Why Aren’t You Speaking To Your Website Users?

6 min read
Amba Wilkes

What you think your users want from your website versus what they actually want are often two very different things. It’s rare for businesses to see their website through the eyes of the user. As a result, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of making assumptions that don’t align with reality.  

The good news is that your audience hold the answers. Speaking to them allows you to skip the assumptions and get real insight that will allow you to get more value from your website investment. 

In this blog, we cover how to best speak to your users and how you can put that insight into action.  

Why should you speak to your users?  

As a web agency with over 20 years of experience, we often work with businesses who focus on what they want to tell the user, rather than finding out what the user wants to hear. We encourage you to flip those priorities on their head.  

Yes, gathering internal stakeholder input is an effective task during any website project. But forming an understanding of exactly what your external users want from your website is just as important – if not more so. Your internal perspective needs validating with consumer research to truly understand who’s visiting your website, what they need, how they interact with your site and where they are getting stuck or confused. 

By speaking directly to your users, their invaluable insight can form a key part of your ongoing strategy. Not only can you gain an understanding of why they have come to the site, but you can also ask how their onsite experience has been and what needs improvement. 

Taking this approach ensures you get the most from your budget and prevents you investing in features and functionalities that aren’t necessary or worthwhile.  

Why are your users coming to your site?  

There are two sides of the coin to consider: 

  1. Why is the user coming to your website? A good place to start is to get to the bottom of why your users are coming to your site in the first place. There could be various reasons why a user visits your website, but it’s important to understand what the common reasons may be. Maybe you offer a service that they’re interested in, or they want to find out more about your experience and expertise.  
  2. What do you want the user to do? Once a user lands on your site, what is that you want them to do? Lead generation and conversions are common goals. Your website could be designed to encourage users to fill out a form, make a purchase or contact your company about a specific service. Another goal may be to keep the user onsite for as long as possible to serve them relevant ads and content.  

With answers to these two important questions, you’re armed with insight to make changes to your website that will be valuable to your business.  

How can you speak to your users?  

1) Surveys  

A quick and easy way to gather data, surveys are an effective method of hearing your users’ thoughts during or after they have used your site.  

A common survey we use is to place a pop-up on the website that asks the user why they are here today. You can choose to leave the answer open, allowing the user to write whatever they want to say. Or you can create a more organised format by giving multiple choice answers such as:  

  • To contact us  
  • To learn more about a service 
  • To browse the website 

This format makes it easy to manage, group and analyse the data and we generally see users engage with this type of survey more.  

It’s important to consider what stage you want the user to see the pop-up survey as you don’t want it to interrupt their user journey. We recommend featuring a survey once the user has had time to browse the site or as they’re coming to the end of their journey onsite. Questions could include, did you find what you were looking for today? If not, what can we do to improve your experience? An exit intent survey is also an effective way of engaging users.  

Surveys can also be written and sent out to your email database. We recently ran a very successful email survey for our client, the Horticultural Trade Association (HTA), which involved sending members an email to ask for feedback on the new website.  

2) Focus groups 

A small group are used to review and discuss different areas of your website. This method is a great way of speaking first-hand with website users that can feed into further design and development.  

When we run focus groups, questions often cover: 

  • What features would you expect from a new site?  
  • Is there anything that would put you off buying from a new site?  
  • Where would you click to expect to find the shopping basket? 
  • Do you have any concerns ordering online rather than over the phone? 
  • What do you like about the website?  
  • What would you change about the navigation?  

3) Usability testing  

Another method of gathering first-hand insight, usability testing allows us to speak to specific target users. This could be users within a certain age range or specified household income.  

The benefit of this method is that task scripts can be written for just about anything. Whether you want to know if your users think the site looks outdated, how the user interacts with a specific feature or want to understand if your competitors can do it better. Whatever the aim is, usability testing can help facilitate this and allows us to see the user’s screen while hearing them think out loud.  

4) Target persona workshops  

By categorising your website visitors into core target audiences, we can ensure that design and functionalities are geared towards these users. A target persona workshop identifies key digital needs and behaviours of each user group to create experiences that keep your users happy.  

5) Remote user interviews  

A series of one to one audience engagement activities and questions can be used to gather deeper insight from your target audience. This method allows you to generate a further understanding of the motivations behind visiting your website and what solutions would add the most value.  

How we put your users first   

We’re not yes people. We don’t make changes because the businesses we work with want these changes. We do the things that help you reach your objectives.  

Research and discovery  

Our approach starts with the research and discovery phase where we uncover what’s driving your business and your customers to strike the balance between business goals and user experience.  

Rather than making assumptions, we use this first-hand feedback from the people that actually use your website to develop effective strategies. This approach helps to validate assumptions and finalise decisions when there can be many internal opinions about what should be changed on the website. 

Iteratively improving your site with a retainer plan 

Building a new site is a costly undertaking. Leaving your site to standstill after it has been built is one sure fire way to lose money on your investment. Imagine visiting a supermarket to find empty shelves or the same promotions running for weeks. Your experience would quickly turn negative, and you may look elsewhere. The same can be said for your website. 

Launching and leaving is not good for your website or your business and that’s why we don’t stop at go-live. We don’t view your go-live date as the end of the project. Instead, it’s a milestone in the iterative development of your web presence and where the real user testing begins. Speaking to your users should be an ongoing practice that feeds into continuously maintaining, evolving and improving your website to get greater value from your investment. An annual website audit and retainer plan can help to put this into action.  

Whether it’s UX changes, new features and functionality, fixes or upgrades, a retainer plan allows you to take insight from your users and make continuous improvements in line with your vision. With a monthly roadmap, you can control the investment and channel budget towards the work that will provide the greatest return to your business. 

We can help you learn from your audience 

When building or improving a website, it’s more than aesthetics and features that create a memorable experience. We aim to strike a balance between your goals and your users’ needs to encourage them to return again and again.  

As a web design and development agency with over 20 years of experience, we take this approach each and every time with our clients. Speaking directly to your users to generate a real understanding of what your website needs to do, we can create results that make a real difference to your business. Get in touch to find out more about how we work and what we can do for you.  

Thoughts. Opinions. Views. Advice.

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