What to consider in order to meet customer and end-user needs

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Whenever you offer an online service to your customers there is a range of issues to prepare for. This guide will give you a starting point for the crucial areas to prepare your website, app or another interactive system, for maximum customer satisfaction.

Cultural awareness and Diversity

Now you are working online you expose your brand to all the cultures and diversity of the UK and also the world. There are differences in values and needs between different cultures.

A female fish trader smiles up at a customer in Lusaka, Zambia
Fish trader in Lusaka, Zambia. Photo by Stevie Mann, 2007. Licence

Cultural differences need to be taken into account when a business sets up a website or social media accounts whether or not they are intended for overseas markets.

Considering other people’s cultures and differences lets you offer your product to a larger audience, making you more money.

Some things may be illegal in other countries or may not be appropriate.

Consider language differences. An English word might be positive in the UK and negative in another country. You might write about 'rooting around' to find something in the UK or the US but in Australia and New Zealand this refers to sex. In the US pants mean trousers but here it means underwear, so don't misunderstand your American customers and business partners. See 8 English words you should never use abroad.

Adding different language options on your apps and websites will help expand the audience.

Research your target country's different

  • ways of buying and doing business,
  • time differences,
  • religious rules,
  • diminished diversity,
  • fear of environmental effect
  • political power of multinational companies

Some countries are more accepting of the LGBTQ community. An example of this could be the games developer and publisher Bethesda’s regional Twitter pages. In some countries, they have the pride flag on their logo, but not in countries where it might not be received kindly.

Cultural awareness and diversity in the UK

a collage of many faces of different ages and skin colours

As you will know, for many years some communities were excluded from mainstream life in the UK. Increased cultural awareness not only supports more people from different backgrounds but also benefits businesses if handled sensitively.

This could include a little thought put into the text and images on a website or adapting a way of communicating with a customer when they ask. 
By offering more of a range you can include more customers. The boost to the economy that new arrivals brought also gave us new cultural preferences such as living in larger families, being vegetarian or eating halal meat. If you run a restaurant you may consider whether it is worth offering these things depending on demand.
Alternative lifestyles give you consumers wanting to be able to come to your store without driving. Many people now expect you to follow sustainable working practices. Issues such as where our products come from and the rights of distant workers have gained popularity via social media. There is now an expectation for you to consider these issues. Gain advantages of being an ethical business and improve your reputation and appeal to consumers and other businesses. 


To be competitive, organisations need everyone who works for them to make their best contribution. Increasingly, employers recognise the importance of inclusion and diversity in recruiting and retaining the skills and talent they need.

This goes for customers too. By not making reasonable adjustments to your online services or communications, you can lose customers or even face prosecution if they went as far as taking you to court. 
Here's an excellent example of how to make your emails, adverts, and website clearer for older customers who are not digital natives and did not grow up with modern technologies. See the replies as well for more tips.

You should provide equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those having physical or intellectual disabilities or belonging to other minority groups. Businesses must practice this by law under the Equality Act of 2010. 

To summarise, you must make reasonable adjustments to include more people because:

  • You'll gain extra customers.
  • Your company reputation will increase for working with customers and other businesses.
  • It's the law.
  • It's the right thing to do ethically as well.

There are 9 protected characteristics that your business must not discriminate against by not being flexible with facilities or employment:

  1. age
  2. disability
  3. gender reassignment
  4. marriage and civil partnership
  5. pregnancy and maternity
  6. race
  7. religion or belief
  8. sex
  9. sexual orientation

This video summarises what these mean in practice:

Click for transcript of this video

Find out more information about how this affects business:


The impact of disability is radically changed on the Web because it removes barriers to communication and interaction that many people face in the physical world.

