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Home arrow Library of Research Articles arrow Online Research arrow Understanding Your Website Customer
Understanding Your Website Customer PDF Print E-mail
Written by Quentin Ashby   
02 Jun 2005

Understanding Your Website Customer Written by Quentin Ashby from Virtual Surveys Ltd

Designing a website is a balancing act between fulfilling the needs of your business and meeting the needs of your customers.  Whilst those within your organisation can help make sure website developers understand the businesses needs, it is more difficult for your internal team to assess your website from the customer’s perspective. Ensuring your website is customer focused is essential since, as we all know, a business’s needs cannot be met unless the customer’s needs are also met.

Website research, conducted by an independent agency, can provide you with a clear understanding of your website customer and a balanced view on whether your website is fulfilling their needs.

What is Website Research?
There are a number of techniques that can help you better understand your website customers and assess the effectiveness of your website.  The two main approaches are:-

Visitor Surveys
A visitor survey on your website can help you understand who is coming to your website, why they are coming and what they think of your website once they have used it.  Visitor surveys usually involve conducting a pop-up or pop-under survey amongst visitors whilst they are using the website.  This provides an accurate assessment of what real uses think of your site.

Accompanied Surfing
Accompanied surfing is a primary methodology for usability testing and user experience research.  This provides a more in-depth understanding of the user experience on your website and helps identify clear opportunities to improve navigation, content and branding.  Accompanied surfing is best conducted in viewing studios, to obtain picture-in-picture recordings and to provide your website team with the opportunity to observe the users experiences for themselves.  However, accompanied surfs can also be done in home or office in order to assess your website with users’ own PC setups.

Other website research methods include focus groups, accessibility testing, information architecture testing, log analysis and eye tracking.

Why Conduct Website Research?
Effective implementation of website research can provide a wealth of insight to help your website become more customer focused.  Common features that website research can help improve are:-

Site Navigation: it is no good offering online services if your customers can’t find them on your website.  Website research is a highly effective means by which to assess your websites navigation and can offer clear recommendations to help improve it.

Site Content: website research uncovers the reasons why customers are coming to your website.  Hence you can better understand which customer needs your site is currently not addressing, helping you optimise the potential of your online offer.

Site Language: quite often the right content is on a website but due to the use of jargon and other ineffective signposting website visitors can’t find it.  Website research can help ensure your website is using language the customer understands.

Online Processes: the ability of customers to access products and services online is becoming critical to the success of an increasing number of organisations.  However, many online purchasing and application processes are still difficult for the customer to complete.  Website research can help in the design of easy to use online processes.

Website research can also be used to help improve your website in a number of other ways, including branding, information architecture and accessibility.

For more information on how website research can help your business please contact Quentin Ashby at Virtual Surveys on 0161 233 7188 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Last Updated ( 02 Jun 2005 )
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