Tag Archive | "web design"

Mastering the Web

In today’s world, mastering your Web presence is more critical than ever. As consumers and businesses grow more and more Internet dependent, if you don’t keep pace, you will quickly be left behind.

Here are some statistics that matter to you as agents:
• There is good news in the auto industry: 2013 projections show an increase of 5% in overall growth.
• Of over 170 industries measured, the automotive industry ranked second in Internet usage and growth, topped only by consumer goods.
• 70% of B2B companies will boost their spending on Web site development in 2013.

So what does this boil down to? If the industry is moving in this direction, and as an agent you are trying to sell to dealers who have to work in this increasingly Web-savvy world and you don’t speak their language, then you don’t understand your customer.

Your Web presence consists of various elements, including social media, YouTube, Webinars, electronic marketing, and of course, your Web site. You need to present a consistent message and image across all touch points, and learn to utilize each one so they work together synergistically.

But let’s start with your Web site — the hub of your Internet presence. If your design pre-dates 2009 or earlier, it’s outdated. Research shows that a visitor to your Web site will spend 3-5 seconds — yes, seconds — before they either click off, or click through. And that includes your dealers.

Today’s Web user wants fast-loading, image-rich user interfaces and they demand content that is relevant to them. That means at first glance, your Web site must be visually appealing! Clean, uncomplicated designs with up-to-date images, and easy to find information define today’s Web sites. White space is your friend.

Make Content Concise and Relevant
Keep your important information above the view line (the area that can be seen without scrolling). Eighty percent of people read the headline only on a Web site. Of those, 20 percent will read the first paragraph. What does that mean? You must avoid “information dump” and boil your message down to the most important information that will spark your target’s interest. Remember, you have 3-5 seconds to capture their attention.

And let’s talk about those images. A picture paints a thousand words. Does your Web site scream “Let’s party like it’s 1999!” Your customers want to know you’re up on the latest in your industry. That’s what you tell them. “We know how to help you. We know how to make you more profitable. We understand your business. We understand you.” Out-of-date images scream, “We’re stuck in the past.”

Web on the Go
Forty-five percent of Americans own a smartphone, and 29 percent own a tablet. Just three years ago tablet usage was at 2 percent.! Is your Web site optimized for mobile platforms? The percentage of people who access their Internet information via mobile platforms continues to grow. Optimizing your website for mobile must be standard operating procedure.

By providing your customer with information that is relevant and helpful for them, when and how they want to access it, you will gain customer loyalty. Be a resource for your dealers. Provide them with tools and information that will help them in their world. Give them a reason to come back to your Web site. Provide content across multiple touchpoints. Utilize social media, blogs, webinars, videos, etc. to talk to your target audience, but be strategic in your approach. Integration and strategy is the key.

The Web is a fast-paced environment to say the very least, but it is a permanent part of our marketing landscape. Making sure you are relevant and up-to-date will be a critical factor in the future of your business. 1999 might have been good for parties, but it’s no longer a good year for the Web.

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Choosing a Website Designer Requires Knowing What You Want

Having a company website is no longer an option for most small-business owners. In a world of rapid and constant technological advancement, these sites provide cyberspace recognition and a way to reach untapped markets, bizjournals.com reported.

Tools for designing a website range from Internet searches to do-it-yourself kits purchased online to pricey meetings with consultants and designers.

To save time and cut costs, business owners should first define the purpose of the website and what users will get from it. A clearly defined purpose will identify the audience and how the content of the site is developed. The audience is the group of people who are expected to visit the website — the market being targeted.

Business owners should seek a website designer who respects the company’s budget, time frame and objectives, said Richard Brinegar, founder and president of International Webmasters Association in Pasadena, Calif.

“It always helps if the designer is familiar with the industry,” he said. “The designer should also be knowledgeable in design and web technology and aware of cutting-edge design trends. Websites drive commerce and very often the ‘Contact us’ page gets the most hits. This makes the website a basic marketing tool even if the company isn’t using it to sell products.”

Contact details are an extremely important part of a website. They are especially important for an e-profile or e-catalog website because they are the predominant way of providing your customers with the information they need in order to get in contact with you. Contact details are often located in very prominent positions — such as at the top right-hand position of a home page (within the header). Sometimes contact details are located on a separate web page.

Every website has a number of common components and a designer needs to provide easy-to-use options for these. A good searching component allows users to find what they are looking for very quickly.

Search components have become a website standard — especially within e-commerce websites. A classic mistake is to have a great searching component, but not feature it on the home page.

When looking for a searching component, many people look for a little “Search” box. So when you choose a website designer, make sure he or she is aware of such expectations and allows potential customers to type in a search query directly on your home page.

Other guidelines for choosing a web designer include speaking to at least three prospects, looking at their portfolios, choosing a favorite design, making changes and approving revisions.

Before spending any money, companies could contact local universities or schools and see if they have a web design class, and then see if they have a program where their students create websites for local businesses as class projects.

Scanning a local newspaper for ads from local businesses showing a web address in their ads and calling them for a referral is also helpful. A local chamber of commerce might also recommend a company.

Small-business owners recognize the power and importance of online marketing for their businesses, but cite high cost, lack of technical skill and the inability to maintain and edit their own websites among their chief concerns, according to a sample poll of small business development center counselors in the 2006 Small Business Survey released by Homestead Technologies Inc. and the national Association of Small Business Development Centers, the largest small-business assistance network in the nation.

Almost half of the poll respondents (45 percent) ranked having a website as “very important” while 22 percent stated that it was “extremely important,” said Donald Wilson, ASBDC’s president and CEO.

A large percentage of respondents (66 percent) cited the cost of hiring a website designer or webmaster as a key barrier to owning a website. Among those who responded to the question, other key barriers included: lack of technical knowledge (59 percent), finding and retaining a qualified website designer (43 percent), and the hassle and cost of retaining a designer to manage and make updates to their sites (40 percent).

“Many small businesses don’t design and implement a website because for many it is a daunting task,” Wilson said. “A good designer can walk you through all phases of development and provide you with website registration, hosting and search engine submission. Although it’s never a good idea to sacrifice quality, every minute your company does not have a web presence is a missed opportunity.”

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