Why Many “Successful” Web Projects Still Fail

Every day web projects fail. We all know those statistics.

But what’s less commonly discussed is a hidden problem that the research rarely mentions.

It’s this: Even when the project “succeeds” by coming in on time and under budget, meeting all the company’s requirements, it can still fail. How so? Because it doesn’t deliver the quality leads that the company desired (but didn’t really know how to acquire).

This is a big problem. According to HubSpot, nearly half (49%) of marketers say that generating quality leads is their biggest priority in the next 12 months. They know full well that their websites just aren’t delivering.

Where’s the disconnect? What’s missing?

Two words: Customer input.

And by customer input, I don’t mean whether a focus group can successfully navigate a menu or whether they prefer a button to be red instead of blue, although it is important to get the user experience (UX) part of the project right.

By customer input, I mean interviews (not surveys) with the company’s best customers that provide actionable information to the copywriters, designers and developers working on the project.

What you want to understand is the buyer’s context. By that I mean you want to understand why the customer buys from you, why they decided to buy from you, their work environment, and (ideally) what else they’d like from you. (This last part is more for your business development team, but it’s still useful here as well.)

The objective is to understand the steps these customers went through, the objections they had, and so on. You want to create actionable user personas centered on who the person is and what it takes to make them want to buy your client’s products or services, including their objections.

If you have customer call center data or feedback collected by the sales department, you’ll want to compare and contrast the information to see if you can avoid any blind spots as you get to work on the design phase the project.

Next you should review the information with the team entrusted to work on the project. Focus them in on customer needs and be there during the project to help them course correct as needed.

And here’s an added bonus: It’s likely that the customers you’ve interviewed will be happy to weigh in on the new site or app as it’s being developed, providing you invaluable feedback from a group of people just like those who’ll be using the end product.

What you’ve done here is to get into the minds of your client’s best customers — the ones who buy more from them — and “reverse engineer” what it took for them to get that way. Then you can place what I call Beacons of Information (blog posts, videos, etc.) around your website to answer those “best-customer-to-be” questions. And in so doing, you’re on your way to attracting more customers just like your best ones.

To sum up, “successful” web projects don’t have to fail. Customer interviews, done before launch, can avoid a lot of wasted time and effort.

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