I had an interesting conversation recently about a local newspaper and why it should have a web site.
The argument was that the average reader age of this publication is possibly just a little less than 200 years old. No reader is going to stop using the paper and get online and look at the site instead.
Of course, I argued that the current readership doesn’t have to drop their newspaper and take up reading online. This is what prompted this post 🙂
The first thing I ask my clients is, “why do you want a web site?”. This is a question that either prompts a puzzled, perplexed or thoughtful look or a knee-jerk answer.
Sometimes I hear “because the boss said so” or “because PR said so” or even “because we don’t have one”.
I often either don’t get an answer or am told “everything!” when I ask “what do you want it to do?”.
Your site can be either of two things. It can be a source or a resource…. or something of both.
Your site is a source:
Readers come directly to your site for information, they type your address in their address bar and read what you have to say.
eg. I use IMDB a whole lot – I go to the IMDB.com site and search for movies, actors, etc. etc. for me, IMDB.com is a resource.
Definitively you’d call this Direct Traffic.
Your site is a resource:
If you were to fire up Google and search for ‘Tattoo Text’ or ‘Facebook badges’ TechBurgh would be one of the first sites in the search results.
I created TechBurgh.com as a resource. Mostly for me but you’re welcome to use it too. I needed somewhere to keep my information and handy links. It’s a resource and is accessed by internal or external searching. More than 65% of all traffic to TechBurgh is from search engines, proving my point (and that I know a little about SEO 🙂 )
This is called search engine referral traffic.
Wikipedia is a great example of how sites can be both sources and resources. If you use a search engine to look for pretty much anything, Wikipedia will have an entry in the top few search results.
There is a lot of direct traffic to Wikipedia too. Users type in the Wikipedia address and use the site as a reference.
Which do you need to be? Well, it’s a good idea to have in mind whether you want to be a source or a resource. It’s something of a objective.
In the case of the newspaper it has pretty much been decided already. Yes, the current readership isn’t going to solely access the site alone to get their news, however there are many, many people all over the World who will search for something online that will happen to have been written about in the newspaper and will show up in a search result or will be linked to from another site.
There would be such a mass of information from a business such as a newspaper that it would be such a shame not to post it online and make this resource available to the global population.
Try not to think just of your target audience whether it is online or offline. Think instead of the broader picture. Think or your potential audience.