The Rule: Put Yourself in Your Visitor’s Shoes
The most important concept in web design is to create your website for your visitors. This is a simple concept, but one that takes a little practice. It requires the ability of being able put yourself in your visitor’s place. Instead of starting from the position of what we want our visitors to know and see about us, we start with the question of What would our visitors want to know or see about us. What is the information they seek? What is the experience they seek? Why are they visiting? What’s in it for them?
Putting this concept into practice will increase the likelihood of being found online by the people you want to be found by and holding their attention once they get there.
Here are the first three vital steps in this process.
1) The first step is to explore who your target visitors are. Where do they live. What are their demographics, age, education, sex; where do they reside. What kind of computers do they use? Do they use smart phones? Pads? Are they into cutting technology? Are they in a third world country? All of this matters in how a website is designed.
One way to find the technical aspects of your visitors, is if you have a website now, be sure to use Google Analytics (http://www.google.com/analytics/) to get a sense of what computers or other devices your visitors use, and what type of operating systems and browsers they are using. Using Google Analytics will give you a sense of how many visitors you are getting now, and you can compare this to what your new website offers.
2) How will your visitors find you on line? If someone wants to find a church in your area, how will they find you?
One way is through the judicious and well-planned use of keywords. We hear a lot about keywords and keyword phrases and the idea of using keywords can seem baffling and/or spammy and unnecessary. Although Google’s algorithms in determining page ranking, keywords and keyword phrases are still an important part of their method, keywords are simply words or phrases that people type into a search engine, like Google or Bing, to get information or find things, people or places. To connect with our visitors, we need to put ourselves in our visitors shoes and think of keywords that our visitors will plug in to find us. Besides our own brainstorming, we can also go to Google’s Keyword Planner http://adwords.google.com/keywordplanner and Bing’s Keyword Research Tool http://www.bing.com/toolbox/keywords to learn what our customers are looking for and get keyword ideas and suggestions for content.
Where do you place keywords? In the page title, and in the meta description of each page. They can also be used in the content of each page, especially in the first 250 words, but take care not to overdo it as you could get penalized by Google if you riddle your content with keywords indiscriminately. (Please contact us for more information on keywords, meta description, etc.)
3) Now that your visitor has found his or her way to your website, the next step is providing them with the information they are seeking. Taking into consideration who your target visitor is, what their demographics are, education, age, etc., place yourself once again in their shoes and think about what information are they seeking, what they hope to find and what they are looking for. Be sure to provide this for them!
You may even want to create two or three fictitious personas who represent a part your target visitors to explore what that that type of person may be coming for to the website, for example, women with young children, older retired adults, urban dwellers, etc.