Speak your tenants' language | VerseOne Housing Hub

Speak your tenants' language

When designing a website, it’s easy to assume that everybody is like you. However, this can lead to a strong bias, producing a website that doesn’t quite meet your audiences’ needs. There is always a balancing act in making sure that not only does the website cater for your organisational goals and objectives, but that it also meets the expectations of your customers.

To truly create a customer focussed website, it’s important that you engage with your customers throughout the process. By doing this you will be able to discover lots of little nuances that can go a long way to making your website a success.

Let us take language as an example. In business we often use abbreviations or acronyms without giving it a second thought. We are often talking to colleagues or business associates that are well versed in these and therefore they become part of our everyday language. Our customers on the other hand, may not have the faintest idea what we are talking about.

A great example of this is the reporting of Anti-Social Behaviour. Many times, we will use the term ASB, but your customers, be they tenants, leaseholders, community members are more likely to report “having a problem with a neighbour” or something similar. We have witnessed first-hand in the workshops we facilitate, that many customers become confused with terms such as “reporting ASB”. Surely, we should therefore be labelling these valuable services in the language that our customers speak in. It doesn’t take a lot to change a link on a website from “report ASB” to “I have a problem with a neighbour”.

A customer of VerseOne recently employed this methodology, re-naming a label on their website ‘How we deal with Anti-Social Behaviour’ to ‘Problems with neighbours’ and saw an increase of 640% interactions with that page. It goes to show that what we may perceive as little differences, can go a long way to contributing to the success of your website.

Side note: Something you need to keep an eye on voice search, this is now on the increase. Understanding the way your tenants speak will help with your voice search engine optimisation in the future.


Content labelling (nomenclature)

The following exercise can help establish if the current nomenclature would need to be revised and improved and should be conducted with your audiences. Index cards containing the top-level navigation labels are laid on a table.

content example

Participants are then given another set of index cards that contain the titles from some of the website’s inner pages, these should be chosen at random beforehand. The participants are then tasked with putting the inner pages underneath the top-level navigation labels under which they reside on the current site.

If the labels are intuitive to the end users, they should successfully be able to identify which page resides under which top navigation label. If they struggle, then you know that there is some misalignment between the labelling system being used and the content to which it denotes. Further research and investigation should be carried out if this is the case.

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