Solve Human Problems: Improve Websites and Build Digital Services for Real People

White Paper
People looking at devices

88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a ‘bad experience’.

The phrase ‘experience’ may be a broad term. But if your website isn’t delivering what a customer demands - your website isn’t delivering what your business needs.

Download this guide to ensure your website functions effectively and beautifully on both desktop and mobile devices.

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Below is an excerpt of "Solve Human Problems: Improve Websites and Build Digital Services for Real People". To get your free download, and unlimited access to the whole of, simply log in or join free.


The eight aspects we believe make for a better digital service.

To begin to make things better online, there are a number of different areas to consider. Of course it needs to look ‘great’ and communicate the right messages but in many ways they’re the easier things to achieve.

Providing the right content and tools that meet real customer need - and making these experiences more than just functional - is what users increasingly demand. Rich, engaging content, attractive to Google and to humans alike, and designed to adapt to any device or platform, is no longer a nice-to-have. And beyond all the elements that your visitors are interacting with, your web platform must also provide you with the tools you need in order to make alterations, add pages, test and continue to optimise your content in the future.

  • Research
  • UX planning
  • UI design + build
  • Content creation
  • Content management system
  • Development + integration
  • Visibility
  • Analytics + optimisation

So let’s go through each aspect in detail...


Ask why? not just what? Sounds easy - but trying to unearth why your real users may be having problems, or why they need improvements, is so often overlooked in favour of gut instinct or bending to the stakeholder that happens to shout the loudest.

Things like Google analytics and data-mining from web-logs can tell you ‘where’ people seem to be having digital problems, (drop-off, bounce rates, cart abandonments etc...), but only by watching, listening and speaking to real people can you start to understand the problem, what user desires are and even more importantly why. Below are a few questions to ask yourself when you are thinking about your audience:

Do you really know who your online audiences are? Really?

Broadening your target does not improve your aim and by thinking that your website is ‘for everyone really...’ will most likely lead to it not being genuinely useful for anyone.

Think closely about who your optimum customertype is and look to get to know them better. Often by focussing on a primary user you will by default create something that covers 80% of the needs of secondary and tertiary user.

And also remember if you are a ‘clicks and bricks’ company your digital audience may not be the same persona as your physical customer.

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Have you ever watched a genuine user try to use your website?

When you’re a domain expert, everything makes sense to you and so it’s hard to take an external perspective. Throw into the mix the different devices people will use your site on - and the different context they will be in - and you can get some suprising insights.

When was the last time you thoroughly researched what your direct and indirect competitors are doing?

Not just a cursory browse on your PC - but some thorough diligence of where they are and also what your customer perceptions are of the services that others provide.

Have you ever considered that you are trying to make your main website do too much?

An online audience is well versed in flipping between various sources of information and content about an organisation - review sites, comparison sites, social channels and other platforms to gain a rounded opionion. Can you look to use a broader array of platforms to better achieve business aims?

UX planning

Trust us - we understand the desire to just ‘get to the pictures’. But concentrating on the coloured sprinkles, on top of the cherry, on top of the frosting, and forgetting to mix and bake a lovely muffin first will leave a bitter taste.

From your research learnings, it’s time to plan your site structure, functional flow and content needs page-by-page, task-by-task and create the design and build blueprint. Doing all this now - on paper or in lo-fi ‘sketching’ software - sharing, changing, amending and refining creates an outline of a service that everyone can understand and buy into without the stumbling blocks of visual design preferences. What it ‘does’ and what it ‘looks like’ should be kept separate for now. Here are a few questions to think about regarding your site’s user experience:

How complicated does the site really need to be?

Make things as simple as possible - but no simpler. Regardless of whether or not you require a complex data-driven approach behind the scenes to manage content, customer logins, a support portal, social media interaction, engagement measurement and e-commerce, all this heavy lifting can be done in the background, leaving the user experience clean and clutter-free. Focus on the customer, not on the technology.

Is your site too big?

Most redevelopments naturally end up with a slimmed-down website. This is because any previous site has had content and pages added tactically or on a whim - leaving the site bloated. How much information you provide and importantly how rich it is can make a real difference to the experience and the sites success.

Does your site structure reflect your ‘org. chart’?

If it does presently - it’s likely to make little sense to an end user. A new information architecture will plan to refine and restructure content and services into groupings that make sense to the audience and called things that they understand.

What does the site really need to achieve for your business?

Are you primarily wanting to increase sales, improve engagement, reposition your business or increase your share of voice in the marketplace? This will affect the placement and prominance of things such as CTA’s.

What type of devices are used to access your site or service? Desktop? Tablet? Phone?

The answer is all of them - and how content and functionality shift and reveal from smartphone to smart TV needs to be planned here.

