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By Sandra Holtzman and Jean Kondek

By now, everyone has been involved in the construction of a web site. And many of you are into your second or third generation sites. You’ve probably also noticed that some sites sell, some don’t and some actually unsell.

Even though you and your management might love your web site, and have invested huge amounts of time and money in making sure it says what you want to say, it may still not be saying what your customers need to hear…in ways that close the deal.

For instance, how often do you read the mission statement on a site? How often have you had to go on a drilling expedition to find what you want? Better yet how often have you been on a home page that gave you no clue as to what the company did.

The reasons web sites might fail include:

• Just using existing information from your business plan or marketing plan instead of creating new content

• Not testing your finished site with end users.

• Putting up the site yourself without relying on professional marketing expertise.

• Spending as little as possible on the look and functionality of your site.

• Tying to please the owners and managers of your company first and forgetting about users in the process.

The easiest and most effective way to overcome this kind of reasoning is to put yourself into the users shoes.

Go to your favorite website and see how fast, including number of clicks, you find what you want. Clock it. It doesn’t matter if you go to Edmonds, Amazon or Victoria’s Secret. How fast do you find what you want? How easy is it to get around the site? Your site has to communicate as fast and easily as these sites.

Your goal in creating a website is to start a relationship by making the user feel welcome and that their needs are understood by you. That’s the fastest way to close the deal.

You may say, “Well, I already know what my customers’ want. I used to be a customer in this market.” Do you really? The only way to find out what your website visitors want, is to ask them directly.

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Sandra Holtzman is President of Holtzman Communications LLC and Jean Kondek is the Founder of Black Dog Advertising.
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