Diagnosis: Classic Website Syndrome

You’ve spent countless hours in front of a glowing computer screen, strained eyes deciphering hyperlink text as morale around the office builds with anticipation. The day is here, you’ve finally reached that marking point on the road to success – your company has launched its very own website. Congratulations! The only problem is your hits tracker hasn’t moved in days. This isn’t quite the marketing breakthrough you were hoping for. Diagnosis: Classic Website Syndrome.

Build it and they will come. If only it was that easy when it comes to promoting a website for your company. The Internet offers so much marketing potential for a company, but a simple presence is simply not enough. With no promotional support, and without encouraging any patronage, your company’s site is taking up dead space. Even worse, lackluster design and uninspiring content leaves customers with a slightly stale taste in their mouths as they minimize the window, unlikely to bother typing your web address into the browser again. A website is an amazing opportunity to reach more people at once than has ever been possible before; it also provides a multitude of opportunities to mess up.

Classic Website Syndrome blocks the receptors of objectivity. It’s your website, of course you think it’s great; but how will consumers perceive it? You know what you were going for, but does everybody else get it?

Any website faces two main hurdles: attracting visitors and keeping visitors. One of the most important factors in your site’s popularity is how well it ranks in search engines. Can people easily find your company on Google? If not, it probably has to do with whether your site’s meta information, or underlying code, is correctly formatted. A hastily and carelessly devised site can pull down your ranking where meta information is sloppy. Besides relying on search engines, remember to talk up your own site and encourage consumers to look you up.

Once people have found your company, your website’s job is to keep their attention. First things first, how does the website look? Is it visually pleasing and interesting, or is your company’s web presence, your most extensive means of reaching consumers and gaining sales, a sure cure for insomnia? Make good use of the white space and don’t allow pages to become too lengthy. Graphics will certainly add interest, but consumers are not patient enough to wait more than a few seconds for a slowly loading graphic. Would you? So, make every graphic deliberate and meaningful, and use appropriate colors and fonts.

Don’t become victim to the highly communicable disorder we’ve seen run rampant and scar unsuspecting web surfers. Whatever you do, don’t expose your website to hyperactive attention overkill. Like the woman who shows up to the party wrapped head-to-toe in sequence, your customers shouldn’t view your site while pointing, laughing and asking what you were thinking. Visual balance is really important because people have a tendency to judge a website by its homepage (not saying that it’s right!).

Visual hierarchy is directly correlated with customer satisfaction. Imagine how many poor, lost web surfing souls become disoriented in the depths of confusing links and hidden tabs every day. User-friendliness is a must. Have other people give your site a test run before subjecting the public to mental anguish.

When the design shock and awe wears off, your content satisfies a customer’s appetite to learn more. Words can be powerful, so make sure yours pack a punch. Don’t clutter the homepage with too much information, and keep the brand image clear. Remember, your brand image is the consistent message that should lead the website. Bragging is a good thing here, and we like to think of it as mentioning the benefits.

Just when you thought it was in tip-top condition, before giving your perfect site the final OK, conduct one more thorough physical for the details. Typos are quick credibility killers that are simple to fix. And make sure your call to action is clear and simple, and that you provide all of the necessary contact information.

The Internet is a place of wonderment, opportunity, success and much squandered potential. Don’t let your website become a statistic. Be proactive in your online marketing endeavors and keep your company’s site healthy and thriving. Remember, Classic Website Syndrome strikes even the best of us. The good news is, there is a cure.

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