How to “humanize” the web development process to effectively share your story & connect with your audience

Your audience is made of people. Not numbers.

While “looking at the numbers” is a quantitative way to determine how well you’ve succeeded at meeting your business goals, your audience is not a troop of robots that generate traffic numbers and donation statistics. They are living, breathing, thinking, analytical people.

Not only are they people, but most likely, they’re people with very little time in their day. In an age of constant connectivity and ubiquitous multitasking, it’s important to make an immediate impact and a clear call to action when they choose to spend their precious moments with you.

How do you make the greatest impact when you have only a few seconds of someone’s attention? Here are some tips to use during the web development process to help you to make their visit as impactful as possible.

Provide Relevant Content

The key word here is relevant. You need to dig deeply into what will be relevant for your audience. Think about the frame of mind they are in when they reach your site. For example, if most site visitors are coming to your site through a Facebook advertisement, then the page they land on should pick up the messaging and push them towards the conversion action set in that Facebook advertisement. We do not want to interrupt or divert their path, we want to extend it.

Analytics and site feedback from your users also give you big clues as to what content and activities resonate most with your audience. Optimize your site for those items. Your site needs to live, breathe, and adjust to the ever-changing needs and interests of your site visitors.

  • Kanopi Tip: Have a strategy for ongoing site maintenance to make it easy to continually optimize your site. Kanopi’s strong support team works with your organization to identify and implement optimizations. We are an extension of your team and are always there when you need us!
  • Kanopi Tip: Providing more relevant content might mean more targeted, expert content development for your site. Showcasing your expertise will lead to your audience seeing you as a trusted resource (and will help with your SEO for findability!)

Provide a Reason to Care

Your mission is important. But do your visitors realize how important it really is? Giving them a big fat “Donate” button in the header and expecting them to click it doesn’t acknowledge the whole picture. The button is only part of the work. Giving them ways to donate or join the conversation in spots they can always access helps, but you must provide this content in the context of a story. Your story. As passive visitors to a site, we want to be sold on why we should do something — not just told what to do.

  • Kanopi Tip: Compel your users to take action by involving them in your story. Don’t just tell them about your mission. Evoke emotion and connect with them. Promote pathways for conversions and donations in logical, progressive ways. Kanopi works to determine conversion points within the experience that make sense. For example, if you are talking about stories involving the individuals you help, share those individuals’ perspectives, images, or testimonials. Invite the user to engage with others or to share their story with you. This type of conversion can lead to donations, certainly. But more importantly it can lead to advocacy, inspiring your visitors to become advocates for your mission and spreading the word to others.

Don’t Trust Your Gut

While it is critical to humanize the experience, you do need those numbers to back up decisions as to what the humans on your site actually want and need. Making a subjective decision based on internal demands and objectives will only please the internal teams — not your users. Make your audience your focus during the web development process. Put benchmarks into place, and ask users for feedback. Getting information directly from your audience and their online behavior is the best way to be sure you address their needs within your site.

Make Interaction Easy

We mentioned the idea of “content in context” — integrating logical conversion points throughout your site experience in spots your users can always easily access, as well as within the context of your larger story. But we also need to optimize for a user’s environment. Mobile is now the dominant form of internet browsing. Our users are on the go. Don’t expect your audience to be settled in with a cup of coffee and a dedicated block of time to wander through your site on their desktop. Mobile is critical to the web development process.

  • Kanopi Tip: A responsive site should be thought of as “mobile-first”. At Kanopi, we strategize starting with the smallest screen sizes and work our way up from there. How do people interact with elements that you want to be omnipresent if they’re in a mobile context? Should the donation button, usually in the main header on desktop, be pinned to the bottom of the phone’s viewport for easy access? Should the phone number be more prominent on a mobile device?
  • Kanopi Tip: When designing for mobile, also think about the ergonomic position in which someone holds a phone — usually one handed, making their thumb the easiest way to navigate. Should that primary call to action go right next to where their thumb naturally lies for even easier access? And how big does it need to be to ensure an easy click target for touch?

Make Interaction Fast

Statistical data shows that the average page load time in the US for most sites is 5-7 seconds. Those same statistics show that abandonment rates take an exponential rise if your page takes longer than three seconds to load, and Google prefers that you have it under two seconds.

Given that in the US, ~71% of digital minutes spent are on mobile devices, and it’s ~62% in Canada, one thing is clear — speed matters in getting your message out. When it comes to web pages, bigger isn’t always better.

  • Kanopi Tip: Consider implementing Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) for your site. AMP is an open source project backed by Google that is focused on building a faster, simpler, and more performant web that is optimized for mobile devices. And As a bonus, you’ll get an SEO boost from the use of this approach.
  • Kanopi Tip: The biggest culprit in slow page load time on most pages is the number and file size of image assets. Kanopi recommends being very choosy in your use of imagery. Well designed vector imagery, use of color, and beautiful typography can have just as big a visual impact with a much smaller page footprint. And always leverage an image compression tool when you’re managing image files on your site.
  • Kanopi Tip: Only load what a user needs. At Kanopi, we take a progressively enhanced approach to web development. By starting mobile-first, we will load only the assets the mobile experience needs to render, keeping it as fast as possible. And we’ll add features and functionality as we scale. We are also not afraid to ask the hard questions — if a mobile user doesn’t need that feature… does anyone? Users leveraging external readers and “reading views” on web pages are becoming more and more prominent. They don’t want your eye candy. They want your content.

There is no “Build it and they will come.”

Building an audience-focused website with compelling stories will not cause an automagical spike in your site interactions or user donations. Understanding where your audience was before and after your site experience will give you a better understanding of how to market to them. Your site is one step in a multifaceted customer journey.

Where did their journey start? Were they at a third party platform that focuses on your subject matter? Can you partner with that platform to serve content about your organization?

Do they typically leave to visit a site rating your subject matter? Should you beef up your testimonials there to help them make a decision on interacting with you?

  • Kanopi Tip: Your site is one piece of your digital presence, and one piece of your audience’s user journey. Thinking of your site as the sole representation of your organization is not wise. People jump around and research with all the different resources available to them. Making conscious marketing choices can help make your presence, once they do land on your site, more valid, more recognizable and an authority for your cause.

Humanize the web development process!

Putting your users and their needs front and center helps both your audience and your organization and builds a relationship of trust and advocacy between them. It is the human element of our online experience that drives the numbers we use to justify our digital marketing activities to our stakeholders and makes the web development process more targeted and effective. If you try some of our tips, please contact us and let us know how they worked for you. And if you need assistance or have questions, reach out. We are always here for you.

About Kanopi

Kanopi is a women-run and family-owned business that is centered around beautiful design and strong architecture. Our data-driven approach fosters user-centricity and creates holistic web experiences based on user decisions. We believe that regular communication and support are the cornerstones of good development, and strive to give our clients a unique sense of ownership and investment in their work with Kanopi.