Smashing magazine recently looked at a more effective way of structuring and designing websites in an article called Stop Designing Pages And Start Designing Flows. I’m sure we’d all agree that designing a website around the customer experience is a desirable strategy, but one which few of us have done. Instead, we structure everything around our company and its offerings, as if the customer didn’t exist. What this excellent article suggests is that we try to identify what customers want from our website, and provide that in clear, unambiguous steps.
For example, customers who don’t know the company, but find the website from a Google search for “blue widget manufacturers”, will probably be taken straight to a product page. My guess is that the flow will be that they’ll make a quick assessment of the benefits of the product, then want to read a bit about the company, then go back to the product for a more thorough investigation. Finally, they’ll want to contact the company.
Now, it’s unlikely that you’d want to provide that whole sequence on one page. With at least one part (the company background) being common to all products, it makes sense to lead them to another page for that, but doing it with one click so that returning to the product page is only one back-click away. Then you provide the contact details at the end of the product page.
You can devise a whole set of potential visitor flows in this way, and then put them all together to create a site structure built with the customer in mind. It’s a lot better than the normal way, which is basically a graphical representation of how you described your company to a web designer, without even considering the customer.
Read more: Stop Designing Pages And Start Designing Flows on Smashing magazine