By Allan Maurer
RALEIGH, NC – The design and usability of a major company’s web site requires ongoing, daily attention to meeting visitor expectations and then getting them where they want to go via the easiest route.
“It is a science and an art,” says Sherry Bastion, Lenovo’s Web Creative Director. “You want to create a digital experience that builds brand loyalty and sales. Your site online has to be your ambassador.”
Bastion chairs the pre-conference intensive sessions on Design & Usability at the upcoming Internet Summit at the Raleigh Convention Center Nov. 15-16.
The intensive five-session pre-conference program will examine ways to create those digital experiences that feed brand loyalty and spark sales, using web design as a strategic tool, maximizing the impact of content, and finally, designing relevant and useful mobile apps.
Bastion will conduct the initial session focusing on how to design a web site to keep visitors engaged with your company’s products so that they come back again and again.
Eliminate outdated, boring, uninspiring content
Because the site has to act as the company ambassador, “You have to eliminate outdated, incorrect, boring and uninspiring information. “You want visitors to think, ‘What a great company.’ Part of that is understanding what people want to find on the site and making it easy to find.”
That sounds easy enough, but she adds, “You never know what people will want when they come to the site. Are they there to learn more about a product? Your company? You have to help them through all these decision trees.”
Also, she says, “There is a certain corporate tone you want to develop to give the brand a consistent look and feel and says, ‘This is a quality brand, a quality product.’ It gives you the information you need without wasting your time.”
Get visitors excited
Trying to force people down some pre-ordained path “is not good,” she says. “They should be in charge. Try to give them the experience they are seeking. If they’re coming to learn about a specific product and the only thing they get is a photo and a list of specs, it doesn’t help them understand why they should buy your product over a competitor’s. It’s bland. It doesn’t get them excited.”
And getting visitors exciting and engaged is what works.
Lenovo uses a variety of content to achieve that. “We show them 360 degree views of products so that they get a sense of what it looks like virtually. We give them customer reviews, because they like to know what others think of it.”
Even negative reviews, we asked. “We don’t filter anything,” Bastion says. “We also provide forums for any kind of social interaction and for people to engage, whether they are bad mouthing or praising us. There are no secrets and we don’t try to hide anything. It is important for visitors to see third party quotes and reviews.”
All of this is a daily, ongoing effort. “We look at the metrics,” Bastion notes. “We look at what people are clickin gon, what they do on the side. We ask them to do surveys. We try to constantly improve the experience, bringing in what they want and getting rid of what they don’t.”
She asks, “Are you putting things where people are apt to look?” Eye-tracking and usability studies may help there, she suggests.
Everyone has to work together
One of the challenges in a large company in particular is that “You have people focused on usability, on design, on content, and they can’t exist in a vacuum. They all have to work together.”
Even with assiduous attention to details, Bastion says keeping a site optimized is a full time job with surprises.
“You have to check your ego at the door. People change. What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. You have to constantly let customer interactions tell you what’s working and what’s not.”