Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Because of the USP and Headline, this Home Page Gets 5 out of 10


"When the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch" Unknown

An Online Marketing Critique of ReachCaribbean.com Home Page

A home page is the most important page on any site. The content will either pull or repel a visitor. When a visitor leaves quickly it's referred to as a "bounce". Unless you get it right here, all the valuable content you have in your site will never be seen by a visitor. You must make every word count.

Let’s look at the ReachCaribbean web site from a marketing perspective. Yesterday I said we would step into the site to examine it but instead today we will keep our focus entirely on the home page.

Why ReachCaribbean.com?

This site was chosen for no other reason than it represents, or should represent, a model of what an effective Caribbean or Trinidad and Tobago web site. This is the starting point of many advertisers and their experience should be literally a slippry slide into a transaction.

The assumption is that the company was not shy about cost when they decided to build their site. It is also assumed that a lot of thinking went into this final version of the site and that the designer did not just build the site and drop it into the lap of the management and statr.

Take a look at the site yourself.

Just so that you can follow along with me, pull up the home page of the site here. As you can see it looks pretty impressive. You would probably have to be a web marketing student to see anything wrong with the way it looks. Now here are the online marketing challenges...

There are exactly 24 links that a visitor can click to view info inside the site. Each link opens a new page. Some of the links on the side bar open to empty pages.

It makes you wonder why these links were included. If it was because information could be added at a later date. Why were they not left out until then? Web visitors get bored quickly, if the have to keep clicking to find what they want' they are gone unless they are already sold on the product or you.

Plus, all the impressive design loses points because of the one broken link. Click on the last item on the list unless it was my computer I think you will find it is still broken. It could stay broken indefinately unless someone points it out to them.

If this site is being maintained by professionals, someone is not looking.

Only 6 of the links are genuine navigation links and they are duplicated by some of the links on the side bar. Ok, so what’s the big deal with that?

According to marketing intelligence, the human mind, when given too many choices, gets confused. A confused mind acts irrationally; reduces focus and predictablity.

You may remember the old stories about the spider and the web. Your site is the web, when a visitor lands on your home page they should stick like spider food. There are a number of reasons a visitor will not stick but "bounce" from your site. And dispite what you may prefer to think, the lost visitors only represent a small percentage of the total visitors.

This mistake have been easily avoided at the design stage of the site, if the designer or the client was aware of that small bit of information… Here it is...

The online marketing rule of thumb is that you should not have more than 7 links from a home page and the 7 includes all your navigation buttons. Think about it for a moment, your visitor can only visit one link at a time. If you limited the choices you are in a better position to engineer the experience the visitor has on your site.

The obvious recommendation here is that the number of links be reduced and more focus be brought to the ste's navigation. As it is, the strength of the home page is diminished with all the links.

It is commendable that the site has a unique selling proposition, USP that is supported and positioned by a compelling headline.

The background image is appropriate and does not reduce the legibility of the text. Generally the recommendation is to stay with a black text on a white background. This one works because of the white colored font that is used. Designers are awesome.

You may differ but in my opinion, the floating data box is annoying, the information it contains is too important to be floating all over the page. This is a case where flash is being used just because it's available; it adds nothing to the page. This is data not a picture and it should not be floating around and disappearing when the mouse is moved; nice but useless.

That's it for today. Tomorrow we start drilling into the assumptions the site makes and the business model it employs to process potential clients.

Thanks for reading again and be well.

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