90s Sites and Stickiness

May 3, 2010
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I’ll be the first to admit that this post isn’t rocket science or particularly innovative. You can probably find thousands of similar posts that cover the same ground. Some of them are probably even pretty well written. At the same time, though, I felt the need to write it for one reason: Quite frankly, there are quite a few people and organizations stuck in the technological ice ages.

Let me explain what I mean.

A few weeks ago, I joined a local Chamber of Commerce with the typical expectations: to network and meet potential partners and clients. As is the norm at networking events, I exchange handshakes and business cards with established business owners from many different industries. After I return home, invariably I’ll go to these companies’ sites and give them a quick once-over. To be sure, some organizations’ sites are more visually appealing and social media-friendly than others. At their worst, I have seen some sites that are completely non-interactive relics of the mid-1990s. For the purposes of this post, let’s call them 90s Sites.

90s Sites

You know the type of sites that I’m talking about. They all have the standard pages

I’ll be the first to admit that this post isn’t rocket science or particularly innovative. You can probably find thousands of similar posts that cover the same ground. Some of them are probably even pretty well written. At the same time, though, I felt the need to write it for one reason: Quite frankly, there are quite a few people and organizations stuck in the technological ice ages.

Let me explain what I mean.

A few weeks ago, I joined a local Chamber of Commerce with the typical expectations: to network and meet potential partners and clients. As is the norm at networking events, I exchange handshakes and business cards with established business owners from many different industries. After I return home, invariably I’ll go to these companies’ sites and give them a quick once-over. To be sure, some organizations’ sites are more visually appealing and social media-friendly than others. At their worst, I have seen some sites that are completely non-interactive relics of the mid-1990s. For the purposes of this post, let’s call them 90s Sites.

90s Sites

You know the type of sites that I’m talking about. They all have the standard pages:

  • Home
  • About
  • Products and/or Services
  • Contact
  • Testimonials

Now, there’s nothing wrong with 90s Sites per se. It’s just that they could be more. So much more. Anyone can quickly scan 90s Sites within two minutes. Most important, there’s no reason for coming back. Ever. 90s Sites are essentially glorified brochures.

Think about it. As Chris Brogan points out in this video for ABC news, you don’t buy magazines for the ads. You don’t watch TV for the commercials.

Deficiencies

What specifically are 90s Sites lacking? Forget aesthetics for a moment. Give me a bare bones site with valuable content over a pretty brochure any day of the week and twice on Sunday. My friend Jim Harris’ site is the antithesis of the term “cluttered”, but it’s easy to navigate and devoid of superfluous “stuff.” I like to think that my own site strikes that balance as well.

These days, whether your organization does mortgages or legal services, it needs to have the following items on its site:

  • An integrated blog within the main site. Why you’d send someone away from your main site to a separate blog is beyond me.
  • Meaningful and well-written posts. You don’t have to blog every day, but to me once per month is simply not enough.
  • Social media icons for Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter and other ways to connect and share information.
  • Ways to subscribe to content (which is a bit irrelevant since 90s Sites really provide no reason to subscribe).
  • Multimedia content such as videos or podcasts.

This doesn’t mean that a lawyer divulges the specifics of her case on her blog. Nor should a mortgage company explain specifically why they rejected me. I’m talking about general tips, pieces of advice, or articles rife with valuable information. In a phrase: meaningful content coupled with common sense.

Benefits

Again, in all likelihood, if you’re reading this post, I’m probably preaching to the choir here. For those skeptics, however, “getting with the program” will result in the following:

  • Increased Alexa and Google Page ranks
  • Increased traffic and, quite possibly, inquires for products and services
  • Increased information about your customer base
  • Increased stickiness and time on site
  • Increased “buzz”
  • Decreased bounce rate
  • Increased probability of additional business. Note that I’ll never make the cause-effect argument here.

I could go on, but to me the pros outweigh the cons here by an order of magnitude. My fundamental question is, “Would you go to your site and stick around?”

Common Excuses

So, in keeping with one of my new year’s resolutions to “get out from behind the computer” more, I’ve had coffee with a number of these folks. Over the course of the discussion, we’ll talk about social media, the Internet, and blogging.

So, what’s preventing these organizations from making the jump? The usual suspects are:

  • I don’t understand social media.
  • Social media is a waste of time.
  • Social media is fad.
  • I don’t have the time.
  • I wouldn’t know where to start.
  • It’s not my job to do social media.
  • It probably costs a great deal of money to redo a website.

I can’t refute every objection here but, suffice it to so, it’s not that hard to blog once in a while and add social media integration. Content management systems such as WordPress are not terribly difficult to install and manage.

Simon Says

If you think that the web is going to revert to an erstwhile time, then I have some beepers that I’d like to sell you. I’m a big believer that, if you believe that something is valuable, then you’ll find the time and resources to do it.

What’s stopping you?

Link to original post.

Photo by J.Down,
used under Creative Commons license.