The web designs we weave

It’s all very well to hear your designer tell you that you need to have a good looking website in order to compete in today’s business environment. A good looking website doesn’t necessarily immediately transform into a successful business initiative. Unless the website has a selling message and an easy-to-follow sales path inbuilt, it soon shows itself to be little more than an irresponsible indulgence.


Before even picking up a phone to a website designer, you will need to be very clear as to what the site is expected to provide. Is it merely aimed at broadening your brand identity, to garner sales leads, to make direct sales, to develop support mechanisms for existing customers, to build a forum for interactive communication?


These are just some of the prime objectives of a productive website. There are others, and some will be unique to your company which only you will be able to identify. But identify them you must before beginning, otherwise a lot of hard earned promotional outlay will fly out the window.


Think local, act global is the one benefit of the world wide web. Naturally you will want to attract the attention of prospects in your immediate geographic area. But to confine the scope of the website simply to a locality is ignoring its major benefit of being able to attract attention to your particular product offering to virtually anyone, anywhere.


Communication by internet is easy, quick and inexpensive. Means of garnering specifications can be tailored to your specific needs and methods of delivery (road, rail, air) efficient.


Easy does it
Before taking too many steps down the website creation path, there is much to be learned from competitors — the degree of brand identification they achieve, the ease with which they traffic their respondents through their sites, the warmth and acceptability of their message. At the end of the day, the question needs to be asked: based on a competitor’s website, would I respond? Would I place an order here? Have they made it easy?


This is the key to the entire enterprise. Make it complicated and your prospect will switch off and all your effort and expense has been wasted. Once turned away, you can hardly expect that disgruntled visitor to re-visit. So it is vital to simplify as far as possible the mechanics of obtaining further information, of ordering, of payments and of checking on an existing order.


One of the most important components of a website, often overlooked, is the page where existing customers, in their own words, recall their experience of doing business with your company. Most so-called “testimonials” only have the one dimension of what they have to say on your site. Far more powerful is the next stage of support, which involves their agreeing to communicate directly to a prospect. Naturally, this requires a close relationship with those customers but once established, this can turn out to be one of the most powerful sales tools you can employ.


People are more important than presses
How often does one see websites developed at vast expense which go to great lengths to list the line-up of technical equipment which a printer can boast about? Most print buyers neither understand much of this technical jargon, nor do they consider it a primary decision trigger. Far more important to them, and to anyone for that matter, is the personal performance within your company. How friendly are they (read: how friendly are they portrayed on the site) and how experienced are they; what is their customer service track record (read: examples of how they helped a customer solve a particularly tricky problem)? Their pictures are important, but just head ‘n shoulders shots are never as powerful as those of people actually handling a customer’s needs.


(There is often an ocean of difference between the online presence of recently established street-front digital print shops and that of their more established traditional offset cousins.)


Fast turnaround priority
So in the end it becomes a matter of planning. Setting out the various products and services your company offers, setting out the way in which a visitor to the site can get hold of further information, access a quote or the answer to a particular question, the warm and fuzzy component (above) and, most importantly, how in the quickest, easiest way possible the visitor can contact you. Little things, such as maps, directions (get yourself onto Google), parking facilities may not be too relevant to a remote prospect but it demonstrates the customer friendliness factor. It’s what often makes the difference when the quotes are fairly even steven.


After that it becomes a total and indisputable priority that any enquiry elicited by the website is responded to by return, not this afternoon, not tomorrow or the following day. Nothing impresses prospects more than having their enquiry dealt with there and then. It demonstrates the extent to which their enquiry was valued by the company with which they may be planning to do business; moreover, it foreshadows the efficiency with which such future business dealings will be handled.

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