We attended the ONE SHOW UNCONFERENCE in New York last week and one of the most interesting topics that came up in discussion was whether Websites have outlived their usefulness. In the age of real time conversation via tools like Twitter and FriendFeed, easily updatable blog content and social media sites like Facebook, is there a place for the “traditional” website?
The consensus among the attendees was a very strong “Yes”. They believed that a company website should be the “final destination” for the consumer’s interaction with a product or brand message, the last stop on a journey that includes involvement with all sorts of digital tools and services.
Of course, if a user can’t find that final point on their journey then they are likely to veer off the road for some other interesting attraction (maybe the digital equivalent of the World’s Largest Ball of String) or just give up and go home. There is no doubt that investing in marketing communications and advertising on your web site can be one of the most effective ways of building brand equity, selling product and getting your message out to the market. But the saying “build it and they will come” just doesn’t apply anymore (if it ever did).
Creating and optimizing a winning web site design and user interaction experience that delivers on the expectation of this promise is “THE” significant factor in realizing your company’s true web potential.
And it’s a lot more complex than simply driving users to your URL. While web site owners and developers may have the technical know-how to optimize their site to effectively be found by prospective customers they are still not guaranteed to succeed (even though the customer is looking at their landing page). Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising will help get customers to your site but visual design, appeal and ease of interaction based on the consumer’s personal goals plays an equal part in building site traffic. After being found, a site must capture the prospective consumer’s attention and set them on a short path to reaching their goals in a timeframe well under 10 seconds. It’s a daunting task for developers and designers but a fact of life in what our CEO likes to call “the ADD world”.
If you’ve invested time and resources in a Web site and you’re not achieving this goal – you’re not actually getting a return on that investment. And ROI is the key driver for just about any company’s digital business these days.
In the next few days, we’ll be talking about how you can change your web design to truly take advantage of SEO and give your users the results that they are after. We also want to help you maximize your web site performance (so that you meet your business goals) and help you figure out how to measure your return on investment.
Let’s begin with some simple questions that you can use to evaluate your current or future web site designs.
Can you answer these questions?
• Who are your customers, what are their computer skills and what problems do they face on your site when trying to achieve their goals?
• What type of experience are your customers looking for, what emotional outcomes are they hoping for and how many of them achieve their personal goals when visiting your site?
• Do you know what sort of repeat interactions users would like; user perception of your site vs. competitors site or if your site is being used for the purpose you intended?
• Do you currently have an effective SEO strategy or reporting metrics for your site?
In our next post, we’ll look at some of the common (often mistaken) assumptions companies make when designing their sites. Then we’ll start exploring the answers to the questions we raised above and explain how your responses can create a roadmap for an improved site design that increases user engagement and satisfies consumer needs. We’ll show you how to create a site that is not only easily found, but truly useful to your customers. A site that creates value for the users and provides maximum ROI for its stakeholders. In short, a website that justifies it’s own existence.
Ready to get started?