Should I Spend More Money on My Website?

The Internet is part of our society now (thank you Al Gore) so this is a question that should be asked continuously. How do you decide what to do online?

Define Expectations
Know what your audience is looking for. I always say the receptionist is the first person to ask what people need from your company. This individual is the one who receives the harried phone calls from your customers.

Take Usability to Heart
If your site confuses people well… that’s not what anyone expects. Usability studies have shown that there are uniform expectations about how to find information. Readers look at the web differently from other media. If your information architecture is poorly designed, they won’t stay long. Utilize proper technology. I just went to look for a replacement car manual on http://www.gm.com/. The main page has a Flash component…. if I haven’t updated my Flash recently, I will be distracted and perhaps get frustrated enough to leave without getting my needs met. If I am selling GM and want to sell a car, this is not a good thing.

Don’t Shortchange Information
If people need to review your products, technical specs or other information before making a purchase decision, it’s best ot have that information online. If you lead a user to information, but don’t deliver it, there is an annoyance factor that is raised in the user. “Under Construction” pages are big no-no. If you don’t have the content, either create it or don’t put up the page.

Bling When Necessary
If your company is an industry where “bling” is status quo e.g. entertainment, your customers expect to see a cool website. It is very important that they still can find the some basic information, but also pizzazz. Just for fun, search for your favorite movie star and look at their home page. Does the “smoke and mirrors” effect still allow you find what you want?

Let Them Know You Mean Business
If people need reassurance about doing business with you, they will want to see testimonials, case studies or perhaps a portfolio. This is especially important for demonstrating good customer service. Users need to believe you care about them, and they will want to know how you work through warm fuzzy examples.

Back Up Your Facts
If people see you as an expert in your field, they will want that validated. If you are a contractor or attorney, this means more than giving your license or your JD credentials. They will want a demonstration of your wisdom. What about tips from the master plumber? What about published articles from the expert in landlord law? A calendar of speaking engagements?

Keep It Current
If you have a calendar or dated information, people expect it to be current. Don’t post on your blog or calendar once every month or so. If you make a commitment to calendared content, be committed to keeping it up to date.

If you are missing on one of these points, you website is not representing you well. There are many other ways to please users, but these are the key points that are often overlooked. Always keep thinking: is there a way our online strategy could do better? That’s where you have to put on your thinking cap and determine if you need to invest more in your online presence.

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