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TWELVE STEPS TO BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL WEB SITE

I’m advising several independent agencies on revamping their Web sites, and am in the process of upgrading the Sound Marketing site.

 

At the beginning everyone (myself included) seems to be almost embarrassed over the state of their site.  Whenever I directed someone to our site, I found myself saying, “Please bear with us while we’re redesigning it.”

 

Ironically, the more we get into the actual work, the more we realize that what we had wasn’t so bad.  In fact, the new sites start to look a lot like the “old, outdated” one.

 

That being said, there’s a lot of refinement involved – primarily by simplification.
My Web site redesign philosophy   is K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple, Stupid. 

 

To implement this principle, I’d recommend these 12 steps:

 

  1. Talk with your clients. Solicit feedback from them, formally or informally about what they want when they go to your site.  Remember, it’s not about you – it’s about them.
  2. Avoid audio and video on your home page.  The more you load up this page, the slower it will open and the greater potential frustration of visitors.  While audio and video might have a valuable place on your site, make access to them voluntary.  No one likes to be forced to watch or listen to something that they don’t care about.
  3.  Choose your site designer carefully. Some agencies can design their siteinternally, and this approach gives you control over the process. However, make sure your IT person has experience and expertise in in all aspects of Web-site  building design to security?
  4. Keep control over content.  Too many agencies expect their web designer/builder to become their de facto marketing expert.  In my experience, these people seldom know how to market or write copy. Responsibility for content lies with you.  If you are uncomfortable with this, hire a good writer.
  5. Make utilization easy.  It’s essential to simplify understanding your menu, filling out apps, and other critical activities for site visitors.  Don’t think that they will expect certain lines to be within a specific menu category, just because this makes sense to you.
  6. Use “pop-up” pages.  Having certain pages like articles or applications pop out on a new page, makes them easier for visitors than if  they are located d within a framed page.
  7. Offer a home page ”haven.” Let’s face it, no matter how good your site, visitors will often get lost and find themselves on pages where they don’t want to be. Make sure that every page has a prominent “Return to Home Page” icon,
  8. Get personal.   I’ve been on this soapbox for a long time.  Give your visitors the opportunity to connect with your employees.  Pictures, brief bios (with personal information such as hobbies, memberships, etc.), direct phone line and e-mail links can be extremely important,
  9. Avoid rolling screens.  One client has a rolling “What’s New “screen on its home page.  It takes about two minutes for all the messages to process through.  I don’t know of anyone who will sit on a page for two minutes to read the scrolling messages – so why have it?
  10. Speak English.  This is critical!  Too many sites are written in “insurance-ese”, as opposed to common language – and providing an online insurance dictionary doesn’t make it ok!  The average person just won’t float between the page being read and a dictionary page   For instance, instead of saying, “we will analyze your experience mod”, how about saying “We’ll review the factors that can impact your premium costs”?.  You can always get more specific later, when you meet the visitor in person.
  11. Keep your brand consistent.  Your site should dovetail with all of your other marketing activities in appearance, tone and context.  People should be able to see your home page and immediately connect with all of your other advertising and promotion.
  12. Double your time projection.  Or maybe triple it.  For whatever reason, I’ve found that re-working a site takes considerably more time than building one from the ground up. We’re six months into concept and three months into actual page building with the new Sound Marketing site – and we still have a long way to go.  Be prepared! 

You’ve probably\invested a lot of time, money, and resources to create an inviting, professional ambience at the office.  You work hard to convey your “image” to the clients and prospects who enter your facility. You want them to feel both comfortable and impressed. 

 

Why not make the same investment in your Web site ?

Jack Burke
Other articles by: Jack Burke
Categories: Internet
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