Users and competition

Managing a website is a complex task, and requires website owners and their teams to constantly evaluate their site’s strengths and weaknesses.

There are many different theories as to best way to approach this. However, in the end, its performance is based on how the site is perceived by its users and how it stacks up against its competition. A detailed analysis regarding both users and competition will be an invaluable way to improve any site, ensuring optimal results for the future.

It is important that the site’s content and functionality are matched to site’s typical user. Before a website owner can even evaluate whether or not this is the case, they must first determine what their target audience is. For many website owners, their definition is either too vague or simply unknown. This can serve as a problem on many fronts.

First, if the audience is too large, it will be hard to tailor a site the meet specific needs. In addition, it will become very difficult for their web development teams to design a site that is consistent. Often times, members of the team will have conflicting ideas that will prove to be counterproductive. The most effective remedy for this would be the creation of personas. This is done by first narrowing the user audience, and creating a very specific definition of a user. For example, “Men over 30” isn’t specific enough for web design. A better user definition would be “Men over 30 who are sports fans and have small children”. The next step would be to create a persona around this idea of a person.

In this case, an example of this persona would be “Mark, 35, father of two children ages 4 and 6, avid hockey fan”. This allows everyone on the team to remain focused on who they are creating and designing the website for. A recurring question or theme during development should be “Is this what Mark wants?” This will help the team stay on task and create a site that will attract users that fit Mark’s persona. This is valuable in establishing a consistent message, that will be give the team with use a guideline in developing and maintaining the site.

The next area of focus is the competition. While most organizations will know who their competition is, they don’t have a full understanding of how their competitors’ sites are constructed. In order to position their site competitively, an analysis needs to be conducted that that shows the functionality and design of their competitors’ sites.

The list of competitors may be too long for a full analysis to be realistic and feasible In lieu of a full analysis, a sample can be done. It would be best to take a few competitor sites that are smaller and larger in scope. It is important to understand, as a website owner, that the point isn’t to simply replicate another site.

Find what works on other sites and incorporate any functionality that would be a good fit the target users and audience of the site. Combining these approaches will allow any website owner to better understand where their site is strong and where it is weak.

By understanding the targeted users, website owners and their teams will have the ability to produce a site that will be sure to move up the rankings.