Take Ownership Of Your Online Presence

Suzanne McKee
Suzanne McKee

You wouldn’t put the trash out front and a padlock on the front door of your physical location. Yet, your website is cluttered and the navigation difficult to, well, navigate. If you’re not putting the same effort into your online presence as your physical presence, you need to start.

In fact, it’s so important there is an entire area in the technology and design communities focused solely on it. It’s called UX (User Experience) and if you haven’t heard of it or think it doesn’t apply to your business, it’s time to reconsider and take control of what your online presence is saying about you.

Even if you’re strictly B2B and you are not trying to attract the consumer market, an effective website is critical. Remember, the decision makers at businesses are people, and people research online before they make purchasing decisions. According to a recent study by GE Capital Retail Bank, 81 percent of consumers go online to research before heading to the store. I feel strongly that this same behavior applies to business decision makers, as well.

Your online presence gives you credibility, helps you build trust and informs customers about your business. For the purposes of this article, I have focused on the website element of your online presence but keep in mind that these principles apply to any digital projects that you are embarking on (web applications, mobile apps or other emerging devices and platforms).

How Your Site Works And Looks, And The Impression It Leaves Is Crucial
Attention to UX design tells your customer that you care about every interaction you have with them and that you want them to have positive experiences at every turn — even if they’re just looking for your business hours. It means knowing why people visit your site and designing it with that in mind. (See “9 Steps For Developing A Website That Represents Your Business.”)

Are you a retail outlet, as well as a wholesale operation? Make sure it’s obvious what information is for which type of customer.

Do you specialize in providing cultural information and have endless articles and other content? Categorize and present your information clearly, then add a powerful search feature that makes it seamless to find what visitors are interested in.

Does your site include eCommerce? It’s critical that from the moment users enter your site to the moment they check out, every step is easy and makes sense. Otherwise, they’ll leave and you’ll miss out on a sale.

UX design is much more than graphic design alone. It is the underlying understanding that every aspect of the site should be driven by user needs and expectations. It is not simply selecting a color palette and making sure your logo looks correct. Graphic design encompasses much more than this and is an integral component that is vitally important to get right. But no design can fix a structure that is inherently confusing and hard to navigate.

Usability Testing (And Why It’s Important)
Testing your concepts and verifying that you are headed in the right direction before you build out your entire site is crucial at every step along the way. It’s easy to rely on your assumptions, but you need to step outside of your comfort zone and what you think you know about what your customers are looking for. Find out what your customers really care about.

To help you with that, there are a few ways to test your direction. Some full-service agencies will be able to test your site through rigorous user testing in a controlled setting or with a slightly more relaxed method through remote testing of the site. A more realistic method is to enlist friends, family, colleagues and a select group of customers who are willing to be testers for you to review your plan, look at your designs and explore your site. Then ask them to be completely honest with you and (most importantly) be open to their thoughts and potential criticisms and allow yourself to change some things if necessary.

Don’t Let Your Budget Dictate Your Decisions
The quintessential question — this sounds great, but what is it going to cost? The answer, of course, is not black and white. A web project can span from a couple thousand dollars to much (much) more.

Not all companies can afford to hire a full-service web development team with experts in every field and many companies do not employ web developers and designers in-house. Yet, it’s important to have the right talent involved for a successful project. Contract and freelance workers are great options to fill this void and still fit within a reasonable budget.

Also, look within your organization and make sure you are utilizing the talent you do have in-house. Go to your growing experts and ask them to help with culture content, talk to sales to help get the customer perspective. A web project does not have to be handled completely by the marketing department. Every area of your business has something valuable to contribute.

User Experience Is Customer Service
This may all seem a bit overwhelming but when you break down the steps and remember that you are already focused on UX in every other aspect of your business, it becomes much more manageable. In other words, you are already dedicated to a positive customer experience in your daily interactions and how you present your physical operations. Now you just need to make sure that your online experience encompasses this same commitment.

Technology Speak
User experience (UX) involves a person’s behaviors, attitudes and emotions about using a particular product, system or service. User experience includes the practical, experiential, affective, meaningful and valuable aspects of human-computer interaction and product ownership. Source: Wikipedia

Get Answers With Google Analytics
A great tool that can help you understand your actual web visitors is Google Analytics. It is a free tool that will tell you where people are coming to your site from. It can give insight to the purpose of their visit by showing you what pages and information they are interested in and at which point they leave the site. It can be very telling if a large percentage of your visitors leave the site from the same page or section.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

4 comments on “Take Ownership Of Your Online Presence

  1. Thanks for the article.
    Another essential thing is checking all links work… 😉
    It’s frustrating for users, and could lose you potential business, or at least a lead.

