Each one taking you closer to realizing a Web sites full potential.
Most people, when asked why they have a Web site for their business, will say something like “So people can find me online.” But why is it important for someone to find you online? “Because they might go to my competitor who is online.” While that is true, this is saying that you need a Web site because “everyone else is doing it.” Thinking this way will never allow you to harness the full potential of your Web site, you will always be limited to doing what your competition is doing.
The Business Card
This was somewhat popular 10 to 15 years ago as a cheap way of getting a “website” out on the web. Like the name implies, it is a single page site that looks like a business card, it has the business or organization’s name, a tag line, maybe a brief description, and contact information. This isn’t used much anymore, but it is making somewhat of a comeback as a "pre-launch" page, or in directory listings. Used for specific purposes, such as for a specific event that will come and go, it can be quite effective, but this is not an end in itself.
This is the informative Web site. It says, “Look, this is our business, this is who we are, this is what we do, this is how you can contact us.” This type of site has been in use since the Web’s early days, but it is still ubiquitous throughout the Internet. When most small business owners think of a Web site, this is what they are envisioning. Unfortunately, this type of Web site falls short of the full potential and benefit that you could get from your website.
Ten years ago, a website was thought of as just another channel to market a business, not much different than a newspaper or Yellow Pages ad, only with more information and color.
Ask yourself: "What is the purpose of my Web site?" Both of the above types of websites have the same problem… they are passive. They sit on the Internet waiting for clients to search for whatever service you offer and hopefully come across your site. They are passive in that they assume that your visitors are already sold on needing your service, so they have come to your site to see if you can meet their need.
Maybe you are a Realtor and a visitor comes to your site because they are considering selling their house and looking for a new house. Or perhaps you are an estate planner and your visitors have heard it is a good idea to draw out a will, but they aren’t convinced. A passive website will do nothing more than inform them that maybe if they decide to buy a house or create a will in the future, your business is one they could consider.
This isn’t enough! The purpose of nearly any website should be to influence the visitors. This influence could be as simple as convincing them to believe in an idea or a cause, but it should go a step beyond that and actually influence them to action. For businesses and organizations, ultimately you want them to purchase your product, subscribe to your service, or join your organization. This “influence” shouldn’t be open ended, it needs to be direct and guide them to a very specific action. This is a “call to action,” maybe you have heard of it? This brings us to the third and most effective type of website.