By: Neil Sniffen

Date: March 1, 2017

The adage of “The customer is always right” is more important than ever. But in a time when it’s easier to give customers exactly what they want, many brands are failing to design for the experience their customers are demanding and are instead designing the experience they want their customers to have.

This paradigm is troublesome.

The internet is the largest democratization movement in the history of the world. There are over 40,000 google searches per second, on average (that’s somewhere in the 3.5 billion range for searches per day). Each of those searches is someone looking for something very specific, voting with a click on the most relevant link to complete their task, and then spending their limited time browsing, reading, researching, or making a purchase decision. When one of these potential customers land on your website, they are making an immediate decision about whether your website will allow them to complete the task they set out to complete. If your site fails to provide the experience they expect, they leave and Google takes notice, potentially reducing your search rank.

Brands that are attempting to design the experience they want their customers to have are missing the mark. By dictating the experience instead of listening to, observing, and tracking their customers’ preferences, brands are investing in failure. Simply looking at how your current site is being used by actual customers can provide a glimpse into the preferences of your customers, spotlighting key content (and products or services) to promote.

Designing for your business type

If you run an ecommerce website, it is even easier to understand exactly what your customers want. The path they lead through your site, the content they view the most, and the products they purchase are a breadcrumb trail of their preferences. Designing your site to showcase those preferences can provide you with a vastly improved customer experience and conversion rate.

For lead generation and service oriented websites, the path-to-conversion can be more convoluted, but design focus should remain the same. Place content that is relevant to your potential customers where they can easily find it. Streamline calls-to-action and place them prominently (not sure where to place them, A/B test a few different locations to find the optimal location). If you don’t sell directly online, making sure your potential customers know exactly how to contact or request information is critical for turning your website into an employee and not a brochure.

Use your data to tell your brand story

Despite the wealth of quantitative and qualitative data every website generates, brands continue to create conversion friction on their websites by placing non-relevant to the customer content in the path-to-conversion.

Having a brand story is great and helps differentiate your brand from the competition, but assuming that customers care or want that to be the first thing they see when visiting the website is a mistake. Take care to integrate your brand story and make being useful to your customer the central theme. Placing content that your customers want where it is easily accessible can boost your site’s conversion rate quickly.

The shift is underway, but every week we begin work with new clients who come to us because they are struggling to improve their website’s performance. Many of these sites are holdovers from the all-about-me era of web design. This isn’t to blame a brand for having a site that is more brand-centric than customer-centric, it is more a symptom of an evolving body of work that demonstrates the overwhelming effectiveness of designing your website for the experience their customers are demanding.