The Internet Age is among us. Almost everyone uses the Internet every single day. Whether using a desktop or laptop computer, tablet, smartphone, etc., nearly everyone is staying connected with the rest of the world via the Internet.
In response to this New Age behavior, most businesses have decided to dive into the wonderful world of e-commerce. Corporations, large businesses, small- to medium-sized businesses, and even one-person e-tailers with a workstation set up in their basement are all using the Internet.
But are they all using it effectively? The world is constantly changing, and it is crucial to adapt to these changes to remain competitive. No matter what size your business may be, you must first identify what your website was created to do. Most of the people reading this column are likely small- to medium-sized business owners selling outdoor power equipment whole goods, parts and services to residential consumers. Some of you may already have a successful online business that complements your physical location. Others may rely solely on face-to-face sales or vice versa. If you are looking to begin selling online or just looking to start a website to promote your business, it’s important to follow certain guidelines to ensure that your website is effectively carrying out the task you created it for.
In his blog, best-selling author Seth Godin writes about the importance and unimportance of how “pretty” a website needs to look. He explains that there are different groups that your website may be targeting, and depending on your audience, your website should be optimized to fit the liking of your visitors.
“Pretty websites,” writes Godin, “are rarely websites that convert as well as unpretty ones.”
“If the goal of your site is to position you, tell a story, establish your good taste, and make it clear what sort of organization you are, then pretty might be the way to go,” Godin notes. “And you can measure the effectiveness of the site by how it impresses those you seek to impress, by its long-term impact.
“But it’s a mistake to also expect your pretty website to generate cash, to have the maximum percentage of clicks, to have the most efficient possible funnel of attention to action.
“There’s always been a conflict between the long-term benefits of beauty in commerce (in architecture, in advertising, in transactions) and the short-term brutality of measurement and direct response.
“It’s worth noting that conflict, in advance, as opposed to vainly wishing you could have both optimized. You can’t. The smart marketer will measure how much direct response it’s costing to be beautiful, or how much storytelling is being sacrificed to be clicked on. Not both.
“A few readers asked me to expand on this idea: It turns out that in most encounters, the worldview of people who are likely to sign up, ‘like’, share, click, act, and generally take action instantly is not the same worldview of people that convert into long-term, loyal customers over time. Take a look at the coupons in the Sunday paper, or the direct-mail pieces that show up in your mailbox, or the websites that are optimized for click/here/now.
“Unattractive, high-response sites aren’t usually the result of a lack of taste or talent on the part of the designer; they’re optimized for one worldview.
“The design that you and I might see as non-beautiful is in fact a signal to one group of people just as much as it is a turnoff to the other group. My argument is that you can optimize for one group or the other, but you can’t likely optimize for both.”
According to Godin’s blog, you must know your audience and stick to targeting that audience. If you begin trying to please the whole crowd, it is likely that you will see a decrease in conversions, average time spent on your website, etc. Understanding