Who do you design for?

Rare are the businesses that don’t need to sell their wares, rarer still those who lock their doors and have them beaten down by customers wanting to buy. The rest of us – which is nearly everyone – live in the real world where we cannot afford to put obstacles in the way of potential buyers. In a small town you might get away with a store that has no name on the outside, but if customers find the door locked when they expect it to be open, or if they enter and cannot see what you have to offer – then they will be gone.

It is no different on the web. If your website is dysfunctional, so will be your online business. If people come to your home page and cannot tell what the site is about, or if it took them 30 seconds to get the page – you may never experience the financial bliss of dealing with them, for they will be long gone.

Most website owners understand this in a basic sort of way, because it is pretty obvious. But it is not enough to do your SEO, manage to be found, and then drop the ball. All kinds of things can become obstacles to potential customers.

How fast does your site load? If it falls below the expectations of visitors, they will grow impatient and leave. Then when they do get your home page – can they read it? This is not as obvious as you may think. Just because you can read it does not mean others can. And here is where usability problems start.

Half of the time people are browsing with desktop browsers. The other half (especially outside business hours) they are using tablets and phones. If you only designed your website for desktop, then people on mobile devices will be seeing your site in miniature and probably cannot read a lot of the important text. And if they don’t get your message, or only some of it, what will motivate them to go any further?