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...
Trays move on an overhead conveyor to the end of the production line, where workers carefully pack the cleaned, sized, graded, counted and sorted Calla tubers

November 29, 2016

Texas Judge Halts Overtime Rule; Here’s What It Means For Greenhouse Growers

According to Craig Regelbrugge at AmericanHort, the injunction against the overtime rule is welcome news for horticulture.

Read More
griffin-andrea-nelson-and-bill-watson

November 22, 2016

Griffin Adds Two Industry Veterans To Its Sales Team

Bill Watson and Andrea Nelson, the newest members of Griffin, answer questions about the state of the horticulture industry, and their role in moving it forward.

Read More

November 21, 2016

How Building New Markets Can Reduce Dependency On Your Current Business [Opinion]

Greenhouse Grower Editor Laura Drotleff says a smart and sustainable business goes beyond boundaries to create more demand outside of traditional channels.

Read More
Latest Stories
Trays move on an overhead conveyor to the end of the production line, where workers carefully pack the cleaned, sized, graded, counted and sorted Calla tubers

November 29, 2016

Texas Judge Halts Overtime Rule; Here’s What It Means F…

According to Craig Regelbrugge at AmericanHort, the injunction against the overtime rule is welcome news for horticulture.

Read More
griffin-andrea-nelson-and-bill-watson

November 22, 2016

Griffin Adds Two Industry Veterans To Its Sales Team

Bill Watson and Andrea Nelson, the newest members of Griffin, answer questions about the state of the horticulture industry, and their role in moving it forward.

Read More

November 21, 2016

How Building New Markets Can Reduce Dependency On Your …

Greenhouse Grower Editor Laura Drotleff says a smart and sustainable business goes beyond boundaries to create more demand outside of traditional channels.

Read More
griffin-expo

November 11, 2016

Griffin Announces Dates For Its 2017 Grower & Retai…

The events will take place Aug. 23-24 in Massachusetts, and Sept. 27-28 in Pennsylvania.

Read More

November 8, 2016

AmericanHort Hosting Lean Flow-Focused Webinar On Novem…

The webinar is the first in a series that will cover how Lean Flow affects your marketing, your customers, and your product offerings.

Read More
oregon-lean-flow

November 8, 2016

Oregon Nursery Lean Consortium Welcomes New Grower Memb…

The Oregon Nursery Lean Consortium, which helps the horticulture industry learn and apply Lean principles, is inviting greenhouse and nursery growers — and their suppliers — to join its 2017 program.

Read More
Great Lakes Expo

November 7, 2016

Greenhouse Growers Expo Will Focus On Improving Plant Q…

Sessions at the Greenhouse Growers Expo, which takes place in Grand Rapids, MI, in December, will focus on maintaining and increasing plant quality through successful rooting of cuttings, disease and pest management, and plant disorder diagnostics.

Read More
hoffman-nursery-owners

November 7, 2016

Hoffman Nursery Embarks On New Opportunities In Green I…

Thirty years ago, John and Jill Hoffman set off on an epic adventure to grow ornamental grasses. Today, Hoffman Nursery continues to evolve, and through its leadership, the operation is helping to secure a position for horticulture on one of the next great frontiers — green infrastructure.

Read More
urban-crops-pieter-de-smedt-and-maarten-vandecruys

November 3, 2016

Belgium-Based Vertical Farming Specialist Urban Crops O…

The opening of the new office in Miami, FL, is part of a continued expansion plan for the company, which creates tailored growth structures that are turnkey, automated, robotized, and able to be integrated into existing production facilities.

Read More
giving-tuesday

November 3, 2016

American Floral Endowment Once Again Joins Giving Tuesd…

On Tuesday, Nov. 29, floral industry supporters are encouraged to make a tax-deductible, year-end donation to AFE to help it continue providing benefits for all segments of the industry.

Read More
americanhort-plug-and-cutting-conference-2016

November 1, 2016

AmericanHort’s Plug And Cutting Conference Tackles Bioc…

The event included a grower tour, biocontrols workshop, and educational sessions focused on water management, labor, pest and disease control, and smart production strategies for great plug quality.

Read More
2015 GROW Summit_discussion shot

October 28, 2016

How We Can Inspire Millennials To Get Involved In Horti…

By uniting our efforts, we can attract new generations of growers and consumers to the horticulture industry, starting when they are young.

Read More
americann-cannabis-facility-in-massachusetts

October 27, 2016

Large Cannabis Greenhouse On The Horizon In Massachuset…

A Colorado company is preparing to build the largest marijuana greenhouse in Massachusetts, a sprawling, high-tech complex that could eventually expand to nearly 1 million square feet, depending on whether voters in the state approve the sale of marijuana for recreational use in November.

Read More
The tradeshow at the Cannabis Business Summit & Expo — outside of the occasional 1960s vibe, perhaps — would feel familiar to most growers

October 26, 2016

Las Vegas Will Host Two Premier Cannabis Events In Nove…

The Marijuana Business Conference And Expo and the World Of Cannabis Summit each take place in mid-November.

Read More
Cannabis Close Up

October 26, 2016

Cannabis Growers Try To Become More Sustainable

As cannabis production continues to increase in some areas, one question seems to be coming up more and more: What is the most sustainable way to grow cannabis?

Read More
american-floral-endowment-horticulture-careers-video

October 26, 2016

New American Floral Endowment Video Creates Awareness A…

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) has created a video to promote careers in floriculture and horticulture and to inform students about AFE scholarship and internship programs.

Read More
greenhouseconnect-2016-welcome-reception

October 25, 2016

Growers And Suppliers Discuss Long-Term Strategic Needs…

Greenhouse Grower’s annual event, held in Park City, UT, earlier this month, brought 19 growers together with 25 suppliers for two days of one-on-one discussions geared toward solving problems and generating new ideas.

Read More
young-professionals

October 25, 2016

AFE Develops Employer Resource Guide For Floral Interns…

The guide was created to help greenhouse and floral companies build a successful internship program, with easy-to-use guidelines and steps to create meaningful learning experiences for the next generation of business leaders.

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