Websites are different from retail stores in a similar way that television is different from radio.  Allow me to explain.  Television differs from radio mostly by the use of pictures.  This is a pretty big difference, but your approach to each of them remains much the same.  You want to craft a sales/informational message that is aimed at your target audience.  The end result is different, but the goal is the same:  to motivate your target audience to action.

Retail stores and websites share similarities as well.   You design a store or website that meets the needs of your target market.  Take a look at your typical department store - the teens clothing department is designed differently than the appliances department.  Websites are no different.

Job one for websites is creating for your target market.  Make sure you have a very specific target in mind (or as specific as you can.)  Content that speaks to an audience as if it was specifically designed for them is the best kind of content.

The following steps for improved websites should be conducted with your target market in mind.  Our thanks to Remington Begg of Hubspot for the source material.

1.  What is your unique selling point (USP)?  Basically your USP is what sets you apart from your competition.  It's imperative to know what your competition is saying; what their message is to their audience and to make yours different and more compelling.  If you're selling the exact same product try selling something other than the product.  For example, if you're both selling cantaloupes, and your competition is selling price, than you sell taste or nutrition.  If you're both selling loans, if they sell "low rates", you should sell problem solving or the attainment of a dream.

2. Your website must be created for "learners, shoppers and buyers."  This is a real challenge for web designers.  In addition to writing for age, sex, occupation, etc., web designers have to create for consumers who are in every stage of the buying process.  You need articles, videos, etc., (content) that appeal to the learners; those people who are researching the buy.  You also need content that addresses the shoppers of the world.  They know what they need to know about the product, but now they want to shop.  And finally, you need easy to use and follow forms and pathways for the buyers.  Strong calls to action and an easy checkout system.

3. Finish with SEO, don't start with it.  Create content for the consumer first, then optimize after.

4. Make your site the easiest on the planet to navigate.  Header and Footer listings.  Before you roll your site out, ask people not in the business and who have never seen your site to navigate it.  What problems did they have?

5. The world is going mobile, so make sure you have responsive design.

The final tip from the article was to "make it remarkable."  Make your site better than your competition and keep improving it.  Keep reviewing your analytics and upgrading your site and you will become the leader.