Just because you built it… does not mean they will come.
The year was 1989. Barbara Bush is unpacking her pet rocks in the White House, the Soviets are pulling out of Afghanistan, and a hunky Iowa farmer played by Kevin Costner is hearing voices that tell him to build a baseball diamond in his corn field.
If you build it they will come, so he built it.
Of course, the real world isn’t quite so convenient.
Imagine for a moment that you lived on our own private island. It’s a lovely little island of your own design, temperate with sandy beaches, turquoise water with a bountiful sea and well stocked fruit trees. You truly could not wish for a more spectacular island. It’s paradise, and yet… there’s a problem. You think you have it all, but do you really?
Sometimes you crave a deep dish pizza, some replacement flip-flops, a new book to curl up with or the latest gadget and that means you need to earn an income. Looking around at your stunning island paradise it dawns on you; “I’ll host a resort… everyone will flock to my beautiful island paradise and in time i will have everything my heart desires,”.
You build your guest huts and your common spaces, you stock the bar, fuel the jet skis, and choreograph the nights entertainment. You are almost ready to book your first guest but once again… there’s a problem. You have built a resort in paradise, but you’re all alone. No staff have applied and no guests have booked in. No one even knows you’re there.
A website is a lot like an island. Free from the shackles of land-locked brick-and-mortar operations a website exists amongst a vast ocean of data. Users are the frazzled vacationers, looking for a safe, pleasant port to call home for a moment in time.
And there’s the rub.
How do you put yourself — your website — in front of the people who need it, and whom you need? How do you find and secure your users?
Like shipwreck survivors reaching out into the darkness to find a suitable haven through whatever means is at their disposal, your users are searching for you. You don’t have to be the biggest game in town, or the slickest, or have the deepest pockets. When you provide a product or service at a value that the market supports on a user-friendly, trustworthy, optimized and efficient website, you are half-way there.
Your next goal is to drive users to your website. Some users reach their goal exclusively through search engines, or know their particular circuit of websites by habit, while others navigate the web like a spider it’s own web, browsing from site to site between tablets, phones and laptops.
Knowing the habits of your ideal demographic is important to the success of your website. For example, if your users are older they are probably inclined to search for websites from the URL bar of a browser. Appealing to this audience means that you must know your search terms and invest in on-going Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to ensure a quality search ranking.
On the other hand, if you are selling a video game your audience is probably fairly savvy and so a multi-pronged approach of functional search engine optimization (fSEO) and the engagement of a specialized PR or marketing professional might pay the highest dividends.
Key demographics can be accessed over a number of means from product and service review websites to social media, pay-per-click marketing, morning drive radio spots and print advertising to word of mouth and direct sales.
Ultimately, the key to driving users to your website is one of knowledge and strategy. A good developer or marketing professional will help you understand the habits of your key demographics and formulate an approach to capturing their attention however it will be up to you to decide what you will invest in the effort.
You can build the most beautiful resort island on the seven seas but until the frazzled masses are let in on the secret: Ray Liota, Shoeless Joe Jackson and the rest of the 1919 Chicago Black Sox won’t be dropping by for Margarita Mondays.
Eh, you get the picture.
iDreamDigital is a fun but focused team of web design & development professionals based out of Victoria, on the gorgeous pacific coast of British Columbia, Canada. For more than ten years we have been providing a full range of web design and development services to our partners and patrons across North America.