Monday, April 8, 2013

Building websites for people

We use to build websites for machines.  Now, we build websites for people.  Yes, the end user has always been a person, but the web experience is changing.  It's an important paradigm shift to think of your website as being built for your users.

For those who have been using personal computers since before 2000 you might remember DOS (Disk Operating System).  It was really phased out in 1995 but Windows still had a partial interface with it until 2000.  Before 1995, in order to use an IBM machine, you had to know how to use DOS.  It wasn't overly difficult, but it wasn't natural either.  DOS gave way to full interface operating systems that didn't require the user to "code" anything, there was a button, a link, and a graphic for everything.

Unless you are a programmer who still edits your production code using vi (just finished making an edit myself) it might be hard to imagine not having a button and graphic for every task you want to accomplish.  For those born after 1995, they have never known anything else.  

It use to be okay to make your users do a little work to get the most from your website.  Google, and every other search engine, use to let you use logical operators (< > = + - || & '') and various keywords to construct a targeted search query.  Google quickly realized that this kept a large subsection of their users from getting what they wanted, relevant results.  

As with Google, websites no longer need to make the user do the work.  This means we can start building websites for people, and not for machines.

The process for building a website use to start with the company's business.  What information does the business need in fill an order, tie into the CRM, make decisions, etc.  

Today, the process for building a new website starts with the customer.  What information does the customer want, what information will they give, and what inspires them to take action.

One thing that's great about conversion rate optimization is that it gives us a structured framework to systematically rebuild your website for your customers.