Your website user is the most important person to consider when you are building a brand new website. Forget the fancy graphics, the flash introduction or the reams of text. If you don’t think about who your user is then you stand a very chance of losing them almost as soon as they enter your webspace. Some of the things you need to think about include:
Whether they are home users who might be using a dial-up account? If you don’t believe there is such a thing as slow modem speeds anymore, I can tell you from personal experience that the average connection speed I achieved from a home phone in Cyprus was 9.6mbps.
- Are they corporate users connecting at work?
- Is it obvious how to navigate around the site – if you don’t know test it?
- Does it look as if the information is broken up into appopriate chunks that make sense?
- Does the same navigation system operate through the whole site?
- Is there an index or site map they can use instead?
- Have you given them alteranative ways to contact you on each page?
- Can they order online or do they need to call you – what office hours do you keep?
- Is the full address available so that they can check you are legitimate.
- If you want credit card details is the site secure?
- Do you offer any sort of guarantee?
- How much is postage and packing?
- Will they know what they are paying upfront, are there any hidden or ongoing costs that you need to make them aware of?
Remember that website developers may wish to use the websites they build as a way of demonstrating their own capabilities to new and potential clients, rather than focus on the needs of their current clients and users. It is therefore important to strike a balance between the two.
Perhaps the most important element for a business to get right is determining how it is going to measure the success of its web site. This will help to define how it is built and whom it is targeted at.
Questions you need to consider about your business capacity may ask include:
- Do you have time every day to do updates or will you need to train or purchase services?
- Will the site need updating every day or will it be monthly and who will do it?
- Who is going to check for email and how frequently?
- How much will the hosting and domain name cost?
- Will you need a database to run the software?
- Who will have the copyright on your site design?
- What graphics do you need and/or want and are they in the correct format?
- Do you have copyright for all the graphics/media/information or do I need to pay the design agency a fee?
- How will people navigate around they site?
- Do you need specialist software to run this site?
- What are the hidden personnel costs involved if any?
- How will you assess the value of the website to the business in 6 months, 1 year, 2 years?
- How will you ensure that the site pays for itself?
- What are you buying with the web site? Software? Brand awareness? Image? Extra customers?
- How does the website fit in with your current marketing strategy?
- Is there a different target audience for my products on the web than on the high street?
- How technically competent are your users likely to be?
- How will you ensure that the site provides a quality resource for users and potential customers?