The Four Steps to a More Effective Website
It takes a long time to create a really effective website. And a lot of money. Oh, and you need to make a lot of schoolboy type errors and newbie gaffs along the way. Here’s how it’s done (clue – there is an easier way at the end):
Step 1: ?Build it and they will come
The first step when a company has decided to have it’s first website is to find the cheapest web designer available, preferably a family/staff member who is either a) Young, and therefore knows about ‘Computers’ or b) too junior to refuse to do it. The MD puts a great deal of thought into the structure and text of the website, and after half an hour has written four pages on the company, each 1-2 paragraphs long.
This content is then thrown at the hapless web designer/family member who throws a website together and it goes live within a few days. Everybody them promptly forgets about the website and it’s not until good few months down the line that someone realises that not one enquiry has come from the site. The MD gets upset and the family member or cheap web designer is kicked into touch.
Step 2: The Emperor’s New Clothes
The company then go to the most expensive web designer in the locality, or ?even an agency, and spend a lot of money having ?the site redesigned with every conceivable bell and whistle available. Nothing is missed, and the site looks great with loads of new graphics, professional photography and loads of functionality like live chat and a 360? tour of the premises. Of course, the old content is still used, because the MD still thinks it’s great and no-one dare say otherwise for fear of being sacked or losing the project.
The result is highly predictable, as the site has zero visibility and the only people who contact the company are from premier Indian Web development/SEO companies with gmail addresses. The spend so far is around ?2500 – ?4500.
Step 3: Bring in the Cavalry
Time again passes and people realise again that the site isn’t working. The light dawns when someone points out the the MD that being number one on Google for your own URL is not that much of a big deal, and as the competition from as far away as Asia and the US is higher than the company’s website in SERPS, an SEO expert is called in. This works well, the website rises through the rankings and the SEO has lots of reports to show how much traffic is coming to the site. However, there is only a small increase in the amount of new business and it is realised that the site is not fit for purpose.
Step 4: The Penny Drops
The company has grown and probably taken on a full time marketing manager, who thankfully realises that the site is woefully inadequate and they set about, in private at first, but bolder later, designing the site from scratch.
The difference this time is that the site is designed with the client in mind. A customer profile is created and with the help of a web design company who are prepared to invest some time in baiting the hook, an user friendly site is conceived. The new marketing manager looks at everything from the customer’s point of view, what their problems are and how the company’s products or services solve those problems. Everything is considered, what colours will work best for them, the text is professionally written to be persuasive and sympathetic. A beautiful, simple, user friendly site is born for a fraction of the cost of the all singing, all dancing site.
And it works, beautifully! Traffic dips, but picks up as the site is populated with helpful articles and blog posts that customers share with friends and colleagues. Despite the MD’s fear that the company will go bust because they are ‘giving all their secrets away’ the site flourishes and the previously tumble-weed strewn Facebook pages are now buzzing with conversation, and enquiries. And they all lived happily ever after.
The moral of the story
Of course, you’ve spotted the key to the site’s eventual success – it was written with the target audience in mind and built to help them as well as sell to them. It doesn’t matter if you are paying thousands to have the site written, developed and promoted, or if it’s still that young nephew who ‘knows about computers’ that’s building the site, if the project is written with the user in mind it will be a highly effective web site indeed.
By Jeff Guest on Wednesday, February 18th, 2015