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E-business image Central Audiovisual Library, European Commission

How to profit from your website

Are these questions familiar to you?

"We have a web site ... how do we profit from it?"
"How can we build relationships based on long-term value?"
"How do we serve customers without giving away stuff to competitors?"
"How can we catch up on competitors who have got there first?"
"How can we avoid the most common mistakes?"
"How can we capitalise on the mistakes of others ... pick up some information the competitors don't know they are giving away?"

A successful site:

1) Recognises and addresses its target audience directly
2) Acknowledges them and rewards them for their effort.

Do you know the answer to "What do we want? "
You do know the response to "When do we want it?" ;-)

The Top Ten Web Site Mistakes

What people like is an interesting, and easy to use Web site that makes them feel in control. What makes them unhappy is a confusing site where they are unable to respond, where the information is laid out without consideration for how they think, or requiring information they don't have (such as stock part numbers) to find things.

#1: No consistent message

Why would anyone want to come to your site? Where does that fit into your overall marketing strategy (you do have one?) Ask yourself "Who cares?" for each sentence on each page. It's horribly easy to find examples of people who didn't do that - the political parties or the annual reports with the "Address from the chairman", verbose "mission statements", and other fillers that satisfy the creators but not the readers in the e-marketplace.

#2: Not respecting user's concerns

Be very careful of people's concerns about privacy and security. There have already been many embarrassing failures with banks and utilities. Trust is fragile and needs to be earned by respecting users who distrust web sites that immediately ask for personal data, attempt to run Javascript applets (the alarm bells ring "Virus! Trojan!"), or even otherwise innocuous cookies. 

#3: Lack of promotion

Don't believe that all you have to do is "Build it and they will come".  Contact us for an in-company training course to discover the secrets of web promotion, mail lists, search engines, and keywords. Your internet address - the domain name - is valuable. It's bad luck if someone else registers your name first, and wants you to pay them a premium for it. (Although if they are infringing your trade mark, you could be in a strong position to force them to release it. This does not constitute legal advice!) Be careful of clever names that sound like yours, and remember that many people are bad spelers(sic!)

#4: No closure and followup

Just as it's important for people to find your site, it's important that they know clearly what they should do if they want to place an order and leave knowing what will happen next!

#5: Not providing a feedback method

If you don't provide an email or feedback form, people come to your site ; can't find what they want ... but you provide them with no way of letting you know! Furthermore, to help them before they call you, provide a FAQ - a list of Frequently Asked Questions and their answers.

#6: Visual fatigue

If you have pages that are too dense in text or graphics, or use too many colours and fonts, it's hard on readers. Dense text is OK for directories, but not for pages to be actively read. Tiny text is OK for twenty-year olds, but if your audience contains over-forties managers who wear spectacles, they've better uses for their time than straining over your pages.

#7: Being too demanding 

Large graphics may look great in your brochures, but they make people wait. If your page takes more than 30 seconds to load, they are only one click away from leaving you. "Flash" sites look great to the designers, but if security-conscious visitors have flash or scripting disabled, all they see is a blank screen. Too clever is not clever.

#8: Making navigation confusing and unclear.

If your site uses only graphical imagemaps, users miss the standard "blue underline" to let them know where they have been. Ensure the display fits in the typical browser window. Provide a keyword search facility - after all, you can't always expect visitors to structure information the same way you do.

#9 : Being static and boring

How often is your site updated? How will your prospects know when it is?

#10: Not learning the culture

Spend time online and learn for yourself what works, what feels right, and what's a turn-off. The net goes at a different speed than print media ... but courtesy and service are always in fashion.

Next step

If you found these tips useful, contact us for a no-obligation discussion of how our consultancy can help you maximise the usability of your web site!

 
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Recommended resources 

Web Marketing Checklist  Ralph Wilson's Dr. Ebiz resources from Ralph Wilson's articles.

 

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Last updated December 12, 2006