I’m a big fan of the New York Times “You’re The Boss” small business blog, due in large part because much of what’s discussed involves marketing or public relations.
This week, the blog completed its latest website critique–a cool (and insightful) feature in which a site is chosen for scrutiny, (business owners volunteer their sites for public fine-tooth combing), readers e-mail and/or post comments offering constructive criticism, and the blogger (in this case, Blue Fountain Media founder/top dog Gabriel Shaoolian) posts a follow-up with some of the better insights, as well as some insights of his own.
The latest site to go under the microscope belongs to Executive Limousine. Some of the feedback is interesting, and underscores how focusing on what appeals to your target audience–as opposed to what appeals to you–is paramount to creating an effective site.
Case in point: Executive Limo’s home page features rotating images of iconic New York landmarks, such as the Statue of Liberty. Very nice images indeed. But what are they doing for Executive?
When you are in a competitive business like limousines, where people have dozens of options to choose from, you have to persuade your visitors to use your services and not your competitors’. But when I come to this site, I don’t see what Executive Limousine’s value is. The first things I do see are pictures of New York City, the Statue of Liberty and the New York Airports. But nothing tells me why I should use Executive Limousine to visit them. If your Web site doesn’t answer the question “Why you?” within three seconds, then the site is failing to do its job.
Three seconds. Yikes.
To Executive’s credit, the company made numerous tweaks based on the feedback. The exercise raises an interesting thought, though: if you’re planning a website revamp, does it make sense to reach out directly to your existing or potential customers?
One airport, Harrisburg International, is putting this to the test. The airport this week reached out to its very active Twitter community inviting suggestions on content and navigation for a re-vamped FlyHIA.com site. I know a certain airport girl at HIA; maybe, after the new site is up (and a little persuasion), she’ll shed some for-publication light on whether the input proved useful.