Often when we see companies ending up unsuccessful, it is because they do not properly understand their user base. Attempting to provide a service different than one optimized for their users’ needs leaves room for competitors to woo your clients away from you. When designing a website, this means preserving the function of your site while understanding what your clients want and need. If you are targeting a younger audience, or have the resources to cultivate a community, creating a forum can allow users to easily get information that they trust. Additionally, if you create content and are social media savvy, you can engage and create rapport with this demographic. However, if you understand that your users are less comfortable on the internet, creating a streamlined, easily understood, and predictable website can allow them to have a comfortable experience.
Forum Creation and Control
If you offer a product rather than a service, a forum can serve as a place for engaging your customers, and for bringing other potential customers into contact with your product. If you are able to curate content that will allow your product to be viewed and discussed fairly or positively, this can be a huge asset. However, be aware that a forum can be a double-edged sword, as if it is not utilized correctly, it can turn your customers against you. If a user gets a defective product or has a negative experience, the forum can be a place for them to air their grievances. If you are aware and on top of the forum, this can turn into a positive PR moment, where you can address their concerns and demonstrate that you are trustworthy or reliable. However, if you are not confident in your ability to respond to issues, a forum can ultimately do damage to your brand.
Social Media and Rapport
Another tool that we have for engaging our potential customers is integrating social media into our websites. Maintaining a blog, having links to active social media accounts, and conducting advertising and PR maneuvers on these platforms can both bring people to our site, and serve as a way for them to engage with us on whatever platform they are most comfortable on. Giving our customers the freedom to send us messages in a community where they are comfortable or established can create a perfect environment for exposure. Maintaining and integrating social media into our website design will increase the number of paths to your site.