Many people approach planning a website from the corporate point of view; what are we trying to say? what do we want them to do? This is a classic “push” marketing approach on a media that doesn’t work in today’s customer-centric atmosphere. When you’re building a website, the first focus should be on understanding the customer’s needs.

The first step is to identify your audience; find out what their wants and needs are and the decision process they use. Questions like:

  • Where do they begin their research?
  • What is their problem or need?
  • What is the most important feature (differentiator)?

As you answer these questions you are building a simple consumer persona – an imaginary person with a story,  who has a way of doing things. A persona should have enough psychological detail to allow you to conveniently step over to the persona’s view and see your products and services from her perspective. Once you have these details, you can take a look at what you’re doing from their particular and very specific vantage point, and points out flaws and benefits for them.

With this information you can plan the structure based on how they would prefer to navigate through your site in order for them to complete their own goals.  Someone who is looking to go to a restaurant will want to know the following information to make their decision:

  1. Where are they located?
  2. What is on the menu?

Of course there are secondary goals like “What does the food look like” “What have other people said about the restaurant?” “What will an average meal cost?” These are also important details you will want to supply but the first two are the common elements that are clearly the most important.

Look at how your content is starting to take shape; there will be a clear flow for different types of personas and you should make sure that you have your navigation built to accommodate all of them. You have the doer types that will want the address, phone number and reservation feature immediately. You have the browsers that will want to see the vital information but then explore the menu and testimonials. You will also have the customers that have been to the website and want to see if there’s anything new happening or engage with the website (asking questions, leaving reviews, etc). A good website navigation will not just have the pages in a hierarchal order, but instead take these people’s needs into consideration and add quick ways for the people to get to what they want.

Now we know what should be on the home page, and what should be secondary pages.  Only know can we turn back to the business and take a look at what the business goals are; what is the call to action. Go back through this content and add your engagement tactics where they make the most sense; the subscription form near information that gets updated frequently, buy now buttons by products, review forms in testimonials, etc.

This process can be overwhelming if you’ve never thought about it before. Contact us and we can walk you through your website marketing goals over a cup of coffee.