In a former life, I was a pretty serious soccer player. In athletics, one of the first impressions in sizing up a team is their appearance. Do they have nice uniforms? Are they geared up in top quality brand name equipment? Do they look like they can play? If they look the part, but can't play a lick, they are often times categorized as the "all-airport" team. According to ESPN's Dick Vitale, the all airport team is a term used for players who look good in airports, but get no playing time, Baby!
The problem with the all airport team members is that they look nice, but they have nothing to show for it and are truly ineffective on the playing field. In another words, there is no substance behind the "beauty".
How does this relate to your website or Inbound Marketing efforts? Don't let your website become a member of the All Airport team. Far too many websites fall victim to the obsession over the aesthetic look and feel of their site and forget about far more important ingredients to the success of your web presence like content, inbound links, keyword rankings and conversion tools. The implementation of these tools make your website more effective.
At BlinkJar Media, we see far too many companies dumping countless resources into the design of the site when that truly is only a small portion of what users pay attention to when visiting a site. In fact, only 10% of users feel the appearance is the most important factor in the design of the site. So, in the web world, users could care less if you are on the "all-airport" team. They would rather you be able to make a difference on the field. More imortantly, users would rather find what they are looking for on your site and do something with that information.
When a potential consumer lands on your homepage, fundamentals need to be the first thing that is addressed, not design. My background is in television advertising for local broadcast stations. In my opinion, the broadcast stations are extremely guilty of the "Tokyo At Night" Syndrome for their website design and functionality. When visiting the site of the average local broadcast television station, the design and implementation of the homepage creates paralysis on the part of the user. It literally is impossible to find what you are looking for when visiting their homepage. The homepage should be about simplicity.
The classic example of simplicity in its finest form is the homepage for Google. Can there be any simplier look than the Google Homepage? A recent study showed that 76% of users want a website that makes it easy to find what they are looking for*.
Your homepage is the face of your services or products. You only get one chance to impress that visitor, so make sure you carefully place the essentials you want them to know on your homepage. It should also act as a launching platform to places where they can contact you in the future (i.e. blog, social media, etc.)
Bottom line is that in, the athletic world analogies, you would rather be the Boston Celtics of the 1980's in basketball, as opposed to the 2011 Miami Heat team. With the Celtics, your star player is Larry Bird. Larry looks funny, uncoordinated, and unathletic. Put him on the basketball court, and your opinion changes in the blink of an eye. With the 2011 Heat, you have a team that was more concerned with looks and image than winning. Translation in the web world: build a site that produces results, not nice looks.
In conclusion, what we find at BlinkJar Media is that most companies do not need a new website or new design. What companies really need are better tools on their existing website. Redesign projects can be laborious, so most companies are better suited at trying to get more out of what they already have. Inbound marketing tactics such as SEO, blogging, and social media are easy to include in your existing site, and are twice as effective as traditional web redesign elements. You should strive to make small, but constant and continuous improvements to each element of your current website so your website becomes a powerful traffic-generating machine.
We want to know what you think. Is your site like "Tokyo At Night"?