Whether you already have a site that is an offshoot of a current business you have done work with, or it is a stand-alone site (brochureware)—or whether you are considering creating a Web site, the information you provide is key. Looking at some of the best known websites, several sites stand out for their information, creativity, usefulness and easy to use. One such site, video how-to site, is a gem. At one time or another we have all tried to do things without reading the instructions. Howcast.com not only addresses this, but provides video as well.
The key elements of any site are a user-friendly, clean appearance and consistently improving content. As you determine your needs for a website, one of the important goals should be to allow your customers to access your site and avoid the time-consuming process of surfing the Web for similar products or services. They can visit your site and be taken to useful, informative sites.
The have-to’s of an effective site:
- An introduction of your products or services: what is it, who uses it and why to buy it
- Basic information up front: contact information, product or services information, etc.
- Listing of products or services, grouped together by topic
- News: Post the latest information about how your organization is changing, how your products or services are being accepted or who is buying them. Consider an e-newsletter in PDF form with tips readers can hold onto
- Articles: Post in PDF form product information and marketing material by your marketing or product development team on what is new or what is coming
- A contact mechanism—a way for customers to ask a question, request information, register for warranty of your product or services, get your newsletter or get a referral
The next layer of your site:
- where and how to send a customer information they are seeking
- printable/downloadable forms for transmitting
- product/services tips and tools
- product updates
- upcoming events, such as industry or company seminars, with an agenda and how to register or request information
- community outreach information that shows how your organization is helping members of the community
- periodic satisfaction surveys that poll customers
The enhanced, “special customer” layer to your site:
- Password-protected forms
- password-protected customer sensitive data
- credit card encryption
- personal data (i.e. date of birth, social security number, contact info, etc.)
- enhanced articles and updates
- special programs and communications