LCD Design

Nope, Iím not talking Liquid Crystal Displays. Iím talking Lowest Common Denominator. Itís a variation of KISS (you know, Keep It Simple, uh, Silly).

Sometimes I come across marketing advice and cringe, Ďcause it makes me worry that someone somewhere is going to forget that the goal in designing your ebusiness Web site is to help persuade the largest number of potential customers possible to take the action you want them to take.

Do you do this by targeting the ends of the continuum? No, you do not! You accomplish this by designing to the Lowest Common Denominator of your audience.

So Iím reading an article in which I learn the online marketing questions that really matter include:

  • How long have you been online?
  • Do you have broadband?
  • Do you use the Internet for entertainment?1
  • Anytime someone suggests that a userís facility with computers or the speed of her connection is a useful marketing consideration, most of my eyes start twitching. I can sense exclusionary tactics around the corner, mixed in with a general confusion about the basic ebusiness objective.

    How long have you been online?

    This marketing question lets you know if your visitor is a newbie or has been around the block enough times to feel comfortable with the medium. The questionable value of this information? Folks who have been on the internet for at least two years are going to be more likely to buy from you (so the article says Ė actually this article makes a lot of specious assumptions).

    To be honest, Iím really not sure how this piece of information is supposed to help you design a more effective Web site. Since I canít control the experience levels of my visitors, I need to design a site that makes a newbie feel as comfortable as a seasoned veteran of cyber space. More and more people are turning to the Internet for their business needs Ė I absolutely do not want to limit my potential customer base. Nor do you!

    Do you have broadband?

    This question is supposed to suggest what sort of content your visitor tends to view. Those with broadband may watch more rich media and streaming video, and may be more willing to download plug-ins, and may use some services more than others (lots of speculation here). So if youíre trying to attract broadband users, ďgo ahead and program that broadband content.Ē

    Think really really hard before you do this Ė and whatever you do, donít make broadband applications the core of your persuasive process. The majority of your visitors still donít have broadband. Sheesh, as of this writing, I still donít have broadband, and I consider myself a seasoned Internet veteran who highly values the Internet! And Iím enormously likely to buy stuff from you if you make it easy for me (and if I like your stuff!). You put that broadband stuff on your site at the expense of basic information, and Iím gone.

    Worse, if you require that I take time out of my shopping mission to download a plug-in so I can access some of your content, youíve completely removed me from the sales process and have to work extremely hard to get me reengaged. Lots of folks, whether or not they possess broadband, wonít be bothered.

    Do you use the Internet for entertainment?

    The theory here is that by understanding how a person uses the Internet, either as a utility or as entertainment, you can tailor services and applications that are relevant Ė and that might well include a virtual tour of a new luxury liner to help persuade your visitor to book a ticket.

    Er Ö letís be very clear about this: however else folks use the Internet, the visitors to your ebusiness Web site are not there to be entertained. They are task-oriented; they have come to you in a participatory and completely voluntary medium. You have something they are interested in. Bells and whistles, gadgets and gizmos all serve to distract their attention from the goal at hand. If an application does not feed directly into your persuasive architecture, donít use it.

    With overall conversion rates as pitiful as they are, why in the world would you want to create a Web site that excluded newbies and low-tech users, or placed a higher value on entertainment than your business objectives? Why would you want to limit your audience further?

    Trust me, guys. Nobody Ė not even the most ultra-savvy techno geek Ė is going to get ticked off if you make your ebusiness Web site really simple and easy to use. Maybe you can find a useful application for these sorts of marketing questions Ė just make sure it isnít your Web siteís persuasive architecture!

    ----------------------

    1 ďWhen Age is Not Enough.Ē Lydia Loizides. ClickZ. May 5, 2003. http://www.clickz.com/mkt/capital/article.php/2199951 

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