Customer focused WordPress (Part 1)

October 20, 2015

Looking for Part 2?  Go here.

What is customer focused WordPress you ask?

There are two primary ways a WordPress website can be customer focused.

  • The front-end of the site truly meets the customer’s needs.
  • Easy to manage administration that is simplified to the customers comfort level.

Right but isn’t that the goal of every website? It is, but the last few years have accelerated the value that WordPress can provide.  Leveraging those techniques is impactful to customers.

Building a website with a front-end that truly meets a customers need is very subjective.  For our purposes, we will raise two specific questions:

  1. Is the design and general style of interactions well suited to the customers industry
  2. Is the functionality suited to the customers need?


1. Is the design and general style of interactions suited to the customers industry and brand?

Trends come and go.  A good example of a recent trend is: parallax.  Parallax was everywhere on the web for a good while.  We even added it to a few customer sites along the way (usually only by request).  The point is that trends or fads are rarely a good fit for anything other than simple marketing websites or one-off landing pages.  Trends like parallax don’t serve any real purpose.

The Ravenna proposal, which we use to begin a project with a client, has the following note:

“The user experience on your website should be appropriate to your style. Hover effects, animations, and “flashy ” elements should be muted, elegant and relevant to [INSERT COMPANY NAME] industry, clientele and style.”

While this might seem “canned” it goes to this core belief that we should understand our customers brand and industry.  This understanding should inform our decisions about the style of their website.

2. Is the functionality suited to the customers need?

As the designer or developer, we bring value to a project by leveraging our experience, our skillset, and knowledge.  With each piece of functionality we create, we should be asking a simple question: is this {INSERT FUNCTIONALITY} helping the customer achieve a goal that they have explicitly shared?

It is easy to take incremental steps away from the customer’s initial goals and wind up far afield from where you were aiming.

An example:  During a recent project a customer had asked us to convert their legacy website to be responsive (yes that is a little late to the game).  Having built the legacy site, we instantly had ideas about how we could improve it; make things so much “better”.  The budget would have ballooned and instead of the small thing the customer was asking for, we were making a huge project out of it.  As the ideas kept flowing, one of our dev’s calmly asked the question posed above: How is all of this helping the customer’s goal?

It was a great reminder of our core focus, to help a customer.  As we met further with the client, it turned out that there was a much larger project the customer wanted just a few months out.  She simply wanted the site to be responsive in the meantime.

Ultimately it is important to ask as many business specific questions as possible. Understand their motivation, their timeline, why their timeline is the way it is and so much more. As you learn more, you can make informed recommendations that support the customer’s actual goal.

How have you been able to make your WordPress builds more customer focused?  Tell us in the comments below.






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