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By Ian Lurie

 

    Whether you’re selling the hottest web service or alfalfa, your web site can support your brand. And it doesn’t take a huge investment:

 

1. Accessibility: What does your site say about your accessibility? A confusing, complex site with flowery language and lots of marketspeak says “go away, loser”. A simple, plain-spoken site where the visitor can find what they need says “C’mon in.”

 

Good: Google.com. Search, and just the search.

 

Terrible: MSN.com. I go there and feel like I’m being attacked. Plus it loads painfully slowly.

 

2. Taste: Simplicity is the key. A blingarific site stuffed with unnecessary animation is a turnoff. A look and feel that’s appropriate to your business, on the other hand, will draw in your visitors.

 

Good: LandsEnd.com. Simple. Reasonably attractive.

 

Terrible: ThomsonBikeTours.com. I’m a huge cycling fan. But I can’t actually find any info, thanks to the highspeed slideshow, the five different colors of fonts, etc.. Slow down, guys. Give me the info I want.

3. Contact: How easy do you make it for folks to get in touch? Put your phone number on every page. You WANT them to call, right?

 

Good: ThomsonBikeTours.com. I complain above, but they have their phone number on every page. Perfecto.

 

Terrible: Microsoft. I DARE you to find a way to reach a real person, without first taking out your wallet.

4. Honesty: No hyperbole. Tell the truth. Getting someone to buy or call under false pretenses will only irritate them, and you.

 

I won’t do any good or terrible here. I don’t want to get sued.

5. Stability: Put simply, your site’s gotta work. If you’re starting a new company, and folks are already wondering whether you’re a flash in the pan, it won’t encourage them to see a huge error message when they visit you online.

 

Good: BasecampHq.com. The few times their site isn’t working, they have a page up telling you why. Their site gets pummeled by hundreds of thousands of users, but keeps on ticking.

 

Terrible: Yahoo Marketing Solutions (formerly Overture). I love the new system. Now, could it work more than 50% of the time? How can I trust you to deliver your ads when I can’t even use the management console?

 

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Ian Lurie is the author of Conversation Marketing. You can read more about internet marketing strategies at his blog

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