Market Research – Where it all BeginsIn life, as in business (and web design), having a clear direction and goal in mind from the outset will make for a predictable journey to that end.
If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable~ Seneca Market research is all about understanding your audience, analyzing the competition and competitive landscape, and looking introspectively inward to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Market DemandsYour “market” represents the gameboard, along with all of its components and pieces upon which your design strategy executes. As it relates to market demands, what elements are vital, required or expected of your design and website? Examples:
- Visible accreditations or licensure;
- Prominent reviews and ratings;
- Specific contact or support channels;
- Information such as guides or training materials;
- Product/service visuals or demonstrations;
- Transparent pricing.
Competition / Competitive LandscapeYou know what they say: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. While you don’t need to become best friends with the competition, monitoring their activities, strategies, updates, offerings and other prerogatives can provide you with insightful and useful information. Competitive data can be used to leverage the time, resources and hard work of other brands to identify those activities or strategies that either perform well or fail in the market. By doing so, you can learn from costly mistakes, while benefiting from winning concepts already battle-tested in the market and proven to either work. Further, understanding the competitive landscape in its totality will help you understand what you’re up against, and can help you formulate ways to uniquely position your design in the market such that it stands out among the sea of competitors vying for the same business.
Target Audience / Customer AvatarWithout a deep understanding of your target audience, any web designer is prone to missing the mark badly, failing to connect with, engage, inspire action, and meet the needs of their visitors. Considerations with regards to your audience should include both demographic and user behavior data. Demographic Data to Consider:
- Age brackets
- Geographic locations
- Family size
- And other relevant data
- Behavioral Data to Consider:
- Needs and wants
- Pain points or complaints
- Desired solutions
- Likes and preferences
- Purchase habits
- And more…
Product / Solutions AuditSometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees as it were. Taking a step back and assessing your product/solutions and other offers can provide perspective on necessary design elements, positioning, and framing that can help turn a non-performing offer into a critical source of revenue. Utilizing information uncovered in the previous steps, cross-reference your offers and take a hard look at whether or not your products or services meet market and user demands, needs and want. In what way do your offers stand out (or in what ways can you make them stand out) from those offered by the competition. Utilize this data to formulation unique positioning and strategic approaches to incorporate your offers’ USP or value proposition.
Keyword ResearchKeyword research is a vital component of the design process, and will largely dictate how information is architected, organized, presented and delivered on the site. Approach keyword research from a bottom-up or top-down funnel approach. Necessary components of keyword research include:
- Keyword competition;
- Keyword intent (buyer vs. research vs. informational, etc.);
- Stage of funnel each keyword targets;
- Organization of content for search engines and user experience;
- Link modeling for internal link and ranking strategies.
- Sales/landing pages;
- Service/product pages;
- Resources, guides, tutorials;
- Informational and supportive blog posts or articles;
- Information Architecture.
Elements to Incorporate into your Design ArchitectureSite Structure: Determined by both market and keyword research, your site’s structure can be first mapped out by using an organizational chart for ease of visualization. URL Mapping: This step, while mostly administrative and somewhat tedious, involves the creation of each URL structure optimized for both readability by users and optimized for search engines to understand. Once created, assign designated keywords to their respective URLs. Page Flows: An understanding of user behavior and the ideal buyer journey should also shape how information is structured and organized, helping both users and search engines to “flow” seamlessly through information in a way that answers their questions and solves their problems with the least amount of “friction.” Value Propositions: An understanding of the problems and pain points facing your target audience will enable you to architect, draft and present unique value propositions tailored to each individualized problem or issue. Topic Clustering: Once you’ve mapped out your keywords, pages, and content, group or “cluster” those topics that are semantically relevant to each other. Clustering your content can help with search engine categorization and relevancy metrics. Interlinking: Once mapped out with pages and content clustered, seek out opportunities to link between related pages.
Closing ThoughtsTailoring design to user needs and expectations is never far from any designer’s thought process, yet knowing exactly which strategies or tactics have the best chance of performing well is often unclear. By utilizing a data-driven decision-making process, web designers can leverage information in a way that helps them formulate a plan tailor-made to perform and exceed expectations. Designs using data versus personal opinion, experience improved levels of engagement, higher conversions, enhanced user experience and overall performance. As a professional web designer, you have a responsibility to both the users, and to the organization for which you are working, to use and implement all available tools to deliver the best end product possible. Data is one of those tools and one in which there is an excellent potential for success when used correctly. Featured image via Unsplash
Anthony Atkins is a growth-minded digital marketer and entrepreneur - a purpose-driven leader with a proven track record for translating dreams and visions into practical concepts. He's managed and motivated interdisciplinary teams, both as a manager and CEO of his inbound marketing agency - CixxFive.
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