Get their attention and keep it
The CEO says he wants a web site. It must look fabulous and entice visitors to stay. The Project Manager says it should be clean and professional. "The look should reflect our standards of excellence and maintain functionality throughout so were not perceived as incompetent." So now you, as the Designer, have everything you need spelled out for you (to a degree) as to how to proceed in making the "Web site of all Web sites." You are part of the team and have been for some time, and the department heads also know what's best as far as how to put the companys best face forward.
But there is a random element that must be acknowledged. The age of global marketing through telecommunication has let startup businesses stride forth, side by side with established ones, and be given unprecedented visibility. The only thing that seems to have been left by the wayside is direct communication between "Company" and "Customer". That's where the Internet really starts to shine . . . or does it?
Your web site is the most functional and the most elegant anyone has yet to create. Your company's services on that site have been emulated to a degree that when someone visits your site, he can do almost anything he would have done if he physically walked through your front door . . . If he can only figure out what to do next.
Getting someone to know you exist in the first place is difficult enough. Keeping his attention is an even greater feat. Think about that: you go through the task of making your presence and services available worldwide, but if the people you are trying to reach don't know what to do once they see you, what's the point? Form vs. Function has been a major paradox in this industry, one that seldom gives way to the "Now What?" action factor. Don't design for the company.. design for the customer your company wishes to attract and service!
When you create a Internet Service Site, there are three key things you should consider:
1. Why are you making the site? Do you have something to offer? Do you have something that people really need? Don't add to the "me too" glut!
2. What are you trying to say? The message of your service MUST be clear and clean cut. The content then must service this message.
3. Who are you trying to reach? You absolutely must cater to your target audience. There is no end-run around this - It's do or die.
Once you can successfully answer these main issues, you must then wrap the whole thing up in such a fashion that even someone who stumbles across you by accident will know what to do when he first sees you. Granted, he might not need anything you provide, and that's fine, but he might know someone who does and your chances of him saying to that person, "Hey, remember when you told me you were looking for (whatever)? I found a great site that does just that!", increase dramatically. You cant buy that kind of advertising.
It boils down to this: If I have a reason to keep
clicking when I hit your site, and I know WHY I'm still clicking, and I know what to do
after each click (without having to e-mail tech-support), I'm going to stick around a
while. I will stay a lot longer than if I just find what I want
Then of course, if Im real happy with you, Im going to refer you all my friends with similar interests by sending them email or talking about it. Now they all become visitors to your site and possible users of your services. Now What ? Redesign your business to become consumer oriented and more human.
Redesign -refine-promote-and above all re-think your plan .
The editor for IMS and Get-in2
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