It is important for information to be easily accessible, functional, and clear. When it comes to building websites, it is also important to consider the limitations that may be imposed by an individual's browsing capabilities and ensure that the site is not overridden with unnecessary scripts or media. It is also important for a website to be easily accessible through search engine optimization and be regionally specific to an individual's web search. Publix Super Markets, located Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina, and Florida successfully operates its own website that is easily navigated and provides a clear and concise point-of-view.
Through the advent and innovation of new media, business are able to take advantage of the internet and help to promote the services and goods that they provide within their physical stores (Beech Marketing, 2011). Upon performing and completing a simple search query using Google with the terms "grocery" and "store," the Publix webpage was at the top of the search results. This search engine optimization helps to ensure that Publix shows up on the search results list if an individual is looking to find a convenient grocery store within the region that Publix is located. Upon reaching the Publix page itself, the page does not take long to load and there are no superfluous or irrelevant images or media. Though an excess of flash animations have been known to be detrimental to a website, the Publix site does not utilize flash animations. Also, the Publix page does not incorporate any background music which many people may find annoying and unnecessary (Publix Super Markets, Inc., 2011).
The aesthetic of Publix's page is not busy, and actually quite soothing. The color scheme is organic, earthy, and natural, utilizing different hues of green and brown. However, the juxtaposition of the drop down menu items' font color on the drop down bar makes it difficult to read. Also, though the font is easily read, the size should be made slightly bigger to make the site more accessible. If the drop down menu's font color were to be made a different color, it would be more legible and easier to understand. The font size could also be increased, however this would mean that items from the drop down menu would need to be removed. Presently, there are 11 drop down menu items which include: Wellness, Pharmacy, Save Here, Featured Products, Services, Clubs & Programs, Food & Entertaining, Apron's, About Publix, Careers, and My Grocery List (Publix Super Markets, Inc., 2011). While these drop down menu items play a vital role, it is unnecessary to include so many. For example, My Grocery List and Save Here can be removed from the drop down menu as these two sections are redundant and appear in the website's header at the top right section of the page. Furthermore, Careers and About Publix appear in a separate section on the right-hand side bar. The redundancy of the drop down menu is not limited to repeating items in the head and in side bars, but a link to each section is also provided at the bottom of the web page (Publix Super Markets, Inc., 2011). It is important to note that Publix does provide a recall alert that is meant to warn its customers of products that are currently being recalled, however, the position of the alert may be made more effective if it is moved from the middle of the page, below the first section, to a higher position on the page where it would be read first if the page is scanned by the customer from top to bottom.
Another important aspect of the web page that must be analyzed is the positioning and formatting of topics on the web site. Because Publix is a super market, it is limited to using images that are representative of the services and foods that are sold within its stores. In spite of this fact, the images are boring and uninviting. Publix, in its attempt to provide a concise message on its site about its products and services, neglected to make the page inviting to the customer. The images that are used are cropped stock photos that do not even provide a full image of what is being described. Furthermore, the images fall flat and lifeless as there are no images of customers or consumers on the page. The positioning of the photographs and the descriptions that are pertinent to the image is also ineffective. A suggestion to make the page more user friendly, as the images are only visible as soon as the customer scrolls down and are located in the second half of the page, would be to remove the main content table. The main content table takes up a large portion of the first half of the website, yet does not inform the customer of any news or specials that are being offered by the super market. The information in the main content table changes only when the page is refreshed. A solution for making the main content table more effective and efficient would be to convert it into a slideshow that would allow the customer to scroll through the various news topics that are currently being advertised by Publix. The page could be made more effective and relevant if more images of food were used on the page. Currently, there is only one clear and complete image that is indicative of food. The other five food-related images are cropped to the point that they are nearly unrecognizable (Publix Super Markets, Inc., 2011).
Publix Super Markets does not make use of banner ads to direct traffic to its website. By not utilizing other advertising methods, Publix has severely limited its audience reach. It appears that the only audience that Publix will be able to reach with its severely limited online marketing strategy are those people that are performing a generic supermarket search online or repeat customers. The website's design is not amateur, however it is not highly technical either. The site is functional, yet frustrating to use because it does not incorporate flash animations, slide show tools, and is at times difficult to read.
It has been argued that there are seven keys to make or design an effective website. The first key is to make the website visually appealing (Sachs & Stair, n.d.). This means that the site must be inviting and informative and must be constantly reinvented. In Publix's case, the website is visually appealing at first site, but it is difficult to discern what Publix's business nature is. As stated previously, though the site attempts to inform the customer of the services it provides, it does so ad nauseum, often repeating information unnecessarily. The second key is to make the site valuable, useful, or fun (Sachs & Stair, n.d.). Publix's site is useful only if the customer wants to know the services that the super market provides and where various stores are located throughout the region in which Publix operates. The site does not provide general information such as the store's hours of operation or if it specializes in anything in particular, such as organic foods. The third key is to keep the site current and timely (Sachs & Stair, n.d.). Because Publix is in the food industry, it is pertinent that they are aware of any recalls that may be currently in effect. Since Publix's ability to update their site regarding these health concerns not only affects the store, but also the general public, it is extremely important that Publix keep up-to-date to any recalls and alerts. The fourth key requires that the site be easy to use and find. As indicated previously, Publix was easy to find using a simple search query on Google that consisted of the terms "grocery" and "store." The fifth key requirement is that the page has intuitive on-page navigation (Sachs & Stair, n.d.). One of the most advanced features, and possibly the only advanced feature on the site, are the drop-down menus which are meant to help navigate. As stated before, the site should integrate a slide show feature that would enable the user to scroll through the sites most current features. The oversimplification of the advanced features on the site only provides the user with the most basic functions expected of a functional site. The last key element of an effective website is the site's responsiveness to its users. Publix has at least three different links that will allow the user to contact Publix with any comments or concerns they may have. The site can also help the user to compile a shopping list that they can utilize when they go to the physical store.
There are main pitfalls to Publix's marketing strategy; graphic design, structure, and site promotion. While the site's design appears to be simple at first, the site's format, structure, and color scheme make it difficult to easily read and navigate the site (Conversion Results,…