All about ideas…

About web sites….

with 5 comments

Today I was listening to a podcast on Marketing Voices (Jennifer Jones) when one of speakers mentioned something that has been on my mind of late.

The comment was in reference to company web sites. The speaker happened to mention that many company (static) web sites that were cutting edge in ’96 or ’98 are now antiquated. Well, that statement echoed my own thoughts. In the process of seeking a permanent position with a good company, I’ve looked at a lot of web sites. Some good…some bad…and most indifferent. But what annoys me the most are the web sites that are out of date, have grammatical and spelling errors, or really don’t provide any solid, in-depth information about what the company sells or services.

Let’s take these common errors one at a time.

First, the sites that are out of date. Almost all companies these days have created a web site, perhaps because they thought they should have one. However, because the company’s management didn’t have a clear plan for the purpose of the site or for how it was to be used by their customers, their site is dysfunctional and sadly out of date. I’ve seen numerous sites over the course of the last two years where the last update was well beyond a year old. Is it really possible that the last time the company put out a new product or had anything new to say to its potential and existing customers was over a year ago? What is more than likely is that the company is unaware of how the out of date site psychologically affects the person viewing the site. An out of date site says that the company is not concerned about…or interested in…how professionally it presents itself to the buying public.

Then, there’s the matter of spelling errors. More than once, I’ve caught ridiculously simple spelling errors. I’ve even contacted to web developers to inform them of the errors I found. I often wonder who is looking at and reading the web pages before they go live. Is anyone? Isn’t it the job of marketing and marketing communications to insure that the company’s web site is accurate? Why haven’t they done the most primary function of their job: to make sure that all communications with their buying public is 100% accurate…as well as viewable by whatever audience using whatever internet platform. A few years ago, a web developer told me that it was too much work to program a site for multiple internet platforms since most people used IE anyway. Needless to say as a non-IE user, I was outraged…and disgusted by the thought of how may potential sales (revenues and profits) the company would lose because of the customers’ inability to access the company’s site.

Lastly in my diatribe are the sites that really don’t provide any real information about what the company does, what its’ products are, and what those products are used for. It would be like my putting up a site stating that I’m a great cook, but without stating I had trained at the prestigious California Culinary Academy, specializing in Nuevelle California cuisine with a French flair, utilizing seasonal, fresh ingredients; had prepared seven course meals for banquets and parties for many well known events (event names and pix included); had numerous high profile clients (names and recommendations included) that came back to me over and over again to cater their events; or without presenting sample menus as a teaser of what I could offer.

What is the point of putting up a web site if it fails to supply all the information necessary a potential customer may want or need to make a decision about buying a product or service from the company?

Let’s get serious. A web site is another marketing communications tool.

It explains to your customers who you are, what you do, and if you do it right, what you can offer them to satisfy their needs or wants. It not only offers the features of your company, but the benefits to your customers in buying your products and services.

Back to my catering example again, if I just state that I’ve catered a great many elite events, that would only be explaining the features of using my service. But what are the benefits to potential customers? I need to explain how I’m more cost effective than my competitors or that I can take care of all the set up of the event or that I’ve won culinary awards for presentation and quality…or something that the potential customer can psychologically relate to.

Preliminarily, I have to sit down and clearly and succinctly define who my target market is and then design my site has to appeal to that market. I have to decide what I want my site to do. What is the marketing mission of my site? What specifically do I want it to do? Is it to grow my business by bringing in quality leads and customers by providing products and services that can’t be accessed elsewhere? Is to only to provide brand awareness and information that the customer can begin to use in making a decision but will require the customer to contact my company through some other means to achieve more customer-specific information? In any case, I have to provide them with enough information to decide that I am either the best caterer for their event or at the very least enough information about my products and service to convice potential customers that I am one of a very few that they want to talk to.

If a web site is out of date, or has simplistic errors in it, or doesn’t provide enough real information, that site relays the impression no one really cares about how the company is presenting itself to the buying public. And if the company is not paying any real attention to their image as presented by their web site, what makes the company think that the public is going to trust them with their orders?

As a marketing communications professional, I’m well aware of the effect such errors have on the buying public. When I go onto a site and see glaring errors or view a site that is static and uninformative, I not only wonder at the level of professionalism within that company, I’m led to wonder how well they service their customers and what it is that the company expects their potential customers to do when well presented, accurate information fails to be presented.

If companies begin by clearly outlining what the purpose of their web site is, who they are targeting with the site, what they want it to accomplish, and then review it at each and every step along the way for accuracy before it goes live, they may find that their sites are more effective in bringing in customers…as well as–need I say–great employee candidates.

In an online world, a company is evaluated by the quality of its’ web site. So, shouldn’t a web site be the best it can be?


Written by Valerie Curl

January 20, 2007 at 8:33 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

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5 Responses

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    Dillon Edwards

    November 23, 2010 at 1:59 AM

  2. Hey there, great article, a colleague through the fashion business linked me to your web page. I was born and raised in Los Angeles California and have been earning a living within the industry for that majority of my life. One of my current projects is really a discussion board for the fashion marketplace. Thanks for the useful facts.

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    November 30, 2010 at 5:22 AM

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