24 March 2006

What the clients think is important ...

I've been looking at websites today at a high-level, offering knee-jerk criticism on why they work or not as e.commerce sites. In the final analysis, it isn't my opinion that's important, the only truth is whether real punters use the site to buy products and services. I had the advantage of knowing that the figures for these sites were well below the expectations of their owners. Some of those sites were a real trial to look at and navigate - it is difficult to understand why they look and function the way they do. Others were technically close to perfect - fast loading, with a clean appearance and glitch-free copy, but marred by a poor understanding of objectives and a poorly executed sales process.

As part of the exercise we also looked at some highly efficient sites which incorporate excellent lessons for anybody in good copywriting and process design. The champion of them all (with a pretty effective primary and secondary process) had an exit screen which was a masterpiece in capturing information about what users felt about the offer, their concerns and whether they thought they might buy at some point. What's interesting is how long some of these sites can be - 15-20 screens of scrolling on a single page isn't unusual coupled with a conversion rate on visitors and lifetime value of a customer which you would be proud to call your own.

I've just realised that we need to be sharing some of that background with our clients because our concept for a new site may seem slightly odd to them unless they have understood the context for our recommendations. It's part of setting their expectations.


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