Web Site customization and personalization

To truly get to know your customers and provide the service they are looking for, learn as much as possible about their likes, dislikes, needs, and preferences.

Important questions include: What incentives will I offer site visitors to identify themselves? How will I gather and process information on customers' preferences? How can I use that information to customize the site for the individual customer? The answers to these questions will help you evaluate and choose the most appropriate personalization and customization options for your Web site.

Benefit from personalization and customization. Savvy Web merchants gather data from site visitors by offering incentives, such as contests or rewards programs, that motivate visitors to identify themselves and share information on their shopping habits.

Understand the technology behind personalization and customization. Before you choose a software solution, you'll want to gain a basic understanding of the technology behind personalization and customization.

"Cookies" and query strings are two common scripts used by Web merchants today to implement personalization and customization on their sites. Each method has its advantages and drawbacks. You will want to evaluate both options before you begin your personalization project.

Identify areas for potential personalization and customization on your site. Consider your site architecture and identify areas for potential personalization features in your corner of the Web. There are several categories of customization and personalization, including automatic log-ins and customer greetings, personalized page views, and individualized shopping and ordering assistance. Early in the planning phase you will want to evaluate and choose the customization features most likely to appeal to your target audience.

Decide whether to outsource personalization and customization or go solo. If technological expertise is one of your core competencies, creating programs in-house may be an attractive alternative to purchasing software. However, if you decide to outsource the task, consulting firms and software providers can assist you in delivering a personalized experience for your customers. In either case, you should carefully consider the pros and cons of outsourcing vs. in-house development before making your final decision.

Choose personalization and customization software for your site. Once you've formulated a game plan for personalizing and customizing your site, you'll need to choose the technology to make it all come together.

Software packages are designed to provide you with complete personalization capabilities, and consulting firms are always ready to help. You can find additional vendors by typing the phrase "personalization software" into any of the major search engines. Be sure to evaluate each program based on standardized criteria so that you know you're choosing the best solution for your site.

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Copyright 2005 Florie Lyn Masarate

About The Author

Florie Lyn Masarate got the flair for reading and writing when she got her first subscription of the school newsletter in kindergarten. She had her first article published on that same newsletter in the third grade.