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BMA panelists offer advice on improving Web sites

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Chicago—Panelists at the “Building Better B-to-B Web Presences” session at the BMA conference Thursday offered various advice on how to take advantage of the Web.

Tom Insprucker, worldwide director of Web programs-office of the CMO at Schneider Electric/Square D, focused on “usability testing” for a company Web site. He said that problems with Web navigation should be ferretted out in the design phase.

“The back button is a huge indicator of bad design,” he said, adding that fixing problems in the development phase costs 10 times more than in the design phase, and addressing problems after the release of the site costs 100 times more than in the design phase.

Insprucker said he tries to get top management buy-in to the Web site by having executives participate in the usability testing.

BtoB Editor Ellis Booker, who moderated the panel, emphasized Insprucker’s point by citing the example of Siemens, which was proud of the amount of time people were spending on its Web site until they determined that visitors might simply be lost. In addition to testing, Insprucker stressed, “Users don’t read. They scan.” Words are not as important as visuals, he said.

Another panelist, Denise Waggoner, VP-creative research at Getty Images, also emphasized the power of visuals. Images, from photographs to typefaces to videos, can bring a company’s “values to life,” she said.

Like Insprucker, panelist Lisa Welchamn, founder of WelchmanPierpoint, discussed the value of having top management buy into Web site design and direction. She also counseled removing the “R.O.T.” from the site—anything “redundant, outdated or trivial.”

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