Web marketing frog

Monday, November 28, 2005

Dismantling e-business myths (Part III)

The top ten most common e-business myths continued…

In Parts I and II, we presented the following myths:
E-business is having difficulty recuperating from the dot-com slump
B2C companies corner the majority of online sales
E-business = online sales
Informational sites generate no business spin-offs
It is dangerous to use your credit card online

Myth No. 6: The web is an image-based medium

At the end of the 90's and beginning of the 21 st century, the demand for Internet sites exploded. Many communications companies, design firms and programmers of various backgrounds seized the opportunity and began offering their services to fulfil this sudden demand. A great many of these new service providers acted professionally and offered adequate production services; their offers evolved continually as they adapted to and learned from the new state of affairs.

Unfortunately, many other image specialists proceeded to simply copy highly graphic concepts originally destined for print and audio-visual mediums and transferred them online for their clients. They viewed the web as the virtual extension of the concepts they had previously developed for other media. They used animation technologies (such as Macromedia Flash) anywhere and everywhere and illustrated these sites abundantly with highly studied concepts that relied on images that could be retouched as needed. However, these concepts, images and many of these technologies were poorly adapted and even detrimental to online visibility and to the reality of this new medium. Although web site design elements are very useful for improving Internet users' perception of a company's professionalism, the web is above all else a content-based medium. In fact, search engines have great difficulty (or are completely incapable of) recognizing image files, yet most sites depend considerably on search engines to attract new visitors. Furthermore, image files are often quite large and therefore take an extremely long time to download for people who do not have a high-speed connection. That said, I must add that it is not impossible to reference a Flash site. Nevertheless, the majority of the content of such sites will remain invisible to the search engines and direct links (towards a specific page) are simply impossible to implement. Lastly, sites that are “over-designed" can be difficult to navigate for many Internet users since they must constantly learn to navigate new interfaces rather than becoming accustomed to interfaces that conform to well-established standards.

To conclude, the aesthetic qualities and design of a site are of utmost important when it comes to developing a strong identity (branding) and can contribute to building Internet users' trust in a company. However, don't forget that a large proportion of Internet users are actually searching for words, texts, information and descriptions. Images should therefore act as textual supports rather than the other way around.

This article was originally written in French and have been translated by Wendy Wolbert

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