You think your website is the be-all and end-all. You and your team sweated blood creating it. You think your prospects and clients will love it.
To quote Jakob Nielsen, the usability expert, your clients and prospects think that “Your website is like a speck of dust in the universe.”
Which isn’t to say that you shouldn’t sweat the details. Just be sure to sweat the right details. Sweat the details that matter to your audience. Not the details that matter to you – you’re not your ideal client. Not the details that matter to your designers – they have their own biases and agendas.
Instead, embrace your biases, understand that you’re not typical, and admit that you don’t know. Only your clients and prospects know.
And they’ll tell you. All you have to do is ask, either literally, by interviewing and surveying them. Or by letting the data guide you – track your analytics, develop KPIs (key performance indicators) and let them tell you what your audience values.
With either approach – but especially the data-driven approach, you have to recognize (and plan for) your website launch date not being the end of the process, but the beginning. Your launch date is when the real work begins, since that’s when your data starts to get interesting.
Gather that data, interpret the data, and make adjustments based on the insights you can glean.
Find outside perspective and seek their opinions. (Just be sure they are outside perspectives without an axe to grind. “Never ask a barber if you need a haircut,” Warren Buffett says.)
And keep following the data. Not only will it tell you where you were right and wrong, but it will tell what needs to be adjusted as technology and preferences change over time. (Mobile-friendly coding, for example. Or new browser versions.)
You may not literally be able to sit down across the table from your ideal client, but there’s no reason he or she can’t still tell you what your website should be.
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