How Google is Making Us Lazier (again)
Few companies would begin any new capital expenditure without performing the appropriate level of market research to ensure that they're spending their money wisely. Why then do so many organizations leap into website design or redesign projects with very little effort put into market research? The increased availability of site data that has come with widespread implementation of Google Analytics across websites, has led many design professionals to believe that they're receiving all the information they need right from their Google account.
Site analytics are a vital piece of the picture for design decisions, but when developers use Google Analytics as their only source of information, they ignore other readily available sources that also provide important insight for making design decisions. More importantly, by not investing the necessary time and resources into comprehensive research, they do not position themselves well for achieving successful design project outcomes.
Elevate Your Research With Ease
Expanding your lineup of research and planning resources doesn't need to be complicated. At the onset of any new website design effort each of the following research components should be factored into the decision:
- Customer Feedback
- Industry Trends
- Competitive Analysis
- Market Persona Development
- Technology Requirements
- Keyword Strategy
Here's why we think each component is important:
An important starting point for any website changes is to listen to your base of support. It’s a cost-effective way to find out what would be helpful to your current and past clients as you redesign your site. Sometimes the things that existing customers like or dislike about your current site aren't quantifiable through site analytics data. Listenign to customers will help you make sure that your new design holds on to the site elements that resonate well with clients and will help to mitigate the risk of upsetting or scaring off potential leads from the sites next iteration.
Every industry has reports published on forecasts and trends within their vertical. Find them and understand not only current, macro trends, but also look to discover what nascent trends have the potential to be important 6, 12, 24 months from now so you can include these as points of consideration for future-planning your website. Additional industry trade publications should supplement your research and provide valuable insight on customer behavior.
Develop a competitive set of at least three (3) organizations. In building your competitive set you should include 2 competitors who's size, scale and revenue are closely matched with those of your own organization and at least 1 aspirational competitor that is currently larger and more successful than you. The idea here is to stay abreast of, not only what you need to be doing to maintain pace with those currently on your level but also what you must be planning for as you look to grow. Look at the information with an eye towards both competitive opportunities and threats to your own growth.
Market Persona Development
Your base of customers, members or subscribers is not homogeneous. Each individual customer will engage with your brand differently and, as much as possible, you should support and validate the different ways that individuals engage to allow for personalized experiences on your site. Personas are aggregate representations of segments of your customer base united around common traits. As you plan your new site you want to develop a strategy for how you connect and communicate with each of these personas. The hope here is that as you research the characteristics of your customer, your organization will move away from the one-size-fits-all approach and uncover ways to better service each of the personas individually.
It may seem obvious to ensure that the architecture, CMS, hosting and other mission critical elements of your website are fully supported in the news design or redesign effort. On occasion we see a prospect whose website has been designed very well, aesthetically, but lacks proper integration components to support important tech elements. Getting a project underway before confirming all this can lead to inflate project timelines and increased development costs. When you are conducting this part of the research, make sure that the design elements you choose not only will allow you to have a well-designed, good looking website, but also support the tech integrations that power your organization.
Why are keywords so important? They represent how your future customers will find you via search engines. As with persona development, you must remember that each customer may search for you differently. It's important to understand search trends for relevant topics and what the experience for people searching on those topics will be on your site. Look at each page as an answer to a question being asked by a potential client.
Develop a plan to design pages that will accommodate the expectations of your varying customer personas and ensure that the search terms that represent the biggest opportunity for driving valuable traffic are prominently featured in the new design. This research will likely reveal that your customers search for you differently than how you think about your organization, internally, so base your strategy on ways to supplement legacy site elements in order to drive higher traffic to your website.
It's important for any forward-thinking organization to be gathering and analyzing information from as many of these sources as possible on an ongoing basis. Hopefully, this look at how we approach the research piece of website design projects at agencyQ is helpful. We’d be happy to talk to you in more detail about our process and how agencyQ might be able to help you with your next website project.