WEB SITES

In a world gone internet crazy, it is almost blasphemous to speak ill of the web. If a company does not have a web page, it is both unusual and a sign to many people that it is behind the times. In an attempt to convince itself and its customers that it is modern and relevant, many green industry businesses develop web pages. If done well, the website can provide the viewer with a positive first impression of the business, explain its products and services, and offer examples of past accom­plishments, with accompanying endorsements from satisfied former

customers. Some websites will also provide a way for viewers to contact the company via e-mail if interested in obtaining information about services, products, or possible employment. If constructed properly, the website can create a positive impression of the company in a way that no yellow page directory can match. However, there are many websites that are of little use to the viewers, either because they are so abbreviat­ed in their content that they offer little more than some colorful photos or because they are cluttered with insignificant material such as pho­tos from the last employee picnic or lengthy listings of the credentials of employees whom the viewer neither knows nor cares about. Most internet visitors to a company website have arrived there with an inter­est in learning quickly and concisely what the company does, how to access those products or services, and may have questions about cost, scheduling, or other related concerns. The website needs to be easy to navigate and offer the information being sought, without undue and irrelevant clutter. It also needs to be kept current. Opening a webpage in October and finding a greeting like “Spring is almost here and we can’t wait to work with you!” is certain to convey a negative impression. Posting time schedules or price lists can also be dangerous if they are not kept current. Also having an e-mail “Contact Us” connection that encourages the viewer to send a message to the company is fine, unless no one at the company monitors the e-mail and fails to respond to the potential customer in a timely manner.

Websites should be developed by people who are trained and expe­rienced. Most green industry companies would be wise to outsource the project to a professional website designer. Once developed, it should be monitored frequently for accuracy and relevancy. Its organization should be logical for use, perhaps using multiple directories to help users avoid that which does not aid or interest them. It should also download quickly, which may necessitate simplifying some of the graphics.

If the website is to be truly communicative to present and poten­tial customers, then designing it correctly is only the beginning. Once developed, it must then be marketed and done so continuously if it is to attract new customers, communicate with current customers, and convey a positive impression of the company; otherwise, it is a pointless and unnecessary expense for the company.