Who are you Designing the Website For – The Client or the Target User?

Categories Web Design

Websites have become the primary marketing tool for businesses. It’s become easier than ever to get a website designed, and today, you can get a successful website up and running without investing a lot of money. Apart from increasing brand awareness, websites have another critical job on their hands – convert traffic into leads and these leads into sales.

This is why your primary goal must be to design a website that is user driven.

Yes. It is the end-users who determine the effectiveness of your website. Make no mistake. Your website is an online visual representation of everything your client’s brand stands for, but the overarching message of the brand needs to be conveyed to your target audience. This is only possible if you deliver this message in a way that can be easily understood by the audience.

It is the end-users who are going to drive traffic to your website and also take a desired call to action. They are also the ones who will recommend your products and services to their friends, families and acquaintances and in some cases, post reviews and testimonials online. This in turn is going to generate more revenue and give your brand and business enhanced visibility. Hence, you need to put your best foot forward and adopt a target-user-centric, instead of client-centric, approach to designing your website.

It All Begins With Understanding Your Target Users

Your design process must begin with getting to know your users up, close and personal through extensive research. It is about asking the right questions and getting the answers to work for you, although this is no easy process. Understand their demographic profile and then follow it up with knowing their interests and dislikes. Also figure out the amount of time they spend online and their website behavior.

The data collected from your research will play an important role in chalking out a website design plan that keeps target users in mind, every step of the way.

Done with the research? Let’s take a look at how to use it to better the website design?

Designing a website specifically for your target audience is easier if your design fundamentals are clear and you understand your end users. Moving forward, you must keep user research in mind while making designing decisions (the choice of your design elements, features, functionality etc.) Here are some pointers you must keep in mind, while designing your website:

  • Choose the color palette wisely: First things first. Make sure you choose the right color palette for your website. Take the example of any leading brand on the market and see how their website’s color palette is in sync with their brand or company logo. Follow their lead.

If you are a non-conformist who lives by breaking the rules rather than adhering to them, select a unique color scheme, which you think will make a better impact on your target audience. If you want to play it safe, opt for pastel shades that give your website a professional look and feel. Check out some noteworthy color palettes that you can implement on your website.

  • Create brand-specific typeface: Using a default typeface is a strict NO when you want your website to stand out from others on the market. I strongly suggest that you design your own typeface that is specific to your brand or company image. Take the instance of Android’s Roboto typeface. Google launched this particular typeface with Android ICS.

Today, it is associated with Android devices present all over the world. It enhances visibility of your brand and also adds to the brand appeal. In short, the use of custom typography on your business website can easily create a strong first impression upon your potential customers.

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  • Use visuals to your advantage: Given the fact that people nowadays have less time to go through a site and even lesser attention spans, you need to focus on visual content. I agree that textual content is important (how else will visitors know what you are trying to sell), but teaming it with relevant visual elements is something that will definitely work to your advantage.

Large headings with short content introducing your brand and its benefits are quite popular. You can also go for interactive visuals that will engage your audience. Think of a website that sells sportswear. Instead of a long paragraph as to how a particular type of sportswear will appear on their person, letting the visitor try it out by dragging and dropping a frame on a virtual mannequin on the homepage will help them take an informed decision.

Another example that I would like to highlight is that of Puma sports shoes. The homepage puts focus on ‘Ignite Running Shoe’ and allows users to check it out from all the angles by dragging the cursor. This naturally, gives them a better idea of the product instead of lines of elaborate text.

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  • Give options to connect: Worldwide, billions of users are using the internet as I type out this sentence. A large fraction of them are active on numerous social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest etc. Provide the option to your potential customers to connect with you via these accounts. This saves them the time they otherwise would have to spend in signing up for a new account on your site.

In terms of design, create a form that allows them to choose their preferred account to sign up for updates, put in suggestions or subscribe to newsletters or login for a quick purchase. Don’t forget to highlight the badges prominently on each of the web pages. Your visitors can also use them for sharing content such as blog posts, white papers or case studies present on your website.

  • Opt for responsive: A large percentage of users prefer browsing on their mobile devices and not on their desktops. Naturally, your website must be mobile compatible and the best way to ensure this is to opt for responsive web design. By making your website responsive, you are ensuring it offers a unified user experience across diverse devices including desktops and mobile. This will definitely bring more user engagement on your website. For responsive website design inspirations, click here.
  • Get rid of all the clutter: When you are designing a website, make sure it consists of a layout that has no clutter whatsoever. By clutter, I mean all those unnecessary design elements that can easily be done away with, on a page. If you take a look at some of the top websites, you will find they are using white space to their advantage and have reduced design elements on their pages to a bare minimum. This helps focus the attention of users on the website’s message and the information it is conveying.

The presence of too many elements such as contact forms, graphs, charts, pop-up windows or live chat boxes do nothing but hog space on the web page layout; their deliverables are negligible. What’s more, they can drive your users away. So focus on the essentials and get rid of non-essential design elements. Here is a website, which will give you a better perspective.

  • Minimalism is the key to success: Minimalism is the secret mantra of many top-grossing websites on the market. Created by using the latest technologies such as HTML 5 (its canvas element is used in a number of stunning websites) these websites have a flat design, inventive scrolling such as Parallax, great typeface, minimal content and intuitive interface. All these account for a great user-experience, which makes the end-user want to stay on the website and explore more.

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  • Use the right wireframe: Wireframes allow website designers to plan content on each web page, in-depth. It allows precise placement of content on the pages and makes it easy to comprehend which content is going where. You can use it to maintain a fine balance between the visual and structural aspects of your website. A wireframe also gives your layout a consistent look and feel and this makes the overall website appear neat to the end-users irrespective of the device they are using to browse it. This is one of the steps that makes your website responsive.
  • Aim for seamless navigation: Another essential aspect you need to consider is seamless navigation across all your webpages. Use menus that make information easily accessible on a site. Your navigation design must be such that, users are well aware of their location on a website vis-à-vis the page they are currently browsing. Also, keep the titles of navigation links short but comprehendible and place the important ones under your primary navigation.

The job of your website is to deliver high ROI, and this is only possible if your target users like your site and love going through it. The design of your site must persuade them to click on the CTA button and convert into leads. This can only happen if your design satisfies their needs and requirements.

Author Bio: John Siebert is the President and CEO of Tranquil Blue – Tampa Website Design Company that focuses on all kind of website design, mobile app development and search engine marketing.

Catalin is the founder of Mostash - a social marketing boutique - and he's always happy to share his passion for graphic design & social media.