UI design + build

OK - now for those sprinkles!! Studies show that website first impressions are at least 90% design-related. Yes your well-researched and planned functionality is what the site ‘does’ - but if it’s wrapped in poor design then it’s unlikely that people will persevere and dig into your service design gems.

Increasingly your website is the first - and very often the last - touch point a customer will have with your brand and business. First impressions matter as all of your competitors are a click away. Get it right - but know what ‘right’ is. Consider the below:

What’s the corporate ID and - more importantly - its personality?

Your website’s colours, typefaces and imagery should convey your company’s personality and brand, that’s a given. But colours have a big part to play in emotional response, so it’s important to choose colours your audience will connect with. Many corporate brand identities may have some nod to web-design but don’t adequately take into account the fundamental differences between static marketing media that people see and digital, interactive services that are tools people use. Be prepared for your guidelines to be flexed.

Have you got a good idea of content density?

Interactive design is information design. You should design the content - not create a design and then try and force the content into it later. If you have been through the UX planning phase - you should know your content.

Are your UI designers and builders working collaboratively?

At NetConstruct our UI team - that’s our visual designers and front-end/html builders - work collaboratively to ensure a site both looks and ‘feels’ delightful on all device types. Users now expect a much more ‘televisual’ experience - with animations, motion and interactivity - not just static pages.

Your site is fully responsive down to smartphone and up to the increasingly large desktop monitors - right?

Site design has not been a single size solution for some years now. ‘Page designs’ have become more like ‘design systems’ that have elements that can change their order, size, positioning and even sometimes not show at all - all depending on the size of the device a customer is using. Smart clients understand this and no longer look to sign off a design on a print out rather they look at the system on various screens and systems - playing with it as much as looking at it.

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Content creation

Content was and still is King. It’s also Queen, Prince and Princess when it comes to interactive services and your digital presence. Content needs to be tailored to hook your audience in, and then refreshed to keep them on the line.

And content isn’t just the big things like commissioned video or bespoke retouched photography. It’s taking care of the details in the small micro-copy, button labelling, wayfinding and even error messaging. All these things colour the perception a user has of your brand. Here’s a few things to think about regarding online content;

You’re not thinking of just copying and pasting content from your brochure - are you??

It’s tempting - but doing this is not likely to provide you the results you need. People do read online - they just do it differently. Copy need to be written primarly for people but care needs to be taken to understand how Google (or Bing) will see these words, rank the pages and show them in results

Are you telling, showing or involving?

We know words make up most of the web - and we know a picture is worth 1000 of them. So imagine how much a video is worth? And what about an interactive video? Committing to richer content is vital to engage users and to differentiate your business. Bespoke and beautiful content can often also be re-edited and released in different formats on different channels to maximise its value to you.

Across your organisation - what content already exists?

A content audit could uncover some gems presently not being surfaced online.

Are you focussing your content on what makes you different?

Regardless of the size, scope and style of your business, innovation is the key, communicating why and how your offering is of more value than the competition.

Do you have the resource, (and desire), to keep certain content refreshed?

There is nothing more sad than a blog that has no posts for 18 months. Think when you are redeveloping a site what your business can, and should, commit to fresh content creation and commissioning, and how they will manage this process ongoing.

Content management systems

As previously mentioned - how you as a business will manage your web platform is a vital research consideration right from the beginning. This alongside UX and content planning will steer decisions made regarding CMS deployment.

It’s also very useful to start to consider how many different people may be allowed to edit and manage content via a CMS and how much each will be able to affect. You and your agency will have taken a deal of time thinking carefully about styling, layout, colour and many other things and all this could be undone with an uncontrolled CMS tool.

Ask yourself the below;

How much is really likely to regularly change and be updated?

After any initial content population before launch it’s worth being pragmatic about just what level of change is likely to happen. It’s easy to say ‘yes - we will always be wanting to change everything’ but that’s rarely the case.

How many discrete ‘templates’ can your site be broken into and how many ‘widgets’?

OK - the language may now have got a little technical for a manifesto about human problems. Bear with us. Custom fields, templates and functional widgets can be set up to allow pages to be created and modified easily without the need to understand coding. This saves time and money, and ensures that you can take full ownership of your site as well as being able to delegate website tasks to others across the organisation, regardless of their level of web skills.

What hosting platform will you be using?

An obvious one but if you have a present Linux infrastructure or are a fan of the notion of OpenSource you will be looking at WordPress, Drupal, Joomla or similar. If you are a .NET kinda guy (or girl) you should be thinking Kentico, Umbraco, SharePoint or (if you want the reassuringly expensive) SiteCore. For your info. - we fall into the .NET camp.

Are you looking to build in personalisation, customisation and marketing automation?

Some CMS platforms come with their own smart marketing automation as well as provide easy hooks into CRM systems. Thinking about your direct digital marketing is an important factor in CMS choice.

How important are social communities?

Again, like the above, if you’re looking to build an active community certain CMS frameworks have benefits over others.

