Creating Customer-Centric Websites

Ensure that Your Customers Can Easily Accomplish What They Came to Do

March 5, 2015

Your web site should clearly demonstrate that you understand what it is that your customers are trying to do—their key scenarios—as they relate to your products and services. Are you putting your customers’ scenarios front and center? And are you allowing them to progress through their scenarios without any detours or obstacles?

NETTING IT OUT Key ScenariosCustomers come to your website to accomplish something. To help them achieve their goal, whether it’s to select and buy the perfect gift, educate themselves on a topic of interest, get tips on the proper treatment of a particular ailment, update their account information, or even just to look around to see what you offer, it’s important to understand the key scenarios that bring the most people to you. If they can’t figure out where to go or how to find what they’re looking for, they’ll flounder around and ultimately abandon their efforts.

When designing your website, give customers clear paths to follow based on these common scenarios.

Once you’ve identified and clearly marked those paths through your site, be sure to keep out of your customers’ way as they navigate through. Don’t interrupt their progress in their workflow to sell more, redirect them to things that you want them to see, or even to offer unsolicited help (although you should make it really easy to request assistance at any point). And if it is necessary to divert the customer from their path, for example, to log in, be sure to return them to the same place and context from where they were diverted.

If you make it very easy for customers to do what they want to do on your website, they are most likely to complete their tasks and to come back again and again.


This week, I’m writing about a topic that is very near to my heart: effective websites that support customers in accomplishing their goals.

To me, there are two main areas where websites fall down:

  • Making it clear to customers how to do what they came to do
  • Keeping the customer moving on the path they have chosen


Too often website design gets bogged down in the minutiae of wordsmithing, font choices, and placement of navigation bars. While these details are important, the primary goal of your site should be to clearly demonstrate that you understand what it is that your customers are trying to do—their key scenarios—as they relate to your products and services.

What Do Your Customers Want from You?

A few years ago, I spent some time helping my dear friend Sam conceptualize his first website for his small trucking company. Sam had all sorts of grandiose ideas about what to include and what the home page would look like.

“How about the history of how I got into trucking? And a picture of my first truck? And the latest trucker jokes—the clean ones, if I can think of any?”

I smiled and asked a question, “What do your customers do with you? Why do they contact you?”

“Oh,” he responded. “They want to either book a load with us or to track a load they have already booked.”

I smiled and said, “Then your home page should have two big buttons on it: Book a Load and Track a Load.”

Unfortunately, he thought I was joking. His company’s initial website did provide information about how to book a load and track a load, but that information was hidden amidst links to his blog, weather info, fuel surcharge info, warehousing details, his vision statement, and a direct navigation to a Tae Kwon Do business. Much of this is important information to some of his customers and potential customers (although I’m not sure about the connection to the martial arts), but it is secondary to the two major reasons customers come. I still encourage him to add big Book and Track buttons and to place them prominently on the site.

Identifying Customers’ Primary Scenarios

So what does this have to do with your business? We can’t say it enough: Everything comes down to making it easy for your customers to do business with you and to get their stuff done! We define this as your customers’ scenarios. For Sam’s customers, the primary scenarios are to book a load and to track a load.

Unfortunately, in most of our businesses, the customer scenarios aren’t as obvious. Our offerings are often a complex mixture of... (more)


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