“The number one myth is ‘Build it and they will come’.” Richard Kauffman
As already mentioned in the previous chapters, the most important fact of the modern Internet is that the customer is in charge. In this respect, a website should be a totally customer oriented platform used for providing a no-pressure sales environment and a thoughtful choice making process. The key to the websites’ success lies in the understanding of its customer and his or her preferences.
“Characteristics of the best websites:
Easy to use
Meets visitor expectations
Communicates visually” (Wheeler, 2009 p. 153)
A good website is an effective sequel of the overall company’s marketing and PR policy that is evolving with the company’s growth. Its success on the Internet is determined by careful planning and strong goal targeting, including the mechanisms of goals achievement. (Wheeler, 2009 pp. 188-189)
Figure : "Process: Online Branding Site"
If the website is being planned not “like everyone else has”, but based on the careful examination of the business and its target audience, the first step has to be determining the goals. Identification process starts from identifying current brand and PR problems and proceeds to setting targets and milestones. A very important part of website planning process is the conduction of the Internet marketing analysis, seeing usage statistics and validating ROI1 results of the old website or the competitors’ ones. The outcomes of the analysis will help to determine the specifics of the demand on businesses products or services online.
“Marketing concept is a philosophy that an organization should try to provide products that satisfy customers’ needs through a coordinated set of activities that also allows the organization to achieve its goals. Customer satisfaction is the major focus of the marketing concept. To implement the marketing concept, an organization strives to determine what buyers want and uses this information to develop satisfying products.” (O.C. Ferrell, 2006 p. 11)
Marketing concept is the key factor to determine the interaction tactics between customer and the selling website, implying the conversion of a random visitor to a potential customer. Therefore, scrupulous development of the concept is crucial for high efficiency and high ROI of the website.
Taking into consideration the fact that Internet users do not perceive open, touting advertisement positively, marketing concept implies unobtrusive but understandable promotion, as a part of the content, design and overall idea of the website. The main purpose of this unostentatious promotion is to give a visitor a clear understanding of the object of advertisement in an indirect way, without graphical or textual overloading.
Having the concept and the overall image of the website in mind, a preliminary budget and timeline should be created before the launch of the project. Again, an important part of the project launch is the definition of the future ROI measurements. Main question here is how to classify and measure the return on the invested money – if the website is not an e-commerce type, no transactions will be conducted through the Internet, and therefore gathering statistics about website efficiency is complicated. Nevertheless, it is possible to estimate ROI by comparing the current outcome of the website and its ability to fulfill the set goals with the future results. Attention should be paid to the questions “Have the sales increased?”, “Is there any feedback from visitors?” and, the most important one “Is the increase in traffic followed by the increase of sales?”
“One of the most important steps in improving your site's ranking in Google search results is to ensure that it contains plenty of rich information that includes relevant keywords, used appropriately, that indicate the subject matter of your content.” (Google, 2012)
The best example of good content is daily news. They should be updated frequently, checked thoroughly and be timely. In addition, the text itself should be written according to the KISS1 principle – short and simple. The information should be classified and structured -descriptions are best perceived in text, accompanied by illustrations if needed, and numbers are more understandable in tables or graphs.
Moreover, there are specific indicators used to evaluate the quality of the content as perceived by the search engines, such as page headers relevance, stop words, words density, outbound links, etc. Those indicators will be described in more details in the Chapter 5 “Tools and methods of website analysis”.
The designing and programming process should start from the identification of the interface and navigation style as well, as definition of the website system functionality. Functionality and design of the website form a harmonic and simple tandem, creating a comfortable and intuitive interface.
There is an unofficial web-design rule concerning the navigation of the website – “The Rule of Three Clicks”. It implies that a visitor should be able to find all the necessary information only in three mouse clicks throughout the website. Though the rule is unofficial, it gives a perfect image about how simple and comprehensible the website should be organized.
“The relation between visual consistency and site identity is complex because visual consistency is not a unitary construct. Visual consistency varies along multiple dimensions or features such as logo, page layout, background, and color scheme. Conceivably, individual features of sites could be used to make site identity judgment in a number of ways. The notion considered here is that multiple features are considered in site identity judgments, but that some features, notably the logo, are given more weight than other features.” (C.P.Haugtvedt, 2005 p. 290)
I will omit the part describing the technical aspects of the website development, even though it is also a component of the success and is essential for the search engine promotion, I do not consider it to be relevant to this topic. Nevertheless, when the website is finished and launched, the assessment of usage trends and reports comes in hand to identify the frequency of content updates and functional advances and upgrades.