It’s Not All About the Web (but You’d Better Get on the Bandwagon)

This is part seven of 13 in the Experience Design 101 series. For links to all the articles in this series, click here.

Dust Off the Telephone Book, They’re Not on the Web

A friend called to have me look up a local phone number the other day, and I realized just how much times have changed. First, I had to dig my phone book out of a drawer. While flipping through I asked why the need for the number?

They have no website, so I can’t find out if they have what I need. I can’t even get their number off the Internet to call them, so I’m calling you.

This potential customer was pretty darned devoted. Tried an Internet search several ways, thinking maybe there was a misspelling or another web name or at least a directory listing, then finally called a friend. (Why not 411? I dunno, maybe he wanted to talk, too.) Most of your potential customers (and you have many, local and not) gave up before resorting to a friend’s phone book. The Internet has opened a world of choices to everyone and you will lose out to your more-connected competition if you don’t get on this bandwagon.

Simple Sites Are Best

Does your site have to resemble amazon’s? No. Your site has to do only three things:

1. Be an ambassador, completely tied in with your firm’s Vision. This will be the most devoted employee you have. Your site will be your only 24-hour, 365-day employee, for the cost of one- to three-months’ salary for any usual employee. Don’t just let this employee sit there—make him work hard!

The number one job of this staffer is to woo your potential customers into wanting to purchase from you. (For this you must know your customer!) Pour your Vision into this employee. Your site should convey, as simply as possible, the best reasons why you and your potential customer are made for each other. In one word, benefits. Saves time—makes money—gives prestige—entices the love of your life—relieves stress—provides delight. Whatever the benefits, the look, feel, and wording should all drive precisely toward this Purpose, in harmony with your office or store, and your other graphic materials.

2. Give your full contact information. Many, many customers just want to talk. To you. Right now. Never make a customer or prospect hunt for your contact information. Display it prominently in all sections of your site, so no matter where or when they drop in (to the site), they know how to contact a human.

3. Encourage the next step. Do you need product pages for every item you carry if you do not and will not ship? No. My out-of-town friend might be distressed to hear that because his first desire was to know if the product was in stock. See above: Convey information as simply as possible, which might mean only a list of lines you carry or photos and descriptions of representative products or services, and provide contact information, so my friend can call you about specifics.

Encouraging the next step means if you are bricks-and-mortar, provide your hours and directions to your shop. If you are a service, offer to start the process online. If you are an online provider of products, then yes, your site does have to resemble amazon’s: clear, complete, compelling, simple to order from, and trustworthy.

Use the Internet as the Tool That Smoothes the Way to Growth

I still write every one of these posts out on real paper. The English major in me, I suppose. Maybe it’s just that sometimes a tool can get in the way of a thought process. Maybe I’m tech-leery. But the web comes to all of us, and as consumers or as producers, we all benefit. Being late to the Internet is better by far than being unavailable, and the smaller your firm, the more you have to gain.

It may take one page or a hundred to convey all the needed details of your product or service. Be brief, be informative, be all about the customer’s needs.

Most important, be there, or they’ll move on to someone who is. Well over half of your customers today are beginning their research on the web, and they won’t be calling me for your number.

Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson


Next up in the series: Part Eight: ROI—Can you really measure the power of Experience Design?

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