The great website debate!

A website  . . . a great online tool . . . but is it returning exceptional value to your business?   Any value?   How do you get people to your site?   Sure, search engine optimisation can be used if you are willing to incur the expense.

So let’s say you are willing to hand over the cash for the SEO.   What happens when a person arrives at your site?   Is the site dynamic?   Or is it static?   Does it have a call to action?   Or is it displaying old and static data from the last decade?

I gave more consideration to the above issues when I read the below extract taken from Dorie Clark’s HBR.org blog dated 2 November 2012:

Novelty fades fast. During the 1996 election cycle, campaigns could literally get media coverage because they had a website; it was that unusual. By 2000, there were glimpses of websites’ practical value, as when John McCain had a fundraising windfall in the days after his New Hampshire primary victory. In 2004 and 2008, the media gobbled up stories of the online prowess of the Howard Dean and Barack Obama campaigns, highlighting alluring new tools like Meetup, blogs, and text message marketing. Today, that process-based coverage is largely gone. In a little more than a decade, online tools have gone from novel to fashionable to completely unexceptional. You have to move fast to keep up, and the bar is getting higher.

Websites do provide valuable information and can provide people with an excellent insight into the business offering.   They can confirm many details about a business and in many instances, a website is the first point of contact that many customers have with a business.

However, their novelty has worn off or at least their value in isolation of other marketing strategies is not what it was a decade ago.   There are several reasons for the shift:

  1. Today, the web is a dynamic place of interactivity.   People can now engage with each other in real time.
  2. Real time interaction deprives a static site of critical session time making them less effective and less attractive to the visiting public.
  3. Web applications that dynamically push content to users will be more successful than a web site that solely relies on static content.   Pushing content is critical for increasing engagement levels.
  4. Dynamic apps create engagement and entanglement by creating a reason for the user to return to the app.   Static sites give very little reason for a user to return to the site.   They may only return to check the contact details of the business.  You need to give some consideration to dynamic apps and think about why you return to those sites.   Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter provide excellent reasons for their users to return those sites.
  5. Mobility today is a critical feature to consider when pursuing a presence on the web.   But many sites are not optimised for use on smart phones.   Optimisation for mobiles is a very important feature given that over 60 per cent of website visits are from a mobile device.   Is your site smart phone friendly?   If not, optimise today.
  6. In many cases, web sites are seen by the business as being an extension of the marketing brochure.   Having a marketing presence on the web is important.   Seeing the site as a marketing tool tends to limit its evolution.   It is important to regard the site as a medium that will continue to evolve over time.   The marketing of the product or service is only one part of that evolution.
  7. The evolution of your site is squarely linked to your strategy and objectives for the site.   Many sites have not re-adjusted their strategy since their original implementation.   It is critical to re-assess the sites’ strategy and to align it with what is now possible in this era of Web 2.0.
  8. You must be in a position to make changes to the site with relative ease.   Apps that are Web 2.0 friendly evolve quickly via fluid and fast changes that are simple to load. Consider how easy it is to get a change committed to your website.   If it can’t be done easily, then the site is less likely to be dynamic in the short term.   This will only continue to hamper its effectiveness as a critical business tool.
  9. Traditional websites don’t allow visitors to easily share the information housed on the site.   This stands in stark contrast to modern day apps that allow content to be shared across many platforms.   The lack of shareable content impacts on the sites capacity to go ‘viral’.
  10. And finally . . . let’s give consideration to the need for fun.   Just because a website sits within the commercial realm does not limit its capacity to engage its audience with an edgy and fun attitude.   Apps certainly have the ‘fun edge’ over websites. Website content must be enjoyable, provocative and thought provoking so the audience feel compelled to share its content, re-visit frequently and receive value from their many visits.

Start today . . . review, refine and improve your website and in doing so you will help turn the unfashionable into the new ‘vogue’ of marketing.