Your Website is Your Long-Term Best PR – Part 1

Part 1 of a 3 Part Series on Website Design & Creation

The process of web concept, design and creation … it’s such a critical piece of the public relations and marketing mix today. It’s no longer adequate for a website to be simply a beautiful on-line brochure and/or catalog.

Websites must be a convenient, fast, easy-to-navigate platform for client interaction and impression. It’s your client’s ‘first impression’ experience with your salon or spa, and it begins the second they enter your URL (Sure…I don’t mind waiting 30 seconds while your damn splash page loads…yeah, right).

Sharon and I have spent lots of time browsing a vast assortment of salon, spa and beauty industry websites. We’ve seen the good, the bad and the (downright) ugly.  So have you.  We see ego and creativity winning out over visitor experience far to frequently.

As you turn to your experts for your PR information and help, we too rely on the expertise of the proven ‘great ones’. We asked one of them if he would guest post on the topic of developing a website here on BeautyPRpro and were thrilled when he said yes to a 3 part series.

rigneyBruce Rigney, is the the owner of Rigney Graphics, a full-service marketing communication design and branding firm, established in 1982, and located in Old Pasadena, California. We’ve had several occasions to work together on behalf of our clients. The Rigney Graphics portfolio and more information about the company may be viewed on their website at www.rigneygraphics.com. Take it away Bruce …

First Impressions

It should go without saying to professionals in the beauty industry that an aesthetic appearance is the first step in the creation of a positive relationship. This not only applies to personal and social relationships but also to the those established between clients/customers and business services and products.

When the prospective customer’s first impression is the homepage of your website, it makes sense that it should be a positive one and that it increases the level of affinity and understanding between the potential customer and your company.

In an article entitled “Myths About Lead Generation,” published by Marketing Profs and passed around the Internet several years ago, a seminar leader conducted an informal poll of his audience.

The seminar leader first asked, “When you’re buying something for your business, do you, at some point in the buying process, visit the website of the vendor firm?” All the hands in the room went up.

Then he asked, “Who is at least somewhat influenced by what they see on the site?” All hands stayed up.

And finally, “Have you ever been referred to a service firm and, after visiting the website, decided not to contact them because of what you saw on their website?” About half the people raised their hands.

That’s useful information. If half the people who visit your website might be negatively influenced by what they see, it makes sense to ensure that the visitor has a positive experience from the first look at the home page on through any ordering or contact process.

No Visitor Left Behind

Your potential client or customer has somehow been referred to your website address and is about to visit your homepage. What happens now is very important.

Does the site load quickly? If the visitor has to wait at all, you’re at risk of an immediate bail-out before your site fully loads on the screen. Not every visitor has the latest model computer, nor do they all have high-speed Internet connections. Even if they do, ‘waiting around’ is not something today’s computer-savvy people enjoy doing. Your site should be built by your website designer so that it accommodates the most commonly used computers, the various browsers currently in use, and the common speed of most Internet connections.

While dazzling animated graphics have achieved great popularity among graphic designers, advertising agencies and tech-savvy users, the average website visitor can become easily frustrated by the download times required before page elements are set in motion. For a business hoping to generate leads or sales, a visitor’s first impression accompanied by an “Aargh!” or other unprintable expletive is not a good start in winning the hearts and minds of potential prospects or customers.

Instant Recognition

Given that the visitor has not bounced off your homepage due to slow downloads, what is he or she likely to do next? When first arriving at the site, the visitor wants to know what this site is, the company name, and what it provides in the way of products or services. The visitor needs to see some sort of brand image, probably a logo and/or some other image which can be immediately associated with the product or service.

A site featuring wedding gowns should, of course, have at least one image of a wedding gown. This seems obvious until you browse a number of sites that might test one’s ability to gain an instant recognition of the product being offered.

A company name and logo that matches what is being offered will at least not be confusing. A tagline which directly states the offering gives the visitor an immediate answer to his or her questions.

edia_web2

Attractive homepage that gives the company name/logo and its tagline, an image of the product and product results are portrayed in our design for the www.edia.com homepage.


Beauty Is Only Skin Deep

While the warning that “beauty is only skin deep” has been with us since at least the seventeenth century, we shouldn’t be so quick to embrace it as a universal truth. Most us are aware of the fact that an aesthetic appearance goes a long way in gaining acceptance and building confidence. It is at least an indication that the presenter of the aesthetic wishes to communicate something positive about himself or herself to others. They care enough to present themselves well.

This holds true for the design of marketing materials, and is highly evident in the presentation of a company’s homepage. How may times have you visited a website and decided that there was something not quite right about the presentation? Without having a professional understanding of design and layout, one can encounter a vaguely disturbing impression that something’s not quite right and that perhaps this is not the company one is looking for. While a somewhat intangible factor, the aesthetic of a website can provide an acceptance level that allows the visitor to comfortably and pleasurably navigate the site.

Following Convention

During the brief history of website design, some conventions have been established which visitors now expect to be followed. These provide a familiarity which eliminates the need for a learning curve for each website visited.