This gives you access to more customers but not if your website is badly designed!

a business woman looks at a tablet computer against a background of complex hexagonal shapes

Discover the effect of accessibility barriers and how they can be avoided in these stories of people with disabilities using websites: Stories of Web Users

All systems should have an interface that is easy for everybody to use. An accessible website can help people with disabilities engage more actively with your business. Here are a few examples of this:

  • Use alt text for images on websites so they can be read by a blind person's screen reading software.
  • The text colour should be in contrast to the background colour to make it easier to read. Avoid red and blue as well.  Dark against light or vice versa is best. Better still, let them choose the colours.
  • Some fonts are particularly hard to read for people with dyslexia. See Best Fonts for Dyslexia and Why They Work
  • Videos should come with subtitles and audio should come with a transcript for those who are deaf or hearing impaired.

Win-Win! An accessible website is often one of the easiest ways to do business with many people with disabilities, for instance, people who cannot read print material, people who have difficulty going to a physical store, for mobility or mental health reasons.

Making your website usable by customers with mobility impairments

Some of your potential customers cannot use a mouse. They may rely on the keyboard to interact with your website. Users with mobility impairments can use the keyboard or on assistive technologies and strategies that depend on keyboard commands, such as voice input.

"Accessible websites enable people to access all content and functionality — links, forms, media controls, etc. — through a keyboard." Easy Checks – Interaction


Making your website and documents accessible to blind and partially sighted customers

Implementing functions such as text-to-speech, colour-blindness settings, and captions to support the needs of people with disabilities, make your websites and documents more accessible to a wider audience.  

People who are blind rely on the keyboard or on assistive technologies and strategies that rely on keyboard commands.

Check out what happens when you ignore this when you put links on your website!

This is why headings are so important:

See BBC Academy - How to Design for Screen Readers


Accessibility Guides

Easy Checks – A First Review of Web Accessibility - covers image text alternatives ("alt text"), text, interaction and alternatives to audio and video. Includes other helpful tools.

Listen to this audio clip from BBC Digital Planet that explains accessible design really well:

Transcript BBC Digital Planet on Accessibility on the Web

See also:


Social Media Tailored for blind and partially sighted audiences

What social media do blind people use? Lots. A huge proportion has been using it for years.

Make it better:

RNIB Making your social media accessible

More on Accessible Social Media 

Here's a 30 minute tutorial on making your social media accessible by social media adviser Alexa Heinrich. Find her quick tips on Twitter @HashtagHeyAlexa and get more advice from her website Alexa Heinrich: Accessibility on Social Media

Adhering to Guidelines, Policies and Regulatory Requirements

No matter the industry or company size, all businesses must adhere to certain laws and regulations as part of operations. Regulatory compliance, in fact, deals with a set of guidelines that the law requires organizations to follow. Following these will keep you on the right side of the law and will make the business and company look good.

Guidelines, policies and regulatory requirements are made by governments, councils and watchdogs to make sure that companies do things properly.

Level of Technical Knowledge and Skills

A person stands side on to us holding a tablet computer face up. Behind thhis is a blue circular patterned design with the words search, network, account, application, monitoring, communication, content, resource, website

Companies and organisations in general value the specialized technical knowledge of their staff as one of their fundamental assets. However, they need to make sure when talking and explaining something not to overdo the technical terms as they may be speaking to someone who does not have the same technical knowledge as them.

So, they need to speak in such a way where you can use the technical terms without making the other person feel smaller than you or feel stupid. If someone is providing you with a digital service tell them what you are used to and ask them to adjust to your level of knowledge.


Usability can be described as the capacity of a system to provide a condition for its users to perform the tasks safely, effectively, and efficiently while enjoying the experience.

More scientifically, we can assess this in terms of usability. According to usability guru, Jakob Nielsen there are 5 quality components:

  • Learnability: How easy is it to learn how to use? Can users quickly work out how to accomplish basic tasks the first time they encounter the interface?
  • Efficiency: How quickly can they find what they need and achieve what they want to use it for?
  • Memorability: When they come back a month later, how quickly can they pick up how to use it again?
  • Errors: How many mistakes do they make? Do they get lost easily? Can they get back to the start?
  • Satisfaction: How enjoyable is it to use?