Development + integration

Even when a technology framework has been chosen there’s still a host of bespoke development and integration to do as... well... it is just a framework.

And with websites now often being part of an organisation’s business critical infrastructure and not just a marketing vehicle, there is always a high degree of stitching functionality into - what we will call for convenience - the ‘back office’. Below are a few considerations that we are always mulling over;

Can you actually integrate into your ‘back office’ easily?

Lots of organisations have big old systems rumbling away behind the scenes that sometimes are older than the Internet itself. And this can mean that, even with all the good will in the world, integrating with it can at best be hard or sometimes not possible. Could your organisation update its ‘back office’ should this be needed to build the best web service?

Have you got a neat little diagram of all the integration points you presently have and are planning to have?

There will be internal links, (as mentioned), to things like product catalogues or PIM systems - but there may also be requirements for us to start to play with merchant payment gateways or other things.

Getting your arms around this can often reveal a few suprises as well as also provide the chance to perhaps cull or update the processes on a few.

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Are there ‘white label’ tools that could be licensed to help ease speed to market?

OK we’re not ones to do ourselves out of work - but sometimes there are things like calculators or others bits of functionality that may well be more efficient to licence and style rather than develop bespoke. We will be more than happy to work with you to highlight where this may be a better option.

Technology ‘trends’ change and refine - can you keep the tech as up to date as the design style and functionality should be?

There may be occasions where you should update technology for improved efficiencies or even security. This could be new versions of databases, frameworks or other code bases. The end user may not notice any difference - and perhaps neither will your boss - but development is a process that never sleeps whether an end user can see the end results or not.

Have you thought hard about the scale and level of hosting solution needed?

With hosting you get what you pay for. However there are also many instances of companies getting gold-plated hosting that’s simply not needed. And also it may be that you need to consider hosting the site yourself for data security reasons.


Visibility through SEO is the process of tuning a website to make it rank higher in natural search results. It’s hard to imagine many brands that would not benefit from this with at least 50% of traffic to a website normally coming from organic search. It can sound harsh but without SEO your website may as well not exist.

Of course any fresh launch should be SEO friendly but a more clinical approach to search keyword volumes within a sector is a complex process worth undertaking. Our sister agency - WMG - tries to keep things simple with their ‘three pillars’ approach of structure, wording and authority. A few pointers in the right direction are below:

Have you recently seen, or conducted, an evaluation of key search term volumes in your market sector?

No? As a minimum you should be undertaking this regularly.

Does your phraseology - the words on the site - tie in with the phrases people are actually searching for?

Search engines are effectively text readers, so the keywords on your page must be targeted to deliver you into the natural search listings.

Is your site’s information architecture ‘logical’?

By this we mean logical navigation, site structure and meta structure - all crucial to help search engines find and map your pages.

Does your site have domain authority?

This can be gained through a network of quality links, through natural backlinking and social media, that can establish your site and, as such your brand, as an authoritative source in your sector that search engines will be happy to rank.

Can you commit to these refinements ongoing?

Natural search optimisation is just one part of the work that starts when a website build is finished.

Are you using social channels effectively to attain greater reach?

Feature links on your website that allow your audience to follow you on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and any other social media profiles you choose to use, and be sure to clearly feature your website on your social media profile pages as well.

Analytics + optimisation

Now for the science part - with a little bit of maths thrown in for good measure. In order to improve the performance of your website you need to understand how it is doing at any given moment, supporting its strengths and improving its weaknesses.

And as mentioned - launching a new site or service is not the time to sit back and rest on your laurels (though a pat on the back would be deserved). Enhancements, seasonal refinements, campaigning and ongoing attention is what will really pay dividends. A few pointers in the right direction are below:

Do you know who visited your website and what they did when they got there? And how they arrived there? And where did they go when they left your site? And what device they were using? And.... - OK, you get the picture.

We might not be able to give you a name but we can pretty much extract everything else that data can tell us about your visiting audience. We can look for pattern in the sorts of customers that are most valuable to you and then help you get even more of these hot prospects.

How are your CTA’s?

No, not a medical condition. Calls-to-Action and those little prompts that can move people into the purchase funnel, or into becoming a lead through data capture. What they say, where they are placed and even what colour they are can make a difference and we believe that a company should be constantly looking for improvement in this area.

Our conversion rate optimisation team will work on both the organic and the PPC landing pages to wring every single lead possible out of these.

How fast does your website load?

Perhaps a small thing in the world of superfast broadband, 4G and wifi but ensuring any website has the smallest footprint as possible - and constantly improving this - is important. Users are endlessly impatient.

Are you ensuring that humans are still involved in optimisation?

The quantative data should always be fully supported by continuing to engage with real users. Ongoing usability testing and focus group feedback should be regularly scheduled allowing you to generate those human insights and ideas to keep your website fully aligned with what users want.

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