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Internet Marketing
Getting Back to Basics


The primary goal of your company Web site should not be focused on showing off the great talents of your designer. Your site should be an integral part of your overall marketing campaign and should be consistent with the theme of other marketing materials. If any of your product brochures were as confusing as your Web site, they would be of little use.

You've all heard that you have less than eight seconds to grab your visitors' attention before they move on. If your wonderfully artful graphics take more than those eight seconds, no one will get to see them. If you think your graphics are necessary and your visitors have the patience to wait, at least provide them with some interesting content and easy navigation (get them to where they want to go, fast).

Here are some basic Do's and Don'ts:

Don't overwhelm your visitors with content on your opening page.

Many sites ridiculously cram excessive content on their opening pages. If you were designing an eight-panel brochure about your company would you cram every single fact on the first page in a font so small no one could read it? You need to apply the same basic design rules to your site.

Do stay simple.

There's not a lot of effort spent on "clicking." So, start with a simple start page maybe break it down to your company logo and a simple catch phrase to encourage visitors to continue. Where you are developing a large site then offer clear navigation to the major parts of your site so visitors don't have to guess where to go.

Style your start page after Microsoft's "Where do you want to go today?"

Also, what about thanking visitors for coming? This makes your site more interactive. It also gives your visitors a sense of control and encourages them to check out other areas of your site.

Do provide easy navigation.

Design a "table of contents" type menu.

Sites offer both reference and sales content. Things like press releases, "about the company," locations and contact information are considered reference items. These categories should be shown first.

Keep in mind that a visit to the Web site could well be a follow-up to the visitor seeing your name somewhere else.

Do be subtle.

Be subtle in pitching products. Don't have banner ads or links on your start page. Wait for the visitor to give you permission to do this. If they have elected to go to product or service sections, this is the time to gently advertise.

Do use fancy design appropriately.

Design your product areas with interesting content it's okay to use the flashy stuff on these pages. Your visitor has already approved of your site and has now "come in" to take a look around. This is also the time where you must provide visitors with good product information in order to help them make an educated buying decision that they won't later regret.

Don't make purchasing difficult.

The sites that truly get to me are the ones where you finally get to a buying area and can't actually buy.

Imagine a visit to a store where you look around, find what you like, try it on and decide to buy it. You search for the cash register, but instead find a giant sign over the exit door: "Please call 1-800-GOTHERE to make your purchase at a later time."

Make it easy to buy from you by either providing online shopping or enquiry forms, email links and of course phone numbers.

Don't make it impossible for visitors to contact you.

Don't make your Web site an island. Make follow-up contact as easy as possible. List phone numbers, email addresses and physical locations clearly. If you include personal email and phone listings, include photos of the staff listed on your site. It's a simple process and with .GIF optimization software it's easy to minimize the size of pictures. Make you site appear as if the visitor is dealing with real people.

Do keep open lines of communication.

Provide lots of feedback and follow-up, and always ask visitors for permission before you email.

Let visitors complete a survey commenting on your Web site, and pay attention to the feedback. Thank them for taking the time to fill out a survey. You can even offer some small reward, if possible.

Ask visitors if they'd like to join your mailing list, and give them a good reason to do so. And when you include a permission checkbox to stay in touch, don't pre-check it. Let them make the decision.

Don't gloat.

Keep all of your fancy Web design awards in the closet where they belong. Who cares? Your visitor will tell you if you have a great site. Who is the award for anyway? Web site awards are only important to designers, not the company they are representing.

The only exception to this rule comes when your company wins industry-recognized awards. These should definitely be included on your site.

But above all else, KEEP IT SIMPLE!


 


 


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