Before building your website, who are your users?

This is the second part of our series on websites for Irish businesses. Find part one here.

Before building your website, who are your users?

Before you decide what your website will look like, how you will build the website, or how many new sales you will get from your website, you need to think about your customers.

When we think of the audience we are trying to attract to your website, we can see them as viewers, users and customers. I always approach the people who use a website as users.

They have specific goals they are trying to achieve. These goals can be loads of different things and vary from user to user.

Some common goals for users:

  • Looking for information on how to do something (like what you are reading right now.)
  • Checking pricing on products and services.
  • Looking for information for something aspirational, (how many of us spend time looking at houses for sale in areas we like, for example?)
  • Trying to complete a purchase.
  • Interest generally in a topic.

Our first and most important decision about our new website is: how are we going to help users achieve their different goals?

Who are the users of your website?

If you looked at the above list and thought: “I just need to sell my products, I don’t care about users who aren’t going to buy,” then you’re forgetting some important things:

  • Every website’s goal is to get to the number 1 organic search position. Having valuable content like posts, products, and information, helps by giving search engines more content to crawl. This helps match to users’ search requests, and show how relevant your website is.
  • Most potential customers will visit a website a couple of times before making a purchase. Give them all the information they need to see that you are the best business to buy from.
  • Great written content, and dynamic images, help sell your brand and products. It also encourages users to share content they find useful or interesting.

How to find out about website users

There are loads of ways of finding out about your current users. If you have a Google Analytics account, enable demographics. Over time you get information about ages, interests, gender and loads of other data. Facebook Page Manager gives you great data on who engages with your social content as well. You can get great population information from the Central Statics Office, which can help give a good baseline of current aspects of Irish population and technology use.

Building your website, who are your users

Personas

If you don’t have any data sources to find out about your users, or if it’s a brand new business, you can imagine who your users will be by creating a number of personas. These persona cards can help you ensure that you develop a site that is focused on the user and their needs. Not what we “think” they need.

The information you should include with personas are:

  • Name
  • Gender
  • Age range
  • Martial status
  • Interests – what other interests/hobbies your customer base might have
  • Income range
  • Educational level attained
  • Employment
  • What technology will they use to access your site?
  • What are their goals/tasks they need to complete?
  • A stock image of a person (just Google image search)

All of this information helps build the character of a potential user we can imagine. If you do multiple different personas it helps flesh out the different people who will interact with your website. I’ve included a template for personas here. Make a list of 8 to 12 personas that vary widely. This will help you consider all the different people who are potential users and customers for your website.

What next for your new website?

Now that you have a clear understanding of who your users are, you can begin to think of how best to serve them. Our next blog post will be about planning what content you will need to add and how to plan & lay out the different areas of your website.