this 2-part article, Dr. Tong promotes
ideas that you just won't read anywhere else about the intimate
connection between web design and web marketing, based on his
20 years of experience with the Internet.
of thousands of websites --even many attractive ones -- are out
on the Web, but relatively few of these draw any significant traffic
Because these websites are not marketed appropriately,
and because they are not marketized. I've coined the phrase,
marketized website, to indicate a website that has been
designed with the following characteristics in mind:
consider each of these characteristics in turn. Then, in Part
2 of this article, we'll focus on a couple of important issues:
- why to
steer clear of the $500 websites or the "do it yourself"
websites -- you get what you pay for! What is involved in designing
a website and where the costs come from.
- how to
keep the cost down and the quality high -- via:
1. Good education,
2. Effective division of labor,
3. Cooperative communication
4. Intelligent design process.
Not too long ago, I submitted a website to a particular Internet
search engine, and the form I was filling out asked the following
|Indicate if you have any of the following
on your site:
- Registration with free entry
- Subscription fee and password
- Promotional Sales for Limited Time
- Search Engine
- Shopping Cart
- Order Form
- 1-800 Ordering
- Credit Card/CyberCash Payment
a complete list, this is an excellent question for an Internet
search engine to be asking! Why? Because every one of these devices
helps promote interactivity -- the shopping cart encourages visitors
to select items; the bulletin board encourages visitors to participate
in ongoing discussions; etc. And a hip search engine staff is
going to rate higher those sites with greater interactivity because
they know: interactivity and popularity (i.e., traffic) go hand
And a smart website
marketer knows that the greater part of most Internet profits
are comprised of repeat customers. So the smart Internet marketer
uses every means to invite visitors into an opt-in relationship
and to help to cultivate that relationship over time
[Read about our email
dynamite way to cultivate relationships via email.]
A USP-Tailored Website
Parrillo Performance is a company that specializes in supplements,
training programs, and literature catering to body builders and
anyone who takes an interest in significantly improving the fitness
of their body. When they came to us, their website prominently
displayed their products on the front page. And their logo had
a high-tech look that works for certain companies.
Parrillo Performance wasn't satisfied with their "Website
Performance". So they came to us. And we saw immediately
what was needed: there were many companies that sold the same
general types of products, and catered particularly to bodybuilders.
But what truly made their company and its product line unique
was that it was all based on the decades of experience of its
founder, John Parrillo, gleaned from working with the country's
top bodybuilders. In short: the company's Unique Selling
Proposition was: John Parrillo himself!
So we completely re-designed the site. Every
aspect of the site -- from section breakdown, to graphics, to
copy, to testimonials, etc. -- was re-designed to communicate
the uniqueness of John Parrillo's ideas, and therefore, the
uniqueness of his product line and services. And -- even though
the primary purpose of the website is to sell products -- we
downplayed the appearance of the products themselves on the
valuable web real estate that is the front page; the first link
in the sales argument chain here was to communicate the benefits
of working under John Parrillo. Most of the front page was re-dedicated
to that purpose, and, from there, to enticing visitors to this
or that link that elaborates on what John has accomplished and
how that was a benefit. But... all roads here are designed to
lead to Rome, and "Rome" in this case is the product
catalog and the order forms.
of course there were the more straightforward aesthetic changes
that are simply a part of every "website makeover"
that we do: replacing that heavy (and no longer hip) black
and green color scheme with the lighter and more energetic
red and white scheme.
am really impressed -- the site looks great and I am very
happy. John as well. Response to the site changes has been
very strong -- people have been calling in, commenting on
the improvement. As soon as we opened we made sales - starting
at a thousand dollars going up from there. Putting your
marketing program into gear will shift us into warp speed!
I have a huge list of email addresses (several hundred in
the first few weeks) of people signing up for the newsletter,
and now I've got to deliver! Everything is going really
well for us, and with the design templates and instructions
you sent, I've been able to make all kinds of changes to
the site myself -- can you believe it? Thanks a million.
You have made my life a hell of a lot easier.
What's the fundamental lesson here? If you really want your website
to become an Internet profit center, you must spell out throughout
your website what is unique about your products or services; you
want your web designer to take your USP and communicate it through
every element of the website design.
More about USPs
Now, you're probably
thinking, "he's going to write about quick-loading but attractive
graphics, succinct, easily accessible cybercopy with punch, a
website that is highly functional, etc." Well, I'm not --
because everybody writes about that! We
take this level for granted in our design work, as evidenced by
our award-winning sites (selected
by Yahoo's "Pick of the Day", featured on MS-NBC's "The
Site" program, etc.) But
here I'm going to write about things you don't read about
current generation website. You have anywhere from 5 to 10
seconds to convince your visitor to stick around and spend some
more time. Because he or she is spending time at far fewer sites
than he or she is rejecting, the first thing your visitor is applying
is his or her rejection filters, the signs your visitor
is looking for to convince him or her to move on. These are generally
operating on a subliminal level. So it doesn't matter how much
great copy you have, or great sales arguments awaiting your visitor
-- if any of these subliminal buttons are pushed, many of your
visitors are not even going to wait to take a look at that copy.
website" filter. There are the obvious things that immediately
suggest "unprofessional" or "low budget":
typographical errors, an evident raggedness in the graphic designs,
and so forth. The structure of the website as well raises red
flags: there are about 4 or 5 sections that visitors are expecting
to see -- they are part of an unspoken standard that has been
evolving across the entire Web community -- and whose absence
often immediately signals "mom and pop store" level.
And a website that immediately throws you into a product catalog
(and which contains only a product catalog), signals a
website" filter. The indicators of a "current generation"
or "state of the art" website keep evolving, and to
be displaying the signs of an earlier generation website is a
common reason for your visitor to hit the "Back" button.
A 1950's Science
Fiction film. Let's look at a humorous example from another
medium that will help make the point. In the history of science
fiction filmmaking, "Star Wars" was the film that created
the great divide. Every science fiction film after "Star
Wars" had to have "Industrial Light and Magic"-strength
visual effects and sound effects, or it was guaranteed to flop
at the box office. And of course, to the post-"Star Wars"
viewer sensibility, looking back at the science fiction films
of the 1950's, in which the earth looked like a globe rather than
a planet, and the strings pulling the model rockets along were
often blatantly visible -- is pretty funny! But not something
that cultivates much respect.
So if your 1999 website
looks like a 1950's science fiction film, you can be sure your
visitor will hit the Back button. While it isn't nearly sufficient,
being hip is necessary.
like a well-written book. A well-designed website is something
like a well-written book -- the first sentence grabs you. You
don't want to put it down, until you've reached the close. And
then you want to read it again.
an effective web product presentation
Reminding people to "read the book" again with QCS
Website Design and
Marketing: A Seamless Integration
Consider yourself relatively well-informed web-wise if you already
know any of the following facts -- most people don't. More surprisingly,
most web designers don't!
we can draw from this -- if possible, choose a single company to
do (and which has the expertise and the means to do) the design,
the marketing, the upgrade, and (ideally) the hosting of your website.
Two reasons: there is a large overhead in "breaking in"
a new company; and a company that specializes in doing the whole
ball of wax will design the website from the start with a marketing
approach, and will neither let design issues outweigh marketing
issues (resulting in a pretty site that no one visits) nor let marketing
issues outweigh design issues (resulting in a search-engine-friendly
but humanly-off-putting site) -- they will instead create a marketized
website for you, that will not only attract the visitor but
keep them coming back.
Part 2: You
Get What You Pay For!