Why do you need a website? In today’s world, consumers are more and more likely to expect a company to have their own website. In the eyes of a consumer, having a website is a measure of viability, of stability.
For the most part most businesses today realize the importance of having an online presence – whether that be through a website, or on the social media platform a Facebook page, or a Twitter profile, etc. If your business does not have an online presence, the chances are you could be losing valuable business and customers to your competitors who do have effective and active online presences. An effective website adds credibility to your company or organization. Beyond the importance of simply having a website though, it is important to have an effective website, one that is an asset to your business and that pays for itself in the amount of business or customers it converts. Today I want to talk about a few of the features, types of websites and elements that help make a website effective.
The organization and navigation scheme of your website can ultimately be the difference between visitors staying on your site and visitors leaving to go to your competitor’s site. It is extremely important that the navigation of a website makes it easy for visitors to find what they came for in as few clicks and with as little confusion as possible. Taking the time to make sure your website’s navigation is up to par is a huge step towards building an effective website.
Aesthetic / Cosmetic Appeal
Another extremely important feature of an effective website is its aesthetic appeal. If your site is too distracting and busy, it will detract from the appeal and usability of the overall site, potentially limiting its effectiveness if you start to lose visitors due to the poor design. On the other hand, if a website is too plain and looks like it was designed 10 years ago and hasn’t been updated, you also risk losing or disappointing website visitors and potential customers. A well-designed and aesthetically appealing website can give you a strong advantage over other online competitors.
A Strong Clear message
An effective website is clear on the message it is trying to send visitors. It should be fairly obvious what the purpose of the site is, why you should be here, who the company is that this site represents, and how this company can benefit its customers.
Intuitive Turn-key Design
One of the most important elements of a highly effective website is its intuitiveness. By this I mean that each page should be designed with the customer of visitor in mind and tailored to appeal to them and make it easy for them to navigate and find what they need. A good example of this is a Related Products feed or Other Products You Might Be Interested In feed on an e-commerce website. An intuitive website shouldn’t have “dead-end pages” which leaves a visitor with nowhere to go but back. An intuitive website seems to know what website visitors are looking for and where they want to go and is one of the most effective ways that a website can turn visitors into customers.
So there you have it, four of the most important elements of a highly effective website for your business. Take a moment and look over your existing website and see how it is doing. Is it as effective as it could be? Where could it be better? Investing in your website to make it as effective as it can be could be the difference between having a website like everyone else and having a website that will help build and grow your business and customer base.
Types of Websites
Customer Relationship Management
Customer relationship management (CRM) is a widely implemented model for managing a company’s interactions with customers, clients, and sales prospects. It involves using technology to organize, automate, and synchronize business processes—principally sales activities, but also those for marketing, customer service, and technical support. The overall goals are to find, attract, and win new clients; nurture and retain those the company already has; entice former clients back into the fold; and reduce the costs of marketing and client service. Customer relationship management describes a company-wide business strategy including customer-interface departments as well as other departments. Measuring and valuing customer relationships is critical to implementing this strategy.
Content Management System
A content management system (CMS) is a bundled or stand-alone application used to create, manage, store, and deploy content on Web pages. Web content includes text and embedded graphics, photos, video, audio, and code (e.g., for applications) that renders other content or interacts with the user. A CMS may also catalog or index content, select or assemble content at runtime, or deliver content to specific visitors in a personalized way, such as in different languages.
Electronic commerce, commonly known as e-commerce or e-comm, refers to the buying and selling of products or services over electronic systems such as the Internet and other computer networks. Electronic commerce draws on such technologies as electronic funds transfer, supply chain management, Internet marketing, online transaction processing, electronic data interchange (EDI), inventory management systems, and automated data collection systems. Modern electronic commerce typically uses the World Wide Web at least at one point in the transaction’s life-cycle, although it may encompass a wider range of technologies such as e-mail, mobile devices and telephones as well.
Blogging is the newest sensation to hit the Internet in the past few years. If you want to voice your opinion and meet people with common views then Blogging is the way to go. Blogs (or Web Logs) can be categorized as online journals or editorials that give regular people the power to tell the world what is on their mind – whether it be their view on a political issue or what they had for lunch. There are many free Blogging sites out there, but Blogger by Google is probably the most popular, as of now. With Blogger you can create an account and Blogging page for free and post as many times a day as you want. Maintenance for these sites depend on how big of a “Blogger” people are. Some people may post a blog once a day or a couple times a week while others will continuously post on their blog throughout the entire day with help from cell phones and PDA’s.
1. Be Open For Business 24 Hours a Day Your business is open to the world 24 hours a day, 7days a week with no labor costs to watch it. An online store never closes. And a website faces no time zone barriers.
