Place Branding Web Success Series: Key to Stimulating Action by your Target Audiences – Visual Value
Web sites are many things to many different users, but a few things are clear – a Web site is not the primary place to promote your brand or broadcast your mission statement.
Not that those things don’t have a place on your Web site, but those should not be – and can not be – the primary focus of a successful site, especially if the site is designed to stimulate interest in a location or begin the process of building a relationship with capital investment decision makers.
So, let’s talk about what should be on your site, and how the site can support your economic development and place branding efforts.
The top priority for any Web site is to provide the straightest line between the information available and what the visitor is looking for. If you are promoting a location such as a city, county or state, and the visitor to your site wants information on the demographic makeup of that area, then your home page must allow that visitor to find that particular information in the fewest number of clicks possible.
Clicking through a tourism video – or worse, wading through hundreds of hyperlinks – only slows down the visitor. In fact, that is what happens on many economic development sites.
The most important page on any Web site is the home page. Space on the home page is, obviously, the most valuable. It is your best, and only, chance to capture a user’s attention, and keep it long enough to allow the user to find the information he or she is looking for.
With that in mind, how many users come to a site looking for an organization’s or place’s brand or mission statement? Few, if any. So that’s why those types of messages are given support roles. They can be found on the site, but they are not given primary roles.
So what should be promoted on that prime real estate that is your home page? It’s something we call “Visual Value” – and if not used properly, it will make or break the success of a site.
“Visual Value” is a process of bringing to the front of a Web the elements that you feel are the most important.
Decades before we had Web sites, we had department stores, such as Macy’s and Lazarus. And to get shoppers into the store, they promoted their goods in store windows. Not all of their goods, of course, but just enough to entice a passer-by to come into the store and browse all of the offerings
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