Sometimes, you come across something that just says it all. A recent diagram in the xkcd webcomic pretty well summed up a lot of what we find on the Internet today.
When you are deciding what to put on your Web site, remember to be driven by what your visitors will want to find there. Things that you’re tempted to add because they’d be “cool” are likely to be in the left-hand portion of the above diagram. Strive, instead, to think of the things on the right, whatever they may be in your specific case.
If you’ve already got a site in place, a look at your Web analytics can reveal a lot about what is actually the most useful information on there. There’s little sense in trying to guess what your visitors are interested in, when you can get hard data that reveals all. Of course, if you don’t have Web analytics installed on your site, we can help you with that, and we can also help you to make solid decisions based on the data gathered.
When you’re considering the addition of a new piece of functionality or content to your site, it may be worthwhile to survey your visitors to learn whether they think they might use it. Of course, don’t spend more effort on the survey than you would on the development – it may well be that it’s faster and easier to simply put something up and see whether it’s used or not.
Another useful exercise is to visit your competitors’ sites, to see what they’ve put online for their visitors. Of course, you may very well discover that their webmaster is a member of the “flaming logos” school of Web design, but you may also find that they’ve thought of something interesting and compelling to add to their site.
It’s almost impossible to look at your own site with unbiased eyes, so ask an associate or a trusted customer to have a look at it and give you candid feedback, as well. Is there something that they’d just love to see there, but couldn’t find? Is there a lot that they had no use for at all? Did they spot typos or other “mechanical” issues with your site? Go through this exercise a few times, with a few different people, and you’ll gain a new appreciation for what your visitors may be after when they come to your site.
Responding thoughtfully to all of this information will make your site more useful to visitors, and one that they’re more likely to come back to again and again, and to share with their friends. And that, of course, is how you retain your existing customers and win new ones. Give ‘em what they want!