Assessing the Business Value of A Website
The Value of a Well Designed Website
Whether you’re a medium sized company or a Fortune 100 corporation the value you receive from your company’s website will largely depend upon on your ability to successfully define the purpose of the website. Having a strategic business plan and setting realistic goals can help you to design a successful site that will provide measurable value to your organization.
First you will need to properly identify what the corporate goals are for the website. This includes identifying the types of users expected to use the site; prospects, clients, investors, employees, job seekers, etc. Once you identify who will be using the site then you can determine at a high level what your website needs to accomplish. Is this site going to be essentially an on-line marketing brochure for your company? Or is it a comprehensive duplication of your entire business in an on-line format?
Visitors will make decisions based on their perception of the corporate website as to the success and stability of the organization itself.
It goes without saying that the corporate website is a direct reflection of the organization. Visitors will make decisions based on their experience and perception of the corporate website as to the success and stability of the organization itself. Organizations should invest in hiring a professional web consultant to assist them with designing a site that will achieve their goals and purpose of the site. It can not be stressed enough the importance of understanding that web marketing is very different from traditional marketing formats. The web copy has to be user focused and value led, we will discuss what this means later in this article.
Internet Users are a fickle group; they have short attention spans, flit from page to page, and are highly judgmental, holding their attention takes careful planning and execution. Done correctly a corporate website can provide impactful value to these visitors and achieve measurable results for the organization. Likewise a poorly executed site will have an adverse and long lasting impact on an organization.
What Constitutes a Well Designed Website?
A website has several aspects: Design, Content, and Functionality that play an important part in building a corporate brand and in creating a positive interactive experience for the web visitors.
- The Design of the website should be an extension of the corporate marketing image as well as look and act in a manner that visitors expect. Web marketing is very different from traditional marketing so hiring an individual who has a traditional marketing or advertising background and no direct web marketing experience can create less than desirable results.
- Content is king, and good copy sells ideas, concepts, product, and services. A good web copy writer uses a technique called AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action) to invoke the desired visitor response. Essentially it is all about writing persuasive copy that will provoke a desired response. That response can be anything from getting a visitor to read the next page or click on a hyperlink – to encouraging a visitor to sign up for a newsletter or buy a product/service.
- Functionality involves the management of content created and accessed via the website. It is common for multiple resources within an organization to be assigned responsibility for creating content for the website. Creating appropriate mechanisms that ensure that the content fits into the design format approved for the site, meets corporate rules of subject and style formats, and is current are just a few of the concerns that need to be addressed by a content management engine.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a technique that allows a website to be indexed and ranked on search engines such as Google, Yahoo, MSN, and others. There are several factors that assist the SEO’s with ranking a website. A good web design firm will have the technical expertise to select and implement the right content management and SEO tools.
Ensuring that your site provides a unique value proposition to the visitor is paramount to increasing traffic to your website and turning visitors into customers. A careful balance of design, content, and functionality is instrumental to achieving this goal and equally important is the choice of web tools used to create, execute, and maintain the site.
What are the Ramifications of a Poorly Designed Website?
First impressions are often the longest lasting and this is holds true with corporate websites as well. If creating a great website is centered on making the visitor the focus of attention, what happens when you do not achieve this goal? Unfortunately it leads to poor SEO rankings and damages the corporation’s market brand – leading to a loss in consumer confidence across the entire organization.
The bottom line is that good web copy sells and a good web copy writer is worth their weight in gold. Unfortunately many organizations fail to realize this and just recycle copy from marketing brochures, mission statements, and other canned resources. These marketing materials are traditionally organization focused not user focused. To effectively communicate and market to website visitors organizations must speak the same language to make the visitors feel comfortable and give them the impression that the focus is on understanding and catering to their desires and needs.
Web copy needs to be short and concise. The visitor needs to identify with the language and feel as if the content is specifically directed to them. Similar to direct marketing, web marketing needs to be value lead not feature lead. Telling the visitor why they should be personally interested, explaining how they will directly benefit, and leading them to take action by providing the ability for them to make a purchase, respond to a blog, or request information before they leave the website is key to successful web marketing.
Identifying with the visitor corresponds directly to the design flow of the website as well. Websites that are not well organized and difficult to navigate create a whole set of problems for visitor retention. Limit the special effects such as flash animation that can take a long time to download a page and ultimately encourage the visitor to limit their experience and exploration of your website.
What to Look Out for When Hiring a Firm to Design Your Website
A little research and planning can make the difference between success and failure. There are a plethora of firms that profess to do web design, from advertising agencies, to guys working out of their basements, to shops half way around the world. There are lots of choices and this wide variety of resources also has a wide variety of prices. But be careful because as discussed there are many elements that go into creating a successful website and many of these firms do not have the full capabilities or experience to deliver the desired results. Building a website is not an inexpensive venture but if done correctly your initial investment should return back to you ten fold.
When interviewing website consulting firms ask them if they have a full-time staff dedicated to website development. Do they have a full time web graphic designer, a web copy writer that writes value oriented copy that is SEO optimized, a technology consultant that understands content management engines, email, blogging and backend application development? Ask them if they do all of the work in-house or subcontract parts if not all of the work to third parties?
Take a look through the firm’s website and the sites listed in their portfolio. Do the sites download quickly, are they well organized and easy to navigate, is the copy value oriented to the visitor and does it lead the visitor to take action when appropriate?
And lastly test how the firm’s websites perform search-engine wise. Search on the name of the organization that owns the site. For example if the organization’s name is “Midwest Vices and Widgets” type that into a few search engines like Google, Yahoo, and MSN. Their name should show up at the top of the page.
The Maelstrom Solutions Website Consulting Value
Maelstrom is a web application software development firm. Our team is dedicated to creating professional web sites for public, private, non-profit, for profit, and political campaign parties and elections. We work closely with each individual client to build a site that is creative, affordable, and professional.
The Maelstrom team is capable of providing all of the design, content, and functionality an organization may require with our in-house graphic designers, web copy writers, and software technology consultants. Special needs such as e-Commerce, on-line donations management, volunteer management, and email are all supported, and our unlimited free training and technical support ensures clients that they will succeed in creating the value oriented website they envision.
You will find our rates are very reasonable and we invite you to contact us to learn more about our products and services firstname.lastname@example.org. You may view some of our projects at www.maelstromsolutions.com, and at our political party and election website www.idealcampaign.com