What makes a great website?
What makes a website great for your customers?
What makes a website great for your potential customers?
The answers to these questions will help you to publish a successful website. One that encourages current and potential customers to both see and engage with your content. And hopefully buy your products and services too!
I published a post on this topic years ago, which included the seven things that must be on your website. It is “The 7 essentials of Customer Centric Websites.” and still makes a useful (and short) read, even today.
One of the major changes since then, is that today, with mobile more likely to be the screen of reference, we have gone from a “no scroll” to a “must-scroll” format. Words have given way to more images and now also to videos. We have gone from information to entertainment, from push to pull, and from “ours” to “theirs.”
The “Top nine attributes of effective websites” is a post published by Craig Reardon on smartcompany.com.au. It explains what makes a good website for small businesses. I found it to be a great starting point for my topic for any sized business, so I would encourage you to check it out as well.
Still, I do have a couple of criticisms about the post – sorry Craig. It starts with technology and also includes company rather than customer priorities. But you, fellow customer centricity champions, know that everything should start with the customer! So I’d like to build on both his post and my earlier one, to lay out what it takes to win online these days.
9 Essentials of a Customer Centric Website
Checking a website is often the first step a customer makes when they are interested in a brand or manufacturer. Therefore we should ensure that ours responds to their needs, whatever the reason for their visit. I have chosen the nine essential elements of a customer centric website below.
Please let me know what you think, by adding a comment below.
1. It’s for the customer, not (just) you
Although your website is about you and your company and/or brands, it is your customers, both current and potential, that need to like it.
Therefore, start by thinking about for whom you are developing the site and what their desires and needs are. Use our 4W™ template to ensure you go as deep as possible in your understanding of them. I also suggest you read “12 things you need to know about your target customers” for more on what you should know in order to understand them and be able to describe them in depth.Who is your website for? If it's not for your customer it's time to rethink. #CustomerCentricity #CustomerFirst #Website #Engagement Click To Tweet
2. An intuitive structure
We don’t have time to read, let alone learn how to navigate a website. Customers will leave if they can’t immediately find what they are looking for. This explains why many – dare I say most? – businesses have a 50% plus bounce rate. (See the RocketFuel analysis for more on this)
It may still be necessary to have a sitemap for those visitors who need help in navigating or are less logical. However, it no longer needs the prominence it once did. Put it at the bottom of the page and don’t waste valuable real estate by placing it at the top.
If you make it easy for people to find what they are looking for, they will never need to revert to a sitemap, and even less to leave for a competitor’s website.If you make it easy for people to find what they are looking for on your website, they will never need to revert to a sitemap, and even less to a competitor's website. #CustomerFirst #CustomerCentricity #Customer #Website Click To Tweet
3. Customers can contact you however they want
Contact links or your full details must appear on the home page, including telephone numbers, email, postal and street addresses, and social media accounts. With the global nature of the internet, a customer has the right to know where you are based.Your customers have the right to connect as they wish, by whichever media they prefer. Do you give your own customers a choice? #CustomerChoice #CEX #CustomerCare Click To Tweet
Do away with impersonal forms and drop-down menus, which force customers to use your classification. Instead, make them feel special, valued and appreciated. Make them feel like you are waiting to hear from them, and that you want to know what they have to share or ask. Above all, customers want to be treated as individuals, not as just one insignificant member of a mass.Customers want to be treated as individuals, not as just one insignificant member of a mass. How do you treat your customers? As the precious clients they are for your business? #CEX #CRM #CustomerCare #CustomerSatisfaction Click To Tweet
4. Full details of your products, brands and services
Today’s customers demand information. They want details about ingredients, sourcing, limitations of usage, distribution and availability.
When I wrote the original post on customer centric websites, I mentioned Reckitt Benckiser as a best-in-class example. Today, when I look at the leading CPG / FMCG websites, I find many that deserve a mention. I, therefore, decided to ask you, the reader, to vote for your favourite customer centric website and why you consider it to be a great example? Please share your ideas below in the comments.
And if your own website doesn’t pass the above nine essentials test, perhaps it’s time to make some changes? We can help with a detailed website audit which will pinpoint how to optimise it for your customers’ experience.