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Research & Analysis

Designing and building a successful and productive website involves a lot more than simply coding or designing. While these skills are obviously vital, its important to acknowledge some of the other functions of web development that go on behind the scenes, such as market research which plays such an important role, simply put, without it we are working blind. Below we have highlighted five stages of the design process, we use to help align your business goals with prospective customer needs and create a better customer experience.

Market Research in Web Development

1. Client Journey Development
Before we even consider any part of the design process, we need to ascertain what your goals are, this needs to be documented and set out almost like a ‘Roadmap’ in order to do this we need to listen to you the client as well as your prospective customers. After all you know how your customers should interact with your services, marketing and sales materials.

Customers however are more likely to prefer a simplistic journey to their end goal, and its finding the middle ground between your needs and those of your customers that is essential to your success. This ‘Middle ground’ becomes the backbone of your navigation model. Discussing this with the client is not hard but finding the customers needs is where market research comes into play.

2. Co-creation & Innovation
Developing an ideal journey is one thing, but taking it a step further involves inviting customers to co-create the website with you. Obviously most customers won’t have the expertise (or time) to actually develop the site – and even if they did, it is not advisable. Instead, this stage involves asking customers to contribute their innovative ideas that would make the site stand out.

Perhaps there are community or social driven aspects that would make the site more engaging, or maybe customers want a more interactive experience. Without being limited to the technically possible, creativity is free to run riot. From the results, you can pick and choose the elements that both integrate well into the proposed customer journey and are within budgetary constraints. Even if only a few ideas fit the bill, the remainder can be shelved for further development.

3. Concept Testing
Once a few possible variations of the site aesthetics and design have been mocked-up, the next stage is usually to present the ideas to clients for a decision on which to carry forward. We would suggest inserting an extra step beforehand which involves testing the concepts with customers. This can be achieved through smartboard tools that are specifically designed to incorporate and drive feedback on visual stimuli.

A smartboard allows you to upload pictures and designs to show to participants who are then able to comment on defined areas and provide feedback. For example, you could split a web page into: header, navigation, body, sidebar and footer. Participants would then be able to provide sentiment-tagged feedback on each section with detailed insight on what exactly they like or do not like. The unique aspect of a FlexMR smartboard is the collaborative nature of the tool. Our tool enables participants to respond to comments and have ongoing discussions on the image, generating further insightful feedback.

4. User Experience Feedback
As you near the end of the development cycle and head steadily towards launch, you must not forget to collect usability feedback from customers. No matter how similar the site to your initial wireframe, there will no doubt be differences that alter the experience and usability slightly. From load times, to the aesthetics and navigation of the website, customers will always be more critical of the finished product than either yourself or the client.

But gathering this feedback at this stage is a positive action, however negative it might be. Understanding customer opinion and ironing out the flaws will ensure a smoother launch and more excitement rather than frustration. Gathering in-depth opinion at this stage can be tricky though. Our best advice would be to give a small, select number of customers access to your development platform.

Once access has been granted, ask participants to use the site once a day for three to four days. During this time request that they keep an online journal of their experiences. This will ensure you gather in-the-moment feedback that is true to their thoughts and feelings. More importantly, it will be actionable advice that can be built in to the final version prior to launch.

5. On-going Refinement
Congratulations – you have launched your client’s website. They are thrilled with the results and it is already generating revenue. But don’t let this be the end of the journey. Even the best websites have room for improvement. To find out which areas could be improved and what to work on next, build in a small non-intrusive feedback device. This can be achieved with dedicated apps, or your own custom code. This article from Website Magazine lists 10 suggestions for all your feedback needs.

By integrating market and customer feedback into as many aspects of the development process as possible, it is easier than ever before to create engaging, customer-led websites that effectively generate revenue. What are your tips for integrating client and end-user feedback into the web development process? Let us know in the comments below.

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