
Focusing on what you like and failing to consider your users can ruin your entire website.
So let's dive in a little bit. What are things to think about and why is a user-focused website important?
Who Are Your Users?
The first thing to address is who your primary users are. It's okay if you don't know exactly. This is something that you can create using personas.
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.
Learn more about personas
Personas are a great reference when planning your website. Developing a simple persona gives meaning to your decisions. Those decisions are going to directly impact your persona.
Every time you make a key decision think, what will my persona think of this? Will this benefit them or annoy them? Will this help solve their problem?
Now that you have a persona created you can start diving into deeper questions about them.
- How do they talk/act?
- How are you going to relate to them?
- How do they want to feel about your brand or website?
- What devices are they going to be using?
- What problems do they have?
- What do they need to know?
- Why are they coming to your site?
- What answers are they looking for?
Let's break that list down a bit and why those are important considerations.
How Does Your Persona Talk?/How Are You Going to Relate to Them?
The way your persona talks is important when considering the language you use in your website and marketing materials. You want to use language and voice that is going to speak to them.
For example, let's say your audience is typically under 20 years old. You should choose a fun and friendly approach. Use language that's simplified and actual words they would use. Your audience will relate more than language that's cold and corporate sounding.
On the flip side of that, say your ideal customers are over 60 years old. Using slang that 20-year-old hooligans use isn't going to resonate with them. In fact, it will most likely confuse them.
The voice you choose will affect the way your audience perceives you. Using the right voice will resonate with users, they'll feel like they can relate to you and want more.
How Do They Want to Feel About Your Brand and Website?
Have you thought about this before? How do you want people to feel about your website? How do your users want to feel while on your website?
Pick three words that represent how you want your users to feel about you and your website.
Now make decisions on design elements to make your users feel those emotions.
As a creative professional you want users to feel trust, engaged, and inspired by your website. You want users to see you as an expert.
Based off that you, or your designer, would choose design elements that help your users feel that way. Your colors, fonts, and graphics will all work together to project that feeling.
You'll choose an appropriate color palette and fonts that hold those values. You'll include testimonials from prior clients that prove they can trust you.
Let's use Apple as an example here. Apple has had the same marketing strategy for years. They display their products in clean, simple and elegant ways. They want users to feel they're modern and high quality.
Let's look at their website. Apple is a great example of a user-focused website.
They use a simple design that puts all the focus on what their users want. Their products. They don't talk about themselves anywhere.
It's all about empowering the user and giving them what they want.
They use simple colors and sans-serif fonts that all project a modern image. Most important, it doesn't take away from the product image. The product remains the main focus.
The way they talk to their users also shows the understanding of their users.
Apple knows technology can be overwhelming to their users. They use simple language instead of technology jargon that most find hard to understand.
Now, let's make note of the navigation. Their primary navigation is almost all product pages. They built their navigation with users in mind. Helping them easily find the product that fits them and their needs.
What if they put all those product pages in the footer? Those would be hard to find, right?
Not being able to easily find what they came for would frustrate customers. This would completely change the way users engage with their site.
Apple's user-focused website captures what they intended. A modern and high quality feel that focuses on helping users find products.
What Devices Are They Primarily Using?
Considering what devices our audience may be using might seem like a weird thing to focus on. Is it really though? This aspect is often overlooked or a secondary thought.
Consider this. What if a company like Uber didn't invest thought and consideration into their users?
They had an idea to completely change the taxi industry but, failed to consider their users. They build a website that looks great on a desktop but, don't make it mobile friendly. Worse yet, they don't make a mobile app.
Wow, what an epic fail that would have been. Imagine users trying to set up a ride through an unresponsive website. This would leave users frustrated and the idea would have never worked.
So why has Uber been so successful? They built their solutions with their users in mind. Their users needed convenient, easy to use mobile solutions. Scheduling rides has never been easier because they considered how their users needed to engage.
Now yes, the choice here for Uber was obvious but, you get my point. Focusing on the devices your primary audience will be using needs to be a major consideration.
What Are They Looking for When They Come to Your Site?
Think back to your personas. What problem does this person need solved? How does your service solve that?
This is what brings them to your website. They are seeking a solution to a problem. Now it's the job of your website to address that and provide them the answer.
When designing your creative professional website, you need to think about what your users are going to be looking for. Design with them in mind so you can guide them to the answer they need.
It's your job to make it as easy as possible for your customers to find answers to their problems. A user-focused website will prove that you can solve their problem. Therefore, converting them into customers.
How Do Your User Goals Line up with Your Business?
The last step to consider here is how your user's goals line up with your business goals.
Use this to your advantage to get more from your website and help build your business.
One of your goals is generating new leads and new revenue.
A great way to gain your users trust and help solve their problem is with a free or hand raising offer. Create something with them in mind and make it easy for them to try out.
Give them something free and grab their email in return.
Creating a mailing list is a great way to stay in front of your ideal customers. This gives them value while building trust and a relationship. The end goal of course, making a new sale.
Your website is not for you, it's for your users.
I can't stress this one enough. When creating your website for creative professionals keep your user in mind.
If you haven't done it, create a couple personas that represent your ideal customers. Use this to guide your decision making.
Make sure you speak to them directly and in a way they can relate. Use navigation and design elements that are going to project the feeling and image they want.
Consider their problems and what drove them to your website to begin with. How is your website going to solve that problem?
Now that you've read all this it's time to put it into action.
Was your user in mind when you created your website? How can you do this better to make sure your websites a user-focused website?
Look at your website, go through section by section.
What is the purpose of each one? What value does it add to your users?
Start breaking things down in terms of what your user sees. Make changes to aspects that don't benefit your users.
Put your user first and you will start to see great changes unfold.