I was musing today about another approach of explaining to clients the concept of creating quality content for their websites and how this relates to attracting visitors and eventually sales when the notion of Shopping Centres or Malls popped into my head. Don’t ask me where I get this stuff its probably safer if you don’t know.
Hows how it goes…
The Shopping Centre
You want to build a shopping centre. First things first you begin the planning stage whereby you sketch out the foundations of the structure and refine this with an architect while locating prime real estate with easy access and parking, until you have a solid plan in place.
Then comes the details.
Things like water, electric, lighting, security etc. Small but important non the less in this grand scheme of things.
Now you have a shopping centre. Great! But the next stage is to fill those units with businesses. So you start to advertise in the lead up to the opening of your centre, dealing with businesses, allocating units (only the best shops get or can afford what is considered the prime locations), negotiating prices and contracts until the grand day arrives and in a flurry of activity and press, you cut the red ribbon and hey presto, your open for business.
People come to the shopping centre for a number of reasons and these reasons are important. Its convenient. All those shops under one roof. Easy Parking.
All the amenities required to stop, purchase and go straight home. Another reason is the good deals offered by the businesses within the centre as they compete for your attention and rightly so! One other somewhat overlooked part of your shopping centre is the sense of community it could create. I cannot count the number of people who simply “hangout” their, meet friends for coffee or group together out of mutual interest on shopping bonanzas and bargain hunting.
And your shopping centre thrives.
So how does all this relate to your website?
Websites creations starts with the need to have a site. You will need a good web designer to plan out the site and decide on the foundations, requirements and structure of the site while also considering the hosting (location), a good reliable service is essential and should also cover all the fundamentals and details such as email, security, uptime and bandwidth and all the other bits and bobs to account for.
Now you have a website. Great! (you see where I’m going with this?) But the site is pretty empty so you need to fill it to attract those visitors. Yep! All those units in the real shopping centre relate to the pages of information in your site. So you begin producing content, good quality content which will attract the right kind of visitors to your site.
This involves knowledge, research and effort as you gradually build the required content to fill up your site (naturally placing and promoting your best content in the prime locations on your site). In tandem with this you are promoting this material as and when it is produced and also promoting the content via press releases and incentives for visitors to come and enjoy the information you provide.
People will come to your site for a range of reasons and the reasons are not dissimilar to the shopping centre. the site should have the required services and amenities the visitor wants, maybe its a simple thing like a phone number, or email address or the more advanced features such as interactivity and forums, all under one roof, or at least, inside your website.
Again, like the shopping centre, they are also attracted by the offers and deals they can gain from using the services your site offers. Finally, if done correctly, you can create a sense of community to your site where opinions can be shared, advice given and interaction encouraged thus encouraging the growth of loyalty from your visitors.
And so your website requirements have been met and it thrives.
The reason I have to use similes and analogies such as this is the unfortunately poor understanding people have of their own website and the requirements it needs in order to succeed.
It requires time and effort, care and attention, investment and development in order to grow and maintain the online aspect of a business. Simply slapping 100 Euros down and sticking a site on the web will not result in success. Its a serious business and if done correctly can produce excellent dividends.
But dont expect much out if your not prepared to put effort in!