What do you want people to do when they arrive at your website? The first, but not so obvious, answer is: STAY. However, people do not stay on web pages that are too complicated or do not provide the desired information.
The first two steps to improving your users’ experience on your website are planning and creating content.
Plan, plan, and plan some more! The content on your website represents you, but it’s consumption is for your target market. Create a few examples of your target market in different stages of the buying process. Uninformed, researching potential solutions, researching you, and ready to buy are just a few possible stages.
Whenever you think of something for your website, think as if you were each of your target market examples. To think like them, you have to KNOW them. Who are they tangibly: age, gender, education, income, location, and so forth. Who are they emotionally: beliefs, values, religious affiliation, political affiliation, interests, and anything else you can think of.
After you know your target market, you want to interview them – not current clients, though, they already know who you are and seem satisfied with their experience. Erin Everhart, a contributing author to Search Engine Watch, recently published a very good article about creating Buyer Personas that covers the type of information you want to collect during your interview stage.
Now that you know your target market, and how they would go about buying your product, invent your examples and keep them around. Remember, you want to think like them before making any changes to your site.
Your site’s content must appeal to your target market, otherwise they will not visit.
Can you say, without a shred of doubt, that your content can answer any question any of your buyer personas might have in a format they can easily find and understand? If you can, then you have either done incredible market research or live in the Land of Denial. Either way, I congratulate you.
People go to the internet to find the answers to their questions. And, they want those answers in language they understand. If your target market only understands enough technology to check e-mail and perform a simple web search, jargon-laden tech-speak will not go well. The inverse is also true; the techies tend to want all the details – not the gloss-over you give to your average Joe (or Josephine).
Only when your content is clear, comprehensive, and appropriate to your audience do you want to add it to your site.
Another key aspect to positive user experience is brevity. What to do with your content, once you have it, will follow.