Culture, Economics, Technology

Three Common Traps For New Websites

There are few deadly traps that almost every business falls into on their web campaign, and your developer may not steer you clear of them.

Even though I’ve produced or collaborated on hundreds of websites, I still like a good reality check to keep me on my toes. The web development community has been playing the wrong tune for long enough, and it’s time to get the word out.

Web development companies are experts… That’s their problem: they don’t tend to think holistically. Business, Marketing, Art, and Technology are disparate fields and few designers play well in all these modes. The most fundamental error that continues to plague the industry is the idea of the website as an end, or objective, when really it is only a part of an overall communication event. This event is every possible element and action between you and the customer, including the motive or need, to the channels of information, to the sale itself. This brings me to a few good reasons why your web campaign may not be working, and what you can do about it…

#3 – You didn’t build it for your customers.

It never ceases to amaze me how commercial websites speak to their industry insiders, or worse, their owners rather than providing simple and effective proof that you can deliver. Do you have testimonials, third party reviews, or multimedia proof of success? If not, then it’s time to start gathering it. There is an entire field of science dedicated to consumer behavior, and sadly, most web developers don’t know the first thing about it.

Research shows that users want proof of past success, credibility, humility, and simplicity above all else.

#2 – You let your developers deliver style over substance in the layout:

This is a tricky phenomenon that I see almost every day– even within my own business — and it drives me nuts. A developer wants to deliver what will make the client happy, even if it is not going to be the most effective method of converting new business. A lot of small business owners don’t appreciate minimalism, and even if scientific evidence suggests that too much clutter spoils your message, they tend to prefer things that are over-designed.

The fear is that the visitor is going to miss something important, and EVERYTHING is important!

Your cash-cow is not always the prettiest one. If your objective is to create monitor art that looks cool, makes you feel your business is “upscale”, then great. However, a pretty picture doesn’t necessarily interest someone who came through looking for something and only has a few seconds. Leave the dazzling stuff for the multimillion dollar branding campaigns such as Coca-Cola. You are here to win a new customer. I have personally tried to pass on smart, elegant designs scores of times in the past only to be shot down because the client did not feel they were getting their money’s worth.

The proof of the pudding is the eating. It’s a classic amateur move to try too hard to look expensive, or bigger and better than you are. Your customers will sense this right away. Keep it real and prove your worth using hard evidence in quick, simple terms. It’s not your designer’s job to provide the evidence, only to deliver and communicate it effectively.

If you want to see some of the most effectively designed pages on the web, look at Google’s. Some people say that they are absurdly simplistic, but then again, Google has more money than most countries, and the could do ANYTHING. The genius lies in what they DON’T do. Why? Because it works.

Given this advice, it might seem intuitive to keep your sales copy short on your pages. K.I.S.S, right? Not necessarily: while layouts should be simple, obvious, and uncluttered, users will not follow through on an action without significant ad copy to do the convincing.

#1 – You don’t have an exposure strategy

Unless your developer or consultant is offering a comprehensive strategy that includes targeted paid search advertising management, such as a specific guarantee that they can get your site on page #1 of a relevant Google search, then they are going to build you a ship that will end up high and dry. Anyone can promise “marketing” and “SEO” services, but the sober truth is that on today’s Internet you MUST have a monthly budget, however small it may be, dedicated to purchasing targeted advertising. ASK for it by name: paid search advertising!

The exception to the above is where you are either content with driving your own traffic through word of mouth, have a loyal existing client base who will search for you by name, or are using other traditional forms of advertising such as signs, TV, radio, or print to drive traffic to your website.

The good news is that if you are a local business, local targeted search advertising can be very affordable and highly effective if you use the right service. The prices range from dirt cheap great values, to flat out robbery

What makes the web so potentially powerful is that as an advertiser you can drill down to the exact market segment you are trying to sell to with a pitch tailored just for to them. If you have ever sold something person to person, you know how important it is to use different approaches with different customers. With new technology such as Geo-Targeted search marketing, you can grab the attention of a person specifically looking for you, deliver a highly refined pitch tailored to their market segment or needs, and ASK for the business all in just two clicks.

Remember, with search you have amazing powers at your disposal: you know where these people are located, you know what they want, and that they CAME looking for it. These people are there waiting for you every day, and they are actively searching for you.

If you are not there, then someone else is.

The proof of the pudding is the eating.