One of the coolest things about interning in a public relations agency is you get to meet and work with amazing people. Last week, I had the great opportunity to tour Andculture, an experience design and web development firm in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
It focuses on three main steps in its work — visual and interactive design, front- and back-end development, and content and usability — which are all essential pieces of creating a seamless and engaging user experience. During my tour, I got to meet many experienced developers and designers who fielded my many questions.
From our discussion, here are four important questions you should ask if you have a website:
1. Who is your target audience?
In public relations and marketing, the first question asked should always seek to identify the primary audience. The internet is a big world easily available to anyone, so some developers fall into the trap of targeting their websites to everyone with an internet connection. You should know who your audiences are because they influence the content and design of your website. Once you know who your main targets are and what they are interested in, you can shape your website to catch and retain their attention.
2. Can your audiences easily navigate your website?
Too many times, people focus more on website design being flashy and edgy, sacrificing simple elements that help audiences navigate pages on a website. There should be clear steps that audiences can take when browsing your website. They should be able to easily dive into your content, knowing where to go next for more information and how to return to the home page. An easy way of doing this is creating a “site map” — Google defines this as a file where you can list the web pages of your site to tell Google and other search engines about the organization of your content.
3. Is your website optimized for mobile browsing?
According to research by Smart Insights, 80 percent of internet users own a smartphone and this number will keep increasing. Your website should be optimized not only for phones but for tablets and desktops. An interesting fact I noticed in my tour of Andculture was that each developer and designer worked on three different screens to test how the website functioned and looked on separate platforms. As a user, if I get on a website that is not optimized for mobile and appears off on my screen, I usually just exit out of the page. I am probably not the only one unwilling to go the extra mile to bend my phone screen to read content when I can find the information somewhere else.
4. Do you have a visible search engine?
This is something that always disappoints me when I browse some websites. Your audiences should be able to find what they are looking for. This becomes even more vital for websites that are more design-focused and might not easily display all the content to users. In cases like this, a search bar, preferably at the top of the page, makes life a lot easier for your users. It is simple and can save a lot of time for your audiences and direct them to similar content they might find interesting.
Website design is a process that never really stops, so these are questions you should always be asking. These are also questions you should ask regular people browsing your website when you are testing it.
You are not your audience, so sometimes you have to sit regular people down and let them roam your website and answer these questions too. Ideally, your answers and their answers will match.
Shekinah Olagunju, Harrisburg Communications/PR Intern
Image Credit: Shutterstock