I wrote an article back in May 2009 that offered my opinion that a website provides tremendous insight into how an organization is viewed by outsiders. The example I used was American Airlines and how the front end of their site has hardly evolved over the past six years. It looks as dated as any site I am aware of that belongs to a major corporation.
Check out the user experience differential between booking a flight on Southwest vs. American. The gap is stunning and I believe accurately mirrors the success that the two companies have experienced over this period of time as well.
Companies need to recognize that their websites are their brochures, their commercials, their trade shows, their outside sales forces, their competitive differentiators and for ecommerce sites, their cash registers. What does it say about a company today that is not devoting sufficient resources to making sure that its site is the most compelling that it can be?
A similar case can be made that a website shines a light on the capabilities and commitment of the company’s employees. I am not so much referring to the architecture or look and feel of the site, but rather to the focus on accuracy of content, the level of intelligent channeling of visitors to an end goal and also the freshness of the site from a content perspective.
Your team members need to be involved with the site on a continual basis. This includes quality checking and also developing content. Blogs and the major social media channels are growing in influence and are rapidly becoming a new kind of differentiator between companies. Team members who possess and are willing to employ proficient writing skills are more important than ever for contributions to your site.
It’s highly appropriate to take a gut check of your business in the ways I have described and add an additional filter moving forward when evaluating the performance of your employees.