October 2009

Your Website Is Your Best PR

by Bruce Rigney
Reprinted in part from www.beautyprpro.com

 

iTech

Obvious navigation options are presented on the www.itechproducts.com site.

 

 

lanadil
For a good example of a short and to the point homepage visit www.lanadil.com

Part I of II — About Your Home Page

The process of web concept, design and creation is a critical piece of the public relations and marketing mix today. It’s no longer adequate for a website to be simply a beautiful on-line brochure and/or catalog.

Websites must be convenient, fast, and easy-to-navigate for client interaction and impression. It’s your client’s first impression experience with your business, and it begins the second they enter your URL (Sure…I don’t mind waiting 30 seconds while your splash page loads…yeah, right).

First Impressions

It should go without saying that in the beauty industry, aesthetic appearance is the first step in the creation of a positive relationship … Looks do count … of course it has to be a beautiful design but …

Does your website load quickly? If your visitor has to wait at all, you risk an immediate bail-out before your site fully loads on the screen. While dazzling animated graphics may be cool, to most website visitors, watching your flash loading graphic isn’t what they want. Gimme the page!

Given your visitor has not bounced off your homepage due to slow downloads, what’s next? The company name and what it provides in the way of products or services. The visitor needs to see brand image, probably a logo and/or some other image which can be immediately associated with the product or service.

Put things where people normally look for them. Don’t make us guess and hunt. Design creativity does NOT trump ease of use. You’ll lose them. Don’t make me scan all over the entire homepage to locate the primary or secondary navigation. Following conventions enables the visitor to navigate swiftly in the environment of the site.

Stop With the Scrolling

Visitors don’t like to scroll. They like to click. Your clients want the essential data to make a decision about you, your salon, or your products. They want quick, concise statements which appeal to their needs and wants. And they don’t want to scroll down pages containing lengthy descriptions of the product or company. You need to attract attention, create interest and deliver your message quickly to hold them on the site so they can be directed to contact you or purchase your product.

If you have a list of benefits to appeal to your visitor, don’t bury them in a lengthy paragraph of rambling text. If you have a list of benefits, make a list. Break out lines of text into bullet points with the most attractive benefits at the top. Don’t make the list so lengthy that the visitor has to slow the search by scrolling.

Now that you’ve got them interested, you want to guide them continue through the site to the point where they are ready to contact you or purchase your product. This is initially accomplished through navigation bars or attractive feature boxes on the homepage that link the visitor to their areas of interest.

Short and to the Point

A web page is not a blog … term paper … or essay, graded on how many words you can string together to make a short story long. You drive away visitors and stifle interest with long-winded company missions, credentials, product descriptions, and lengthy news stories about the company or product.

Too many websites look like an information source, advertisement, and brochure wrapped up in a video game. Your visitor wants information, and they want it NOW. When you write for a web page, think “short attention span.” As with any advertising medium, you have 1/4 second to get their attention.

Part two next month picks up with “Where to From Here” … how to guide your visitor from the home page to where you can satisfy their needs and your website’s objectives.

This article is edited from the three part series on www.beautyprpro.com, a PR blog written regularly by Sharon Esche and Alexander Irving of Esche & Alexander Public Relations for salon and spa professionals. The website series was originally guest posted by Bruce Rigney, owner of Rigney Graphics, a marketing communications and web design firm headquartered in Pasadena, CA. Their website is www.rigneygraphics.com.

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