Among these conventions is the placement of the company logo and tagline in the upper left corner of the homepage and in the various section pages or sub-pages of the site. On the sub-pages the logo has come to provide the additional function as a link back to the homepage. Most modern sites are built this way.

Navigation links are expected to be placed in a horizontal bar near the top of the page or on the left side of the page. The visitor is not there to waste time and is not interested in scanning over the entire homepage to locate the primary or secondary navigation. Following conventions enables the visitor to navigate swiftly in the environment of the site.

itech_web

Obvious navigation options are presented on the www.itechproducts.com site we designed for HairArt to roll out their new line of hair appliances.

Stop With the Scrolling

Visitors don’t like to scroll. They like to click. In the early days of the Internet, websites were used as technical resources between a handful of universities. Sites were browsed by students and faculty who were getting paid with good grades or good salaries. And they were getting paid to read, so there was an ocean of content on every site with lengthy pages which could be scrolled to a nearly infinite length. That seemed pretty cool at the time.

In today’s Internet, you are operating in a world of marketing. Your clients want the essential data to make a decision about you or your product. They prefer quick, concise statements which appeal to their needs and wants. And they don’t want to scroll down pages containing lengthy descriptions of the product or company. You need to attract attention, create interest and deliver your message very quickly to hold them on the site so they can be directed to contact you or purchase your product.

The visitor doesn’t want to wade through lengthy paragraphs extolling the detailed benefits of the product or service, nor are they interested in the history of the company and how your company is the “industry leader, the “innovators in the marketplace,” or any other text which distracts them from what they really want to know. On the homepage, a brief statement that creates interest in the product or service should suffice.

If you have a list of benefits which should appeal to the visitor, don’t bury them in a lengthy paragraph of rambling text. The visitor should be able to locate the data he or she needs at a glance. If you have a list of benefits, make a list. Break out the lines of text into bullet points with the most attractive benefits at the top, but don’t make the list so lengthy that the visitor has to slow the search by scrolling.

Now that you’ve got them interested, you want them to continue through the site to the point where they are ready to contact you or purchase your product. This is initially accomplished through navigation bars or attractive feature boxes on the homepage that link the visitor to their areas of interest.

The client could have expounded at great length about this new product, but visitor interest is maintained by keeping the www.lanadil.com homepage message short and to the point.

The client could have expounded at great length about this new product, but visitor interest is maintained by keeping the www.lanadil.com homepage message short and to the point.

Marketing Orientation

The homepage is essentially a display of portals through which the visitor travels to become a prospect, client or customer at the end of the process. Ultimately, the purpose of the site is to direct the visitor to the contact page or to the shopping cart, although they may have to visit more than one page to become sufficiently interested or convinced that your product or service is right for them. If the homepage is designed with a marketing orientation, it provides easy, obvious links to contact or purchase so that prospects do not have to waste time by navigating through sub-pages to get to the point of contact or purchase.

The second article in this series will highlight some techniques that can be used to drive visitors through the site so that they make contact for services or purchase the product. This can be summed up as giving the site a marketing orientation.

End Part 1

If you have a friend that could profit from this 3 part series on web design, please share using the ‘Share It” icon below. Thanks.

What Would You Do DIfferently About Your Website Today?

Comments

  1. Hello,

    I wrote a lengthy comment that got erased. Essentially, I designed and scripted a website with no prior experience, just common sense. I was happy to see that I instinctively did what you have suggested in your post.

    Thank you for this topic.

    Patti

  2. Did you type it in the Reply box or on your own word processor? I sure hope it wasn’t our blog software that erased it. Pleased let me know.

    Re: your website, you did indeed make it user friendly, fast and simple to operate. All controls and navigation is easy to find and follow. One difficulty I had. There is no email address that is easy to find to contact you or the salon.

    Congratulation being named among ST’s top 200. Now that is great PR! You and those salon owners like you are our main reason for doing this blog. Please feel free to let us know what you want to hear about.

    Alex

  3. Oh, it was myself being clumsy on the keys!

    Thank You,

    Patti @ FRINGE Hair Salon

  4. Great information on website design! I think more salon and spa owners need to learn how to use analytics to track how people respond tho their content.
    Our web site has been the backbone of our success.

  5. Hi Poza Salon,

    Hey, my commentluv doesn’t seem to be picking up your last blogpost. The snapshot is working on the blog though. Would you make another comment and see if it works this time when you enter your blogsite URL. Thanks
    [rq=42159,0,blog][/rq]Your Website is Your Long-Term Best PR – Part 1

  6. My website is my best advertising. I’m so glad my daughter told me I had to have one. My site will be updated soon with updated gallery models. The search engine will be updated also.

  7. Hi Alex,

    I took your advice and we now have an email addy and a direct link for our clients to contact us. I also added a link for directions.

    Thanks For Everything,
    Patti @ FRINGE Hair Salon

  8. Excellent Patty. Never make your visitor have to hunt for you. Good job.

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