You are not your user

One of the hardest things to keep in mind when working on your website is: you are not your user. What you like isn’t necessarily what will appeal to your users; the same thing can be said for how users will use your website.

When you are working on your website, just like any other marketing materials, you need to keep your focus on what will be most effective for your target audience, not necessarily what you you personally find the most appealing. What are some ways you can do this?

Stop thinking about what you want to get out of your website and start thinking about what your users want to get out of your website.

This doesn’t mean that you don’t plan where and what your calls to action are, or that you never use your website to sell a product or a service. While your website’s main purpose may be to grow your business, you don’t want to alienate your user by interrupting their journey on your website. It means that by providing a more open experience for your user, with the resources that they are actively looking for, your user will build more trust and goodwill towards you.

Stop thinking about whether you like certain design elements on your website and start thinking about what kind of design elements will best resonate with your users and best represent your brand, product or service.

This can be best illustrated when you consider the use of colour – colours are used to to build experiences. Different colours and colour schemes will create different experiences. For example, while vibrant red may be your favourite colour, it may not be the best choice for material promoting information about how to get a better night’s sleep.

Stop assuming that you know your users or customers and start learning what speaks to them.

There are a number of ways that you can get to know your users and what they’re looking for – researching demographic information, creating personas or utilizing focus groups to name a few – and by using what you have available for learning about your users, you can learn what will most resonate with them. This will help you create a journey or story to be used throughout your website.

Stop thinking that users will know where you want them to go and start thinking about how your users will actually use your website.

There will be two types of users who come to your website – those who know exactly where to find what they are looking for (like your sales staff) and those who don’t know where everything on your website is, but won’t spend a lot of time trying to find it. Your users will want information that is easy to find and right to the point.

Focusing on how your users will actually use your website will help you deliver the content that will be beneficial to your users. I challenge you now – take an objective look at your website (or have a friend take a look at your website) and ask yourself, if you were your user would your website be effective? And always remember, that you are not your user.