The reading level for this article is Novice
In the early days, the internet was known as the “Information Highway.” Why? Because the internet is an incredible source of information, and seeking information is the primary reason people are searching the internet.
The information you provide on your website is critically important to its success. While a well designed site is important, it is not enough. Your customers must be able to find the information that they came to your site looking for, they must be able to find it easily, and they must be able to understand it easily. If your information is not relevant to them, if it is not easy to find, or not easy to understand, they will quickly leave your site.
Prior to developing or redesigning your website, you should have a strategy in place, which details the purpose of your site, the content sections it will contain, and the target customer. With this key information, you can begin to develop your content plan. Here are several questions to consider in doing so:
What do you do?
The home page of your website should make it clear what you actually do, without being overcrowded with too much information. First impressions are made within a few seconds, so if the viewer can’t quickly figure out what your site is about, they will just as quickly leave. On a similar subject, generally, Flash introductions should be avoided on business sites. If the customer is trapped into watching a “movie” about your company before they can gain access to the information that they came for, chances are good that they won’t wait.
What are your customers’ problems?
People don’t buy products, they buy benefits. Describe your products or services in terms of the benefits that they offer to the customer, or of being the solution to the customer’s problem. Customers want the W.I.I.F.M. (what’s in it for me?)
What is your competitive advantage?
What makes your product or service different from your competitors? Customers want to be reassured that they are making a wise decision in dealing with you.
What do your customers need to know before making a decision?
Think about what questions people usually ask when they contact your company through other means. What do potential customers ask when they telephone for information? What do they ask your salespeople? What is most important to them about your product or service? Ensure that your information is focused on your customers, and on answering these questions. Chances are very good that the first thing your customer wants to know is NOT what your company mission statement is – so don’t put this on your home page.
Who are you?
While it is not generally the first thing people want to know, if you have offered them the solution to their problems and answered their questions, they may want to know about you. (If your product is clearly yourself – e.g. as a keynote speaker, stand up comedian, etc., then who you are should probably get top billing.)
How can customers contact you?
The ultimate purpose of most business websites is to provide enough information to potential customers in order for them to make a decision to purchase your products or services. If they have gotten this far, and then they can’t figure out how to contact you, you will lose the sale. This is important even if you are selling your products or services directly on line – customers may have additional questions, and they also feel more confident in making an on line purchase from a company that appears to have a physical presence. You may include your contact information on every page of your site, or at least ensure that every page of your site has a “Contact Us” button that links to a page including the ways you can be contacted (office address, local and toll free phone numbers, fax number, e-mail address, store or branch locations if applicable.)
A professionally designed website, providing clear, relevant, well organized information is essential to achieving success with your on line strategy.