A tale of two bridges

Author -  Allan Kent [Guest]

Before the war, it was recognised that Auckland’s growth and economic development was being inhibited by the lack of a city centre harbour crossing. In 1946 plans were proposed for the Auckland Harbour Bridge and these included 6 traffic lanes, 2 footpaths and a rail connection. Work started in 1954 and by 1959 the bridge was finished. However, because of project cost cuttings, the bridge ended up with just 4 traffic lanes and no foot paths or rail links. So, just a few years after completion in 1969, the bridge had to be expanded with the ‘Nippon clippons”, adding  4 extra traffic lanes, but still no rail or footpath connections.

Now we are told that the Bridge is suffering from age and use and has a limited lifespan left ahead of it. Indeed we are faced with the almost inevitable - a new crossing at huge expense to the city and its rate payers!

What is amazing to me is that Auckland had not embarked on this project blindly – they already had a model to follow in Sydney. The Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened in 1932 and provided even back then, 8 traffic lanes, 2 railway lines, a footpath and a bicycle lane. This bridge is still going strong and serving Sydney well.

So, cost cutting early on led to much higher overall costs and presented Auckland with a sub optimal solution,  leading arguably to a lack of economic growth within the city.

Some years back Kevin Costner starred in a film called “Field of Dreams”. Central to the story was the concept of “If you build it they will come” – referring in that case to a base ball field.

Unfortunately, too often this same concept is used by companies and organisations regarding their websites. They imagine that by simply having a site it will dramatically increase their business and grow their fortunes!

Wrong – to be effective the website needs to be  have been properly thought out, with its goals firmly established and strategies put in place to achieve them. Unless the organisation only has short term ambitions, this planning needs to take into account its medium and long term needs as well as its immediate ones.

The site needs to be professionally designed to create the right impression especially as it’s often the first point of contact a new prospect has with your organisation.

It needs to be structured to convey your message succinctly and it needs to drive the prospects to not simply leave the site, but to take some form of positive action as a result of their visit. These actions range from buying online (for an e commerce site), to booking an appointment, to visiting the showroom or signing up for a newsletter, to emailing a friend, or simply book marking the site for future reference.

A poorly designed and structured site, will like the Auckland Bridge, fail to deliver over the long haul.  Low cost websites do have their place but for businesses that require an effective  business tool, it’s generally more economic to spend a little more and get a better quality website. Ultimately, that additional cost will generate a far greater return.

In addition, because websites are now seen as such vital business tools, financing is often available allowing you to afford that better quality site rather than making do with something that will vastly under perform.

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