What comprises an effective Web site? What things are “must-haves”? What are the priorities? For every person you ask, there are different opinions, and sadly there is a lot of misinformation. So here’s our viewpoint on some commonly held ideas.
1. “My site must outdo my competitors’ sites.”
Many people mistakenly think that in order to be worthwhile, their Web site must be flashier, have more pages or otherwise feel more impressive than their competitors’ site. But showy and more expensive does not always equal more effective. In fact, this approach can unwittingly damage your appeal. So what will primarily make your site stand out? Uniqueness. If your site has been custom developed to accurately reflect your real-world company and business philosophy, the site will attract the type of clientele you are seeking.
2. “Publishing an E-mail address on my Web site is the best way to get people to contact me.”
With spam and other E-mail abuses being a growing epidemic, we feel openly showing E-mail addresses online is just too risky. It’s like leaving your front door unlocked to make it easier for your friends to come in and just hoping no intruders will abuse your openness. So what can you do? Instead of publishing E-mail addresses on your Web site, we strongly recommend using an electronic form that is appropriate to the subject. This is an all-around safer and more organized method to use. And if form fields are kept brief enough — perhaps comprised of just a message field and E-mail address field — electronic forms can be even simpler and faster than traditional E-mail links, while keeping your E-mail address hidden. Another significant advantage for both you and your site visitors is that electronic forms can be completed by a user on any Internet-connected computer or device, without requiring users to have an E-mail application running.
3. “My specific search engine ranking or placement can be guaranteed.”
No Web developer or even a search engine optimization specialist can truly guarantee a specific ranking or placement in a search engine. This is because the specific criteria that search engines use to determine rankings are purposely kept secret so as to prevent abuses. How your site ranks in comparison to your competitors is determined by many factors – not only the quality and content of your Web site but also based on the quality and content of your competitors’ Web sites. Realistically, though, there are many things that the major search engines themselves suggest to improve a site’s ranking. Or, you may consider purchasing sponsored advertising on search engines to increase your overall exposure. But anyone who says he can guarantee a specific placement is, well… mistaken.
4. “I need users to stay on my site as long as possible.”
When it comes to determining the effectiveness of your Web site, looking at the average duration of a visit to your site provides just one part of the picture. Shockingly, some businesses are so concerned with lengthening their average visit duration that they purposely create unimportant, awkward or even time-wasting reasons for people to stay on the site longer. Using your site to show irrelevant news, weather, games or presentations, tricky navigation menus or multiple-click page levels may encourage loitering on your site and improve your Web site statistics, but these may do more harm than good to your bottom line. Why? Busy people like yourself would agree that a user-friendly and fast site makes for a more positive business experience. And it’s a positive experience that motivates business. Therefore, it’s wisest to focus on accurate, up-to-date information and functional tools that allow for brief but purposeful visits which encourage revenue.
It must be admitted that the more times a user repeatedly visits a site the shorter the visit becomes. But do shorter visits mean the site is becoming less useful? Not necessarily. Often times, the more familiar a user becomes with a site, the faster it is for them to use the navigation effectively or pinpoint the information they are searching for.
5. “Web sites can be finished.”
Much like the opening of a physical store location is just the beginning, so it is with the launch of a new Web site. While projects can be completed, effective Web sites are continually refreshing and expanding. The Internet is dynamic in nature, ever growing and changing. To keep moving at the Internet’s pace, you cannot afford to think of your site as completed. It must be always evolving with updated content and new features. If not, users will have no motivating reason to return and your site will eventually be forgotten by the public. In such a case, the value of your Web site investment becomes limited to a short initial period of time instead of serving as the foundation for a growing online presence.
6. “A great Web site will make me rich.”
As proves true time and time again, great ideas, products and services backed by a strong business foundation in the right market can make certain people very wealthy — and a Web site can play a role in a company’s success or failure. However, just having a great Web site is not a quick way to guarantee profits. Far from it, it takes a lot of time, work and resources to be successful at any endeavour. So if you look to the magic of the Internet, “getting on-line” or “e-commerce” for a financial miracle you will surely meet with disappointment. To work hardest for you, your Web site must be approached as just one facet of your overall business framework. If getting rich is your foundational idea, then you need to go back to the drawing board and establish some realistic criteria based on your real-world business before beginning a Web project.
Let us help you.
We pride ourselves on taking the time to answer our clients’ questions thoroughly and honestly. Contact us to discuss your Web project.
Do you wonder about the accuracy of any Web site concepts you have heard? Would you like to draw the public’s attention to any other specific misconceptions that you feel strongly about? Have your say by leaving a comment.