Is Your Website Engaging?

by Cheryl Carr on July 8, 2010

By Megan Webb

Is your organization’s website really resonating with key stakeholders? How can you be sure that your online presence meets or exceeds expectations of web users?

According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project study titled, “The Future of the Internet” approximately 79 percent of adults use the Internet in 2010 versus 46 percent in 2000. After surveying 895 “Internet expert” respondents, the study also found that future changes in the Internet sphere will be driven by consumer needs for transparency among businesses, organizations and government institutions.

Here are four tips to make sure your website is measuring up to the expectations of your audiences:

1. Make Content King

Content still reigns in the online world. Today’s consumers turn to the web for research, competitive information and to make educated decisions. Your website is a platform where you can speak directly to your customers. Why does your brand meet their needs and wants? What is the value it provides? Why are your products and services superior to those of your competitors?

2. Keep It Updated and Fresh

Did your business just launch a new product or service? Is your company being talked about in the media? Did you just add another high-profile member to your team? Are you taking a stand on a hot issue relevant to your marketplace?

Your website is a reflection of the daily happenings in your company and throughout your industry. If you add new content frequently, it’s likely your stakeholders will return to your website as a source of news and education.

3. Make It Interactive and Engaging

Web users want to interact and engage with your business. For example, we recently helped take a client’s website to the next level with the creation of an interactive “design your van” module. Our client, AdaptaVan, offers wheelchair accessible vans that enhance the lifestyles of physically challenged and disabled individuals. Due to the customizable nature of the vans the company offers, we wanted to give AdaptaVan customers a voice in the design process. This empowered AdaptaVan customers to interact directly with the company to build a van that meets their individual needs and preferences. The new website design put AdaptaVan on the map as a national player in the paratransit industry.

In addition to offering interactive options on your website, it’s crucial to be present in the online channels where your customers are living and learning. As the way the Internet is being used changes, consider becoming active in social media platforms like blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other Web 2.0 channels. These communications vehicles allow you to engage with your customers on an entirely new level. If you’re not using them now, start observing how other organizations are handling social media.

4. Make It Accessible and Easy to Navigate

People are impatient. They hate to wait. Long load times and difficult navigation are two of the most common complaints among Internet users and the most likely factors of high abandonment rates. Make sure your website is well organized, easy to navigate and highlights the most important information about your organization up front.

Your website also needs to be accessible among a variety of platforms. By 2020, most people won’t do their work with software running on a general-purpose PC. Mobile devices will become the Internet’s primary connection devices, according to the Pew Research Center. As the Internet continues to evolve, it’s imperative that your website development remains up-to-date and easily accessible.