More From Business Management...
North Creek Nurseries lower trials

June 24, 2016

North Creek Nurseries Is A Finalist For 2016 Operation Of The Year

North Creek Nurseries in Landenberg, PA, is one of three finalists for Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Operation Of The Year award and winner of the Excellence In Sustainable Production award for 2016.

Read More
Vic Frey, Kurt Weiss Greenhouses Feature

June 23, 2016

Vic Frey Named A Finalist For 2016 Head Grower Of The Year

Vic Frey, a finalist for the 2016 Head Grower of the Year and recipient of the 2016 Excellence In Production award, was always willing to trial and experiment with the latest technology. He loved the constant change in this industry, and turned every opportunity into a teaching moment.

Read More
Albert Grimm, Jefferys Greenhouses

June 19, 2016

Albert Grimm Named A Finalist For 2016 Head Grower Of The Year

Grimm, winner of Greenhouse Grower's Excellence in Outreach and Leadership award, is always willing to listen, continuously learn, and improve. He is a role model and empowers his employees to strive for excellence.

Read More
Latest Stories
North Creek Nurseries lower trials

June 24, 2016

North Creek Nurseries Is A Finalist For 2016 Operation …

North Creek Nurseries in Landenberg, PA, is one of three finalists for Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Operation Of The Year award and winner of the Excellence In Sustainable Production award for 2016.

Read More
Vic Frey, Kurt Weiss Greenhouses Feature

June 23, 2016

Vic Frey Named A Finalist For 2016 Head Grower Of The Y…

Vic Frey, a finalist for the 2016 Head Grower of the Year and recipient of the 2016 Excellence In Production award, was always willing to trial and experiment with the latest technology. He loved the constant change in this industry, and turned every opportunity into a teaching moment.

Read More
Albert Grimm, Jefferys Greenhouses

June 19, 2016

Albert Grimm Named A Finalist For 2016 Head Grower Of T…

Grimm, winner of Greenhouse Grower's Excellence in Outreach and Leadership award, is always willing to listen, continuously learn, and improve. He is a role model and empowers his employees to strive for excellence.

Read More
Practical Software Grower Vertical

June 18, 2016

Practical Software Solutions Increases Accessibility, E…

Practical Software will demonstrate Grower Vertical, its customizable and scalable enterprise management system for the horticulture industry, at Cultivate’16 in July.

Read More
Ornamental kale field at Sunlet Nursery

June 17, 2016

Sunlet Nursery Named As Finalist For 2016 Operation Of …

Sunlet Nursery in Fallbrook, CA, is one of three finalists for Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Operation Of The Year award and winner of the Excellence In Community Leadership award for 2016.

Read More
The-Capitol

June 14, 2016

Fate Of H-2B Program A Hot Topic On Capitol Hill This W…

Following a Senate hearing on the economic impact of the H-2B Program, the House Appropriations Committee was scheduled to take up its own version of a funding bill this week.

Read More
Battlefield Farms Company shot

June 14, 2016

Battlefield Farms Is A Finalist For 2016 Operation Of T…

Battlefield Farms in Rapidan, VA, is one of three finalists for Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Operation Of The Year award and winner of the Excellence In Innovation award for 2016.

Read More
Mike Goyette, Pleasant View Gardens

June 14, 2016

Mike Goyette Named A Finalist For 2016 Head Grower Of T…

Goyette, winner of Greenhouse Grower's Excellence In Quality Award, is never satisfied with the status quo and is constantly looking for improvements in procedures, plant quality, employee organization, and the bottom line.

Read More
North American greenhouse 1

June 8, 2016

University Of Arkansas Offering Online Greenhouse Manag…

The course, which can be taken 24 hours a day, will cover basic greenhouse designs and construction materials, benching systems, glazing materials, lighting, heating systems, and much more.

