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Hi Bob-I am a federal contractor. I recently got into a debate about the value of our website. Personally, I think websites should be eye-grabbing, easy to navigate, and incorporate modern tools. However, the debate is whether there is an actual, real business case (is there an ROI, a break even pt., etc.). Are there intangible and tangible benefits? Do government customers and/or current and future employees care about the web site? I would argue that there are some things that don’t need to be proven – such as, do I really need to prove that bread requires yeast to rise??
Rocky, thanks for your comment/question.
More than half of B2B/B2G site visitors will come to a company’s web site after being in contact with someone at the company–at an event, tradeshow, etc.. You give someone your card, they go back to their office and visit the site. Therefore, the main purposes of these web sites are to (a) establish credibility and legitimacy (i.e. “we’re for real, we have real products and customers”) and (b) to clearly mark your turf (“this is what we do, this is how we do it”). Once they’re on your site, typically it isn’t “wow-factor” graphics and animation that keeps them there, but great content and possibly interactive features/tools (the classic is the ROI calculator).
So you’re right, the information on the site *always* needs to be easy to find, smooth, intuitive navigation, logical layout, etc.
The remaining visitors will find your site via the web–perhaps from a private or public database of govcons or the GSA schedule, etc. Same priorities for this audience: help them find what they’re looking for quickly and establish your credentials right off the bat.
Here’s the key in every situation: know your audience. Not the overall, general definition, but the profile of the different types of visitors (called “personas”) that includes their job title, level, function, agency type (i.e. defense vs. civilian) and, most importantly, their pain point that you can solve. You might have a persona for a mid-level agency influencer, another for a capture manager of a prime contractor, and another for investors/analysts. By knowing everyone who visits your site and what they’re looking for, you can design the site accordingly.
One more point: the cost of web design/dev has dropped so dramatically over the last 3 years that there is no longer a cost objection to developing a great site. In other words, when cost drops, the risk is lowered and positive ROI is easier to achieve.
Hope this is useful.
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