by Ron Stark
Every visitor to your website is armed with a .45 calibre mouse. One click and your website is killed off. At that moment the impression they have gained from your website is the lasting impression they have of your business – good or bad. A website therefore has equal capacity to help or harm your business.
What is your website doing for your business?
When your prospect asks “What’s your web address?” they’re really asking “Show me your business”. However, when they find you through a search engine, they’re not looking for your business – they’re looking for the fulfilment of a need they have at that particular time.
Many businesses think that websites are somehow something that you need computer expertise to understand and IT skills to build. This myth is perpetuated by website developers who tout technology instead of business value.
The “language” of the Internet has rapidly evolved, along with the expectations of your clients and prospects. An obviously old or dated website will brand your business as being out of date or worse, out of business. No website at all brands you as a business not worth bothering about.
Your visitors have a unique type of relationship with your business while they’re on your website. In a matter of seconds they will quickly gather an impression of your credibility and who you are, whether you’re easy to deal with and whether you are able to resolve their needs at the time. In minutes they will come to a conclusion of whether they will bother to contact you.
Unlike a face-to-face meeting or a telephone conversation, you don’t have the luxury of body language, intonation, inflexion, eye contact or the multitude of other forms of non-verbal communication on which we all depend. Your website has to encompass the entire spectrum of communication and interaction you have with a person you can’t see, can’t react to and don’t even know exists. You don’t even know who they are, what they want or what their needs are.
It’s no wonder, then, that a website designed and built as a technology instead of a business tool will consistently fail to benefit the business that owns it. More often than not, such a website actively damages your business.
When your website succeeds in delivering enquiries and requests for information to your business, that prospect does so with high expectations that you are able to provide them with the information, product or service they’re looking for. After all, that’s what your website is supposed to do.
Your off-line business process must effectively deal with that enquiry, consistent with the expectations you have created; if you cannot, or neglect to do so, you have a disappointed customer as well.
Ron Stark is the author of “Websites are like motor cars, and technology doesn’t really matter”. He has extensive experience in business systems, website development and business process. Ron is the founder of Snapsite (www.snapsite.com.au), a provider that helps make your website an integral part of how you do business.