A few more hints taken from our hands-on workshop on coupling your Web site planning to your business strategy.
The Web is an ideal medium for the "mass customization" of information, i.e. producing individualized responses at a per-unit cost equivalent to that of a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all "electronic brochure." You provide the raw ingredients (the "content") and your visitors customize their visit to their own particular needs or interests.
What are some of the ways you can mass customize your site?
Make sure you’ve got plenty of signposts
. Even fairly "flat" sites with just a couple of layers can be confusing to navigate. Incorporate links to "home" and to your major sections on every page. You’ll see what we mean if you visit our site: http://www.techmanage.com
(We’re not just bragging. People have told us they’ve found navigating our site to be very intuitive, that they never get lost.)
Install an internal search engine
. By typing in a key word or two, your visitors will be able to seek and easily find what they’re looking for in your Web site. The Institute of Management Consultant’s site is a great example of a specialized search system for a membership organization. IMC has an online directory of 2,800 management consultants, searchable in a number of different ways. Check it out at: http://www.imcusa.org/imc.html
Provide a bulletin board area for questions, comments and interactive discussion
. If you’re *really* creative, you might want to have a bunch of bulletin boards on different topics. (We’re hoping to do this sometime soon). For a really good example, look into: http://www.wilsoninet.com/hn/forum/