February 2008

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Build strong customer relationships

February, 2008

No matter the size of your company, customers nowadays expect your firm to have a presence on the Internet. They'll be scanning your business cards, advertisements, and letterhead for a Web site address. But once those customers visit your home page, will they stay? Will they buy? Will they come back?

Steer clear of the following Web site blunders — mistakes that sabotage all too many business Web sites — and you may entice customers to stick around and buy your products:

  • Designing the Web site for you — not the customer. Why do you visit another firm's Web site? You're probably looking for free information. If a Web site can provide this information — quickly and painlessly — you might be willing to consider the firm's products and services. Unfortunately, some business owners seem to design Web sites with their egos in mind. The site spouts the firm's stellar history, the president's credentials, the years and years of research that culminated in the firm's outstanding products — none of which busy viewers care about. They are visiting your Web site to get answers. Fail to provide these answers and they'll leave.
  • Heavy graphics, meager content. It's true that a well-placed picture can be worth a thousand words. But some Web sites take this idea to the extreme. Consider that many of your visitors will be using slower Internet connections, so if your pages are filled with high resolution graphics, customers may not wait for them to load. Again, people come to your Web site for information. Give it to them. Provide text-based content that will answer their most pressing questions about your products and services.
  • Shoddy navigation. Make it easy for users to get around your site, from home page to supplemental pages and back again. Don't abandon them at a new page without a clue how to get back to the main page or other important parts of the Web site.
  • Clutter. You have about four seconds to entice viewers to stay at your Web site. Don't bombard them with irritating pop-up advertising, flashing words, or irrelevant information. Provide clear easy-to-read text, supplemented with a few well-placed and relevant pictures and design elements. Do this and viewers may linger. Annoy them and they'll go elsewhere.

An inferior business Web site can drive customers away; a well-designed one can become an integral part of your firm's marketing strategy.

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