Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on August 5, 2011
When it comes to customer engagement, many big-name brands do just enough to stay one step ahead of their competition, and because of their past momentum they are able to maintain a lead for some time. However, smaller and more nimble organizations focused on creative uses of technology are starting to overtake them. Think Etsy vs. eBay, or Yodlee vs. Mint.
There are plenty of articles out there focused on how small businesses should approach building a Web presence, but they tend to focus on topics such as search engine optimization and how to leverage social media. I have found this is the wrong focus. We need to bring it back to simple user experience. Here are five tips on what to think about as you build or redesign your site:
1. Take off your marketing hat. This may be counterintuitive, but the tendency when focusing on marketing is that websites often become self-indulgent. Instead, focus on user experiences your customers need, want, and enjoy. Help them get things done.
2. Consider your business goals. What do you want to accomplish with the application and how will it provide value for your customers? Consider this before you think about how you are going to build the site or have it built.
3. Focus on gathering data and feedback from users. Sit down with as many customers as you can and watch them interact with your site. Have them give you feedback about where you can improve the interaction. If for some reason you can’t do this quickly, use a simple survey tool such as Survey Monkey.
4. Focus on what you do. If you’re a business-to-business company, you don’t need to build a game. If you are selling handmade kids’ clothing, you should not build a social network. Stick with the primary purpose of your business. Consumers know one thing for sure: If you build an application that does not have direct utility related to your business, it is probably an application designed just to market to them, and they will probably let it fail.
5. Plan for frequent updates. Most successful websites have an avid audience because they created a great user experience first, and followed with great updates and improvements. You’ll build fans and evangelists by showing responsiveness to customer feedback once the application is launched.
Co-Founder and President