Challenging our Empathetic Assumptions

Earlier this summer, the Dotcom Design team performed a quantitative segmentation study on a collection of small business to gain a better understanding of their needs and expectations as it relates to having a web presence. Before joining a8c, I ran a small business offering contract web design and development services. The majority of my clients were other small businesses who knew they needed to have a website but didn’t have the time or the know-how to do it themselves. Digging into the research, proved to be a reminder of what it was like both being a small business and solving problems for various kinds of businesses.

While I had never actually done research on my clients that went this in-depth, a lot of the struggle spots for business was very familiar to me. I started all of my contract projects with a kick-off meeting that I would use to unearth a businesses’ overall goals, gauge their expectations for a website and try to see if they had any visual preferences that I could use to inform design decisions. One of the things I found surprising in both the kick-off meetings I used to have and this SBO research was how little thought went into the purpose of having a website. Businesses know that they need to have a presence online, but they often don’t see its value beyond it being just a marketing tool. One of the key insights from the research confirms this:

A website isn’t their first priority, but they understand its importance.

A number of different factors contribute to this feeling, but I see this as an opportunity to show businesses what a website can do for them beyond the limited scope they come in with. In my previous work, I knew I a client got to an ah-ha! moment when I conveyed how a tool or plugin could actually make their offline business life easier. With this in mind, we don’t need to convince them to make their website a priority—websites are our priority. Instead, we just need to show them how the tools and products that we offer can actually help them run their business more efficiently which helps them realize a more valuable purpose for their sites.

By Allan Cole

I’m an artist, a hacker, a beat-maker and an entrepreneur and I’m in love with constantly getting better at building and creating things. Usually, I’m somewhere design/developing WordPress themes or making beats.


>I knew a client got to an ah-ha! moment when I conveyed how a tool or plugin could actually make their offline business life easier.
Clearly conveying utility and “aaaah” is so key. In other words, “Ah-ha!” to “Aaaaaah!”

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