Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Web site review: Letting prospects search their way

In every issue of the Internet Marketing Report, we review a Web site. Here's the review from the July 28 issue.

OnForce is hanging its hat and conversions on the ability of prospects to find stuff in a blink.

OnForce.com matches impatient buyers and sellers, bringing together buyers of IT services with providers. It’s won awards, including a distinction in the Webby Awards, for its great business Web site. Here’s why:

• It’s turned onsite search into an art form. Finding a provider or a job is quick and easy. Prospects can search by specialty, category, region, service, rating, completed work orders, keyword and “most popular ...”

• It’s fast. Experts at Google (this link will take you to a video presentation by Google's Marissa Mayer talking about the simplest and fastest design is often the best. At about 10 minutes into the tape is very interesting) found increases in speed had a direct correlation with usage.

If speed dropped by 30%, page views went down. This site’s learned that lesson. The home pages load quickly, just behind Google and Microsoft’s fast-loading pages according to this tool that checks speed.

• It overcomes doubt and confusion with its call to action. The first thing a visitor to the home page sees is a compelling offer, “Try OnForce and get the first visit free.” The hard-to-miss offer takes some of the risk out of trying a new provider.

• It maps out the path for prospects. Some sites leave prospects wondering what to do and where to click next. This site makes it easy by providing a tab saying “Next Step for Buyers.”

Give them the home page treatment

This site has a great home page but it may be losing visitors arriving at other pages.

Web expert Jakob Nielsen recently found a huge increase in “deep dips,” what he calls Web visitors who arrive at pages deep within Web sites rather than entering through the home page. That could mean visitors miss out on the red-carpet treatment or get lost on a back page.

Take prospects who are introduced to Onforce via this page, Onforce.com/marketview, the part of the site to win the latest Webby award.

It provides intriguing and valuable information that experienced users may love but leave novices (like me!) cold.

If you are finding prospects increasingly entering your site through the back door, experts suggest adding easy ways to get back to the home page, links to the "About Us" pages, etc., even a box with an overview of what your company does on these deep pages.

Advice: Web page analytics providers, like Google, can usually identify the most popular landing pages on your site.

Many companies don’t have the resources to give all pages the power of a home page so they concentrate on a handful of the most valuable pages.

Posted by Internet Marketing Report Online editor Julie Power Tuesday July 29.


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