Not even twenty years ago, a company website was a bonus, if not a luxury. As the majority of you know, that has all changed in the past decade. It is simply a necessity to have a company website if you are going to succeed. Often times, the first introduction of your luxury ground transportation company is not a hand shake, but a couple page views on the Internet.Simply put, owning a website is not only a must for a business, it also has to be of utmost importance. Like a vehicle, a website needs to be maintained in order to run smoothly. When was the last time you checked your company's website? I suggest you do right now—and rethink what it is saying to your potential audience. I have compiled a list of rules for you to consider when revisiting your website.
Here are nine (9) necessary rules to follow for your company's website.
- No Dead-End Pages. Nothing says "I don't care" or "we don't follow through" more than a web page that has been "under construction" for months, let alone years. If a blog web page has not been worked on in months or has never even been started, delete the page. You don't want your web page to appear like a vacant building. It may have sounded like a good idea to write a blog, but it's a whole other level when you have to create and maintain the blog for it to be effective. If you visit a site's blog and there has not been any new content for five years, what does that say about that page and/or company? Streamline your site to avoid dead-end pages. Make your site as manageable as possible by eliminating web pages that just aren't feasible for you to finish or maintain. Combine your "news" section with your "blog" section. Just like clothes that have not been touched in a year, get rid of web pages that no longer fit (in your work day).
- Avoid Flash or Animation. Some techniques that were, at one point, exciting new terrain for the world wide web just aren't efficient anymore. One of these techniques is the use of Flash or other animation. Since the world is slowly progressing to a more mobile view of the web, any unnecessary animation should be eliminated immediately. Like pop-up ads, most visitors will avoid animation at all cost, skipping by it to get to the content or ignoring it and leaving to go to a competitor's site.
- A Busy Design. Although the average person can appreciate art, they won't stop and stare if they are surfing for a particular item such as a limousine or airport ride. The ground transportation industry is not the place to showcase a website of overly complicated designed web pages. Having a busy design can frustrate the end user, making them more likely to again go visit another website. Leave the cool designs for the coachbuilders—make your website easy on the eyes.
- A Vanilla Design. Of course, on the other end of the spectrum we have the danger of having too vanilla of a design. When a site is poorly designed and looks amateur, it can convey a bad impression to the viewer about how "advanced" the company is that created the website. Let's face it, you can't brag about your technology and have a novice website. Well, you can, I guess. It just doesn't look very good to someone who is seeing your company for the first time. That's what business owners in the ground transportation industry forget sometimes: their website may be the first time a person actually even knows their company exists. And nothing turns them off more than a site that looks so plain that it could have been designed by the owner's middle school daughter.
- No Calls-To-Action. There are at least two (2) approaches to designing a website that happen before a single design comp has been sent to the company from the designer. First, your company's website can act as a brochure—acting as an informative tool that tells the end user who you are, what you do,when you do it, where you do it and why you do it. Secondly, your website can act as a sales presentation—showcasing the reasons why the end user should bypass all other available luxury ground transportation companies and use your company. Either way, your website should have at least one "call-to-action" on your website. A call-to-action is a marketing technique that persuades the end user to act immediately, using language such as "Call now to find out more" or "Click here to save on your next ride." Another type of call-to-action is what the people in the marketing industry call a "white paper." Sometimes companies offer "white papers" as a down loadable .pdf on their websites, usually set up on a separate page (so they can count the visitors). What the company does (usually) is send out an e-blast with some information that the company deems is worthwhile to a select group of subscribers with some type of call-to-action intertwined in the message. Companies that use this type of strategy effectively in this industry are Inbound Marketing Agents and ETS International. Although both strategies are used, my advice would be to use the latter choice as your model—creating a sales presentation for your company using calls-to-action.
- Hard To Find Contact Info. There is nothing more frustrating to the end user than to not be able to locate a phone number or email when they are ready to make a purchase decision. If it becomes too difficult, it just may be the difference between a sale and a potential customer that bit the dust. It may sound obvious, but make your contact info visible on every page and big enough to not overlook. I have seen (or, in this case, not seen) contact info nearly impossible to find. Make it stand out.
- No Mobile Site. So you have this awesome desktop version of your site but have yet to convert it over to a mobile-version? Act sooner rather than later. If your site appears as a desktop version on a person's phone, the enormity of the website can lead to discouraged viewers who are trying to zoom in to see the buttons, etc. Get a mobile version of your site. It makes all the difference in the world, especially of some of your business relies on online reservations.
- Content Fresh. Update your website weekly, if not daily. Keep the information relative and current. Talk about the change of seasons. Highlight the upcoming months and keep your specials up-to-date.
- Easy-to-Navigate. Make your website make sense. Think about how you want the navigation to go before you start designing it. Think of everything you can before you commit to a site map. The last thing you want to do is confuse the viewer. Make your buttons a seamless integration of information presented in a logical manner so that the end user can find what they want quickly and easily.