When I first began developing websites, the trend was to show as much stuff as you could put on a page and then add some more. The web was so new and it was so cool compared to print. Hey there’s no limit to the amount of stuff or pages we can have, lets add more pictures!
Websites have evolved a long way from those days. We’re so much wiser now. Right? Not so fast. There still is a common belief that having an e-brochure is a magic bullet for success. It’s no more of a magic bullet than 4-color tri-fold brochure. Even though an online “brochure” is available 24/7 to the world, it’s still static. She looks pretty but she doesn’t say much. It’s a great idea to have a brochure online for your audience to see. It will help them get to know your company and give your audience a feel for what you can do for them. Even still, e-brochure type websites have to major flaws:
- forcing your audience to take it upon themselves to take the next step
- failing to take advantage of available technologies of the web
Everything comes at a price and not every website campaign comes with a budget to integrate a powerful mySQL database, streaming video, blog, surveys, or reader tools. But websites should evolve the way that the web is evolving. It doesn’t need to happen all at once. It shouldn’t. Mistakes and overkill usually happens when trying to add too much purpose to one thing.
So, keep your plan simple. But make a plan and stick to it. Consider these questions when developing a plan to upgrade or build your web presence:
- Who is your audience?
- Do your customers or members visit your site frequently?
- If not, why not?
- If so, how can you make your site MORE useful to them?
- What data should you have readily available for your audience?
- What can you offer your audience more effectively on your site, than you can by e-mail, mail, or over the phone?
- What information could you share with your audience that would make them better customers?
- How could you present news, communications, and updates to them more immediately?
The bottom line is communicating with your audience in both directions. A static e-brochure website doesn’t listen. It can’t. By integrating useful and well-planned applications on your website, you will improve the efficiency of your dialog with your customers and members. This will add a new layer of usefulness to your site.
Using the right tools to communicate, gather, and interact on your website is unique for every organization and niche. The approach is custom but the technology awaits. Please contact me for more information.
My next blog will cover some of the benefits of databases and their under-used potential.