Does Your Web Site Pass Muster?
By Brian Howard
The dot-com crash notwithstanding, your Web presence should be part of your business plan, regardless of your business goals.
Sure, it comes with all sorts of problems, but no other tool is as adept at task-accomplishment. And no channel provides anywhere near the wealth of analytic data. But since the Web is still a relatively new medium, there is no shortage of models and postulates for how to run a site. Spend any time on the Web and you'll find that many of them are dead wrong.
Like most companies with a Web site, you probably could be doing a better job with yours, but perhaps aren't sure where to start.
Author/consultant Jim Sterne, who runs the Target Marketing of Santa Barbara consultancy (no affiliation with this magazine) and recently published "Web Metrics: Proven Methods for Measuring Web Site Success," warns that before you start tweaking and troubleshooting, you need to make sure you have a clear idea of what it is you want your Web site to do.
"It's breathtakingly simple in the explanation and shockingly obtuse in the execution," he explains of companies that, when sitting down to troubleshoot a site, can't first agree on what it is the site is supposed to do.
Is your goal simply to sell? Are you supplementing your call center? Building an online community of your products' users?
Only once you know what you're trying to do can you go about measuring how well you're doing it.
Design of the Times
One of the most basic areas to look at is how your site is designed. The graphical interface is important here, but so is architecture.
We've learned from IBM ads that your logo in flames looks "really cool" but does next to nothing for sales.