Using a Website To Full Potential
From my experience with clients, it is clear that most people do not fully comprehend the potential that having a website holds. As a result of this misconception, the full potential that lies in what can be achieved in having a website is often never fully realised .
The impression I get from clients is that they perceive a website in the same way one would view a brochure in electronic form. A website is often only perceived as simply a way to present information or something intended to look impressive and pretty. In almost all instances, most view it only as a status symbol for professionalism. Whilst all these are desirable and rightly sought after attributes for owning a website, a website can turn out to be so much more.
Collecting User Information
Instead of just disseminating information, a website can be a great tool for collecting information from site visitors. This is achieved through web forms. The wonderful thing about web forms is that they can be custom designed to collect almost any type of information. Their visual design can also be custom built to suit the design of the website. It is however crucial to plan out the design of web forms carefully so that they are optimally crafted to keep users engaged to avoid abandonment. Abandonment of a web form happens when a user does not complete filling a form but abandons it midway through for one reason or another. In order to encourage form completion, tactics such as keeping the form short and concise, separating related sections of a form into several pages and keeping the user informed of their progress in filling the form may be used.
Providing User Data To Help Decision Making
There is a lot of activity that goes on on a website when a user browses- They move from page to page and carry out certain actions. Some of the actions, such as which pages are visited and how often or how long someone stays on the website, can be used to gain insight into a website visitor’s behaviour. The information collected can be used to influence decisions in the organisation. For example, by observing which pages are popular with site visitors, the website owner may undertake to create more of the type of content on the popular pages, thereby improving user satisfaction. Google Analytics is a free tool that can be integrated into a website and used to collect user data using several metrics. Analytics also provides graphical analysis of the collected data and provides great insight into website traffic.
Used For Marketing Purposes
The web is a convenient medium for marketing and a website is a great opportunity to exploit this opportunity. The website in its own right is a marketing tool, which is however not very effective on its own. The reason for this is that there are a lot of websites out there with many more being created each moment. With so many website already existing and many more being created from moment to moment, being found by your target audience and customers on the web becomes a significant challenge. In order to meet this challenge head-on, often more than one marketing and promotional strategy needs to be put in place. Search Engine Optimization is one of the most affective strategies that can be implemented on a website to allow it to be better found in search although it is the most challenging. Paid advertising on the other hand can also be relatively easily implemented for a website, in comparison to Search Engine Optimization, as a promotional strategy using channels like Google, Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter.
The tendency for people to purchase goods and services online has been an increasing trend in recent times. A website can be set up to accept payments online. The process for selling online on a website can either be a standalone process or complement selling efforts in a brick and mortar establishment. Selling products or services online offers convenience to customers as they do not have to make the trip to the brick and mortar establishment to make a purchase. Selling through a website is also cheaper for the business owner as there are fewer operational costs. Just like in brick and mortar establishments, customer service is paramount to ensure a continuous stream of happy customers. Since web forms are used to collect information from customers during the shopping process in shopping carts, care has to be taken to reduce the rate of their abandonment where customers leave the website without submitting their shopping cart for a purchase.
Great relationships are what makes our lives worthwhile. A website can be a great opportunity to build relationships. Due to the large number of potential visitors that a website has just by virtue of being online, a website offers the opportunity to build relationships with many people across many locations. Building relationships through a website starts with offering something of value to your target audience. This offering can be something as light as humour or something on a more serious note like news. Several approaches are available for offering value in the interest of building relationships. A website can be built to provide an online community where people of similar interests can congregate and share ideas. It can also act as a news portal, providing news and information on a certain topic. A website can also be a useful resource by proving information to visitors through a newsletter or blog.
Facilitating Collaboration Efforts
As individuals, we are able to produce remarkable creations and are able to achieve much greater heights through collaboration. A website can be a tool that offers the perfect opportunity to collaborate. Collaboration may be as simple as several people coming together to author content on a website or working on a project where each member of a team contributes. What makes a website great for collaboration efforts is the fact that it is accessible to many people at once and allows those people to concurrently use it. Another great advantage is that people who collaborate using a website do not necessarily have to be in the same location nor work at the same time. Once the workflow on how the parties involved in collaboration is established, collaborating through a website can be a great and convenient experience, bringing together individuals across constraints of time and space.
Reaching Full Potential
There are obviously more options available on how to use a website to full potential than I have covered in this post. What is important, however, is to make a thorough assessment of what can be achieved with a website for your particular needs, regardless of whether you have one or a thinking of having one. Perhaps the appropriate question is not what needs to be done in light of a website, but just what needs to be done, period. After asking what needs to be done for your needs, you may then go about how it can be achieved using a website. There are many things that can be done through a website and it is only after thorough introspection through answering the right questions regarding the end-result that a website can be designed and developed in such a way that it is used to full potential.