Oct 25, 2008

More than Shine

The days of shiny destination portals and product sites as all-encompassing consumer conversion tools are over.  It is no longer enough that a destination page features a slick presentation; a de-rigueur over-designed marquee that promotes your product.  Sensitivity in design is necessary now that users have become more familiar with website use, functionality, and purpose and expect them to provide more than just an advertising pitch.  To get consumers to value the site and perform any conversions you intend them to do, your site needs to offer features such as toolsets and other engagement points that are useful and enticing enough for repeat visits for information as well as for functional tasks which yield information and useful results.

A good toolset must involve something that the consumer can take advantage of without actually purchasing the brand's product to do so.  Often these users are seeking information beyond the products themselves.  Something as simple as a clearly marked button, a module that enables them to forward information via e-mail to friends or facilitates a download of information, or sample applications can help make consumers view a brand's site as a useful resource.

Use of e-mail features and PDFs, in fact, provides an inexpensive, clever, appealing, and efficient means to present information in addition to what the website itself offers.  They also make it apparent to users that the site is doing more than merely promoting the brand and the services that surround it - that the brand is larger than the momentary product pitch.

It's important that the site's design blows out the products and services the user can take advantage of without actually making a purchase because sites that offer these kinds of features get a lot more repeat traffic and develop a consumer fan base more likely to convert when presented with the opportunity. The conversion opportunity, in turn, often presents itself as the toolsets reveal a further need or desire.

Another element to include is useful aspect or component of Social Media.  For example, the Depends undergarment site offers a user blog.  This may not seem like an obvious choice for the brand but caregivers use this forum to share information about Depends as well as their own experiences using the products, which helps reinforce the value of the Depends brand as a whole.  The Depends site does promote its product line but the blog acts as an additional means for users to gain access to information that is of value to them.

The Depends website is an excellent example of a site that offers more that just a slickly designed product promotion geared to make a sales pitch.  It provides value and helps establish the Depends brand in a favorable light with its consumer base.  Thanks to the blog, the Depends site generates a lot of traffic because it is seen as a valuable and trusted resource to its consumer base by offering them more than just advertising.

Consumers that have trust in a brand are more likely to take advantage of an offer the brand presents them and convert.  Building this trust depends on a site design that has substance rather than just surface slickness.  Online consumers are now smarter and expect more than mere product pitch from their websites.  They are coming to a brand's site for information related to its product, and that isn't just the type that comes in the form of an online brochure.  A brand with a site that is designed to provide convenient access to valuable information will develop both a better reputation with its target consumer base and the trust that's needed to get these consumers over the conversion hump.