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Website Workshop: The First Decision

2nd June 2009

Website Workshop: The First Decision

CB022158When you begin building your web site you will be faced with a lot of decisions.  You’ll have to decide what your site will look like, what sort of information it will impart and under what URL it will be listed.  There will be a thousand decisions that will have to be made,  but the most important decision is the one that must be made first, and it’s very simple.  Do you want to sell things on your web site, or do you want it to be strictly informational?

The answer to that decision will strongly influence the rest of what you do.  Strictly informational sites will generally have a different design flow, different navigation and vastly different goals than an e-c0mmerce site.  If you goal is to sell, your site must be built so that there are no obstacles for those who want to buy.  An e-commerce site must still inform and must still convince visitors that your business is one from which they want to make a purchase, but the ultimate goal is getting money from your customer’s pockets into yours.  The site must be planned from day one to meet that goal.

I can give you a good illustration by using the current EnMart site.   The front end of the site is strictly information.  It is designed to educate people about EnMart and the products we offer.  This is where the MSDS sheets are, where we list our locations, and where we talk about our products in general terms.  The aim here is to help people learn more about EnMart and why they might want to do business with us.  You’ll notice there are no prices here and only general product shots.

By contrast, the actual storefront is all about selling.   Prices are clearly displayed.  Product pictures and descriptions and included for every product.   There’s a big “Add to Cart” button right next to every product.   Clearly, this is the place where we want to encourage people to spend their money.  In order to do that, we attempt to make it as easy as possible for customers to make a purchase.  Anything that might be an obstacle to us achieving that goal has to be eliminated.

If you’re in the process of building a web site, or if you, like us, are upgrading your web site, the first thing you need to consider is whether or not you’ll be selling things.  The answer to that question will have an impact on all the other decisions you make down the road.

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