OK, Search Engine Academy is back with another Wednesday post on Information Architecture (IA) and search engine optimization (SEO). We are deep in discussing how to implement IA for your website. We talked about user testing last week. Now let’s talk about doing research as part of initially designing a website or doing a re-design.

What do we mean by conducting research for our website anyways?

Well, we want to know what is the business goal of the website, for one thing. Are we strictly selling stuff and services, or are we trying to get folks to call or email us for more information?

Who are the desired web visitors? What do they look like? What is their pain point and why would they use our site to fix their issues?

What information and content should we be posting? How should we present it? What resonates with our target audience?

Research, people, research is going to help us focus on what will work best. I cannot tell you how many people attend our SEO training and they have slapped together a website for as few bucks as possible and not a whole hell of a lot more effort either. And they wonder why nobody visits the site, and if they do, they exit it like their butts are catching fire and they are trying to run away from it.

By doing this research and collecting this information, you can develop a blueprint of how the site should look and deliver. This research needs to be shared with the web development team, the writers, sales and communication teams. This ensures that everyone is working towards a common goal.

This research may occur in separate phases, or it could be done across multiple disciplines. Be sure your researchers are the same ones who are participating in the active design and test phase.

Research doesn’t have to be complicated. But don’t skip it, because you’ll end up paying for it after the fact in lost sales, re-design time and money, and major heartburn. It doesn’t have to be that way if you’ll just stop, take a deep breath, and say to yourself, “I am going to do this intelligently.”

If you’re in a corporate setting, you may experience push back on the research. People will blather on about how there’s no time or money to do this, we know what to do already, we did research back in the Stone Age.

Well, those all may be true arguments. Your job is communicate that all those need to be at least calmly reviewed and discussed. By doing research now, time and money will be saved on the launch end. Mistakes will be minimized. Minor tweaking is less expensive than scrapping the whole damn thing and starting over.

Stress that user testing can be very enlightening and the site will get a more favorable reaction when it’s been reviewed by test users.

Research that was done way back when is probably outdated. The world keeps changing and moving on, and it’s true with the internet, and how people are using it. Back in the day, it was enough to have a simple site that gave some basic information in a stripped down format. Nowadays, that doesn’t cut it.

OK, enough about all this. Think about the arguments you need to construct and present. It’s always about time and money, isn’t it?

Until next week, keep it between the ditches, as always!

Best to you,