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Guides & Advice

How to build your website around what your customers want

By Hannah Dell'Armi / February 15th 2018

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Building a website with a focus on your customers and their needs sounds simple enough. The fact of the matter is that this isn’t as easy as it sounds. If it was, everyone would be doing it and every ecommerce website would be flawless and amazing.

This isn’t the case – and the cause often tends to be assumptions around what you think your customers want and second guessing their behaviours.

We’ve outlined the steps you should take to ensure that your ecommerce website doesn’t limit itself by failing to understand your customers.

Understand your customers

You might think you’ve got a really clear picture of your customer base. Before you start designing a new website to deliver on their needs, though, it’s often worth doing some research and some digging.

There might be aspects of your customer base that are unclear, such as buying habits, demographics, etc. The key step to take if there is a level of uncertainty around your customers is to talk to them.

Look at their buying habits, carry out surveys, look at the user journey through your website and create buyer personas. Build as clear an image of your customers as you possibly can, then use that understanding to amend your website to suit them.

This might mean tweaking a business process or policy to better meet your customers’ needs. Or it might mean looking at your wider content and marketing strategies to find better ways of reaching out and engaging with your audience and driving traffic to your website.

Lady pointing at an empty portion of a pie chart and a man sat down saying 'that is exactly our issue'

Work backwards

You should start any decision you need to make about your website with the customers’ needs above everything else.

Look less at what a product does and more at what your customers require. Think about:

  • What drives a customer to buy a product?
  • What process do they go through before they purchase?

Using these points as a focus can help you organise your website in a way that addresses customer needs in a much more effective way.

Deal with trust issues

Customers can run into a range of barriers on their buying journey. Some prime examples include:

  • Security
  • Advice and help
  • The look of a brand
  • Design

There’s a common thread running through each of these elements: The level of trust they inspire in your business.

A reference to security and secure payments can help put buyers, tentative about purchasing online, at ease. Help and advice, either through a live chat, FAQs or other content, can help to keep customers informed and allow you to respond to potential queries.

Your brand should look trustworthy. Think about clarity in your marketing and promotional materials. Don’t bombard customers with walls of text and cheap-looking marketing. An air of quality and openness can really help serve to build a sense of trust around your brand.

Consider site structure

Help your customers to find what they need on your website.

This starts with clarity in your navigation, category descriptions and the way you choose to name your products. Look for the ways specific products are referred to and make sure you include them. For example, you might have a particular name within your business for an item, but everyone else calls it something else, from your customers, to your competitors to Google. They see the importance in the more popular term, not a vanity title.

Making sure customers can find what they need quickly and easily is a crucial step to preventing buyer frustration and preventing potential sales going to other competing sites.

Think about your discount strategy

Think about the other ways you entice customers. This can include discounts and offers, either as special promotions, sales or seasonal limited time offers. This is often the default strategy for many ecommerce sites, which without the right amount of thought can be costly and ineffective

You need to think about the frequency of these offers, the personalisation and the amount of perceived value you offer.

Any discount needs to appear timely and have a perceived value to it. For example, offering customers 20% off as a big campaign, when beforehand you’ve been consistently offering the same customers 30% is going to potentially anger that group – as you’ve offered them a discount with a perceived value of zero in comparison to what they are normally accustomed to.

You should try to personalise your discounts, such as through offering a promotional code that means a customer can get a discount on whatever they purchase as opposed to specific items, which can encourage those customers who were unsure, or potentially uneasy about the cost to buy.

You should also keep in mind that your customer base is often segmented. Falling into different demographics, genders and buying patterns. A blanket discount off everything will entice people, but offering a limited time offer of 30% off handbags, to a customer who is male and has never purchased anything other than socks from your website, isn’t likely to encourage him to buy.

Whatever you decide to offer in terms of discounting, you should have a strategy in place in order to ensure that the timing, value and deployment is as effective as possible.

Illustration of a lady sat down thinking about different pricing offers

Simplify processes

Reducing pain points is a simple way to ensure customers can move through your site efficiently and effectively. This starts with thinking about the route through your site that your customers might take.

Look at where they tend to land on the site, and then how they move through products, services and eventually through the purchasing process.

Look at areas where you might be asking for too much information, such as during your checkout process.

Think about payment options, such as including PayPal or other online services which can further speed up a transaction.  Simplifying forms and speeding up the way customers traverse payment gateways can help deliver a more streamlined and positive experience.

Don’t assume you’re finished

The last thing to consider is a more long-term view of your website. Once you’ve finished a period of assessment and tweaking, or even a redesign of your ecommerce site, it is never safe to assume that you can just call it a day.

These are iterative processes. Customers change, as do trends and buying habits. You need to assess what sort of impact any shift in the way your customers behave or interact with a website can have.

Technological shifts can have an impact too. Changes to website design, display, and the devices used can all influence how your site is interacted with.

Keeping an eye on these changes and revisiting the way your site functions periodically can help to ensure that you constantly offer customers an ecommerce experience that directly meets their needs and requirements. Optimising for conversion can really help to maximise the ongoing potential of your website, ensuring that you are always optimising your site to maximise revenue and the chances of turning potential customers into sales.

Let’s build your site around your customers

Designing and implementing a successful ecommerce website is a delicate process, with many moving parts. From understanding a buyer persona, to understanding customer requirements and designing an ecommerce website that meets their specific needs. This is an in-depth process that can not only help to increase the revenue of a business, but also improve your level of understanding and interaction with your customer base.

We’d love to explore how our website design and development team could deliver results for your business. To arrange a brief telephone conversation with one of our team, call 08447 550 350 or get in touch to find out more.