How NOT to Think About Your Website

How NOT to Think About Your Website

Over the past few years there has been a significant rise in social spaces that have taken some of the traffic and focus away from having a great website. There is value in that Facebook page or Twitter feed, yes, but at the end of the day, all roads lead to your website. Whether you are building a new email campaign or tweeting or pinning or whatever else kids these days are doing (don’t worry, I’m not that old), your website is the epicenter. This is where the focus of all your traffic should lead. [Read more…]

I’ll Know It When I See It

I'll Know It When I See It

You’ve probably said it. You’ve definitely heard it. Loosely translated it means, “I haven’t spent enough time to think it all the way through so hopefully you can pull something out of a magic hat and impress me.”

Most website design projects I’ve ever been on there has been someone in the room with this attitude. It may be cloaked in a different phrase like “I’m a visual person”, but in reality someone hasn’t done their job explaining (and that could be on either side of the table).

The problem with this approach is that it takes a lot of work to generate even one design. You don’t want someone to just crank something out for you or you’re going to get a result that’s half-baked. Or at least it won’t be well thought out. I heard a saying once, “One man’s cool is another man’s iceberg”. This is never more true when it comes to web design.

Today’s users of websites are expecting something unique. The bar has been raised and continues so. To stand out takes an effort. To make a website that is not only visually appealing but also lead generating isn’t just something that happens. It is no longer enough to have a polished looking site, it has to DO something of value for both the end-user and the company otherwise it will die out.

The most basic tool to help you have a successful website project you probably already have on your computer. PowerPoint. Ok, Keynote works too for all you Mac purists. Pick your tool and then use it to transfer your completed thought. There’s a distinction there that is critical. You’re not using this deck as a way to start designing out your site. You’re using this tool to think completely through and exhaust the end-to-end value.

If you could define a few things BEFORE you bring in the design team, your next website design project will be more successful by miles:

Why?

What is the overall purpose of this project? Before you take a step down the path, figure out if this project is really worthwhile to the business and that everyone has bought in to the value. If the value is in place the commitment to thinking through and making it the best will also flow through. What gap is it trying to fill?

What?

If you could research and find 5-10 other similar sites, what do you like/not? Why don’t you like them? What is it supposed to do (functionally)? What do you want people to do when they come to your site/page?

Who?

Who is your target audience? This matters more than you think. Think beyond just age or gender, think through the experience of someone brand new to your site versus someone who knows your company and knows what you sell but are maybe looking for deeper value. What are their experiences like? What if I’m coming from a phone, what should the experience be?

When?

How much time do you have? Is there something this need to be ready by? Are there some key dates or milestones that everyone needs to make sure is communicated?

Write it all down. Re-organize, refine, talk, debate, yell, laugh, think through. Repeat. Then sit on it for a few days and come back and review. Once everyone is in agreement, bring in the design team and present to them. I guarantee not only will you probably blow them away, but the end product you get will be light years ahead of what you would have received otherwise.

Photo credit: natalielucier

Websites Built to Scale

Websites Built to Scale

I’m not sure why it’s always so surprising to me, but building websites take a lot of work. Even if they are small sites for some reason it seems to take a good amount of effort. A lot of that effort is due to the unknown. People are sometimes involved in their first launch so don’t know what to expect. Sometimes there is one bit of functionality that slips in as a “oh, and remember it needs to work with ______”. A lot of times it’s just due to the number of people that seem to need a say.

Then the works comes to an end. The glorious day of the site launch! It’s here! And then what? [Read more…]

2 Must-Have Tools for Your Website – and they’re Free!

2 Must-Have Tools for Your Website - and they're Free!

Google dominates the search space. Without question. Turns out they also have some pretty amazing website tools you can use for your website. Sure, the tools ultimately help them to do what they do better, but we get some pretty amazing value along the way. Again, free website tools. Seriously.

1. Google Analytics

When you sign up for Google Analytics, you get a few lines of code you put on every page of your site. If you use something like WordPress to run your website it’s amazingly easy to implement. The code then passes information about your site back to Google and they bundle it up into every kind of report you can imagine. At a bare minimum, make sure this is running on your site. It’s probably the only free thing you will do for your website and yet is arguably the most valuable.  [Read more…]

Your Website is Free, Just Not Free

I blame Facebook and probably Al Gore, but there is a very odd perception that doing business online should be as close to – if not at – free. While it doesn’t help that the majority of my day is spent using tools and apps online that are free, when it comes to business the shift has to move away from that way of thinking.

Yes, your website is free. Free to be awesome. Free to be something so unique and helpful to your business even you would be shocked. Free to be your very best and most loyal lead generating employee you’ve ever had. Free to connect you to business around the world in a way that was not as easy not too long ago.  [Read more…]

Don’t Have This Design Meeting

It is amazing how much time is wasted in meetings that have no potential of being productive.

You have to watch this video that highlights this point in a very painful way:

I would like to say that this sort of thing is just so far out there that it can’t happen. Unfortunately, I have been in too many of these types of meetings and leave every time frustrated. They are wasting their money. [Read more…]

Why I Choose WordPress Over Joomla

Why I Choose Wordpress Over Joomla

It was the summer of 2007. I was on vacation with my family in Kauai, HI, enjoying paradise. During one of the coveted nap-times for the kids, I started doing some searches for content management systems. Yeah, that’s how I unwind. At the time, I was primarily utilizing a few proprietary systems to run websites and the cost/rigidness was suffocating creativity. [Read more…]

Thinking Beyond the Website Launch

Thinking Beyond the Website Launch

10 years ago, you needed a site. Any site. It didn’t matter what it looked like or how it “indexed”, you just had to be online.

Today, you could score free lunch for a week with all the lunch-n-learns talking about all the “must do or your will lose” sales/traffic/ranking/money.

It is still very interesting that many people are still concerned with just getting a website up. “We just need it to look better”. “We want it to be more like SomeonedDoingItRight.com”. [Read more…]

Facebook Page or Website for Business?

Facebook Page or Website for Business?

Why should you even worry about building a website when you can just snag a Facebook page, get a bunch of followers, create all the interaction you want and best of all, do it all for free?

Here’s why: [Read more…]