Friday, July 17, 2009

The Move to 'User-Centered' Web Design

There hasn’t been one single client we work with that isn’t finishing up either a web redesign or in the middle of one. What the heck? Is there some sort of web design sale going on out there? Doubtful.

More likely is that Web 2.0 is finally reaching critical mass. And while there is still debate on what exactly Web 2.0 is, it seems to include at its core: user-centered design.

There has been a monumental shift in web design, moving from the notion that the more content you can expose your visitors to the better, (probably born from the concept that more content got you better SE rankings) to almost completely the opposite: now only relevant content is displayed. It might be the same volume of content, but today’s web redesigns seem to focus on segmenting this content out into bite size relevant chunks. Much less is now much more.

While we often use the pyramid below to define where clients are on their email marketing optimization evolution, the same pyramid could easily be used to map where you are on your web design evolution as well.

So maybe web design starts to look like this:

Web 2.0 = Segmentation
Web 3.0 = One-to-One Content
Web 4.0 = Right Time, Right Content to the Right Person

For now just migrating from Batch and Blast to Segmentation on your website is a huge advantage in itself. The web has always been the perfect opportunity to get visitors to self-identify what they are actually interested in.

So as you redesign your website, make sure you consider the pyramid above. Start with segmentation:

Use Content Tags in Eloqua (together with web tracking scripts) to identify pages or sections on your site that will allow you to drive much more relevant conversations. Since you now know where Bob has been on your site, you can deliver messages to Bob that match his specific online interests.

Leverage Your Contact Us page to gather segmentation data. If there was ever a place for a form, it’s here. Some companies still just list a series of email addresses or a main phone number as their segmentation method, but instead of just listing things like CONTACT US AT:, or, use a form to gather this type of information so you can leverage it in scoring programs, contact groups etc.

Leverage Subscriptions as a way of identifying what types of content visitors would like to receive. Don’t just say “Subscribe to our Newsletter”. Instead drive them to a subscription preferences page that allows them to pick and choose the exact types of content they would like to receive.

Use “ Quick Forms” to allow visitors to sign up for content similar to what is displayed on the page. I wrote about this in a prior blog.

Whether you are in the middle of a web redesign or planning a future one, evaluate each web page and ask the question, “does this page help drive further implicit and or explicit segmentation?

Updated 5-8-12
Visit my brand new website and learn more about Website Optimzation Best Practices

Steve Kellogg
-Demand Generation/Marketing Automation Consultant, Astadia
-Eloqua Certified Marketing Best Practices Consultant

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