Author: Yogi Schulz
What’s keeping businesses stuck in the mud on the web? We’re inundated with advertisements from e-commerce software and service firms trying to entice businesses to invest more in their web initiatives. Yet most businesses are not moving beyond their first web site.
Apart from a few spectacular successes that receive plenty of media attention like Amazon, ebay and Schwab, there appear to be thousands, perhaps millions, of web sites that are disappointing their owners.
What’s getting in the way?Disappointing experience with first generation web sites, the ones that only display information, keeps businesses from moving forward on the web.
See if you’ve encountered some of these common web site problems. Once you’ve fixed them, your results and your confidence will grow. Then your business can move forward to a second or even a third generation web site.
Disappointed with your web site? Look yourself in the mirror.
Did you give the initial web site development much attention or did you leave it to the co-op student?
Do you hate the look of the web site but leave the graphic design to the programmer who wears gaudy plaid slacks with a lime green T-shirt?
Did you provide some budget or did you ask the staff to develop the web site in their spare time?
Did you contract an ISP to host the web site or did you jam it onto your overloaded E-mail server?
Sky High Expectations
Some web site owners conjured up dreams of gold that led to sky high expectations. They thought they’d be able to establish a new sales channel or even entire brand by throwing a few thousand dollars at the boss’ brash son-in-law to build a web site over the summer.
A web site is not a project; it’s an entirely new and continuing function in a business. The web site is just like the production or the inventory department. These departments require constant investment and management attention to run like a well-oiled machine. The web site does as well.
Many web sites appear to have been created by the Edsel school of design. The content is helter-skelter. The purpose of the web site is not clear. The color-scheme is compliments of Crayola. The message is murky or non-existent.
A web site needs a goal. The goal needs supporting objectives. At planning time, the objectives need to be crisply portrayed on a series of storyboards that communicate your story. Only when you can explain the site storyboards to the Fedex delivery guy who happened to stumble into your conference room are you ready to hit the keyboard to explain your web site to your server. Don’t let your programmers near the keyboard. Hire some graphics design talent.
Many owners are disappointed by the lack of traffic around their web site. The world won’t beat a path to your web site. The world won’t know it’s wonderful unless you tell them. Use many different techniques to get your message out.
Make sure your URL is printed on all your business stationery. Invest some money in banner ads. Code web pages for maximum exposure on search engines.
Some web sites exhibit dreadful performance. Poor performance is usually caused by long pages, too many frames and giant GIFs. These sites exasperate surfers.
Keep those pages small. Use Java only for important, unavoidable features.Twirly balls and cutsy graphics aren’t worth the performance hit.
Often owners are disheartened by the rapid drop-off in traffic soon after launch. Limited updates to the content limits interest in the web site. We forget that most of us are acquiring the attention span of a five-year old. You’re dealing with a generation of channel surfers turned web surfers.
Actively add new content and push older content deeper into the web site. Offer E-mail notification of new content to maintain interest within your audience.
Your office may only be open from 9 to 5. However, your web site has to be available around the clock. Periods of unavailability undermine your reputation and kill interest in your message. The presence of broken links and missing GIFs leaves a sour taste with surfers.
Maintain interest through a thoroughly tested web site that is always available to surfers.
If your business is stuck in the mud on the web, then you have problems that you can fix. You’ll be much happier if you do. Then you can move forward on the web.