Web sites are not equal. What works for someone in a creative industry is not going to be as successful for someone in accounting or technology. It is better to determine what works best for your industry during the initial stage of web design than it is to discover the completed site is not working and have to change everything. Taking the time to research in advance can save time, money and frustration down the road. The results of your research will show itself in both the design of your website and the content.
What to Research and Why
First, you need to know your ideal customer. Knowing this will help you determine:
*Color choices – Color has a significant psychological effect on people. By researching your ideal client, you will be able to use colors that you know they like. You can also determine the colors that best convey the emotion you want to convey. Most sales decisions are subconscious before the person hands over their money. The color is an excellent way to reach that unconscious decision maker.
*Content – What is your ideal client looking for when they visit a website? Some want content that will inform them of what your product or service can help them do. Others are looking for something that can help them learn a skill, or improve in their businesses. How does your ideal customer like to get information? That will determine the percentage of articles, photos, or videos you use. Catching a person’s interest is important, but you need to keep it and be valuable enough that they want to return.
*Marketing methods – This is something that can make or break your business. Your web design can be perfect for the audience, but if they don't know you exist, they aren’t going to become customers. You need to research their purchasing decisions (reviews, word of mouth, etc.), where they hang out, and the kind of advertising messages that appeal to them. There is one kind of research that is part of web design process that can’t be rushed, or neglected: keywords.
The days of one or two keywords being enough to appeal to search engines and get your content indexed is over. Today, you need to understand the idea of keyword concepts, which is a group of related keywords that centralize around a theme. For example, you have developed a line of natural pet products. Instead of having to focus on “natural pet products” to be found, you can use that as the main keyword, but pet shampoo, healthy dog treats, cat health and more will all add to being found in a search even when you include your main keyword only once on a page. In fact, the more related words you use, the better your results than if you “stuff” your main keyword into the page.
When you research keywords, you want to find out what terms people are using to reach products like yours. Once you settle on the best primary keyword, start thinking about all the words that relate to that main one. Research the popularity of those words. This research is a good place to consider words that have a higher search rate but lower result rate. That would mean it is more likely for someone to find you.
The BARR Process
When it comes to keyword research, you will need to analyze and update as these things often change. The BARR process helps you remember what you need to do in regards to keyword research but the concept applies to all the research you must do during the web design process to reach perfection.
The process breaks down as:
B – Brainstorm – This is the initial researching and finding the best course of action
A – Analyze – Find out what is working and what isn’t
R – Rework – Make necessary changes
R – Repeat – Research again to find changes that may impact effectiveness
It would be great if we could simply do something only once and have it work for good. With humans involved, change is inevitable because what is “in” today will be old news tomorrow. Initial research will give you a strong base, but some things do stay consistent over time. Like how a particular group prefers to get information and where you find your ideal client. This may all seem time-consuming, but the end results in sales are well worth the effort.