Forest Through the Trees
One the most beneficial ways I’ve seen to grow your web site is through user feedback. When a new visitor sees your site for the first time, s/he will immediately start to categorize it – Human nature at it’s best. If the visitor is not able to put your site into a category, you have either created something unbelievably bad, or unbelievably innovative – either of which can be helpful to you in the long run. Humans make judgments based on perspective and relativity. Einstein told us so, and he was right. Perspective is everything.
This is an ideal time to ask your visitors for their opinion. So ensure you have many avenues for them to interact and send feedback to you. For example, feedback forms do not have to be complicated – their name, email address, and a comments field are all you need to ascertain how they feel about your site and/or the information on it. Taking a quick poll is another way to ensure you have a good feel for what people are doing in your industry. Sending them a follow-up newsletter with this information allows you to share what you have learned, and also closes the circle – nudging the user to come back to your site and offer their opinion on other subjects.
An organic, interactive approach to building your site ensures that the people using your site are heard, and their opinions matter. Effective use of these opinions, as long as they are relevant to the mission of your web site, can lead to a kind of “word of mouth” following that traditional marketing often times overlooks, because it is too busy pushing information as opposed to pulling [not to mention – it’s cheaper]. There needs to be a relevant, balanced interaction with your users for the organic approach to work.
When you’ve finished creating, coding and uploading your web site, it’s all too easy to get a case of the “I can’t see the forest through the trees” syndrome. So don’t be afraid to ask people what they think of your work, because “constructive” criticism can often times lead you back to wide open pastures.