Secrets of Successful Websites Part 1
It’s a jungle out there! Why, out of the large variety of plants, each with relatively equal access to sunlight, water, air and favorable climatic conditions, do some individual plants thrive and grow, while others are choked and crowded out? Why is it that some Internet sites thrive and do well for their owners, while others wither and die, or simply just limp along?
The answer to both questions is the same: survival of the fittest!
The Internet, is a representative microcosm of the global world economy, where many varieties of enterprises compete simultaneously on many different levels for dominance. In the Internet jungle, virtually everyone has equal access to the resources needed to become successful in the medium.
So what factors, or identifying features make some websites ‘fitter’ or more successful than others? Are some product or service lines more amenable to Internet marketing than others? Has the fad already come and gone?
The Internet market is less than ten years old, as of this writing. During that period the market has seen some spectacular successes and failures. But aside from those headlines, there are millions of others who have had varying degrees of success at presenting their products to the world through the virtual mall. Consider the fortunes of AOL, MP3, Amazon, and Encyclopedia Brittanica. In each case, the changing fortunes of the company in question was directly effected by the Internet, and also had a huge effect ON the development of the Internet.
Similarly, the aggregate effect of the hundreds of dotcoms that have come and gone from the radar screen over the past ten years are but a shadow of what’s to come. I say this not at all to forecast doom and gloom, but to underscore the vitality, and validity of the Internet. The world has changed forever, and we’re not about to go back to Sears catalogs.
The Internet has all the characteristics of a free market: equal low-cost access, free exchange of ALL kinds of information, goods services, financial transactions – a wealth of knowledge and treasure at our fingertips. It acts like a market, too—ever changing in every conceivable way financially, technologically, intellectually. And each change weeds out some weak sector, and encourages some other faction in a seemingly random fashion. We shall see that this action is not random, but another manifestation of Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’.
So this is the first key point of this article (or series of articles): the Internet is in a constant state of change. The implications of this are very important:
A few observations:
- New browsers are more sophisticated but the need to continue to support old browsers continues to be a significant factor. Just ask Microsoft and Netscape the significance of this issue.
- The Internet is having a profound effect on marketing. Consider junk email, the availability of marketing information down to amazing details in databases, and the ability to target those prospects almost immediately, and without huge up-front costs.
- New sophisticated databases, graphics software, communications technology, sound, video, e-learning all present new tools for presenting products and services, but just as important add new opportunities themselves to the global Internet economy.
- The ability to make secure transactions is sure to accelerate the trend toward a cashless economy, and also toward a society where privacy will be a nostalgic memory.
- New access to information on the Internet itself is available to pinpoint the most likely prospects for you.
It is clear that over the next 10 years, businesses will either have a presence on the Internet, or they will be marginalized.
It is also very clear that owing to the fact that the Internet itself is in a constant state of change, so therefore, must be a successful Internet strategy. Gone are the days when one could just make an attractive document available on a server and expect the world to beat a path to their door. The competition in the Internet is growing daily, so that the market has grown into a huge commodity pit with voices shouting from all sides.
How does one have a reasonable expectation of success in this free-for-all? Well, the three main ingredients for success in any market, and especially the market of the Internet are:
Strategy. – you need a very clear set of attainable objectives, and a definitive way of measuring your success in achieving those objectives. What is your niche? How will you tell it to the world, or, more precisely, target those who may be interested in transacting with you? How many units will you need to sell, and at what cost over what period of time.
Planning. –Success in the Internet is about executing scores of tiny little details exactly right, and in a critical path. How will you implement the strategies above to attain your objectives? What consulting, software, measurement tools, market analysis will you need to be successful? Do you have all the expertise and tools you need to do the job, or are your bringing a knife to a gunfight?
Adaptability. –This is the most important of all. All business is about making decisions in the face of uncertainty. Since the hallmark of the Internet is change, anyone who is a serious player in the Internet economy cannot just put up a site and forget it. They’re missing the entire point of the medium.
Successful web sites are a constant feedback loop:
1. Analyze market conditions and opportunities.
2. Position your site to capitalize on those perceived conditions and opportunities.
3. Determine whether your positioning and analysis are on-target.
4. Adjust positioning, techniques and/or analysis as necessary.
5. Go Back to #1.
There are several strong points of browser technology. Rapid response time to mould your message to the market may be at the top of the list. Also, a near frictionless system of distribution: no postage, physical packaging. A rich variety of media to extend your message – sight, sound, movies, copy all meld seamlessly into the browser.
I could go on for quite a while on this tangent, but I don’t want to obscure the central message of this article (which I have saved until the end).
The fittest survive by adapting.
Website Secrets 2
Website Secrets 3