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Monday, March 15, 2010

Focus Website Content on your Customers' Knowledge Gap

The biggest hurdle when developing a website is producing the content. All of us who have experienced the process of launching a website will probably agree that it was the content development stage that dragged out forever, that delayed the launch. Even deciding what content should be on the site is difficult. Over the last two posts1, I have highlighted the importance on focusing on your customer first, and outlined strategies to identify their needs.

Identify your customer’s knowledge gap

Another strategy is to identify your customers’ knowledge gap. The concept of the knowledge gap was presented by Jared Spool (of UIE fame) in his presentation “What Users Want”2. The knowledge gap is the gap between two points on a spectrum, the current knowledge and the target knowledge.

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The current knowledge is the information your customer already knows about your business domain: your company, service, product, industry and market. The target knowledge is what your customer needs to know to make a decision.

Spool suggests your website content targets the knowledge gap. It is a wasted effort to develop content before current knowledge and after target knowledge.

How to find the knowledge gap?

A quick start on identifying your customers’ knowledge gap is to create two lists side-by-side. List 20 items your customer knows about what you are trying to sell—their current knowledge. Then, list 20 items your customer needs to know to make a decision—their target knowledge. You can help refine this list by visiting forums where your customers engage, and observe the questions that are being asked.

What is your customers’ knowledge gap?

[1] Create a Sketch of your Customers’ Needs and Ask 20 Questions to Build Customer Empathy

[2] What Users Want

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