“Well, wait…if it isn’t about me, whom exactly am I targeting?!”

Maybe this was the first thought that popped into your head when you read about our new blog series called, “It’s not about you.” Every time we start a website redesign and we ask, “who is your audience?” it’s surprising how many times ‘staff,’ ‘our board’ or even, ‘the people in this room’ are thrown out before the likes of your ongoing event attendees or donors. We hate to break it to you, but the people who work at your organization might be big supporters of your work and bust their you-know-what daily to make an impact, but they aren’t the primary reason your site is getting traffic. So if it isn’t them, whom exactly are you supposed to be targeting?

In this series, we are going to walk through each step of UX design so you can see which 5 key areas to focus on when looking at strategy, site architecture, wireframing and design. These key points should help you remember why you are in a redesign in the first place and what you should focus on during each phase of the design project. And, being good stewards of the internet, we’ve even peppered some memes to help you remember each point and hopefully chuckle along in agreement too.

So sit back and remember, a good user experience (UX) is always focused on your users and what goals they have in visiting your site.

PART 1 – Starting off on the right foot (or paw) with strategy 

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Let’s get this experience started with a run down of a good UX strategy and how you can start focusing more on your audience.

Before you even start thinking colors, layout and where your important call to action button or links will be, you have to start every project with a strategy. Unlike cat memes that pop out of nowhere and show incredible success with very little effort, your website will need a strategy that will help entice your audience to visit often and get them excited about helping you achieve your org’s goals.

At Charity Dynamics, we love a great strategy that reminds us of the important aspects of a website redesign. And, like any crazy cat lady, I love a good cat meme. So without further ado, I give you the 5 key points to accomplishing a great, USER FOCUSED website redesign strategy:

1 : GATHER DATA

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If you’ve had a site up for any amount of time, you have data. If you have Google Analytics, you have even more data to help you figure out what your users visit the most and, unfortunately, what they don’t see at all. Your first step into strategy should be visiting these data points. They will not tell you why, but you will get your first insight into what your audience is looking for on your site (search results), what are the pages people are visiting first (landing pages), what pages are most popular (top ranked) and where are they leaving you (exit pages). You’ll see trends that will start to allow you to put the pieces of the puzzle together as to what your audience wants to see and what they come back for time over time.

But don’t stop at Google Analytics! What are your top ranked donation forms? What’s the average gift on those forms? Are visitors logging into your site? If they are, what are they doing? If they use the search on your site, what are they looking for that they can’t find in your navigation or homepage? All great insights and super useful that can lead to some interesting questions to your audience’s overall user experience.

Note these down. Build benchmarks. You’ll use these important elements to measure your success and possible pitfalls after you launch your new website.

2 – TALK TO YOUR USERS

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You’ve educated yourself with your data…but that is only half the story. Use that data to formulate some great questions to understand the qualitative perspective of your website.

You hopefully know your biggest, loudest supporters. Now is the time to ask them to share with you what they love about your site and what they wish was just a wee bit better. Set up interviews with them and talk through scenarios and why they visit your site over others. What is it about your organization that makes them come back? To garner anonymous feedback, set up a survey and put it on your site. Add a mention to it in your monthly newsletter. Make sure it won’t take longer than 5 minutes to take and promote that!

Above all – don’t be afraid. You are going to get some grumpy opinions. Take them all in stride and realize that sometimes the worst feedback is the best and reminds us why we are in a redesign in the first place! Don’t be afraid to ask and watch those opinions turn into small gold nuggets of important user experience needs.

3 – SET YOUR GOALS

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Now granted, you probably have goals established waaaaay before you even start your website redesign, but, like anything, it’s always worth a revisit after you start to collect data and gather feedback from your users. So take the time to establish goals, but always reevaluate to make them SMART!

  • Specific – Make sure they are crystal clear and direct. An example would be, “we want to have at least 30 new e-news subscribers a month.”
  • Measurable – Remember those benchmarks we mentioned above? You’ll use these to make sure you are hitting those goals. Think quantitative rather than qualitative.
  • Actionable – Whether big or small, this goal has to be quantifiable to allow you to make strides towards it.
  • Realistic – Can this actually happen? We all would love to see everyday being like an ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ social media frenzy, but what’s the reality that will happen. Make sure it can happen for your org!
  • Timely or Time-bound – When do you want all of this to happen by? Six months? One year? Give your goal a date range so you can measure against it and take action.

4-  UNDERSTAND WHO YOUR USERS REALLY ARE

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I know not everyone has bought into the persona-building exercise for websites, but I’m a pretty big supporter of it. A persona is a representation of a specific website users who take into account similar decisions when they visit your website. The biggest win for building personas is you are now officially placing the goals within the expectations of these users. (OMG! You are being user-specific!!) If one of your goals was to increase your rankings in Google search, how would your persona need to act to accomplish that goal for you? Instead of thinking through what YOU would do (remember, not about YOU), you are now putting the ownership of this goal on this particular persona. And based on all the interviews and data you collected, you should be reminded of what they were most attracted to do and how you could possible coerce that goal to become an important action for them.

Personas help you focus on the users who actually USE YOUR SITE. Remember, we can’t be everything to everyone, so focus on the audience who does come to your site first. 

5 – SET USER SCENARIOS TO MAKE THEM WANT MORE

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After you create your website personas, you have to define what user scenarios they would go through to complete goals on your site. I call this the “want” factor. What makes one person want to come to your site over all the rest?

Put yourself in the shoes of that persona and think through what would make you want to get to that next step. Complete that donation. Register for the walk. Take action. Be involved. These user scenarios are probably the biggest outcome of your strategy and will help define the language you use on your site, how you define your site architecture and where each of those important call-to-action items will be through out your site to entice and help them move to the next step.

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Hopefully you are starting to see the pattern of why it’s so important to have the data that defines what your users want on your site. Let’s not turn them into a grumpy cat by not thinking of what their needs are. You need these cool cats to make your goals and make your board happy, right? So use the strategy you developed to your advantage and define what your goals and user experience should be first so through out the process you are reminded that it is all about them…with a focus on important goals to you.