Do you know who your website’s typical users are?
Yes? If you never had in-depth Personas designed or analysed for your website, there is a chance you don’t actually know who they really are or miss some key points about them.
Most clients, sometimes reluctantly, understand that their website is not for them but for their users or prospects, therefore they generally accept that some things must be done, or must be there, to facilitate their audience. But, even though UX Design has become quite popular these days, many also tend to believe that all they need is a good looking website, and too often look does not come with usability.
There are plenty of websites, however created, that challenge both web design standards and common sense UX principles. There are still designers who will solely care about visual impact without any idea of who the typical users will be, or how they will interact with the website, which can easily lead to a nice looking site that does not work.
Within limits, a not-so-nice looking website that works, therefore in which the users can easily do what they want and find what they need and perform the actions the owner wants, is clearly way better than a website with a smashing look that frustrates the users.
Many years ago, a multinational company with various offices across Europe, hired a web agency to redo their corporate website. Translated to today’s economy, they paid the equivalent of the best part of £200,000. On the day of its presentation, the new website was so slow it could barely run on a local computer. It was beautiful though. This is obviously an extreme, rare case.
A good professional web designer will generally keep the users in mind and possibly create a good compromise between look and usability.
But that may be still not enough to ensure the site delivers the right message to the right users and gets them wherever you would like them to go.
There are of course various reasons for not hiring or consulting a UX designer, including lack of time, lack of money, lack of knowledge or all of the above; there are many small companies that feel they don’t need a good website, maybe because they rely on word of mouth and they are happy where they are with their business; for all other businesses and organisations that realise the need for a website and the benefits that come from having one, a UX designer might save them time and money in the medium and long-term (and frequently in the short-term too).
In-depth Personas can reveal important elements to the designer that might affect various aspects of the website and while it is true that a site can be always improved, upgraded, restyled and so forth, these changes require time and money. Often older websites cannot be simply “embellished” and will have to be redone from scratch.
As we often see in PPC campaigns, UX can make a massive difference and transform failure into a great success.
Things can get hectic in our fast-paced digital world and an agency or web professional might feel compelled to quickly deliver websites at the most competitive price just sticking to the basic idea of “something nice that fundamentally works”.
However, clients should be aware that whatever money they are apparently saving at the start, could be nothing compared to the losses they might experience in various ways, including:
- missed opportunities by lacking some key elements that could entice more relevant users;
- a higher bounce rate (less users that remain on the website and perform the desired actions);
- higher costs and/or lower performance for online advertising;
- further costs for complete redesign of the website.
Deeply understanding your audience, allows you to fine-tune every aspect of your website (and strategy). You could even discover audience segments you prefer, or need, to rule out.
At any stage, time and money will never be wasted if invested in good in-depth Personas analysis and UX Design but, all considered, it is much cheaper to start off on the right foot when the website is nothing but a concept. It is a much better and more reliable long-term strategy.