November 2010: Is Your Website Worth C.A.R.E.ing About?
Is Your Website Worth C.A.R.E.ing About?
The 4 Key Ingredients that will Make Your Site . . . Well . . .Awesome!
It’s coming. That steady influx of e-mails that starts right around this time each year. The ones that tout the “hottest trends” predictions for the coming year – in social media, online video, mobile marketing, online gaming, app development, or an emerging break-through in communications.
Before the trend-spotting prophets begin their work in earnest, I’d like to bring the conversation back to basics. What makes a website remarkable?
Your site is the online hub of your brand with a clear purpose: to help you attract and retain great customers. If your site is lacking in any of the following four key areas, even the hottest new digital marketing tools, tactics and techniques won’t increase your site’s ability to create new business opportunities.
A remarkable website is worth C.A.R.E.-ing about. It delivers a Compelling Story enhanced by an Appealing Design, with a focus on building Relationships, and above all else, it’s Easy to use.
People will remember and return to a site if they C.A.R.E. about it. They will tell others about it. And they will most certainly take action.
C – Compelling Story.
As the online representation of your brand, your site must move beyond the functional representation of what you do, and stir an emotional cord within the viewer. Thought-provoking ideas, that literally compel the viewer to dive deeper, explore and ultimately take action. Every company, by virtue of its existence, is remarkable in some way. Your site is an opportunity to share your uniqueness as a brand, your uncommon way of delivering outstanding products, services and solutions. If your story is delivered in a compelling manner, it will be easy for the right visitor to take action. Focus content on the viewer, their potential problems, pains and needs with less talk about you, your company and its deliverables. Tell your story, but tell it through the eyes of the people your company is designed for – your current and future clientele.
“Every Company is Remarkable. What’s Remarkable About Yours?”
A- Appealing Design.
Viewers are accessing your site from a broader range of devices: smart phones, tablets, laptops, and flat screen TVs. And across this broadening spectrum, there exists a universal expectation of visual impact. If your site is visually striking, it says a lot about the brand behind it. Visually striking doesn’t necessarily mean over-the-top graphics, flash animation, video integration or special effects. If anything, we are moving toward a minimalist design style, largely to accommodate the broader range of devices that visitors now use to view your site. You can still be bold, edgy and visually dynamic within a simplistic design scheme. Keep it simple, but make it cool. How cool? Well, cool enough to look way better than your competitors’ sites.
“Keep it simple, but make it cool.”
R- Relationship Focused.
The goal of your site, and I mean every page of your site, is to form a relationship with the viewer. Relationships are not forged through loud, blaring “call us today,” in-your-face messages followed by a huge bold phone number. The web imitates life. Conversation + Participation = Relationship. Think of the relationship opportunities that your site gives to viewers in three levels: 1) Toe In, 2) Foot In, and 3) All In. A “Toe In” could mean signing up for your newsletter, downloading a white paper, or participating in a brief survey. A “Foot In” could represent an inquiry form, a trial, or a demo registration. “All in” is the immediate call or email. But don’t expect every viewer to be ready for that. Remember, the viewer is in control of the brand experience when visiting your site. Give them the flexibility to set the terms of the relationship, and give them options. You will ultimately bring more online relationships off-line.
“Conversation + Participation = Relationship.”
This may seem like a “no brainer,” but it’s an important “no brainer.” Visitors today won’t give you the time of day if you make the experience of using your site anything less than easy, intuitive and simple. Simplicity of navigation becomes increasingly important as your site grows. Easy-to-use also means having a clear sense of priorities. Don’t try to make every element of every page a priority, or over-stuff your homepage. Have a clear understanding of what’s most important or most useful to viewers, and let that hierarchy guide your navigational style and positioning of site elements. If you want to turn the viewer into a customer, don’t make them jump through hoops.
“Don’t Make Me Jump Through Hoops!”
So before the year is out, and before you dive head first into an exploration of the latest marketing tools, tricks and trends, step back, and take a fresh look at your site with the C.A.R.E. ingredients in mind. By making the foundation strong, you will ensure that your online brand is in the best possible position to turn “clicks” into customers.