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Design Promotion Tools

Visitor Interaction

One of the main concerns when designing a business orientated website, is the need to ensure that your customers can contact you either with orders, feedback or queries.  This can be utilised to improve your website by ascertaining which aspects customers are regularly having problems with (such as finding specific items).

It is imperative that you give consideration to customer liaison and provide sufficient resources to deal with queries in order to provide visitors to your website with the reassurance that they are valued and that you can be trusted as a company.

Customer Reassurance

You must at least include your email address and contact details on your website - you might also want to provide a guestbook.  This can be done quite easily, although you may find that leaving your email address on your website will lead to you receiving a large amount of spam emails which may mask actual customer queries. There are however various tricks to avoid your email address being collected by spam agents - for example, using a graphic representation of it.  However, please remember that there are rules about what contact information must be disclosed by businesses, including the registered office address and company number if you are a limited company.  These rules are covered in our advice pages on website design.

BoldChat - Solution to enable you to talk directly to customers onlineOne of the easiest forms of direct visitor interaction which we have found has been to add the ability to our websites for customers to contact us via MSN Messenger - this reinforces to potential customers that they are dealing with real people and lets you create a rapport with your visitors.  If you envisage a lot of customers needing this type of interaction (for example, for technical support queries), then you may wish to investigate the possibility of a full customer support option, such as BoldChat's free live chat option.

Not everyone wants to talk to you directly - it is therefore essential that you consider adding a feedback / query form on your website which visitors can complete.  Once they hit the submit button, the details are emailed direct to a specific department within your company.  Forms should be simply laid out and provide the visitor with all of the options which they may need.  You will therefore have to carefully plan the information which you are going to request in a form, and we would highly recommend that you arrange for the form to be proof-read and tested before going live, since a small error may leave your customers confused, or worse, may leave them with the impression that they are not dealing with a professional organisation.

Finally, your visitors may just like to share their experiences with other potential customers, rather than contacting you directly.  This is where a guestbook can be useful.

Adding Forms to Your Website

Adding a form to a website appears at first glance to be easy but as you browse the internet, you will find that not many websites actually encompass a form - wonder why?  Many website design tools (such as Microsoft's FrontPage) include various templates for adding forms to a web page, however, they do not provide the programming which needs to sit behind the actual page on which the form appears.

You may want to avoid this problem, by providing a form which can be printed out and posted back to you, or which can be filled in and emailed back to you - however, the problem over this is not just the time it takes and fact that people may not be bothered to go to this effort.  The problem is control over what information is provided when the form is completed.

In any case, careful consideration has to be given to the layout of the form and the information requested, so that you do not have to go back to people to ask for more information - the better the layout and the more intuitive the form, the more likely it is that people are going to fill it in.

Our programming team are able to assist with both the design of your forms and creation of the code to verify the data entered and process the form.  Data can be returned as part of an email to a specific department within your company, or added to a database on your website.  You may also want to create a set of graphics (such as a Turing number) to act as a check that the form is being completed by a real We could even host the program for you if your website host does not provide this service.

Adding Visitor Guestbooks

We have created a simple guestbook system, which retains various useful intelligent elements to enhance those normally available on the internet.  Our Guest books include a maintenance routine which runs every few days and checks on all current entries within the guestbook.  If requested, the maintenance routines will then automatically delete any entries within the guestbook which are older than a specified number of days.  The guestbook owner is also able to specify the minimum number of entries which should be left in the guestbook by the maintenance routine.

Email addresses entered into the guestbook can be collated in a separate file, ready for use by the guestbook owner for mailshots and also the ability to opt for filters to remove swear words from guestbook entries.  We invite suggestions on further filters which you would like to see implemented.  Guestbook owners can now log-in and send mailshots to people who have left their email addresses in the guestbook.

Email addresses of people adding to the guestbook can also be hidden, allowing contact only through the website owner, which, for example, could be used for selling second hand items where the website owner wants a commission on any sale.

Our guestbook can be easily added to any website, with the HTML provided and work even from within the AOL browser which masks the address of the referring page from the Perl script..

Additionally, we can add more functionality to your guestbook as required - new entries in the guest book can be emailed to the guest book owner, which enables you to respond to any queries which may be left inadvertently by customers, or even delete offensive or spam entries as soon as they are added.  We can also add a turing number to the "Add New Comment" page to prevent entries being added by automatic software.

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