Read More

June 7, 2016

Ball Seed Offers Full Mobile Ordering Capabilities With…

The latest update for Ball Seed’s WebTrack To Go mobile app now includes full ordering capabilities for the industry’s largest assortment of seeds and plants. App users can also complete order fulfillment via seed count or package size, find product substitutions, get personalized “contact us” information, request plant tags, and more. “Upgrading WebTrack To Go to the full suite of ordering and management tools is where we’ve always wanted to be,” says Mark Morris, Director of IT for Ball Seed. “With this new roll-out, we’re keeping up with our customers on-the-go and providing them the information and access they need –- even while away from their desks.” The Ball Seed WebTrack To Go app lets customers: Check order status and shipment tracking 24-7 Access up-to-the-minute product inventory from hundreds of suppliers Place orders by seed count, packet size, and more Find product info, culture and photos when and where they […]

Read More

June 7, 2016

Meet Ken Fisher, AmericanHort’s New President And…

The AmericanHort Board of Directors has named Ken Fisher as the organization’s next President and Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. Fisher has 20 years of experience leading public and privately-held companies, including iconic consumer brands with The Coleman Company and Elmer’s Products Inc. Fisher’s diverse business experience will further the vision and strategy of AmericanHort, while bringing proven organizational management to achieve the desired results, the AmericanHort Board says. “We know the industry values our advocacy work and educational programs, especially Cultivate. Ken’s expertise will assist us in enhancing existing offerings, while adding new value that will broaden our membership,” says Dale Deppe, AmericanHort Board Chairman. “The pace of change in our industry is rapid, and he has experience successfully leading organizations through both business and regulatory cycles. Ken’s business growth track record is exactly what AmericanHort needs as we enter our next chapter, which I am confident will be […]

Read More
Sakata Birthday Cake Feature

May 28, 2016

10 Creative Marketing Ideas From 2016 California Spring…

Grower-retailers often look to breeders for ideas on how to increase plant sales with smart marketing plans. The California Spring Trials were filled with great concepts to reach customers.

Read More
Costa Farms won International Grower of the Year. Representing the operation, (left to right) were Chuck Zala, Michael Vera, Menachem Ganon, Jose Costa, and Mike Rimland

May 24, 2016

AIPH Seeking Entries For Its International Grower of th…

The International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) is inviting ornamental growers from all around the world to enter the AIPH International Grower of the Year Awards (IGOTY) for 2017. Last year’s big winner was Florida-based Costa Farms.

Read More
Gotham Greens Atrium Style Greenhouse Chicago

May 23, 2016

What’s Good For The Environment Is Good For Business [O…

Investing in technology to become more sustainable “always goes hand in hand,” says Abe VanWingerden, co-CEO of Metrolina Greenhouses. “If it is good for the environment, it normally is good for business over the long term.” That connection was abundantly clear in the responses we received to this year’s Top 100 Growers Survey. VanWingerden points to three investments Metrolina has made as good examples of how technology can reduce an operation’s carbon footprint and pay dividends financially. Its biomass system burns locally sourced waste wood — a renewable resource; its ozone water treatment system cleans irrigation water, reducing the need for fertilizers and pesticides, and improving plant quality and precision growing; and electrostatic sprayers reduce water and chemical use, and provide more targeted chemical applications. Other Top 100 Growers have found VanWingerden’s theory to be true, as well. Costa Farms’ investment in solar energy panels on three buildings at its […]

Read More
Top 100 Drone Image Feature

May 16, 2016

Greenhouse Grower’s Top 100 Growers Talk Technolo…

The Top 100 Growers are already by nature some of the most technologically advanced greenhouse operations, due to their sheer size and need for efficiency. Many of the largest growers also serve big box merchandisers and home improvement chains, where prices are dictated, so producing plants at the lowest possible cost is essential to growers not only staying in business, but also profiting and expanding their operations. This year’s survey focused on the automation and technology the Top 100 Growers are investing in, and how these advancements have improved their operations, as well as how they have affected growers’ labor issues. We also asked growers about how they’re solving labor issues, where they’re recruiting new hires, and how they’re keeping their people committed. Lean management programs and sustainability certifications have become higher priorities in the past several years, due to growers’ needs to run efficiently and focus attention on sustainable […]

Read More
PrairieSplendor_CompactRose Syngenta Flowers March 2016

May 16, 2016

New “Generations Of Flowers” Study Tracks How And Why C…

The Society of American Florists and the American Floral Endowment have released an update and analysis of this study, which first began in 2009.

Read More

May 12, 2016

AmericanHort Is Hosting A Greenhouse Tour In New Jersey…

The Field and Covered Production Tour takes place Sept. 14-15, and features stops at Overdevest Nurseries, Centerton Nursery, and Lucas Greenhouses.

Read More
2016 Top 100 Growers With Drone

May 10, 2016

Reading The 2016 Greenhouse Grower Top 100 Ranki…

Greenhouse Grower’s Top 100 Growers survey reveals continued growth among the nation’s largest operations.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]