Times have changed. A recent conversation with a colleague and friend brought to the surface this concept that has been brewing in the back of my mind for quite some time now. Does your business legitimize your Web presence? Or is it actually the other way around?
There was a time (which todays youth would not recall) in which you might have heard about a new Web site or online service and the natural question to follow was, “Do they have an actual ‘bricks and mortar’ location?” That is to say, does this online entity actually have a real life storefront/office location? Or is it just an online presence. The implication was clearly understood to be that if there was not a physical location associated with the online business, they were not to be trusted. Or at the very least, caution should be exercised.
But moving forward now to today’s business environment, I contend that the core of this question has reversed itself.
No longer is it the business that legitimizes the Web site, but more it is the Web site that legitimizes the business. Time and time again I now see exchanges where the strength, value or trustworthiness of a business is judged at least partially by whether or not they have a Web site. The clear implication is that without a Web site in place in support of a business, organization or service, the entity could be questionable. Proceed with caution.
Now, beyond the question of which legitimizes the other. If there is a Web site in place, is it good one? If not, the Web site might actually be doing more harm than good. Does the Web site provide the information that the potential client or customer is looking for? Or is it a sounding board that fans the business owner’s ego with accolades or streams of useless fluff? (i.e. most Flash/animation intro pages you will ever see) Those are two very different things, maybe worth repeating…
- Does the Web site primarily stroke the business ego?
- Does the Web site provide information useful to the site visitor?
As a Web site developer, I often find it hard to guide a project more to the later than the former. When making critical decisions regarding Web site development it is a challenge to get a site owner to step fully into the shoes of their customer or client, or more importantly their potential client.
When is the last time you had a look at your Web site through your potential customers eyes? You might be surprised at what you see, if you can manage to do so.
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