How to use data to design for the user?
Customers are your brands’ bread and butter. They are your livelihood and the reason for your every move. Or at least they should be because without customers, you have nothing to work towards.
As such, your customers should be at the center of your business and because nowadays most consumers are found online, you should be as well. In fact, according to Google, 23% of people discover brands online and 36% of people thoroughly research a product online before making a purchasing decision. And if you are targeting the connected consumers of today you need to interact with them online.
The most effective way of communicating with your customers online is, obviously, through your website. Make sure that that communication is clear and effective.
Before you add your customers into the equation though, set your goals straight and define your KPIs. Your website is there to help you achieve those goals. Is your online goal to generate sales? Awareness? Lead generation? Whatever it is make sure you build a proper flow throughout your website that leads your users to your end goal.
Segments and Personas
Once you are clear on what you want to achieve with your online communication, gather all relevant data on your customers and get to know them. Find out what they like to read about, what kind of language they respond to, the needs they have for your product/service, their pain points, their motivations and, their decision-making process. Use this data to segment your customer base and build personas representative of each segment.
This is an essential step because if you don’t know who you are communicating to, you can’t know how to communicate with them. At least not in an effective and profitable way. So, adjust the content of your website to each of the personas you want to target.
Now that you have clearly defined your target customers and the language and content to be inserted in the website, work on structuring this content in a way that creates a funnel of conversion which leads the users to the goal that you, as a company, are trying to achieve through your website. An important step is to make sure that the most relevant information or conversion points are well-visible to the user so as to encourage the required interaction.
If you take these steps you should have a properly built website, adjusted to the target audience it was created for.
However, it is unlikely that you will get it 100% right on the first try. There will always be room for improvement and optimizations that will increase your results and get you closer to your KPIs.
But how do you uncover these opportunities for improvement? By using tools such as heatmaps, clickmaps and user recordings and diving into your website’s analytics. This will allow you to analyze your users’ interaction with your website and uncover pages in which this interaction falls short of what was intended. You can also discover issues that cause the user to exit the funnel sooner than desired.
After gathering all the information you can, cross it with the data you have on your customers and try to uncover a reason for the results you are getting.
For example, is your conversion funnel not clear enough? Does the user get confused and fail to understand where he is supposed to go next? Could it be that the language you deployed on those pages is not clear enough or fit for those users? Or maybe the problem is related to the structure of the page.
Once you analyze all this information you can create a set of hypotheses to test, that you believe will decrease the number of missed-opportunities or non-converting visits and potentially increase your conversion rates.
This is called AB testing or multivariate testing. It helps with building an effective user experience throughout the website which is essential nowadays, not only when it comes to user acquisition and retention but also when it comes to the ranking of the website by the search engines.
These are the essential steps towards building and designing a website for the user. And it’s an example of how data is indispensable nowadays.
Take a look at The Power of AB Testing if you wish to dive deeper into this world and the benefits it can bring.
Even though the above-mentioned process of optimization seems to be a better fit for a new brand creating a website for the first time, it doesn’t mean that those are the only companies that could benefit from website optimization. Not in the slightest. It is easier, of course, if you take all the right steps in the beginning, but again, no brand gets is 100% at the first try.
And, in fact, you need a relevant amount of data in order to optimize so, websites with historical data can be optimized, maybe even more efficiently, than younger websites.
The more data you have available for analysis, the larger the probability that the hypotheses you create for testing will turn out to be accurate and the tests to be fruitful.
So, optimization is for every brand and, it is recommended every brand goes through this process, granted they have access to relevant data, not just regarding their website and user interaction but also regarding their customers. Knowing who they are and what they expect and want from your brand, makes it easier for you to know what to give them.
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