I doubt many people would argue that Website design can play a critical role in a business’ success online, but few understand it also can play a critical role off-line. To understand this, we need to first understand what constitutes an effective Website design, how the target market arrives at the Website, and how they take action (i.e. make a purchase at an e-commerce site or provide contact information at a lead generation site).
What Goes into an Effective Website Design?
At WSI TIME all Website design starts with focusing on the target market. In particular, we look at “pain points”. What is a “pain point”? It’s the needs that your potential client or consumer has relative to the products and services your business offers. In simple terms: we work with our Website client to uncover their target market’s pain points and design the Website to offer solutions. We term that “designing the Website from a marketing perspective.”
The fundamental purpose of the Website is to get the visitor to take action, whether that is a purchase in an e-commerce site or a form fill-out / phone call in a lead generation site. However, let me be clear on one critical point. The attractiveness and user friendliness of the site should not suffer from designing the site from a marketing perspective. In fact, the user friendliness in particular should actually benefit since the navigation and content of the site will directly address the market’s pain points (i.e. their needs). All this sounds simple, but can require a good deal of research. Would it surprise you if I told you that many businesses don’t fully understand their target market?
Next, let’s consider how visitors find the Website. Just about 90% of all first visits to a Website are the result of a search, typically in one of the major search engines like Google, Yahoo, or MSN. That’s right, almost 90%. Many people that have evenly previously visited the site or learned about it via off-line advertising will type the name of the company in a search engine since this is easier than remembering the company’s URL (i.e. the actual Web address) or phone number.
This leads us to the next critical element of an effective Website. It must be search engine optimized and easily found on either the first page or second page of the major search engines. Statistics indicate that 65% of searchers stop after looking at the first page of search returns. Only 35% will look at the second page. Anything beyond the first two pages of search results essentially means that your site is invisible.
Now we’re ready to answer the two key questions:
1. What gets the target market to take action?
2. What form will their actions take?
What gets the target market to take action?
The answer is deceptively simple. You must satisfy the visitor’s need with a compelling offer. I told you it was deceptively simple. The real challenge is creating a compelling offer that satisfies the visitor’s need. This is where the pain points come in. If you’ve developed the Website to address the visitor’s pain points, then providing compelling solutions becomes easier. Notice, I didn’t say easy. I said easier. Compelling offers can be developed in a number of ways, including information learned from the Website visitors’ pain points, competitive research, and even focus groups. The right compelling offer can change the visitor’s action rate immensely.
What form will their actions take?
The answer to this question is also deceptively simple. They are going to respond in the way they feel most comfortable. For some, that means they will do the entire transaction online. These people feel comfortable with the security of the Internet and rightly so. If properly constructed, online transactions in a properly secured Website are among the most secure transactions on the planet. For example, if you use your credit card in a restaurant, you have no control on how the credit may be used or copied when the server takes it to process your bill. Online, you have total control over how it will be used; if the Website transaction is secure (i.e. special coding that encrypts the transaction).
However this will not prevent fraud. Therefore, it is important to have confidence in which companies you do business with online. Many people still don’t trust Internet transactions and would prefer to call the company directly. You can use trackable phone numbers that redirect to the company’s actual phone numbers. In that way, you are able to tell exactly how many calls you’ve received from your Website. Some people want the company to call them. In that case, you can provide a call back option. They can specify their number and the time they would like to be called back. Lastly, provide a faxable form. Yes, some people actually like to fax the information and trust faxing more than an Internet transaction. The key point to all of this is to provide the visitor with numerous ways in which they can take action and let them pick the one they are most comfortable with using.
Before I conclude, remember I stated that Website design can play a critical role off-line. That’s totally true. It takes several forms. Two have already been mentioned above, namely telephone calls and faxing. There is an important 3rd option. Consumers, in increasing numbers, are researching online before buying offline (ROBO). The visitor may choose to visit the “store,” especially if you have a retail location near them and if part of your compelling offer involves a coupon offering discounts on merchandise or services of interest to them. In fact, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project 2011, 81% of Americans typically do research online for a product they may buy offline.