1 Critical Design Mistake to Avoid when Starting Your Web Business

February 28, 2010 – 4:37 pm | by Matt Ackerson

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We all know about the importance of conveying our ideas in effectively, especially in business when it comes to telling prospective customers what it is we’re selling and why they consider buying from us. If you’re like me, you think this is true, but you might be terribly wrong when it comes to implementation.

For example, about a month and a half ago I was out at a small party. There was a laptop that everyone was using and since Blue Sky Local came up in conversation, so I showed the website to a couple of friends. For each person who I showed the website to, he would stare at the site for a minute or two, then look up at me and say, “Ok… neat…” or “Ok, I don’t get it, like… what does your business do?” This should have been a red flag at the time, I rationalized and ignored it for several weeks. Finally, after speaking with an entrepreneur friend of mine last week, Matt Turcotte, I was re-reminded of of this feedback.

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Now that I am proposing a redesign of the website (see above), I’ve realized the mistake I’ve made—that the current design and text on the site simply hasn’t conveyed the key points of our service in a simple and succinct manner so that anyone, including my mother (who is definitely not a technology person) or friends (who are not in our target market), will quickly “get it.”

The assumption I’m making here is that if they don’t understand what my business is in 30 seconds or less, how can I expect prospective clients to understand it? It’s a reasonable assumption. If your customers do not easily comprehend what it is you’re selling and why it’s valuable, they are much less likely to buy from you.

My mistake was not keeping this at the fore-front of my mind and not testing the site design more frequently with friends and family members earlier on. In addition, my desire was to convey what was “cool” about our service rather than why it is useful to potential clients.

In Review:

  • When designing your website, put aside any personal desire you may have to explain why your product is awesome
  • Ask your current customers or users what they find value about the service
  • Test understanding of the website’s design with people outside of your target market (this may seem counter intuitive, but it’s important)
  • Don’t ignore the feedback you get—take it to heart and translate it into design changes!

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