March 28, 2011 1 Comment
Window Displays Aren’t Just for Show
I really enjoy shopping. I mean, I REALLY enjoy shopping, and on the account that I shop so much, I’ve gotten hip to the psychology behind shopping. (Well, that and by reading “The Science of Shopping.”) The way organizations pull you into their stores. The sale signs. The lively colors. And of course, the window displays, showcasing lovely mannequins with beautiful silhouettes covered with trendy layers of cotton tops, laced tanks, and boot cut bottoms.
As you gaze beyond this entry point of aspired adornment, you see racks of even more fanciful items that support exactly what was portrayed in the store’s window. And you feel, “I just gotta go in.”
This, my friend, is a perfect analogy to what your website represents to your customer.
Your site is an extension, or maybe even an entry point to your brand. It’s the place where customers either make their first decision as to what your brand stands for or they further solidify (or diminish) what they expect from your brand.
As users take their first gander at your site, they’re make a decision by subconsciously, or even overtly, asking the following questions:
- Is this brand trustworthy?
- Is the site up-to-date?
- Can I fulfill my needs or desires?
- Does it relate with me emotionally? (And if you love saving, the four letter word “SALE” is enough to do it for you.)
Users make this judgment based on the BIFT philosophy.
The B.I.F.T. Philosophy
B is for beauty.
This day and age, it’s not enough to simply have a website. Your website must be beautiful. It must be designed in an up-to-date fashion, using current graphics and terminology helping users know they’re in a place that’s just a much in the 21st century as they are.
Additionally, beauty doesn’t end with graphics. Web copy also lends itself to a site’s beauty. However, as my friend, Clarence said, the copy “doesn’t have to be witty. It just needs to be well written.” I’ll add, the copy needs to be written for the medium, and different types of sites and even mediums on the site would require different copy considerations.
I is for intuitive.
Secondly, users review the time and thought investment it would take to accomplish a task on your site. In English, they want to know if they can do what they want to do without a lot of thought.
To overcome the “I” barrier, you have to lead customers to take the next step on your page, and you have to help them understand where they will land. Both instructional and call to action copy as well as visual cues such as change in copy color, arrows, etc. help customers understand what action they should take.
F is for Functional
“Functional” is a big word that means – does the site do what it’s intended to do, and in a timely fashion.
- When I got to your web address, am I greeted with a page?
- When I click a link, does it work.
- Does it load quickly?
- Do the widgets work?
- Are there pages that say “under construction?”
There are many ways to resolve functional issues.
- Check images sizes and maybe revise images if necessary, as images can slow down a pages load time.
- If widgets don’t work, remove them. If possible, create a different solution. However, it’s worse to have something that doesn’t function on your page than not having it at all.
- Instead of writing under construction, don’t publsih pages that aren’t ready for public consumption.
T for Trustworthy.
Between payments and donations, organizations are asking for sensitive information on the web. And yes, even the payment experience weighs in on the perception of your brand. Questions include:
- Is the interface up to date?
- Would you feel comfortable making a payment on the site?
- What do other payment interfaces look like?
Not only do the answers to these questions determine whether or not you actually obtain the payment, the answers place your brand in a certain class – the class of great, ummm, and no so much.
My Customer’s Already Know My Brand
Yes, they do. And what they’re saying about it depends on the experience they’ve had, which could very well be great experiences. However, if you’re a mom and pop or some other small start-up, looking to take it to the next level, your site can help turn the impression from “my cousin’s shop” to “Jeff’s big time business” taking preconceived notions into brand ambassadors for the future.
Regina R. Patterson, M.B.A.
Marketing & Web Content Consultant