Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Websites are Opportunities for Engagement

An article by Reed Dillon

An old friend of mine asked me to look at his company’s website for an evaluation. The site is relatively new and after I saw it I was disappointed to say the least. My first thought was that it was unfortunate that they just came out with this new website and it missed the mark on so many levels. I believe a part of the problem is when someone sets off to build a website they think of it as a website, not as an opportunity to engage new and repeat visitors and customers.

I admit it I am as guilty as the next person. Maybe it's tunnel vision or preconceived ideas but I suspect that in creating websites we bring to it our own notions of what it should look like and not necessarily the actual experience of the prospective customer. What we might be forgetting is that a website is an opportunity for engagement.

A part of the problem is when developing websites we may be working with blinders on preventing us from being open to the opportunities that website as an engagement tool affords. We are not putting ourselves in the shoes of their target market and asking fundamental questions of:  What do people want from my site and how can I engage them in a simple manner and guide them to the information they are seeking?

Below are some suggestions that came to mind when thinking about the subject.

Your website is not about you?

My website is not about me? Of course it is about me what are you talking about? Some website’s home page reads like one of those brag letters that you get at Christmas from a distant relative. Do not go on and on about your years in business and how good you are. Newsflash: People do not care! People are generally narcissistic by nature when it comes to acquiring information on the internet and their primary goal is to satisfy their own needs. I know that sounds a little impolite but it is the truth.

Your job is to engage and convince them you are a viable resource and may be worthy of their time and possible patronage. Nobody like a bragger, so don’t blow this chance with unnecessary information that actually inhibits them from getting to where they want to go on the website.

Option Overload!

Don’t’ bury your lead. This is a newspaper term, and what it means is that too many times we do hide the most important part of what people really want to know.  I see this frequently on websites I explore. Websites with too much written information especially on the homepage causes conflict and confusion. The result is option overload; the visitor becomes over-stimulated – too many things happening at the same time. As a result two things usually happen, the visitor either becomes immediately frustrated or leaves or they muddle through the site for a small amount of time and leave confused and dissatisfied with the experience and information delivery process.

Instead deliver your target market to where they want to be in a straightforward manner and do it as quickly as possible. By getting them to that place in as few as clicks as possible, you will have better chance at engaging them and keeping them on your site for a longer period of time and thus converting them into a lead.

Blah, Blah, Blah…

Having too many words especially on your homepage is the kiss of death. No one has the time or the patience. Websites are primarily not a written medium but a visual medium.  Attention spans are short and are getting shorter. Unless the reader is very interested in the subject will not read every word of your website.

What I see frequently see are website home pages filled to the brim with words. Especially on the home page words need to sparse and succinct. Let your visuals also tell the story. That is where art direction comes in – communicating ideas through visuals. Let videos, photos and graphics tell the story. To tell stories and processes I am a big fan of video and infographics.

Follow the yellow brick road

What is the single most valuable place for the visitor to go while on the website? You must lead them to where their natural tendencies gravitate and make the journey extremely easy and obvious. The question of where to take them is easy to answer. Your analytics will show you the way. Look at page volumes where the most hits are taking place. That should be your star attraction. Create a link front and center on your home page and create a hyperlink to that page.

This was originally intended as one blog but after thinking about it and writing a rough draft I realized that this needed to be a multi-part blog, Please stay tuned for next week’s episode.

We welcome hearing your thoughts regarding websites being a vehicle of engagement with your customer. Feel free to post your questions and thoughts in the comments section below.

ABOUT Reed Dillon - Reed Dillon is the owner of Creative Brand Content, - a marketing consulting company and, a subscription blog service for builders. Reed has spent nearly two decades heading the marketing departments of some of the industry’s leading modular manufacturers and earning numerous national marketing awards. Contact can be made at or by phone at 540-488-2978.

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