This seems like an obvious statement right on the face of things, doesn't it? Of course you are not your customer. If you were, you wouldn't need a web presence. After all, you've already been introduced (self, I'd like you to meet myself!) and probably think your product or service is pretty swell without much convincing (Hey self, could I interest you in a few of these? A hundred? Great!)
So as painfully obvious as this is, could someone kindly fill me in (using the handy comments section down below) on why this idea flies right out the window the instant a company decides to retool their website?
Once the decisions has been reached that it's time for a change, too often everything you know about your customer goes right out the window. Established customer relationships, metrics, data, market research - everything about your customers' motivations, preferences and buying habits - fall by the wayside. In their place you begin to craft a site that favors some imaginary customer, one that is often a self-reinforcing projection that enthusiastically validates your preconceived notions about what is "cool and hip" - even when this flies directly in the face of what you yourself want to get out of a website!
Don't feel bad. We've all done it, at one time or another. It's a near-inevitable consequence of our all-too-human nature. It is precisely because it is so easy to fall prey to that I write this article, to implore you to keep at the front of your mind the customer.
I submit for your amusement an unfortunately common real world example: music on a website.
I hate it. Odds are, you hate it. Let's face it: Everyone in the universe hates it. No internet user anywhere at any time under any circumstances has ever hit a webpage, only to have their speakers start blaring one jingle or song or another, and thought to themselves "Wow, that's great, I am SO GLAD this page has this music on it!"
No, your customers do the same thing you or I do in that situation: they immediately begin hunting for the mute or stop button. And if they can't find it quickly enough, they leave. Everyone knows this; everyone has experienced this.
This common blunder is in no way limited to music, oh no. Sometimes these annoyances take the form of slow-loading full-page Flash videos or animations. Some companies forgo little things like words in favor of gigantic over-designed images. Streaming video that auto-plays every time you hit the site. Fifty social media share buttons in a floating expanding bar glued to the side of the page. I am sure as you think on this any number of offending sites spring to mind. There are countless ways to produce the kind of alienating site that fails at the ultimate goal of parting your customer from their cash. We all know a customer-hostile website when we see one. And yet, there is still music on websites. Why?
Someone, somewhere, forgot the cardinal rule: You are not your customer.