Every website should be designed with its users in mind. Visitors should be able to easily find what they’re looking for, and the site’s structure, design, and content should all be developed with that goal in mind. But how can you know what your visitors will be looking for? How can you know what sections or features or keywords are important to them? What direction should you go with the site’s look and feel?

Here at SHERPA, we believe the best answers come from the users themselves. We use all sorts of data to inform our designs, and we build our clients’ sites based on the best information available.

We use as many different data sources as we can get our analytical hands on. One common source is Google Analytics, which I’ve already touched on a little here, here, here, and here. Another source we like to use is survey research. I talked briefly about some of the benefits of survey research (along with a few tips on designing effective web surveys) here, and we recently had the chance to conduct several surveys that demonstrate the real-world usefulness of website visitor surveys and the insights they can provide.

As a quick refresher, here are some of the benefits of surveys, when it comes to developing your website:

  • hear directly from your key audiences
  • learn what information they’re looking for
  • learn what content they’re interested in, and how best to frame it
  • test specific features they might want
  • compare responses of separate targets
  • set a baseline for client satisfaction, and measure improvements over time

Over the past few months, we have had the opportunity to conduct several surveys on behalf of two clients: a financial organization and a fitness organization. While very different in their scope and service offerings, both clients saw the strategic value in reaching out to their key audiences directly in order to make informed decisions on how to structure their new websites.

For the financial organization, we sent surveys to their clients, their prospects, and their referral sources. We learned an enormous amount about the organization’s perceived strengths, folks’ awareness of and perceptions of their current website, how they stack up against their competition, and how folks rate their services individually and overall. We used these data points to inform the content development and highlight key traits that were previously considered to be less important. We prioritized features throughout the site that respondents indicated would be useful, and deprioritized less useful ones. In the end, we were able to design a clear, useful, informative, persuasive website that was, in large part, driven by the custom data we collected.

For the fitness organization, we sent surveys to their current clients, former clients, and prospects in order to learn more about their perceived strengths, perceived weaknesses, and folks’ awareness of their programs. The results were enlightening, and the client will be able to use them to design the revamped website around the key selling points we discovered, and adapt some of their marketing efforts to take advantage of some to the opportunities that the survey data illuminated. Plus, we were able to combine the lessons we learned from the surveys with some key findings from the current site’s analytics data to design a more streamlined site structure and make the site more useable for all audiences.

These are just a couple of examples of how SHERPA is able to use survey data for effective web development. We believe that the best way to design a website, to develop site content, or to deploy a digital campaign is by carefully collecting and interpreting the available data. Anything else is just guesswork.

Rusty Parker

Rusty Parker

Rusty Parker is the director of data and analytics for SHERPA Global. He has a doctoral degree in Applied Sociology from Baylor University, with an emphasis on survey methodology and data analysis. He has led data collection projects for corporate, government, and nonprofit clients for more than 10 years.

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