Every company has a web site, but few sites do a good job of representing the company and meeting the needs of its customers. In the initial rush to get aboard the new technology bandwagon many companies gave little thought to the job that they wanted their web sites to do. The results are sites that have been hijacked by graphic designers, or worse, by CEOs who want their picture and words of wisdom front and centre on the home page.

Before a web site is created, or rebuilt, two important questions need to be asked: ‘What do we want this web site to do for the company?’ and ‘What do we want this web site to do for our customers?’ At one end of the scale your web site might simply be a brochure that states what business you are in and how people can contact you. At the other end it might be your business – the way your customers buy your products and services.

The key is to define exactly what you want your web site to do and then keep it simple. Don’t allow graphic designers or even CEOs to compromise your objective. One of the web sites rated most highly by its users is the UK Government site, http://www.gov.uk. A lot of thought has gone into what people are looking for when they visit the site. It’s simple but effective. If you want a stark comparison visit the Titusville Florida web site, http://www.nbbd.com/. Which one would you prefer to use?

Customers and prospects visit your web site to get information and to seek answers. You need to identify what is the most important data for your visitors, make it easy to find, then remove any content that might be a distraction or add confusion. People are impatient on the web, they want speed – get in, find what they are looking for and get out. When they visit a restaurant site, they don’t want an artistic introduction with pretty graphics and music. They want to make a booking, or check the menu or simply confirm the street address. If you are planning to rebuild your web site try to think like your customer or prospect. Make life simple for them. They will thank you for it and reward you with their business.

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Written By Peter R Hill

Peter has been in the Information Services industry for more than forty years with broad experience covering a number of industries working in both Australia and New Zealand. He holds an MBA from LaTrobe University. For seventeen years Peter headed and was a director of the International Software Benchmarking Standards Group (ISBSG) a not-for-profit organisation with a mission of improving the performance of IT through the provision of project history data. He has served on a number of Boards of IT companies. In 2010 Peter became an non-executive director of Fenwick Software. Peter has been a speaker at conferences in Australia, Asia, Europe, Brazil and the USA.   He has had a number of articles published, covering key aspects of the Information Services industry.  He is a past Chairman, Secretary and Fellow of the Australian Computer Society. He is a member of the Committee of Management of Writers Victoria. Peter has compiled and edited five books, including: "Practical Software Project Estimation"  published by McGraw-Hill. In his leisure time, Peter enjoys motor sport and writing.

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