See more at Usability 101: Introduction to Usability by Jakob Nielsen


This is how well the product is suited to the purpose of its job. It also includes how many useful features it has. A security system that does not check for malware would not be very useful.

An example of bad functionality would be if an online shopping website didn’t have a purchase button on an item, this would be going against the whole purpose of the website. Websites have been affected by the rise of the use of mobile phones and this has affected their functionality:

Responsive Design

A website shown on a desktop monitor, a tablet and a mobile phoneMany users love web-based systems because they work on any device that is connected to the internet. According to Statista, "Mobile accounts for approximately half of web traffic worldwide."

In countries that are emerging digital markets, many skipped the desktop phase and went straight to using mobile phones to use the web, email and other online services.

Ask your designer to make sure your website or app loads a different design for different widths of screen. This website adapts the menus and width of the page when it's seen on a mobile phone, with no loss of information or image. The slider on the home page loads a different image on a mobile phone for one of the slides so that it does not make the text hard to read.

You get the full-width version on the desktop monitor or laptop. This gives you more white space and less scrolling but then you are working in a different mode. The headings let you navigate this text to jump to what you need to know quickly. They are on the right on a desktop and above the text in the mobile version. On a phone you are more likely to want to see a summary of this text and you have the option to skip to the bit you want.

Apps need to be coded to work on iPhones and Android mobiles and tablets. Android is a different operating system to IOS which is used on apple products.  The operating system is what apps use to access the phone's resources. This means the apps must work differently on different platforms.

The beauty of websites is that the web was made platform-independent, meaning that every browser you use to look at a web page must obey the same rules for presenting it to you and letting you interact with it.

A man and a woman working together with two laptops in front of them. One of them is using the laptop and the other is simling at them. them.Training on New Systems

Whether you have changed the operating system, installed new software or added a new piece of hardware, staff will be faced with a change and a new way of doing things. To minimise stress and increase the performance of staff using these tools, training is essential.

The business owner must ensure that their employees are fully able to use the new products to a certain degree, giving them the ability to use them well and improve productivity. Training videos and 1 to 1 training may be needed for some tech systems, many people are not as knowledgeable in computers so they may need assistance. If the users don’t know how to use the product there is no point in having it.

System or Service Response Time

This is how fast a computer or person is able to respond to a request or complaint given by a customer. Things such as how long it takes for a company to issue a refund for a product or how long it takes for a verification email to come through after a purchase, are all types of responses and how long these takes can affect the overall quality of using a website or service.

Your customers will compare your response time to other services they use. Equally, if your business is using a service you will need to ask how quickly they are likely to respond to you and how quickly they fix most problems.

Service Availability

Consider the hours of availability of the service. Review how often the service can be in use and how often it is out of communication. This includes both planned and unplanned stoppages when problems may occur. You can improve your customer service by being available to respond at the most common times they are using your service. If you are running a business that uses an IT service provider, find out what times you can contact them.

Service-level Agreement (SLA)

Female customer service agent wearing a headset with headphones and microphone speaking to a customer over the internet.A service level agreement is a written agreement between someone providing a service and their customer. It states both the services required and the expected level of service.

Using an SLA will help with response time as with an agreement they can be available Monday to Friday 9-5. Any problems will be logged straight away and then a technical advisor will look at the problem and decide on how long it will take to fix the problem and then tell you that it will take this many days to fix the problem.

Case Study: Mechdyne Corporation

This company supported migrating 50,000 new end-users from Microsoft Office to the Google Workspace. They had to change their allocation of staff based on the different levels of support needed on the project, increasing and decreasing the amount in response to the changes. Regular meetings were held every day including weekends to ensure everything is in order and problems are corrected.

In this video, Hector of Mechdyne Corporation explains the details of how they ran project:


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