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Sudden Death Overtime: Tips on Web Site Design

It's the final quarter of the NCAA championship game. The score is tied. The clock ticks down…3…2…1...Buzz! The audience holds its breath as the teams enter into "Sudden Death" overtime! The coach of each team is sweating profusely and barking orders at his players. News reporters are talking frantically into their microphones and the media cameras are fixed on the court. Money is exchanging hands hurriedly as spectators place last minute bets. The question hangs ominously, "Will the players choke under the pressure?"

Now compare this scenario to visitors entering your Web site for the first time. A visitor finds your site through a search engine (3...2...1...Click!). You hold your breath as the visitor enters your site (did you pass out because it took too long for your site to load?). The visitor takes a mere few seconds to look around as you speculate: "Did I deliver the message effectively?" The question hangs ominously, "Did I talk them into staying? Or did I choke?"

Presenting your business effectively on the Web can give you the all the glory of winning the NCAA championship game in sudden death overtime, or it can turn disappointed fans away for good.

Taking a few minutes to look over the basic concepts listed in this article could win you the "trophy" in sales you are competing for.

The Game Plan

The failure of most dot-coms has been attributed to poor or a complete lack of planning. Before you can begin designing logos and pretty Web pages, you need to sit down, take at least an hour (preferably a few days), and plan. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who is my target audience?
  • Who will come to my Web site?
  • What is the goal(s) of my Web site?
  • What are the main benefits of my product?

Formulate the answers to these questions into your "Game Plan" for your Web site.

Design The Web Site for Your Audience

Now that you've defined your audience and articulated your goals, outline the elements that, when brought together, will form your winning team. Remember to keep in mind what your visitors want to get out of your site. What information do they want?

Some essential elements to consider:

  • Navigation (including search capabilities)
  • Logo and Color Scheme
  • Benefit Statement(s)
  • Pricing
  • Interactive Medium (for example: polls, demos, guest book)
  • Community (message boards, chat)
  • Company Contact Information (including member support)

Each of these elements should, again, be focused on giving the customers what they want. Create a Web site flow chart with a mockup of each page of your site. Show your plan to a group of your existing customers and get their feedback. Though it may get tedious, modify this chart and these mockups until you have a winning game plan.

Game Time: When It All Comes Together

When you've completed your plan and you're pumped and ready to get into the game, get your company focused on your goals. That is, prep your "players" so they know the game plan backwards and forwards. There is a great power that comes from an intently focused company team.

With a well prepared game plan and a focused company team, when your Web site finally comes together, the anxiety will disappear and you will be confident to place a winning bet for your team.