This is a time of huge change for the Internet. It’s lost its virginity, so to speak, together with the rest of us who have already figured out it’s going to be a new era of conveying information, doing business, and communicating how we live our lives. What’s happened is that the Internet has become the true mass medium. The novelty so present in its early days has almost vanished, while the level of quality standards needed to just enter the commercial arena these days has increased significantly.
Having a Web site today is no more significant to your company’s reputation than having a coffee machine. Making a Web site with the idea of advertising as the only revenue source is equivalent to building a car that runs on water (possible, but not likely). But the idea of building a portal as a collection of content items, or worse, links, to external content providers, and then hoping everything will fall into place by itself is hopeless. Even portals are not enough these days. You have to reinvent the surfing experience for your visitors. You have to move them from a “synthetic” to an “organic” stickiness. Basically, you have to create a successful, almost divine Web experience. And here are some general steps to begin:
1. Choose Your God Carefully…
…because everything must orbit around him. His wishes are the supreme law that dictates your behaviour. It is his needs that you have to so faithfully fulfill. And when it comes to the Net, your consumer (visitor) is your object of devotion as this is how you will find your salvation: Revenue streams will not dry up, your flock is going to stay closer to you, and venture capitalists will be more merciful. And in the event you should have one or more objects of devotion to worship (depending on your situation), I would recommend acting as a monotheist or a pagan. Your research (revelation) will tell you that.
2. Build an Altar
Think of your Web site as your place of worship, a symbol of the core of your beliefs, while its home page is your altar. The altar, in most religions, is that sacred place or structure where religious ceremonies or acts are practiced. On the Net, coincidentally, this is called the “back end.” But don’t forget to also pay respect to the front end. Elevate your altar so it is a divine place where all the most important events, stories, and lessons (keeping in mind the rules of order and presentation) can be celebrated. And if your consumer represents your object of devotion, it is the place where you most worship the consumer.
3. Write a Bible
Whatever your message to your flock, make it simple and clear using illustrative language, words that speak, and messages that are straightforward. An avalanche of facts is not helpful, unless they are sorted and put in context, and can be sung. Strive to amaze, help, nurture, and give peace. Divide it into chapters. Have a few legends.
4. Choose Your Prophet(s)
A well-known name on your home page is not a must, but it can help if your chosen prophet is a preacher’s preacher — knowledgeable, reassuring, and visionary. If your prophet’s words move and serve as the foundation for creating your divine Web experience, if she has written a book, or if she could become a mascot, even better still.
5. Pay Attention to Your Service
Community, community, community. Listen, listen, listen. Don’t drag, don’t be late, don’t be boring. Make sure your experience goes beyond a ceremony. Include sermons, confession boxes, and even a nice priest who is adored by his flock. But the most important thing — make sure they leave your cathedral with a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
6. Nurture Their Souls, but Don’t Forget the Collection Basket
Make devotees look up at the Heavens, but free their hands to fill the collection basket down on Earth. Remember, the amount of money you get is proportional to the degree of excitement you give them during your service. And, of course, always stick the collection basket right under their noses.
7. Make Them Evangelists (Apostles)
Leave them in awe. Let them feel deeply that you have changed their lives; that with you everything is easier; that they get something that is worth fighting for. Then ask them to preach the gospel further, although they will start doing it on their own already. Let them spread your news. Offer them some additional incentive; make them your apostles, members of the inner circle, happy to know the secret that is tragically unattainable to the infidels. And they will correct that situation. If you’re in doubt about this, speak with any Mac user.
8. Take Care of the Afterlife
Eternity is a long time, so construct your Heaven (Hell is out of the question here) carefully. Let your angels talk with your god on your behalf; make sure they look pretty, and let all of them together rejoice in one mighty and comprehensive customer-relationship-management choir.
But remember, no sex on the premises.