The ideal online presence is one that provides your users with what they want while also reaching your business goals. You know your organization’s goals; how do you ensure you’re providing a good user experience for your visitors and potential customers?
It all begins with user research. Research is the most important part of creating any digital experience, but it’s often overlooked due to time or budget constraints—or simply because it’s hard to know where to start. It takes in-depth audience research done by professionals who know how to find answers to the right questions, like:
- Who are the users?
- What are they looking for?
- What is their goal in coming to the site?
- What problems are they trying to solve?
Doing in-depth research allows you to explore functionalities to learn how users interact with them. Remember those massive navigational journeys of menus and sub-menus and sub-sub-menus that would sometimes fill an entire screen when you clicked on one top-level navigation tab? Few sites use them anymore, and the reason is simple: users didn’t like or want them. What seemed like the right solution—making as many options as visible as possible—turned out to be too overwhelming and a particularly bad experience on small screens.
The seemingly simple questions listed above can open up a world of insight about your users. If a user’s experience with your site makes it easy for them to achieve the goal they arrived with, you stand a pretty good chance of earning a customer. If the navigation is straightforward and the information matches their unanswered questions, they’ll move right through to their goal.
Once you begin to understand what your users want, think through the context of when and how they’re using your website or app. A user who visits your site on a desktop computer at work might come back on their tablet at night. A user who is browsing your mobile site on the weekend may have the TV on in the background and a toddler running around in the room. How do they interact in these different environments and on different devices? Are they more likely to engage with one type of content while at work and another while at home?
User research can help you stay ahead of the curve, uncover problems you didn’t know existed, and ensure you’re communicating your brand and products or services in the best way. Doing research and planning early in the process—whether you are developing something new or replacing what you already have—makes it less likely it is that you will have to re-do it in the future. Not only will you save money by developing your website user experience right the first time, you will be maximizing how much money you make from the moment your site goes live with an experience expertly designed to match the goals of your customers as well as your business.