Defining Features for Your Website
We are all followers of the “coolest new thing” to a certain degree. I am as guilty as anyone out there. I see the face wall created for Repower America and start surfing the web for modules and show it to our development team. In retrospect, if I had found a decent module or fired up the developers to create such a piece, what would I do with it? Which of our customers could use it? Our nonprofits like Users First Alliance might like this. But, even if a client loved the idea, would they see enough value to be willing to pay for it?
Truth is, pieces of web candy like this are being created daily by a universe of talent, and they are great for their purpose. They are perfect for their mission. But do I need or do you need this same illustration of cool for our purposes? Most often the answer is “No.”
Most of the time just because we can create something is not a good reason to create something. That’s very true for web development. Whenever a new client for web marketing shows us a beautiful, well-constructed, large and expensive flash splash intro page for their website, we can almost guarantee before even looking at their analytics that many customers bounce right from that page. Also, repeat visitors will often direct link into an interior page to avoid the long intro. And finally, usually the flash page does not lead to a higher conversion. Why is that?
Well, especially in B to B, most visitors do not come to your site to be entertained. They are on a mission. If they know you already, they visit your site for a purpose. If they do not know you, then your flash may be impressive, but it slows them down. Unless you are YouTube, inform and do not entertain. Now I am not against flash or custom applications. I am constantly in awe of some development work I’ve seen. That’s not the point. What do you need your website to do? What do your visitors want? Could you build the site with a quality carpenter’s hammer, or do you need one that is hydrogen powered?
In our web strategy sessions, we have advised some clients that their web strategy may not even require a website. Working with social media, if you are an entrepreneur with a start up, your business is event driven or you are a sole practitioner, you could create a large web footprint by stepping into Facebook and LinkedIn. You can support those web “places of business” with Flickr, YouTube and the increasingly popular Twitter. Of course what this requires is time. Consistent posting, commenting and responding is critical and required. But what it does not require is a web site.
Something to think about? What do we need as our online footprint? What tools do I require to get my story across? Can I get where I want to go with a regular toolset, or do I need a hydrogen powered hammer?