The vast majority of small business owners are providing products or services in areas other than website design and effectiveness. As such, they are at the mercy of their web designers and developers to create an online presence for their company that is effective and successful at enticing its visitors to perform desired actions. In order to take control and provide higher chances of online success, small business owners might consider employing the principles of user-centered Design (UCD).
A general overview of UCD is such that the user is the focus of determining how their needs, wants and even their limitations are the primary focus driving the decision-making process of the design. Many professional web designers fail to understand this concept, much less employ it in their workflow. If those you’re paying to come up with effective websites for your company are not even considering using UCD, you might want to take the lead and find someone or a service that will help you in the endeavor.
Understand the Users
When it comes to the design of your website, understanding what your users are doing is definitely an important aspect of online operations. The challenge, however, is that this type of metrics, also known as analytics, can only tell you what has happened:
– How many visitors came to your home page?
– Where did those visitors come from search engine results pages, email newsletter links, deep links on other websites, etc
– How long did the visitor stay at your site?
– How many pages did they view while they were there?
Again, this information is well and good, but even with the metrics you just don’t have the insight into what was going through the visitors’ mind.
Why They Do What They Do
This brings up the value of understanding why your website visitors do what they do. user-centered Design is just the vehicle you need in order to gain knowledge and understanding of that “why”. The more you understand how UCD works, the easier it will be for you to learn what areas of your website can positively (or negatively) affect the visitor’s experience. Once you have this type of knowledge, you can make iterative changes which then allow you to further cement the user experience. Even if you’re not sure about your own presentation techniques, knowing the requirements and putting the user first can go a long way.
The Value of UCD Service
A quality UCD service will help you understand the intangible aspects of how a visitor uses your website. Often times there’s nothing more than a frustrated thought passing through the users’ mind. No click or time on page is likely to help you understand that emotion. But with UCD you might have the chance to watch a video of test users as they make their way through your online pages. Note a disgruntled sigh, or observe the slightest eye roll at the same time a user is attempting to navigate through your site, and you have a much clearer idea of where a problem could exist. You’d never get that depth of insight with a tally of the number of times a user made it through a page (via clicking on navigation links.)
Overall, when you decide to design your small business website with UCD techniques you’ll be able to make positive changes, faster. These changes help to support your business’ online goals and provide you with the justification for making otherwise hard decisions.
The best news is that you don’t have to be an expert in design or have a doctorate in user psychology in order to take advantage of these concepts. There are services available in the marketplace that excel in providing small to medium-sized businesses with the capabilities to do much, if not all the research and development online. If your online success depends upon the actions of your website visitors, why not take the time to find an effective and reasonably priced user-centered design service as soon as you can. Your bottom line will surely thank you!