When it comes to web sites, many design and product manufacturing firms operate under the premise that “if you build it they will come,” and are then disappointed by the lack of positive response.

The AIA’s recently commissioned survey of Internet usage by architects revealed that 83% of architects use the Web to research building products and services, up from a previous study conducted last year by Georgia Tech’s Construction Resource Center which reported 34%. Architects are 2.5 times more likely to link to Web sites of manufacturers who use banner advertising with links to their sites than those who do not.

When it comes to web sites, many design and product manufacturing firms operate under the premise that “if you build it they will come,” and are then disappointed by the lack of positive response. How can you find out how your web site measures up? We found that CIO’s Web Business had some good feedback:

  • Figure out who your user is. If you want to be a good listener, you must first figure out who you’re listening to. To develop an effective site you must know your users’ information requirements, how they arrived at your site and how fast they want to get what they need.

  • Look at your web site as starting a relationship, not having a one-night stand. Updating your site with interesting information will keep people coming back.

  • Don’t measure effectiveness by the number of hits. You don’t always know why they came, if they got what they were looking for and how they felt about you when they logged off.

  • Offer selected potential users a sneak peek at your next-generation site design and get their input. Build an online focus group by saying “Sign up if you’d like to help us test new ideas.”

  • Regularly solicit visitor opinions through online polls and invite visitors to suggest their own topics for future polls.

  • Look for the missing link(s). Try to link your site to as many related sites as possible. Use a variety of keywords to ensure your site pops up when potential browsers are doing research on related products and services.