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The Web design is the branch of graphic design dealing with planning, creation and maintenance of Internet pages. As any other design, the Web design requires the customer's active participation on the work process, since it is made converting ideas into graphic objects, the customer's ideas into site graphic components. We think that best way to understand this activity is to describe its work object, the Web site. In order to do that, we have chosen the three main features and the three essential functions of that element. We will begin with the features and, then, we will pass on to the functions.

Interactivity:

it is the distinguishing feature of a Web site. Any design conveys a message from the company, addressed to the public. The message recipient plays a passive role since he just gets the information given or not. On the contrary, a site allows the recipient to tell the company what reaction the message causes in him. Through the contact section, the user can reply to the company or send it any concern, suggestion, etc. The company, in turn, will be able to reply to the potential customer's concern. Thus, the dialogue and direct communication are established. This mutual exchange has two advantages: The first one is that a closeness feeling earns trust on the public, and they will prefer the company, placing it before its competitors. The second ones comes from gathering the information obtained through the public's messages. A marketing expert will make that information become a springboard for the marketing campaign carried out by your company.

But there is more to it: the above mentioned interactivity is called user-company interactivity; the one we will talk about below is called user-site interactivity. In this case, the user is directly related to the design object. Different from a flyer that is unchanging, the Web site allows the visitor to get to know only what he is interested in. Thus, the customer only gets the information he wants and he is willing to get it.

Presence on the market: Internet is the first medium used when searching for companies. That is to say, good placing and presentation on this medium will increase your company's fame and prestige. Any target group is directly affected by the things happening on the Internet and if you get a good site design and a good place on search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and MSN, it will not be long till you get new customers. In short, whatever happens on the internet directly affects the market and consumers' behavior.

Virtual office:

given the arrival of globalization, companies have definitively and absolutely separated from communities. As time went by, people stopped being familiar with the companies in their area and their buildings. In this way, a process of company abstraction began, making it less and less tangible. Previously, the corporate building was the reference point to get related with a company, but nowadays nobody knows where each company works. The Web site is intended to solve this problem. A corporate Internet page is the new place where the public goes to get related with the company, to get to know it, to buy from it, etc. In other words, it is the material item people grab to think about the company (an abstract company only exists if it is thought about).

This change in reference is very beneficial for small and middle-size businessmen, since it is impossible for them to compete with a big competitor corporation building; however, they can compete with their Web site. In fact, they can even get a much better site giving them fame and prestige they had never even dreamed of.

The three features of a Web site could answer the question "What is it?". Let's see now the three functions of a site, the ones answering the question "what is it for?".

Advertising:

Internet advertising is different from standard advertising. In the latter, the attention is put on the advertisement and not on the advertised (the product), and this happens in two different ways: through advertisements exaggerating the product features and advertisements moving through their plot. The first ones show a product working wonderfully, doing things that everybody knows are not possible to do. However, the purpose is not that the public believes those things, but extraordinarily show the product. This type of advertisement is very commonly used for cleaning products; products are shown cleaning things that are evidently impossible to clean, at least in that way. The attention is diverted from the real features of the product, as could be just "scale remover" and extraordinary things related to it are shown. Positive impact and not straightforward information is intended. The second ones, the ones moving through their plot, are even less attached to the product information. Many times these advertisements only show the product at the end. They are advertisements telling a story moving the target group essential values, and such a moving is transferred to the product shown when the advertisement ends.

It is not the same case for Internet. The advertisements are not for products but for Web sites. Besides, these are not very funny small links just informing in two lines about the site content and taking the visitor to it. The strategy is only based on placing links on sites that are related to the advertised site. That is to say, what matter is the advertised and not the advertisement: your company Web site will be in charge of positively moving the user and encourage him to buy a product. That is why the site design needs to have a strong incentive nature, advertisingly speaking.

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Promotion:

promotion means adding something to a product so that it is more desired by the public. This strategy is usually applied to products recently launched into the market or products that, having a long time on the market, have lost sales. A Web site is an interesting place to launch a promotion campaign. Let's see it in three practical examples:

  • You can put labels on the products promoted. These labels will have a brief explanation about the promotion, your Web site address and an alphanumeric code. The promotion consists in the product buyers being able to access to a special section on your site where they will be able to enter the code printed on the label. When doing this, they will be taken to a hidden section where they will be able to print two free tickets for the movies, theater, etc. This type of promotion will bring closer many people not familiar with the company, wanting to take advantage of the promotion.
  • The offers of the month can also be exclusively published on your Web site. That is to say, they will only be published here. What is the benefit of restricting the search to the company's web? People interested in the offers could easily find them if you are well placed on the search engines. However, anyone entering your site and seeing the offers will think he is one of the few people that have found them and will want to take advantage of his good luck.
  • Finally, you could put a section to print discount coupons for the promotion products. These coupons could be shown at the associated stores. You will be able to choose if you want to get greater benefits by adding a restriction saying that in order to get the coupons, people will need to enter their name and e-mail address and agree to the company newsletter delivery. Using this strategy, you establish a strong and lasting link with your customers.

Note:

keep in mind that you always need to ask for authorization to send advertising e-mails.

Sale channels:

one of the main objectives of a marketing campaign is widening and improving the company's sale channels. Since Internet is the medium most used when searching for companies, products and services, an Internet site will widen and establish and new and extraordinary sale channel: maybe the most important one. This benefit can be increased if you ask for an e-commerce site design. These sites are the standard ones where you can buy products and put them into a shopping cart. That is to say, an Internet site selling without any human involvement, at any time, every day.


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