Design focus Featured

9:16am EDT December 20, 2002
Did you launch your Web site with great fanfare last year, only to find it languishing in the World Wide Wasteland today?

The Web sites of many businesses are not achieving all the goals originally set forth, and a common problem is simply the design -- both from a technical and aesthetic standpoint.

"For a small or medium-sized business, it's about content, content, content," says Jeffrey Rohrs, senior digital marketing strategist at Optiem. "You have to make sure you are providing very specific information about the products and services you offer, and do it in such a way that is search engine friendly. You want to organize your site so it's targeting concepts, keywords and product names that will draw people to the site."

Search engines remain the No. 1 way sites are found. Half of all people looking to make an online purchase start with a search engine.

To attract customers, keep your content current. And to let people know about site updates, offer an e-mail subscription list. E-mails can update customers on new product information or offer tips and advice.

"E-mail is a retention tool," says Rohrs. "If you are launching a site and have a loyal clientele, and you think they want to hear about updates, then integrate a simple registration form. The permission-based e-mails are very powerful, and smaller businesses can take great advantage of that."

Site design should focus on a clean appearance with no broken links.

"Don't do everything on your home page," says Rohrs. "Too many sites have way too much on the main page. Users need a chance to orient themselves. You don't walk into Walmart and see all the products at once.

"If you've got pop-ups flying around and 24 levels of primary navigation, you are shooting yourself in the foot."

A site should have a site map, contact information and a search function.

"Don't think you are done when you launch a Web site," says Rohrs. "Your job has just begun. You have to treat it like it's one of your stores and put effort into it along with a bottom line commitment that lasts for the rest of the life of the company." How to reach: Optiem, (216) 615-9100