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How To Develop A User-Focused Website

Today's consumers use the internet as a primary tool for finding and purchasing virtually all types of goods and services, and business owners and managers understand the importance of creating and cultivating a website that increases engagement for their business. However, today's consumers are also very quick to click, meaning that maintaining websites that aren't user-friendly or hard to navigate result in the loss of potential customers. Site owners and marketers literally have a matter of seconds to attract and engage individual users who land on their website. Here's how marketing managers can optimize their business websites to catch and retain prospective clients and customers.

Create User-Focused Content

Strategies of the past involved casting the widest possible net hoping to convert a percentage into customers, but times have changed and chasing numbers isn't an effective marketing tactic in the digital age. Curated content designed to speak directly to the pain points and needs of your target audience is a more efficient use of resources than blanket campaigns.

Your current customer base provides an excellent picture of your target audience. Take a close look at who's buying from you and which products and services are most popular. Identify common denominators within your current customer base. Once you've got a solid idea of who your target market is, you can begin to develop an engaging content marketing strategy - for instance, if you sell specialty culinary items designed for those who routinely prepare gourmet-quality food in their home kitchens, you'll probably want to rule out aiming your campaign at busy parents on a budget.

Develop A Solid SEO Strategy

Most potential customers don't look any farther than Google's first page, and this means that businesses not represented here lose out. A solid SEO strategy is more than just a matter of using specific keywords and SEO . High-quality content ranks higher on search engines than its substandard counterpart, so it's essential that the content on your page is well written and provides actual value to the consumer. Because Google updates its algorithms on a regular basis, the services of an SEO expert are invaluable when seeking that coveted spot on its first page.

Use Relevant Calls-To-Action

The purpose of a call-to-action is to provide customers with an easy way to learn more about your products and services, and for this reason, they should be as clear and concise as possible. Best call-to-action practices include starting off with a verb, keeping it to five words or less, easy-to-spot placement on the page, and the right mixture of size -- big enough to be easily visible but not so large it detracts from the content. Using a contrasting color for the call-to-action is recommended as a way to increase its visibility.

Focus On Speed And Mobile-Friendliness

Websites that load slowly and are difficult to navigate are guaranteed to drive many modern consumers to click off and continue to look elsewhere for the goods and services you provide. Website speed is one of those areas where seconds matter -- marketing studies indicate that the average consumer navigates away from sites in about three seconds if they've failed to load. Speed can be optimized by limiting plug-ins, particularly those that are outdated, combining images into CCS sprites (which is simply a program that combines all images into one single image), reducing overall image size, and enabling compression. Your hosting provider may also contribute to less-than-ideal loading speeds, so consider looking for an alternative if other speed-producing strategies fail to provide desired results.

Today's consumer is also likely to be using a mobile device when seeking sources of goods and services online. Responsive website design strategies result in websites that fit the size of the device being used to access them, ensuring that those using smartphones and tablets can easily read and navigate them. Another compelling reason for mobile optimization is that Google's algorithms consider mobile-friendliness to be a primary factor in ranking.

Solicit Customer Feedback

Customer feedback is one of the best ways to keep your finger on the pulse of customer expectations. You can do this using a variety of options, including basic feedback forms and customer surveys, but these approaches also involve analyzing the collected data to identify current and emerging trends.

Here are some great questions to start with:

  • Tell us about yourself
  • What information helped you make a purchase?
  • What information would help you make a purchase?
  • How do you use our products?
  • Would you recommend our product to others? Why?
  • What other products were you considering against ours?
  • What type of content would you like to see from us in the future?

Tools such as Hotjar do all of this for you and provide you with accurate snapshots of user behavior on your website. By utilizing a technology involving heat maps, Hotjar creates a real picture of user activity on your site, such as clicking and scrolling activity that can then be used to identify weak and strong areas on your business website and to take measures to increase usability.

Leverage Ongoing A/B Testing

When businesses leverage Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) on their website, they allow themselves to continually analyze how users are engaging with their website and where the potential obstacles are for those users in converting. They can then create hypothesis based on this data and create tests to see if their new design changes or layouts will perform better than the current website's aesthetic. One way to do this is through A/B testing.

A/B testing allows you to compare two separate versions of your website for the purpose of determining which one performs better. This testing takes the guessing game element out of website optimization and should be performed any time you make changes to your site. Here's an example:

As the image shows, layout B performed better than layout A. so it would be recommended to switch the live site to layout B to help boost conversions and overall engagement on the website. It should be clearly stated here that website testing isn't a one time thing and move one. We highly recommend that you continually use CRO and website testing in your marketing efforts to ensure you're consistently meeting the needs and preferences of your website's visitors. Afterall, if you don't, your competitors will.

  • Digital Strategy

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About the author

Kyle Brigham

Kyle Brigham is the Chief Strategy Officer at Marcel Digital. He specializes in client services and project management, but also original Nintendo games and ping pong.