Making the Jump to Cyberspace: Guidelines for Creating an Effective Web Site
© 2000 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Fall 2000
Author: Betsy Ripplinger
Making the Jump to Cyberspace
Guidelines for Creating an Effective Web Site
By Betsy Ripplinger
Not there yet? You’re not alone. Despite what others may be telling you, you are not the last remaining business on the planet without a presence on the Internet. However, the numbers of “not yets” are dwindling as more and more independent business owners are following suit and using the web as a means to disseminate information regarding their companies and their product lines.
That trend will probably continue indefinitely, as the web offers a fast, affordable, and creative way to reach out to potential customers. With a web site, your shop is never closed. But as with any marketing effort, some nuts and bolts must be included, because if omitted, your investment may get lost in cyberspace. Keep these things in mind as you plan your site:
- Make your site attractive, but not too heavy on the graphics. Graphics can slow down the site, and you may lose the user’s attention.
- Make sure the user can easily find your company name, address, phone, and E-mail address. You may want to include the names and numbers of key people in your organization.
- Make sure the site is easy to navigate, making it easy for the user to find out what they want to know.
Sales and Marketing
- Have a simple domain name that reflects your company name. You can reserve a name even if you don’t have a site built yet. Check out www.networksolutions.com to see if the name you want is available.
- Keep it updated. If your site is out of date, it will reflect poorly upon your company.
- Make sure to include a contact form. This will serve as a good source for sales leads. BUT, make sure someone is assigned the duty of responding to all inquiries within 24 hours. An unanswered E-mail can bring into question your commitment to customer service.
- Ask manufacturers to provide a link from their site to yours. Use manufacturer logos to increase the credibility of your business.
- Include your web address on everything, including letterhead, business cards, trucks, newsletters, Yellow Pages ads, TV and radio spots, business forms, and presentation folders.
Working With Your Developer
- Make sure your web developer is knowledgeable on how to make your site easy to find through the search engines.
- Include good keywords and “meta tags” on your site that will enable a user to find you easily and quickly. A good developer can help with this.
- Ask your developer to design the site so that you or someone on your staff can handle simple copy updates. The costs incurred in updating your site can mount if you are paying an expert to do it.
- Use your site as a way to get people to your showroom. Provide a map with driving directions. The easier you make it for customers to find you, the greater your odds of securing a sale.
- Post employment opportunities when the need arises. There is no extra cost to do this, and job searchers often consult the web for employment options.
- Convey the personality of your company through your site. If you have won industry or community awards, toot your own horn. Treat your web site as you would a brochure. It is a direct reflection of your business.
And again, as with a brochure, a web site can be as simple or as sophisticated as the budget allows. But keep this in mind: Most web surfers who access company web sites are there for information, not entertainment. Don’t let the bells and whistles detract from your site.
A well-designed and informative web site can help you stand out among the competition. Your mere presence on the web shows that your company is not running behind the pack. In a nutshell, your site can promote quality products, top of the line service, honesty and dependability, your pursuit of continued education in your industry, and your commitment to customer safety.
So if your future includes changing from a “not yet” to a “done that,” spend some time up front to make sure your site is an effective marketing tool to add to your arsenal.
Betsy Ripplinger is a freelance writer and the president of The Jenmark Group, a marketing firm specializing in the door and access systems industry. To contact The Jenmark Group, call 937-438-2988, toll-free at 877-536-6275 or by E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.