Passing the Test: Live Website Evaluations at SES Chicago


If you have ever designed, or been involved in the design and content of any website, you know (or should know) that you are biased in your opinions. Yes, you can use all the right words and have pretty pictures, but is your site really able to pass the usability-test?

Rebecca Lieb, Vice President & Editor-In-Chief, The ClickZ Network introduced us to Larry Bailin, CEO, Single Throw Internet Marketing and author of “Mommy, Where Do Customers Come From?”. Larry provided feedback and critical comments on a variety of participating audience websites.

It’s important to remember that positioning without persuasion doesn’t work. Being first in a search doesn’t mean anything if your customer isn’t going to stay and buy. To keep up with internet marketing changes, look beyond what you normally do and what you have always done. You have to revisit your websites regularly and keep them from getting stagnant. Content should be relevant and informative but still beneficial to you and your customer. Placement without Persuasion is painful. Getting them there is one thing, keeping them there long enough to buy is another.

It’s  Elemental My Dear Watson

The three key elements to good design are to brand the image of your site, call the customer to action and to look professional.

A visit to your site should evoke memories and images for the buyer – brand imaging. If also do other advertising, the website should have the same look as your other brand marketing.

Assist with the persuasive momentum of your site – once you get them there, keep them there. Your site should be able to provide what the customer is looking for right away without multiple clicks. You have 5 -8 seconds to convince a prospective buyer to buy from you. Think about what message you want them to get about you.

Above all, your site must look professional. An unprofessional site will have a user hitting the back button fast.

Key points to keep in mind when developing your site. Sound does not add to your site. Most users are searching from the office and sound is distracting for them and for others. It may also get your customer into trouble with the boss too.

Identity Crisis

If you are selling a product, you must have an immediate call to action – persuasive momentum. Also, be specific in your function. Who you are and what you are about. Don’t do Enter Website from an intro page. Bring customers directly to the front page. Treat customers as you would in person by bringing them directly to you. People search for problems and they want your site to solve that problem. Don’t use anything that is non-search engine friendly.

Don’t make your site too busy. Keep it simple and focus the direction of your customers. Provide at least one call to action to buy. Don’t write copy specifically to search engines. Write for your customer and the key words will still be there. Content persuades over images. And you must have content to persuade. Just listing your wares isn’t going to do it. People want to be persuaded to buy your product – so do it.

Keep your site within 900 pixels as a fixed width. This is more user friendly instead of scrolling side-to-side. Keep it user friendly by not making people install additional software to view your site. Any Flash should be viewable without installing ActiveX.

And finally, the Web is not print. Your website needs to be active. Do not make your website to replicate your printed materials but it does need to tie in with color and image usage.

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