One of the struggles in web design and more importantly Information architecture is to get the client out of the mind set that the website is all about them and how they see their business. In reality outside the office walls, It’s actually for their customers and potential customers. A web presence is not stroke corporate egos or to be used as a weapon of internal departmental struggles for attention. That’s not helping your customers.
It’s vital now to have a website to be viewed as a tool or resource rather than simply a online business brochure. We’ve moved past the days of having 3 main tabs of “about us, our services, contact us”. Users are expecting more…they’re expecting for you to engage and interact with them on equal footing. You want to be heard above the competition? This means understanding who is coming to your site and how they would potentially use it. The website needs to provide these pathways wether through promoting online web services or tying into social media outlets for value added service or simply organizing your content in a way condusive to your users finding information rather than just for yourself. Creating real dialog between customers and business and taking the board of directors out of their ivory towers. It Lets your customers become your advocates and you’ll sales increase because of it.
Even from an information architecture stand point if you continue to use internal terminology that only your employees would understand then how are you reaching your target audience. Think about how your website is currently organized. Is it setup according to your own internal business practices, processes, and corporate hierarchy? Would this site even be understood to someone outside your office and is it really helping anyone?
Your content needs to be organized and most importantly thoughtfully written in such a way that a person coming to your site immediately knows who you are, and what you can do for them and where to go to find out how get their problems solved. The web has evolved past the point of pure selling and wants to reach out to your customers who are anxiously waiting to find answers. They’re much smarter than you give them credit for and will see through gimmicky marketing jargon, flashy sales pitches and will abandon an unorganized bureaucratic website (take a look at some of your state government sites for example.) Honesty, openness and trust are the new ways of doing business. Time to get on board. your customers are already leaving the station.