Five Great Questions To Ask Yourself About Your Web Site
By Veronika Noize, The Marketing Coach
So you've decided to take the plunge and put up a web site. Or maybe you've got a web site up already, but you don't really know if it is "good enough." One good way to evaluate both your plans for your future web site and/or your current web site is to ask yourself some of the key questions below:
1. What is the purpose of your web site? This may sound like a simple (or even stupid) question, but without a clear objective to achieve, your web site may be a waste of your time and money. And how will you know if your web "works" for you, if you don't even know why you've got one? Web sites can have many objectives, such as functioning as a sales tool for direct sales or gathering leads, enhancing your visibility in your industry or community, providing a forum for client interaction or information sharing, and so on. Just make sure that you know what you want your web site to do for your business, and then structure it to accomplish those goals.
2. Is your web site easy to find? There are literally billions of web sites out there, so counting on search engines to direct people to your particular site is probably not the best strategy, unless you're paying for first page premium placement in search engines directories. (See the sponsor listing option at http://www.yahoo.com/ for an example of how this works.) But whether you're catering mainly to a local or a global market, it makes sense to add your web site address to ALL of your sales and collateral material, including your product packaging (if applicable), business cards, brochures, flyers, letterhead, invoices, and advertising. Make sure that your receptionist knows the URL (and can speak it clearly!), and consider adding a mention to your voice mail message, inviting callers to visit your web site for more information.
3. Does your web site reward visitors? Rewards can be many things, but what is most desirable from the visitors' point of view is information. This could be interesting and useful information about your business, products or services, your personality, your philosophy and approach to your work. It could be quotes or testimonials from satisfied customers. It could be general tips about your industry such as how-to articles, top ten lists, or quizzes. To be truly rewarding, it must have some value for the visitor. Think about your business, and what people want to know. If you have a hair salon, perhaps you include home-styling tips, or ways to keep a perm curly rather than frizzy. If you're selling air compressors, perhaps you have a quiz or a chart that identifies the best compressor for the proposed use. Once people have a reason to visit your web site, give them a reason to come back with frequent additions of new information. Remember, each visit to your web site is a sales opportunity for you, even if you're not selling a product that can be dropped in a shopping cart, because you are building a relationship based on your expertise, and your clients' needs.
4. Is your web site easy to navigate? The single most important thing to remember when creating a navigation plan for your web site is that your visitors are often very pressed for time, and probably have a low tolerance for frustration. You have nothing to lose by making your web site easy to navigate from page to page (and back again), and everything to gain. Studies show that web sites with dead ends and confusing jargon frustrate visitors, who would rather look elsewhere than spend time figuring out how to find what they need on a poorly designed site. Remember to guide your visitor through your site; don't allow them to run into a page with no next page, for example. Paths can be circular, but the visitor always should be able to go forward, and not have to hit the "back" button to get out of a page. Include regular jumps ("return to" messages) in the text on very long pages, such as FAQs, particularly after questions. And lastly, avoid cutesy names for standard pages. Your visitors might not have the time or patience to figure out what's on a page called "Serendipity" even if you think it should be obvious that you mean "Frequently Asked Questions.?"
5. Does your web site provide a way of getting in touch with you? You'd be surprised at how often this is an issue. Many faults in style, presentation and design can be overlooked, but if you don't have contact information on your web site, you don't have a way to for your customers to get to you to close the sale. If a visitor takes the time to visit your site and read your materials, but can't find a location for the business, a phone number, a mailing address, or even an e-mail address, then s/he probably can't (or won't want to, because whether you know it or not, this is a credibility/confidence issue) buy your product or service.
Wondering how your web site rates? If you're not sure that the answer to the first question above is obvious, and that the answers to the second through fifth questions is yes, then ask a friend or colleague to review your site. Use this list of five questions as a starting point for evaluation, and ask your reviewer to be completely frank in his or her assessment. What may be obvious to you might not be as clear to others, including your web site visitors who are your future customers.
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FIVE GREAT QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF ABOUT YOUR WEB SITE Copyright © 2002 Veronika Noize. All rights reserved.