2. Reach New Markets With a Global Audience Internet is the most cost effective way to trade nationally and internationally. A website will broaden your base of customers, members, distributors or suppliers. You can generate more and more clients for your business without doing additional marketing. Today, more and more customers are making purchases through the Internet. Why should you limit your business to your immediate locale when the whole world may be your potential market? Thanks to the Internet, it is as easy to sell halfway across the world as it is to sell across the street.
3. Nerve Center for the Global Economy The Internet has become the nerve center for the global economy. Many world leaders are realizing that those organizations will thrive in this global Internet economy who will grasp its importance before their competitors do. A well-designed website is not only an Internet identity for your organization, it is an essential part of the success and future of your company in the 21st Century.
4. Present a Professional and Credible Image Your organization must make the leap into the 21st century if it is to be perceived as professional in today’s marketplace. Today, customers, employees, and suppliers expect to be able to find and communicate with a business online. It is very much like being listed in the Yellow Pages, if you do not have a listing, potential customers will not be able to find you and trust you? Organizations that still do not have a Web presence are inadvertently making a statement about their ability to embrace technology and adapt to change in today’s dynamic environment. For a small business, a well-designed website is a great way of creating credibility and looking bigger than you actually are. You can look like one of the big corporations at a very small cost. When one compares the cost of establishing a website to what it costs to promote a business on the traditional media (newspaper, radio, television), it is evident that a website is the cheapest form of marketing ever created.
5. Improved Customer Service You can provide 24 hours customer services without hiring any additional employees. Your customers are better served when they can access information about your product or services immediately via your website rather than waiting for a mailed brochure or a return telephone call. In today’s fast-paced market, how quickly and conveniently customers can access the information or purchase the product is frequently the factor that determines who will win the sale. Provide answers to frequently asked questions on your website. Information requests can be processed immediately via online forms and autoresponders whether someone is in the office or not. 6. Save Money on Printing and Distribution Costs A website is your online brochure or catalog that can be changed or updated at anytime at a much cheaper and faster rate than print material. It saves you money on printing and distribution costs.
7. Create A Product Or Service Showcase Provide photos and detailed descriptions of your products or services. Explain why your products or services are superior to your competitors. Show them how your products or services can help them in their personal or professional lives.
8. Automation, Productivity, and Profitability Through Internet automation you can increase productivity and profitability. Online automation can reduce costs for advertising, sales personnel, and other support staff. A website increases your company’s productivity because less time is spent explaining product or service details to customers since such information would be available 24 hours a day on your website. A website saves costs by allowing users to download invoices, proposals, and other important documents. Your website can also allow the customers, employees, and suppliers to have their email address added to your mailing list. Sending an email to your entire email list can be done at virtually no cost.
9. Sell Your Products and Services Online Selling through your website is much cheaper and a great way to supplement your offline business. Providing secure online ordering is very affordable today. That explains why the worldwide online commerce has reached $6.8 trillion by 2004.
10. Stability You may move your place of business, change your phone number, or even change your hours, but your website address never changes, and your website is always open.
11. Your Own Internet Identity Your own domain name (www.yourcompany.com) establishes a strong online brand identity, and allows you to set up email addresses specific to your own company. Today, email is the most common way to communicate efficiently and professionally with the rest of the world.
12. Promote Your Services Lawyers, doctors, financial consultants, entertainers, realtors and all service oriented businesses should take advantage of the massive reach of the Internet. Millions of users are logging on to the Web to compare various specialists and practitioners before they purchase a specialized service.
13. Customer Feedback You can gather information about your existing and potential customers by using online forms and surveys. Provide a feedback form to make it easy for your customers to send their input. Conduct surveys to find out how you can improve your products and services. Your site statistics can also help you understand how your visitors and customers use your site.
14. Worldwide ExposureThere are numerous ways you can promote your website to enhance prominence, drive targeted traffic, and get worldwide exposure for your business. You can register your site with various search engines and directories that reach more than 800 million Internet users around the world. Most of the search engines and directories allow free registration of websites. Leverage the massive reach of the Internet and the precision targeting of the search engines and directories. You can send press releases to news media about your website that features unique aspects of your organization. You can also promote your site through free banner advertising on various link exchange networks.
15. Many Money From Your Site You can also earn revenue for sales, leads, and traffic driven from merchant links and ads placed on your site. Take advantage of free access to various affiliate networks on the Internet.
16. Great Recruiting Tool You can post job opportunities with your company on your website. Your website is a great recruiting tool for building your business.
17. Transfer Information to Branches and Affiliates Transfer of documents through your website is cheaper and faster than by UPS, FedEx, etc. You can password protect your files if security is needed.
18. Viral Marketing Without a Marketing Cost You can have your satisfied customers refer you to their friends and relatives through an online form on your website.
19. Improve Your Advertising EffectivenessYour website address on all of your promotions will give your company a cutting edge corporate image and it will encourage the viewers to check your site for additional information. The addition of your website address on your ad increases your exposure without adding any cost.
20. Educate Your Customers Your website can offer free advice about your services and products including ideas and suggestions for maximizing the benefit of your products.