Managers who use the Internet intelligently know that a company website is incredibly flexible. It is capable of wearing many hats: it’s an advertisement, a marketing brochure, a lead generator, a salesperson, an order-taker, a customer service department, a market research tool, a database, an HR manager, etc. Making it all work well, however, can be tricky. Here are ten of the most important issues to keep in mind.
#10. Make It Easy to Find
The best website in the world is rendered effectively useless if it’s difficult to find. Make sure the site is registered with major search engines and built to appeal to their algorithms so interested people can find you. Include the company URL in all offline collateral too – letterhead, business cards, etc.
#9. Highlight Contact Information
People are starting to use the search engines more often as a sort of yellow pages reference to find phone numbers. So make the information readily available once visitors arrive at your website so they can pick up the phone and call.
#8. Track and Test
Regularly monitor site activity using the appropriate software and conduct user testing to figure out what’s working and what isn’t. Make changes based on the research.
#7. Get Visitors Involved
Make your website interactive. That doesn’t mean it needs to be Flash-heavy or over-the-top like MTV.com. It means making tools available to help sell your company’s products or capabilities, or to make it easy to do business with your organization. These include live chats, custom product selection tools, and account management interfaces.
#6. Exude Reliability
Put forth a sturdy, progressive, and trustworthy image. Use client references, testimonials, and financials where appropriate. People want to do business and associate with successful organizations, not hacks; both perceptions can be easily achieved online.
#5. Make it Easy to Navigate
Conform to generally accepted Web standards. Organize information sensibly and present it effectively. A website visitor that gets lost easily leaves quickly.
#4. Give Them a Reason to Believe
After all the basic evaluation criteria have been established, purchasing decisions are driven by emotion. Reach out to a well-defined target audience and demonstrate passion, vision, sincerity, and uniqueness. Remember, you’re not going to appeal to everyone; nor do you want to.
#3 Paint Them a Picture
In 358 B.C. Aristotle said “It is impossible even to think without a mental picture.” Provide visitors with the picture you want them to envision about your organization, using appropriate design, structure and imagery. Personalize the experience with happy, successful people photos.
#1 (tie) Content, Content, Content
You’ve heard it before: content is king. Nowhere is this more true than on your website. Develop/refine a messaging strategy and hammer it home throughout the site. Incorporate fresh new information regularly (it can be as straightforward as press releases). Strive to answer visitor questions, establish market leadership, and encourage desired behaviors.
#1 (tie) Look Good
David Ogilvy, the godfather of advertising, once said: “You have to decide what image you want for your brand. Image means personality. Products, like people, have personalities, and they can make or break them in the market place.” Personality on the Web is the sum result of the individual components of a site and how they work together: logo, color treatment, photos, content, layout, etc. You have the option to looks great, average, or inferior. Why not choose to be outstanding?