2009: The Return of Common Sense

We all understand that 2009 will be historic. The U.S. will seat our first President of African-American descent. The economic fallout from the housing debacle will continue to unwind and will effect companies large and small. Perhaps Congress will apologize for pushing home ownership in the 1980’s and 90’s and will flood the markets with dollars for individuals instead. Manufacturers will struggle to get their costs lower for everything.  Labor and benefits will be among those hardest hit. Unemployment will be at the highest level in decades. Financial firms will be very intentional with loans to businesses and consumers. And consumers will be (hopefully) more frugal with their dollars – maybe getting back to the fiscal common sense of the 1940’s and 50’s.

Through all of these troublesome lens – businesses must try to improve and move forward. We have had a decade of companies moving white collar jobs offshore, but what else can they do to lower costs and/or increase sales? What common sense should be applied to businesses?

At Vialogix we believe a key place to start is your web site.

Your web site is the first place most people get an impression of your company. That impression can be true to your way of doing business or it can be false. What unique characteristics does your product or service offer potential customers that they see as a differentiating factor in their choice of vendors? Do you sell based on quality? or price? or quantity? or service? or some uniqueness that only you can deliver? Does your site demonstrate that and allow customers to clearly understand it in a matter of seconds?

Question: What should your web site be doing in today’s economy?

Answer: Assisting your customers in the easiest way possible.

Simplicity works online. In fact it works for all technology. One of the funniest talks I ever heard on simplicity was by David Pogue who tests cool new technology every day for the New York Times and CBS News. His humor shows our true dependence on technology today and how we would prefer EASY or SIMPLE if we could get it in everything.

The majority of our corporate clients use their web site as a cheap delivery channel. They have organized their product or service areas into groups that control their own web presence. They have dedicated the resources to purchasing and completing projects to update their sites with the latest data cacheing software or content management tools or search engine optimization or templating frameworks. They have made sure their infrastructure scales and is redundant and is backed up for quick recovery from a catastrophic incident.

But there is one area where the vast majority of all web sites still lacks credibility – the ease with which customers can do business with the company. The user interface can cost your business lost sales if it is hard to understand. Jakob Nielsen has been saying it for years, but bad design costs businesses money.

So resolve to return some common sense into your 2009 web projects. Simplify the part your customers see and you will reap the rewards – no matter the times.

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