What should be included on your new site
Deciding what content and features to include on a web site is key. It is more important than the graphic design or look and feel of your
site. This can be seen easily by looking at some of the most visited sites on the web, such as Yahoo! - the design is minimal, content draws the visitors back time and time again. For large corporations the production of content is far easier than for the small business so here are some suggestions to start with.
The most obvious and commonly seen use of a website is that of advertisement. Even though most web users will rapidly retreat from any kind of sales pitch, advertising is still one of the most valid applications. Visitors to your web site will be there for a reason, this reason is determined before arriving so although advertising is useful, information is better.
Thinking along the lines of infomercials is more appropriate. Visitors of your website will want information about your product or service as fast as possible. If they don't get it from you in a manner that makes them happy, they will go to someone else's website. Everyone using your website is there by choice, equally at anytime the choice can be made to leave. If you have sales presentations put them
on the web by all means but ensure that the user chooses to view them and knows what they are getting in to before viewing it. Sales
presentations on the web can be done very successfully using Flash animations. But a mistake is to show a sales presentation on the first page of your site. Many sites currently force visitors to view several minutes of "flying logos" and scrolling sales pitches when first
visiting. Generally visitors will click "skip intro" if the designer is kind enough to offer the option.
Information on your products or services is also needed. Give as much information as possible, if nessecary provide information at a
very basic level. Visitors to your sites may not be expert in your field. Spend time thinking about what the average visitor needs to know
to understand what service or product is being offered by your company. If possible try the information out on people who don't have the level of understanding of your business that you do.
How often do the same questions get asked of your company? The top ten questions being asked 90% of the time. This is an ideal use for your website. Put the questions and answers on the web, many users like getting the answers for themselves any way. Many web sites have a section specifically for this, FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions).
Whilst the web and websites are still emerging technologies, make it easy for the user to drop out of the web and use a more traditional method to get in contact with you. Remember that a user of a website is not always just a customer. Potentially the user could be a supplier, existing customer, potential customer, an investor or one of many other possibilities. Contact details such as telephone number,
fax, and address can be given here, as well as the option to email or fill in a response form.
The web really comes into its own if you can use it as a distribution device for your material. Being able to distribute your product means that all the sales advantages are now channelled into fulfilment as well. There are a new breed of computer applications being given away on the web (either as free versions, or trial versions), see WinZip or WinAmp. But this can be extended, if you a are design company, electronic samples of your designs can be distributed.
Finally the web can help you build brand awareness, put something on your website that is purely a gimmick, a game for example.
Several web based companies have built up strong brands purely by word of mouth or email by having a gimmick that everyone wants to see on their website. This is known as viral marketing.
All this can done before starting to think about e-commerce (selling your product over the web) and can have a great positive impact with out changing the way you do business.