I’ve seen many auction websites. I’ve seen good sites and bad sites. I’ve seen pretty sites and ugly sites. The good and the pretty aren’t usually the same sites. Some of the most attractive websites I’ve seen are some of the worst functioning websites. Some of the best auction websites look hideous. While it’s important to have both institutional marketing and event marketing materials on our website, many auctioneers make what I believe to be a mistake and prioritize the institutional materials. This practice comes many times at the expense of the one feature of the sites that I would consider to be good sites, which is a prominently-placed auction calendar on the front page.
In order to build a functionally good website, we have to make correct assumptions about our users. Who are they? What are they looking for? Most of the users of auction websites are prospective bidders looking for items in auctions and are probably not interested in the history or abilities of the auctioneer. Any content or navigation that comes between the user and the items in the auctions is a possible reason for the user to look elsewhere.
The minority of users are prospective sellers looking for information about the auction company. The best way for us to make an impression on a prospective seller is to show him or her the great job we’re doing marketing what others are currently selling or what we’ve sold for others in the past. If they see what the auctioneer is doing and has done and are impressed, they’re going to make the effort to find the links that lead them to the information about the auctioneer.
For these reasons, it’s crucial that we place our auction calendars on the front pages of our sites. If there are only one or two auctions coming up, those should be listed first the past auctions and realized prices listed below in descending order. We’re marketers, first and foremost, and what better marketing opportunity than to display the items we’re selling to the traffic on our website. Many of the better auction calendars make use of a number of thumbnails to give the user a feel for the kind of assets in an event without the user even having to click on the auction. For example, instead of simply listing an auction with a representative picture of one item and the auction title, why not list small pictures of two combines, a tractor, and a couple of implements as well? The user will have a better impression of the contents of the event and will hopefully be more compelled to learn more about the event.
WalMart doesn’t have their corporate information listed first on walmart.com. They sell items, so that’s what they assume customers want. We auctioneers sell items in auctions, so it’s important that we realize that customers want to see auctions when they come to our sites. Sellers will find the information they’re after. Buyers will simply find another site if they have to work to find our auction calendar.