User Centered Design: A Strategy to Build High Converting Websites
Why is a user centered web design better than any other type?
It seems obvious, right? When you are building a website, you should build it for the audience that will be using it.
But often when a business is approaching a new website, they build it with themselves in mind, not their customers. What do they as a business perceive is the necessary information, what visual look and feel do they like, and how do they organize their products internally?
This is the wrong approach.
You are not trying to sell your product to yourselves, are you? So instead, make sure to approach your web design from the position of your target customer, how they think, and how they will want to use your site.
However, this is much easier said than done.
4 Components of User Centered Design
There are 4 core components of user centered design.
1) Know your brand
And your products. It is important to have a deep understanding of your brand and your products and how it connects with your customers. Know who you are as a company, the story behind why you exist, and the reason why someone would want what you are offering.
2) Understand your customer
How do they shop? How do they interact with brands, both online and off, and how do they specifically interact with yours? Depending on the demographics and behavior or your target customers, your website design and marketing channels will differ drastically. Your customers are used to shopping in a certain way. Learn how they shop and make sure that your website design is consistent with this.
3) Design your site
Based on the the answers to the above, make your best attempt at designing the ideal experience for your users. We guarantee you won’t get it completely right. But if you have a deep understanding of your brand and your customers, it will be a good first attempt. When building a website, you can attempt to build it yourself using a theme or website builder, or you can hire a firm to walk you through the process. If you’re just just starting out and you have very little budget, it’s probably best to build it yourself. If your business is more mature and you have resources to invest, hiring a team will give you the best long term outcome and allow you and your team to stay focused on your business.
Once you launch your first attempt at a user centered site, immediately start testing with actual users so that you can constantly be improving your site. Listen to the feedback of customers, conduct A/B testing, watch how your customers interact with your site, and revise it over time.
Base your tests off of your analytics and where you have identified areas of opportunity. Then implement a test with a few different variations of ways you think you can improve performance. And finally, let your customers tell you the answer. See which variation works best and implement it.
How do you get this information on your users?
There are two types of information to gather on your users: qualitative and quantitative.
Quantitative information can be gathered through analytics platforms like Google Analytics as well as through your testing platform (Optimizely, for example). If you know how to read this data, it allows you to identify problem areas of your site as well as trends.
Qualitative information, on the other hand, can be gathered proactively through asking (via surveys or on-site polls) or passively (by watching responses to offers and promotions).
Here are some methods we recommend using to gather this information:
- Test price sensitivity with offers and promotions. This will help you to identify what the barriers are to potential customers making a purchase.
- Use on-site polls. Request information from your site visitors via a short poll after a user has completed a specific action or sequence.
- Send out emails requesting reviews and questionnaires. Ask loyal customers for their feedback and input.
- Set up exit-intent popups. These can provide great insight into why customers are leaving your site and what they were looking for that they did not find.
How does a user-centered design improve conversions?
Whether you’re planning to build your own site or partner with an ecommerce team to design a site optimized for success, remember that a site designed for the user gives them exactly what they’re looking for. It helps them connect emotionally with your brand, as well as practically works for the way that they like to shop. It eases the path to converting these users, removing as many barriers to entry as possible. And it will keep them coming back for more.