How’s your website doing? Did you answer that thorny question that Becky and I talked about at the end of last year? (No, seriously, that question is really important – it is the first question you should always answer before building or changing your website. Go on, re-read it if you have to, we’ll wait patiently here.)
Today I’d like to talk to you about the second question you should be asking yourself about your website. But only after you’ve got a good answer on that first question.
Ok, ok, I’ll get to the point: the second question is:
What does your customer want your website to do?
Photo by CarbonNYC
(I let Andy pick his own photos.)
This might seem like an obvious question, but have you actually asked your customers this question?
It might be an eye-opener of an opportunity to provide your clients with the information and resources they are looking for. But it’s hard. It’s hard to ask awkward questions like that, especially when you might hear about problems you were hoping to avoid.
It’s also a bit awkward because sometimes the answer to the question about what you want your website to do might be different than what your customers want.
I’ve scoured up a few real examples of people I’ve worked with, either directly or indirectly. What would you do if this was your business?
Boutique soap/candle shop:
- Business owner wants to promote special deals.
- Customers want a listing of the full inventory as well as tips and suggestions on what to buy as gifts.
Couple who offer custom walking maps and guided hiking tours:
- Business owners want to get potential leads to pick up the phone and call.
- Customers want a lot more detailed information about what the walks are like, how to decide their fitness level, what to pack. (In other words, their customers do not want to call. Oops.)
Unique 16-room hotel near city center of small town:
- Business owner wants to attract more search traffic to help sell off-season rooms.
- Customers want to get a good deal and find out more local tips and recommendations.
As you can see with these examples, sometimes you’re just a few steps short of providing what your customers want. And other times, your interests clash with theirs. The magic is deciding what to do about it. But you won’t know what is missing, if you don’t ask.
Andy Hayes is the author of Why Your Website Sucks, which helps small businesses answer the tough questions about their own websites to help them sell more. He also publishes SHERPA Magazine, a FREE (and beautiful and informative) monthly to what’s hot in small business.