Website development is where the coding magic begins and results in great results in the search engines. This often means moving out of the hands of a great designer into the hands of a great developer. Keyword testing, combined with data on what users do after they hit landing pages, is often overlooked, but this can save you time and money for SEO and UX. This is where the bugs get fixed.
Do yourself a favor. Invest time in testing. Finally, the launch. This is where the fun begins. Marketing and analytics is about understanding your customers, to build sites that audiences want. Sometimes, this means creating content, like videos, real photos instead of stock photos. This will take time to be sure the message is just right.
Begin with research for UX and SEO. Know your website’s purpose, target audience, and what your competition is doing. Planning is about the resources and the steps you need. What do you want to see on your website, and what technologies will depend on what you are building? In design, think about your customers, the messages and the buttons they’ll click. This is the part of the process that requires you to ask real customers what they think and need. Gather content.
The mistake of most SEOs is they say Google looks at “all” of the these signals of user engagement: false. What they look for is the code they can interpret as providing a good UX, and equally important, whether people “pogo-stick” back to search results because they are not happy with your website.
Good user experience design takes complicated processes and makes them seem deceptively simple. So, Apple does this very well. I’m an Apple fan boy, but for example, they took the music industry and made it something that everyone’s grandma could practically do: Loading songs onto their MP3 player upending the world. They did it with tablets. That could have been done very differently by another manufacturer.
So at it’s source, a good user experience designer is looking at taking an approach to software development and putting themselves in the shoes of the end user, not in the shoes of the developer. With websites, by doing this naturally, Google and other search engines read “signals” showing that visitors engage in what you do.
Good UX means dumbing it down, and that does not mean any disrespect to the end user. No one is going to understand your product as well as you do. You really need to take a step back, look at what it is your product is looking to accomplish and break that down into bite-sized chunks, simplify the message, and don’t try to tell everyone everything that your product can do in the first few seconds. If you can do that, then you’re taking the right step toward delivering a good product or a good website.
In terms of this timeline, the first step is identifying something that needs to be fixed. So, this is just basically the same thing that inventors 100 years ago looked to. That’s not always natural to software developers, we think we can always one up what someone else has done and release our own product. I think fundamentally we need to reconsider, are we really providing something that has true utility value? Or are we just trying to have something that we think is cool? If it’s truly valuable, there’s going be a whole market that it speaks to. And so, if you can filter down what it is that your product fixes and you can get this down to one sentence then at least you have the clarity enough to identify the problem. And, you will hopefully be able to maintain that same clarity as you can identify the solution.
That’s the second part. If you’re smart enough to build software, you’re smart enough to identify ways to resolve an issue. I will say that when it comes to user experience design, it’s not always the most advanced solution that’s necessarily the best.
I had a product I worked on that allows people to go places that they can’t immediately go by turning mobile devices, like tablets and iPhones into portals, so as you point the device up or down or left or right, it takes you into that space. Fundamentally, there’s a paradigm there, where most people that don’t have a solid foundation in technology will have no idea how it is that we’ve done that. From my perspective, I wasn’t concerned with the technology early on. I was concerned with, “this is the experience that I want to deliver”, and that’s what commands really value in the software space. Is, considering first, what is that premium experience and then concerning yourself with ways to accomplish that.
In our circumstance, we were told by many people, this is not possible without a gyroscope, you cannot have this 360 degree panning movement that traps and displays something in real time on screen. And, given an appropriate amount of research and bright minds in the same room, we were able to make that happen.
The next step is research. A lot of folks can develop a good product and get it out there and think they’re the greatest thing since sliced bread, only to find out that someone else has released a similar product or a product that perhaps was even better. One of the tricks to be successful in this space isn’t just developing something that’s good, but presenting it in the right format, to the right audience. You may have something that presented in one space, will never ever rise above the noise. But, presented to a different audience, it could be something that they evangelize, something that they’re very happy that someone’s finally satisfied with. So, doing some research early on can be very helpful.
It will also help to identify ways that you may be able to protect yourself from potential competitors in the future. There’s a handful of ways you can do this. In my opinion, there are four. You can do it by securing your intellectual property. And, that would mean copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, faculties, things like that. You can do it by securing good relationships. So, this would be exclusivity arrangements with other folks that are, either potentially partners or customers, so that if someone else tries to enter the space later, they’ll have a more difficult time doing so.
With virtual tour imagery, for example, it is the same imagery that you see when you go onto real estate website, you look around, and you can look up, down and left and right and view inside the house. That imagery already exists in abundance but what we’ve been able to do is go and secure in exclusivity agreements, the three largest virtual image repositories in the United States. This make us able to handicap anyone else’s ability to go in there. I know that sounds shrewd and some people don’t like that type of tactic, but frankly that’s good business.
In case you’re wondering, building a great website continues over and over again. If you do AB testing, small changes can mean bigger conversion rates.