Have you ever been part of the process of launching a new small business website? Regardless if you’re the one designing the new website or you’re part of the small business waiting for your new site to launch, it can be a taxing process. There’s usually so much design, development, code, optimization, and content work put into a small business website redesign that many times the smallest (but most important) details get overlooked. Skipping those details can leave your new, redesigned website useless.
Curious what this common mistake is? I’ll tell you. Keep reading!
Avoiding Common, New Website Catastrophes
I have helped launch hundreds of sites over the years, and have seen both good launches and bad launches. There always seems to be one key difference that makes or breaks a small business website launch: customer research and user experience.
Yup, customer research and user experience. Not complicated coding techniques, page layout styles, or comprehensive blog sections, though those sections are definitely important to your site’s health. Creating a user friendly website is the most important action you will take when constructing your new small business website. You should be designing or redesigning your small business website for your customers and target audience, not for your own delight.
I would be willing to bet nine times out of 10 that your customers won’t care about your small business website redesign, unless it solves an existing complaint they have or provides some extra benefit to make their experience more enjoyable.
In fact, going out before you start the process of your website lunch to interact with your audience can help you develop a better plan for your website design and development. Ask your existing customers what issues they have with the current website? What do they like? Is it easy for them to find what they’re looking for?
If you want your website to attract more visitors like your ideal customers, you need to know what your existing customers think of your website. The more customer navigation and website usage information you have at the start of your website design process, the faster you’ll be able to launch your new and improved small business website because you’ll know what areas you specifically need to target.
Ways to Make Your New Website Launch User Friendly
Before you launch your new website, you need to develop your plan for how you will design and develop it, all the while keeping your ideal customers at the forefront.
Here are a few best ways to do that:
- Notify Your Visitors
- A/B testing
- Buyer Personas
- Highlight Changes
- Be Available
- Communicate and Be Flexible
Notify Your Visitors
If you want your new small business website launch to be a success, you need to first let your customers and audience know that it’s going to happen! Post about your new website and it’s launch date on your social media accounts and announce it on the homepage of your existing small business website (if you have one).
You also want to make sure you announce any special changes, features, or additions that will take place. Remember, you’re designing and developing your new website for your users. If there’s been a common complaint or suggestion about your website that you plan on fixing, let your audience know! Putting the word out about your new website is also a great way increase traffic to your new site and get your customers excited.
A/B testing is a controlled experiment where you test one specific variable of your website to see how it performs. For example, you could perform a A/B test to see which color for your CTA performs the best on your website. Create a set period of time where you track the number of clicks or actions completed for your CTA with one color, then change the color and repeat the experiment.
A/B testing is a great way to determine your specific website visitors preferences.
Hopefully you already have buyer personas created to help you determine who your specific target audience(s) is. Comprehensive buyer personas will help your small businesses determine who your ideal customers are so you can develop better content and marketing materials online.
However, there’s more than one style of buyer personas. Just like you can create personas for your audience including their geographic location, their age, their gender etc., you can also create buyer personas for how your website visitors and customers search your small business website. Do you know how your visitors are using and moving through your site? Are they visiting your information pages and blog posts to gather information before they make a purchase? Are they going straight to a product page they know exists?
If you know how your target audience is search your small business website, you can prioritize the design of those pages in your website launch and delegate where the majority of your resources should go.
This is just a short list of customer research options you should go over with your web provider when moving your site to a new platform, web provider, or undergoing a redesign. Every website launch will most likely have a few issues, so make sure you give yourself and your small business time to solve any problems that arise. But, if you do customer research ahead of your website launch date, you can limit the possibilities of those problems occuring because your customers are unhappy. If you put your customers first, you’ll see less problems develop later on down the road.
You need to make sure you and your website visitors are on the same page. If you plan on making major changes to your existing website, or you’re launching one for the first time, you need to communicate to your audience what those changes are. You don’t want your web visitors to get frustrated and leave your website if they can’t find what they’re looking for.
If you’re making changes for your customers, let them know that you’re holding up your end of the deal. If you don’t let your web visitors know about certain changes you’re planning on making, they could get lost on your site. No one wants that.
With any new website launch, there is bound to be some questions and hurdles you’ll have to overcome. That’s completely normal. Most likely your visitors who are unfamiliar with your brand will have some questions about your products and services or where they can go on your website to get more information.In these cases, the more open and available you are, the better!
You want to put forth the image that your small business is customer-centric. Having a chat support feature and/or a email address your visitors can use when they have questions will go a long way.
Communicate and Be Flexible
Before, during, and after your website launch, you need to be in contact with your customers. Talk to them, tell them your plans, ask for their opinions, and be open to their suggestions and questions. If you’re going to design your website with user experience in mind, you need to know what they want out of your website. And, that might means changing up some of your original plans to meet your customers’ requests and expectations.
Design a short survey to send to your customer email list, create a poll in a Twitter post, or message your contacts directly on social media to get a better idea of what your existing customers and web visitors think of your site and what they would like to see. You can use tools like Survey Monkey, Google Forms, and Type Forms to create easy, engaging surveys your contacts can fill out. Show your true colors as a small business and be willing to go above and beyond to create the best website you can for your customers!
Bottom line? Be patient and be flexible. Launching your new small business website is a big deal and a lot of work needs to go into it. Stick with it. But, if you take the time before hand to communicate with your customer base and include them in your website design and development process before it’s launch, you’ll end up saving everyone involved a lot of headaches. Your small business website is a powerful tool needs to serve your customers first and foremost.