Your Online Presence: Is It Effective?

June 22, 2011

Part of what we do here at Sandy Bay Networks is offer free website analysis to businesses and organizations. We want to help people understand how their website should be working for them versus how it actually is working for them – the reality is that sometimes there’s a large gap between the two. Knowing if your website has specific issues going against it that are causing potential clients and customers to quickly click away is a great first step toward ensuring that you have an online presence that it actually helping, not harming, your efforts. With that in mind, we asked our followers on Facebook and Twitter some simple questions and paid serious attention to their answers. We’d like to share a few of them with our readers, and we invite your comments and questions, as well as your thoughts and reactions to the answers we got.

We asked: “What’s your pet peeve for websites to have/not have? What’s something that instantly turns you off from a website?

The responses:

“It makes me crazy when I visit a website for a business and hours of operation are NOT listed. ”

“Out of date content and links that don’t work.”

“Terrible page lay-outs and too many ads usually send me running.”

“Pop-up email newsletter sign ups that follow you down the page! My #1 web pet peeve…”

“Music i can’t turn off, color schemes that make my eyes hurt, bad content, overused greeting messages, ineffective designs.”

“When companies try to pack too much into one page it just overwhelms me. I may have a short Internet attention span.”

“A slideshow that moves too quickly, videos or music that play automatically, obnoxious flash, or 1 built 10yrs ago (or looks like it)”

“I like sites that are not too busy but implement modern web technology. Less is more-I want to get in, do my business and get out”

“Giant long lists of links. It’s overwhelming. I would rather they make larger categories.”

As you can see, there are some definite themes among the responses. A busy, overwhelming, cluttered website is likely to irritate someone who lands on it, which means they’ll quickly click away. Hard to find or non existent information is just as damaging.

Another resounding response we received was on the topic of companies interacting with their customers online, outside of their website. As one person told us, “If companies are on Facebook or Twitter is is a much more interactive avenue with them and = better chance of sales. The use of social network sites shows me a company that is forward and progressive thinking – and not the same old thing.”

We thought this was a very interesting viewpoint, so we asked, “does that translate to thinking a lack of SM involvement means less progressive/less concerned with clients?”

The response we received was, “In my opinion (and many of my like minded friends) yes. The times are a changin’ and those who don’t keep up, fall behind. Many businesses don’t want to think outside the box. They think because it always worked before why change? The next generation that is up and coming will be demanding Facebook and Twitter if they aren’t already – it will be noticed.”

In a very similar conversation with another individual, we asked about potential barriers to doing business with a company online. Her response was quite similar: “the most important thing is to establish trust. If I’m dealing with a major organization like an airline, then I expect they are trustworthy and will respond to any problems I encounter. But if it is a less known business, it will be really important for me to see that they know what they are doing, they have experience in selling on line, the system is secure and they will respond to any problems quickly and professionally.”

Trust; doesn’t that say it all? Your customers expect and require your presence, and they expect and require your company to develop a relationship, a trust, with them.

It all comes full circle at this point. People are smarter than they’ve ever been about where they spend their money. They expect more of businesses – especially businesses online. It’s not enough to have a website anymore; there’s more follow-up required. If your website isn’t working for you due to being old, out of date, cluttered, non-informative, or just plain irritating from a customer’s point of view, you’ve already lost them. If you’re not engaging your customers online, if you’re not listening to what they’re saying, responding to them, and creating a relationship with them, they’ll find someone who is. Everything goes hand-in-hand, and it’s a smart company that ensures they’re living up to their customers’ and potential customers’ expectations, needs and wants.

What are your thoughts on the matter? What’s important to you from a company online? If you own a company, what are your thoughts on the comments we received? We’d love to hear from you!


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