Forget What You Want

When it comes to Web content, people are often quick to rattle off a “here’s what I want” list. Something like, “I want to say how cool our latest offering is and we have to give the marketing team a section and the technology team needs a page and I want a flashing, bouncing, glittering picture on the home page… ” and so on.

If you build it, they will come, right? Wrong. In a post about what USA Today has done well in the print publishing industry, Farrell Kramer of Farrell Kramer Communications gives this lesson: “You must give people what they want, not what you want them to want.” The same is true on the Web.

People don’t care how cool you think your new product is. Of course you think it’s cool- It’s your product. People don’t care what the structure of your organization is. They don’t know if the information they want is from your marketing department or customer service. And those flashy, bouncy things? People don’t like those. They’re distracting and they make your site load slower.

Forgive me if this sounds a bit harsh. Visitors will spend about 30 seconds on your site to determine if what they need is there. If you paid attention, you noticed the phrasing was “if what they need is there. You want to give them what they want. You want your site to be the place they found whatever it is that was useful to them.

How do you know what they want? Ask them. Sometimes the best ideas come from your users, not your marketing department, not even your Web developer. Yes, both of these are also great resources, but nothing takes the place of speaking with your customers or potential customers.

Forget what you want. What do they want?

Now, go give it to them.

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