Ad Agencies (Still) Haven’t Learned How to Build a Great Website

Form and function, or form vs. function?

The company you have chosen to build your website – the hub of your web presence designed to create the ideal end user experience to generate leads and sales for your business – favors either a combination of form and function, or has inexplicably (and probably unknowingly) created a death match between the two.

The most important point is that agencies tend to build sites that grab a user’s attention. The problem is, if a user is on your site you already have their attention. Once they are there, it’s time to direct them and entice action. David Meerman Scott, one of the preeminent authors on being effective on the web, wrote an essay about this battle that still rings true. Sadly, the essay, “Don’t Trust an Advertising Agency to Build Your Web Site” was published in 2005.

In today’s web marketing climate – where content and its freshness is more valued than ever – marketers and business owners must demand a balance of form and function.

I call it “Scrolling Right Syndrome.”

In 2012 there are still new websites being launched – by professional agencies – that require the user to scroll to the right. Few usability features are as dated and ineffective as forcing the user to scroll to the right. So, it’s the perfect, still topical metaphor for describing how many agencies still lack an understanding of how a human being finds a business and engages with it online.

Few things in marketing are linear, but this is one of them (which is likely why agencies struggle). Users must be able to find your site (SEO, web marketing, etc.), and then take the action you want them to take on your site.

It is really that basic. Get user to site, get user to buy or convert.

If your instincts are screaming that your website is too complex, or being over-thought – you’re probably right.

If you’re uncertain, here are a few questions to ask yourself to make sure you don’t fall victim to Scrolling Right Syndrome:

  • Did I have a strategy meeting (or two) about my website?
  • Did I get a comprehensive Project Plan detailing what was going to happen with my site?
  • Was any SEO covered in my conversations?
  • Did we only talk about brand when discussing my site?

The last two questions are really important because they are elements that are often overlooked. Too much brand means all strategy and no tactics. An absence of conversation about how SEO is woven into the site indicates the same mistake.

Your users matter because your business matters. If you are thinking of updating your site – or are currently in the process – ask yourself these 4 questions. Users will show their thanks.

Geoff is our fearless leader – President & Owner of TKG, a role he’s held proudly for the past 15 years. He likes to talk “big picture” online marketing trends and strategy, and how/why businesses can use the web to achieve their goals. He’s also a passionate Steelers fan; we felt you should know that.

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