A common mistake that many web site owners make is “over designing” their sites. Let’s use a fictitious example of a classic car replacement parts website as a case in point. This company has been in business for 10 years and they enjoy a strong catalog following. They want to increase their sales and expand their business by utilizing the Internet as an additional sales platform. Although not necessarily a home business per se, but a small family owned business that has been highly successful in offering post-war classic car replacement parts. The time has come to expand or stagnate.
The company begins to research web site designers and settles on one that has an impressive portfolio. Lots of flash animation and state-of-the-art design technique. After many weeks of information gathering of product photos and data, design meetings and cost discussions a site is born. It’s even been optimized to rank well with the search engines.
Several days pass and the site is indexed on the major search engines, Google, Yahoo and Bing. The site designer reminds them that it takes weeks even months to be ranked for a single keyword or keyword phrase, however a year has passed and they are not enjoying any appreciable increase in sales and consequently no payback for the cost of the site design and build.
Should they abandon the site and revert back to a catalog only business? The answer is no, no and no!
As a consultant I would suggest that they need to further analyze their customer base. Here are some of the things I would suggest.
Immediately install site tracking software. This can be accomplished for free by using Google(r) Analytics which is part of creating an AdWords(r) account. This is pretty simple stuff. You get coding from Google and place it on every page of your site. Create a keyword Advertising program through Google or Yahoo Marketing. This will help to drive traffic to the site and at the same time should help to defray some of the site costs. Allow enough time to analyze site visitors. Another words, wait.
This is unusual, especially for such a small niche to happen.
Why did so many viewers drop out after viewing the home page? Let’ see if we can make some sense of it all. You know that buyers want your products because they have bought from your catalog very successfully. Then why didn’t they buy from your site?
A possible and likely reason for some of the short stay issue could be in the site design. Sometimes simple is better. The reason is not everyone’s computer has the latest operating, Internet and Flash software. Your site might not show well in older browser versions and consequently any scripting may cause additional problems. This is not to say that your potential customer is backward it may just mean that they have older computers and operating systems that won’t display well. Many viewers get spooked right away if there are any oddities on a site.
Also consider that some one running and older Pentium PC or an older version of a Mac your site with all of its Flash and graphics may take a long time to load. This discourages customers as well and is a deterrent to viewing your site. It’s important to understand your customer base first and then add some bells and whistles later. So what is the answer?
If your primary purpose is to get your products in front of the largest audience possible you need to create a simpler site.
Make sure you are set up with some analytical software to evaluate your site. Google Analytics is a great choice because it can tell you so much about your viewers and buyers. It even has a function to understand all of the steps someone took before they bought one of your products. This is done through a function called goals and it is a powerful feature to this free service.
In closing, the smart choice is to start out slow and simple and be in the position to analyze everything that goes on in your site. Using these Google tools, to me, is not optional, it’s required for becoming successful on the Internet.
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