Are You Giving Your Web Customers What They Need?
Friday, July 2, 2010; 12:00 AM
How do your customers use the web? It's a simple question, but a question many small-business owners forget to discuss when working on their website. Frequently, small businesses get focused on their own technology and not the tools of their customers. From iPads and smartphones to oversized monitors and laptops, how do you deliver your message to your customer online today?
Review the MetricsIf you have a website, you should have some type of metrics or analytic application on your website. This is a way of measuring traffic to your website, and a feature offered by some applications is the ability to review browser information. This means reviewing what web browsers and operating systems your customers use and what screen resolution they have set on their monitors. These analytics can help you decide if it's time to deliver content in different ways.
Mobile StyleWhen your website is accessed through a mobile device, how does it look? Here are two things to keep in mind when thinking about your website. The first is that image-heavy sites take longer to download on cell phones. The second is that Flash animation can't be seen on all phones. However, you don't have to sacrifice these features on your full-size website if that is where most of your customers are coming from, but you may want to ask your web developer to create an alternate style for your mobile audience. There are two approaches that you may want to ask your developer about: creating a style for the mobile web browser; of which there are many, or for the screen size of the mobile audience. The way this works is that your developer can program your website to identify the device's browser or screen size and return the style for the phone. If you have a number of visitors who access your website from their phones, you should add this feature to your website.
Print StyleWebsites are designed and developed to work on some type of computer screen, but if you know your audience likes to print your pages or articles, you may want to provide this option. This is a feature many online magazines likeEntrepreneuruse, but this feature can also be used by educational sites for sharing content, or by restaurants for displaying menus. This is an extra feature; you will need to request a printer-friendly style sheet from your web developer, and it isn't something that takes long to code. The feature can be designed to be executed when someone hits a print icon on your web page, or when your users hit print from within their web browsers.
User StyleYou may want your website to have a certain look and feel, but consider this: How many different audiences do you have visiting your website? Business is about showing your customers that you understand them and are flexible to their needs. Begin that conversation by giving your audience control over some items on your website. Font styles can be a great place to start. Provide users with a way to increase and decrease the size of your font to make reading content easier for your visitor. You can also let customers control colors so they can pick light text on dark background or dark text on a light background. These style changes will help your users make the most of your website, and consequently, they'll spend more time reviewing your information. Just like each of the other styles, you will need to have this specifically created by your developer.
Take your website to a new level and create styles that will show your visitors you want to work with them.
Jennifer Shaheen, the e-marketing and Technology Therapist, has more than 10 years experience working with small- to mid-sized businesses on their e-marketing and web development needs. You can learn more about her by visiting her website, TechnologyTherapy.com