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the 10-Step Process of Building a Successful Web Site
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and individuals are launching web pages and web sites at a dizzying
pace. There are now approximately three billion web pages on the World
Wide Web. With so much content available, competition to attract and
retain clients, visitors and surfers is fierce.
advice on how an individual or business can build a successful web site,
one need look no further than The Vanguard Group of Malvern, Chester
County's largest employer. Beyond being one of the nation's premier
mutual fund companies with $550 billion plus in assets managed, The
Vanguard Group is an acknowledged leader in Web site design. Its site, www.vanguard.com,
which cost upwards of $100 million to develop, has received accolades
from such publications as Forbes and Harvard Business Review and has won
a Webby award for site design.
Buckley, Principal, Web Services at the Vanguard Group says that
building a successful web site is a ten step process. "Many
companies fail in their web site design because they don't understand
the process. Essentially, they start at step four instead of step
one," he explains.
Vanguard ten-step web design process begins with:
State your clear business objective. At Vanguard, the traditional
objectives have been increasing client trust, client retention, and
reducing expenses incurred by clients. "The client rules," Tim
Define your target audience. Vanguard's web site targets two
groups: individual investors who invest for the long term and
institutions interested in Vanguard's funds and defined contribution
Survey potential users on needs. This step can be accomplished by
e-mail, mail, or phone. This is a difficult step because potential users
often cannot visualize a need for something new that they have not seen
or experienced in the past. "For example, we didn't know we needed
microwaves in our kitchens until they became available," Tim
comments. "We have found are target audience is interested in
convenience, candid communications, and online guidance."
Brainstorm capabilities that meet needs and objectives of potential
users. "From my experience, this is the step where most
companies begin," reaffirms Tim. "When brainstorming, we have
been tempted to include the weather, a mortgage calculator, and many
other 'nice-to-haves' on our web site. But, these services were
available on other web sites and did not fit the basic objective for our
Prioritize your objectives and capabilities. Focus on issues of
payback, feasibility, and expected demand as they relate to your
objective and target audience.
Knit your prioritized capabilities into a cohesive experience. Be
sure to include traditional channels if you have them. "By
integrating our web site with our traditional channels of doing business
with our clients, we have built a tremendous synergy. This approach
offers significant advantages over Internet only companies and companies
who do not integrate the web into their total business plan. Currently,
50% of our customer transactions are web-based, and this percentage
continues to increase. Log-ons per day are in the range of 75,000 to
100,000," adds Tim.
Test your web site with users and potential users. "Present
a prototype of your design to focus groups and incorporate their
feedback. Then repeat the process," urges Tim.
Build your site.
Measure success rates and capture feedback. Vanguard measures
success in several ways. For example, the number of clients viewing a
form and leaving the page before completing or downloading the form is
one measure. Vanguard also ensures its site meets its "performance
engineering" standards in terms of load time, graphics,
accessibility, and the like.
Refine your site. Since its launch in 1995, Vanguard has made
several substantial revisions to its web site. Most recently, the
Vanguard home page was redesigned to separate personal investors from
institutional investors thereby providing quicker access to services of
interest to each group.
The Greg Gore Web Site on Computers and the Internet (www.GregGore.com)
column was published in the Daily Local News, West Chester, PA on January
3,, 2001. Greg Gore can be
reached at gg@GregGore.com.
2009 by Greg Gore. All rights reserved.