Human Library Expert Dishes on Web Design

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Since co-founding the web-design firm Orases ten years ago, Nick Damoulakis, the company’s president, has established a proven track record of developing dynamic, logical and easy-to-use web-based solutions. His interactive business strategies provide tangible value to his clients, while delivering excellent end user experiences. Damoulakis is bringing his expertise to the Human Library at The NATSO Show in February where operators will be able to sit down face-to-face with him to ask questions specific to their locations and their web presence. Damoulakis provided a sneak preview of a Human Library session when he talked with Tristen Griffith of Sacramento 49er in Sacramento, Calif.

Q: What is the web standard for our industry and should my site be interactive?
A: Everyone is going to have unique situations for each plaza. It helps to look at what you’ve currently done, what you don’t like and what kind of performance you’re getting out of the site. To better understand that, you can use Google Analytics. It is a snippit of code that you insert into the website that gives you analytical data about what pages your customers are visiting.

You have to know how they’re going to access the website. If people are traveling, I’m going to assume the majority comes from mobile devices, it makes sense to link to Google Maps and do GPS marketing of your location. You should also look to see how you’re showing up on Yelp and use Google Plus so when people Google your location, you show up. If I talk to Siri on my iPhone and say, ‘Where’s the next travel plaza,’ you want Sacramento 49er show up.

There are also things you can do to make your site more mobile friendly so it works well on phones. The term that is used for making things friendly is called responsive design—you want it to work on a mobile phone, a table, a mini tablet and a large screen.

Q. I know what appeals to me on a website, but I’m different than my customers. How can I know what they want to see?
A: You do have to know who your audience is and what they want. Sometimes the best way is just to ask them. Have a survey button on your website. When people buy something you could give a $500 giveaway or a $100 gas card if they do a survey online.

Once you know what they want, you have to shape your website to that.

No matter what you do on design, one of the most important things is simple to make sure the site is up to date and the links work and make sure sites like Google Plus and Yelp have your information. Consumers want to see reviews by other customers. Those reviews will make or break a stop.

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