Building anything valuable is hard work. Building your own website from scratch isn't any different. The biggest hurdle in the past was finding a programmer who could build what we need. This has changed drastically over the years. Today, anyone can go to WIX or Squarespace and build their own website in a short time. Those tools allow us to leverage technology without creating or running it.
Abstracted tech tempts us to think features rather than benefits. We can cherry-pick the coolest widgets with all the bells and whistles we need. Unfortunately, your competitors have the same access to those websites. Standard layout and widgets have become a commodity. Your visitors won't fall off their chairs because our sleek design or a fancy e-store. They have come to expect it.
The opportunity to paint a picture on a blank canvas tickles our creative buds. We activate our right brain sides and wink at Maslow's top of the pyramid. We get excited to take a brake from the processes and spreadsheets. We get to think big picture. Who are we, really? And what do we stand for? WIX plays right into that with by quoting Nikola Tesla on their product page.
We fall more in love with our website the more we get into the nitty-gritty of it. We want this box over here and this text over there. It's a joy to see all the different bits and pieces fall into place. Building a website turns from a project into a passion.
We can't wait to tell the world about it when our work of art is online. We highlight it in our email signature and casually drop it at the water cooler. It's exactly who we are and we expect the same excitement from everyone else.
What if we are wrong?
So why then are our customers not as excited as we are? Our eyes were glued to the inbox but nothing happened. No congratulation, no sales orders, nothing. Just a few weirdos claiming they can't find anything anymore. And to be honest, the visitor ratings dropped quite a bit as well.
Unfortunately, building your own website from scratch often doesn't work as expected. It's hard to face the indifference of our visitors. Nothing is more devastating than seeing our baby get ripped to pieces. We doubt our designs and think of all the time we put into it. Was it not enough?
Your website might be beautiful, flashy and packed with little nuggets. It might even be considered one of the best in the industry. But unless you are an art gallery, your visitors won't care. They came to your website with a specific problem. They might need your phone number because you are a nearby plumber. Or maybe they re researching how to fix their toilet themselves.
Whatever their pain is, they want to solve their problem. Our design's goal should primarily be to guide them to what they need. If we lose sight of who we are building the website for, nothing else matters.
All of our designs need to be about solving the needs of our customers. And it's not just our web design. Think about all of your media the same way. Your poster, videos or anything else – they all have to be about your customer.
You know it's about your customers but we tend to forget that that during the process. The simplicity of modern website builder robs you of the opportunity to plan a meaningful structure for your website. They don't know your customers. Only you do. You know how they think and which problems they face.
Designing for the customer is great but in the end, you're a business who wants to make money. Your website needs overall goals. Even each page needs specific goals as well.
Your designers have to know what you will test for. It's should their work's plumb line. Every design decision they make has to be driven by your goal. This could be signing up for a trial or making a sale. Google Analytics will tell you the exact amount of people who reached your goal.
Goals are specific for every page on your website. Every element on your page has to support them. Trust your designers that they know what they are doing. Their training is not only about aesthetics, but also about guiding your visitors. The perfect design captures the visitor's interest, takes them by the hand slowly guides them towards a perfect solution for them.
The only people who can determine a good website are your prospects. They can tell us what works through their actions. All we have to do is look at what they are doing and test our ideas. Now, you don't just guess anymore. It's not about taste but about the numbers.
Your job is to put you best out there and see how it performs. The numbers will tell you the truth. Have your designs compete against each other and prove who is better. It's the purest form of feedback you can get. Numbers don't lie.
You'll often be surprised by the winners. It's always the one which communicates your offer the best to your prospect. Like the rest of us, they only care about what they can get out of your website. Your fancy logo and your artistic skill have a lot less impact on your decision then you might think. Take a look at Amazon's website. It's is not the prettiest but it sells.
Too many people design their websites without a specific goal. That usually means that their goal is to make the website as appealing to them as possible. The consequence is a work of art rather than a tool to drive sales.
A website isn't any different from other project and yet we seem to treat it that way. Set your goals beforehand and work towards them. Make sure you reach them by testing your designs rigorously.