Admittedly, not every PR person is a web site design expert. And, of course, not every PR person is expected to deposit his or her two cents into the web site design process.
But for those PR folks who are involved, either directly or through casual consultation, with the web site design process, it helps to have a clue on what works and what doesn’t.
To help point out what differentiates a good web site from a great web site, here is some advice by an expert in web design: Loren W. Lloyd, CEO of Lloyd Computer Services in Oshawa, Ontario. (Yes, I am using a guest expert – hey, it’s the Easter holiday and I want to take some time off, too!) According to my pal Loren, there are six key principles that you need to keep in mind before tackling the HMTL:
Keep your web site on focus. Know exactly what your customer is seeking – go the extra mile to find out their needs.
Let your customer stay in control while visiting your site. Don’t invade the customer’s privacy by forcing them to give out personal information in order to gain to your public information.
Make sure your web site is not full of pop-up windows. This is extremely annoying to the customer.
Make sure your web site is not slow in loading. No one has time to wait for your web page to fully open (and there are still a lot of people who use dial-up from their home computers).
Make sure the fonts in your text are easy to read. Really, who wants a web site that causes the customer to reach for a bottle of eye drops?
Make sure your phone number, e-mail address and mailing address is on your web site. A company without a clearly identifiable address is not one you want to give money to.
I might add one more principle: if you don’t know anything about web design, learn it. In PR, as in life, you can never possess too many skills. And in today’s highly competitive PR environment, having web design skills in your tool kit can help you in any digital communications endeavor that may come around in the near future.
(Phil Hall is the former president of Open City Communications, a New York PR agency, and former editor of PR News. His latest book "The New PR" will be released later this year from Larstan Publishing.)
the only thing I would add to Phil's excellent comments is, if you don't know enough about web design (meaning navigation and back end, not the graphical look and feel) to feel confident doing it yourself, then learn enough about the art to know how to HIRE someone good, and enough to ask the right questions. That's the one thing that made a huge difference for me with my own, and client's sites. I do what I know best, and knowing how to hire the people who do what they do best is the best way I can serve my clients.