Web design by Permanent Presence
Are you communicating effectively?
In essence, the Internet supports four types of communication: messages, commerce, information and entertainment. It seems obvous, but not every business appears to know that the first step in creating an "internet presence" is to decide which of these broad categories applies to them. Their visitors may well leave confused! If you are starting out to create an online presence, you should also rank your objectives in order of priority. Although almost anyone could visit your website, you need to have a very good idea who your target audience is and where they are located. You should include some sort of benefit for your visitors (for example useful 'free' information as offered on this page). You also need to include effective and easy to use means of communication such as web forms, telephone numbers and email addresses and ensure that your responses are fast. Crucially, you need to audit your website regularly to know who is looking and what they are looking at. This information should be used to target your online advertising and promotion more effectively. Web marketing can be powerful and relatively low cost but is , unfortunately, not "fit and forget".
The thinking behind an online presence
The style and layout of web pages still draws heavily upon the far older publishing world of newspapers and magazines. This is unsurprising, since we are all now so familiar with printed matter that we have a "feel" for how a page of text and pictures should look and where different items of information are likely to be found. So, like most publications, websites carry an index or menu which cross-references their own or other online documents.
Computers used to display web pages can present a wide variety of different media (animations, movies, music and so on). Hence pressure from business and the leisure industries was immediately intense to have the World Wide Web support rich presentations. At the same time there was a demand to support all kinds of interactivity including information searches and financial transactions. Right now, Internet access by mobile web devices (smartphones and tablets to name but two) probably eclipses access by the traditional desk and laptops computers. Many 'legacy' websites are just not suited to display on these mobile devices and will be losing visitors and business. The range of "sensors" built into these devices (e.g. geolocation, temperature, motion, altitude, etc) also provides rich user information that website owners probably aren't aware of or making use of.
Today's Web (called by those in the industry "Web2 and Web3") offers opportunity for presentations, interactivity and transactions undreamed of by the founders of the Internet. As a result there are tens of billions of online documents and the number grows almost exponentially. There's no shortage of quantity, but the same cannot be said of quality......If you are going to communicate effectively in this vast "cyberspace" you need to think very carefully about key questions:
- What are your aims and objectives in having an online presence?
- Can you rank these in order of priority?
- Who is your target audience in terms of interests and abilities, needs and regional location?
- What types of communication activity do you need?
- How are you going to manage / maintain your online presence?
- What sort of feedback / visitor statistics or specifics do you need from it?
- How are you going to stage it / phase it / pay for it?
Only when you have fully considered all the above issues should you approach the issue of Web design (or even to make a decision whether you or the Internet is ready for your type of communication!).
Whatever form your online presence takes, you should aim to make it a "creative communication" (in the sense of creating a benefit for your visitors as well as yourself). This means it should always include some form of feedback which tells you the number and nature of your visitors and their degree of interest or approval in your site. If you aren't actually selling something directly using your site you should aim for some other form of transaction to be possible. Try to arrange your site so that visitors can react to your content to provide you with valuable information and allow them to leave your "presence" wiser than they were before!