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
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
- What are the main benefits of
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)
- Interactive Medium (for example:
polls, demos, guest book)
- Community (message boards, chat)
- Company Contact Information (including
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.
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
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.