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The Good News for Problem Web Sites

In the course of converting many web sites from failures to success stories, these are the problems we have found most often. They're all curable. If your web site is letting you down, you may learn that the situation is better than you thought.

1. Company-centric. The site talks about the company, instead of what the company will do for the customer.

The good news: As external observers, it's easier for us to take a customer view, and rewrite the copy so it talks to visitors.

2. Too graphic-oriented. Graphics may grab a visitor's attention, but they rarely close a sale. (Imagine telling your salespeople that they weren't allowed to talk to customers, only show them pictures!)

The good news: It's a lot cheaper to pull out excess graphics than it was to put them in in the first place.

3. Incompatible with the average person's browser. Oddly enough – after a couple of years when it seemed that designers had learned that compatibility=profits – incompatible web sites are on the rise again.

The good news: This is another case where less is more. A lot of incompatibility problems can be solved by removing buggy programming.

4. Ineffective sales copy. Brochure copy is fine for brochures, since brochures are just meant to leave behind after a sales pitch.

The good news: Our copywriters learned the hard way, writing direct response ads for major newspapers and magazines. We can provide you with pointed, here's-what's-in-it-for-you sales copy to bring customers farther into the site.

5. Splash pages. Snazzy artistic home pages were the rage back in 1996. It's a continual surprise to see them still around. It's also a good way to tell visitors "This site is going to make you work hard for your information. Maybe you should click the Back button, and see what else that search engine has to offer...."

The good news: We can replace a splash page in one day. (If the splash page is also a "signpost" page, pointing to multiple corporate subsites ... maybe two days.)

6. Confusing shopping carts and checkout. Clickstream analysis of web site visitors routinely shows 10-30% of shopping carts "abandoned" somewhere in the order process. Imagine a supermarket with 10-30% of the shoppers' carts left abandoned in the aisles.

The good news: We can significantly increase the checkout rate of most web sites with usability changes alone, such as changing layout, wording, and hints on the shopping cart and checkout pages.

7. Inadequate contact information. Deciding how much contact information to put on a web site is intimately related to your company's products and services: price points, profit margins, and value of a customer. Not every sale justifies a phone call. But "Email Webmaster" in tiny type at the bottom of the page says loud and clear "we don't respond to customers." There is a correct balance for each product or service.

The good news: This is a no-brainer. We cautiously add contact information to make your company personnel more and more "available," until they shout "Stop!" Then we sit down with management, and figure out what the most profitable balance is.

The next two are a bit tougher....

8. Over-built. Many of the web sites we overhaul have been over-built by programmers run amok. Under the hood, they look like a 16-year-old kid trying to hop up his first car. Such sites have high maintenance costs, high downtime, and it is difficult for your people to change the content. (Your marketing department should not have to call IT just to add a news release.)

The good news: We can do it. But "spaghetti code" takes time to unravel. Sometimes it's cheaper to rebuild a site from scratch. It pays off -- but not as quickly as removing a splash page.

9. Hard or impossible to navigate. This happens to any web site that grows. It comes with the territory. Eventually the original navigational concept, no matter how sound, can't handle the increased complexity of the site.

The good news: Again, we can do it. Sometimes we amaze ourselves with a quick, smooth fix. But sometimes the original concept just won't scale, and it's rebuild time.

If you would like to read more specifics, please see our Services and Client/Samples pages.

Or just drop us an email at info@hastingsresearch.com. If you like, include a phone number.

Contact us at info@hastingsresearch.com

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