Researching site users requirements

Analysis phase

The identification of the requirements of a web site. Techniques to achieve this may include focus groups, questionnaires sent to existing customers or interviews with key accounts.

User-centred design

A design approach which is based on research of user characteristics and needs.

Persuasion marketing

Using design elements such as layout, copy and typography together with promotional messages to encourage site users to follow particular paths and specific actions rather than giving them complete choice in their navigation

Analysis involves using different marketing research techniques to find out the needs of the site audience. These needs can then be used to drive the design and content of the web site.

It is not a 'one-off' exercise, but is likely to be repeated for each iteration of the prototype. Although analysis and design are separate activities, there tends to be considerable overlap between the two phases. In analysis we are seeking to answer the following types of 'who, what, why, how' questions:

• Who are the key audiences for the site?

• Why should they use the site (what will appeal to them)?

• What should the content of site be? Which services will be provided?

• How will the content of the site be structured (information architecture)?

• How will navigation around the site occur?

• What are the main marketing outcomes we want the site to deliver (registrations, leads, sales)?

To help answer these questions, web designers commonly use an approach known as user-centred design which uses a range of techniques to ensure the site meets user needs. Within this design process, usability and accessibility are goals which we will now study further. It is now generally agreed that web site designers also need to add persuasion marketing into the design mix; to create a design that is not only easy to use, but also delivers results for the business. This approach is essential since usability which will often lead to giving the user choice, may conflict with using a web site to meet business objectives which will often need to persuade customers to register or buy a product. Most web sites should not give total business choice in which sections they use, but, as with any marketing communication, should influence the recipient of the communication to encourage them to take particular actions or follow particular paths. You can see that this concept of user-centred design is similar to the concept of customer orientation or customer-centricity which we have covered in preceding chapters.

Consultant Bryan Eisenberg of Future Now (www.futurenowinc.com) is an advocate of persuasion marketing alongside other design principles such as usability and accessibility. He says:

during the wireframe and storyboard phase we ask three critical questions of every page a visitor will see:

1 What action needs to be taken?

2 Who needs to take that action?

3 How do we persuade that person to take the action we desire?

Usability

An approach to web site design intended to enable the completion of user tasks.

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