Your website sucks …… (and so does mine!!)

A Great Example of Web 2.0 site design – lots of whitespace and readable engaging content

For some time I have been suggesting that there is no place for the Website given the collection of Social media tools that can be deployed to present, develop and promote your brand.

But I have had a re-think and done lots of reading on the subject and have done a complete turnaround…   I agree 100% with the thoughts expressed by Mitch Joel in his outstanding book “Six Pixels of Separation – Everyone is Connected – Connect your business to Everyone”.

“Your Website Sucks (mostly because it was an afterthought and now its the main calling card for your business)”  – Mitch Joel

There is no point in a digital marketing campaign building Facebook Fans, Being LinkedIn, Having quality Followers on Twitter  , deploying advertising and tactics to make sure people find you …. unless they want to interact when they do find you.  And there is where a Quality Web 2.0 website comes into play.

What people find when they get to your site needs to be in line with their expectations…. and that’s not all about design, look and feel, buttons, navigation and functions – although the overall design etc is an important part it is only a small part of the overall exercise.

It’s the content… the interaction … the ease of use … and the relevance of the messages that people come for and return to stay in contact.

The problems I see with websites are generally a result of the people chosen to build the site …. normally A Graphic/Web Designer or an IT/Technology person/company … or a combination of both.

A good-looking well designed site is important (in fact vital) but not as important as the overall picture – engaging content, relevant technology and a site that is marketable. But above all the site needs to be in sync with the organisations strategic goals and provide an environment that not only interests visitors but engages them.

In general I would never recommend a company that is totally focussed on technology to develop a website and I would certainly never give ownership of this most important marketing communications tool to the IT Department.  Would you get a techie to develop your marketing brochure and manage your advertising campaign …. well why put them in charge of the website … it’s a marketing tool that utilises technology in the same way that a brochure utilises a printing press.

It is the fear of technology that drives people to Tech people/companies and in general they end up paying way too much because they have no idea what they want and what it should cost!

However, there is good news there are organisations that have developed into or been formed to be full service digital marketing and communications providers that can leverage all of the best of the above but more so put into a highly cost-effective and relevant form that will serve the needs of the client.

Our business has moved from PR and Communications to Digital Media/Marketing and Communications because we understand the market needs and we have developed a range of Alliance Partners (Graphic Designers, IT experts) who can work with us to provide the appropriate solutions based on our interpretation of the marketing and business needs of the client.

It always gets down to budget but our aim is to provide the optimum solution to meet budget requirements…..  but at the end of the day it’s about crafting the right messages … and that generally is the hard part …   Getting people to talk about their businesses in clear, genuine and authentic terms without engaging in marketing speak,  A great team of people working with us … as a opposed to a loyal, dedicated workforce.

In my next blog I will outline the sort of content that is needed today and provide some ideas on how to gather and present it.

But for now here are some tips from Mitch Joel’s Website Checklist.. with some hints from me thrown i.

  • Clean, fresh, easy to read, lots of “white space”
  • Easy to navigate – a click or two away from anything
  • Appeals to the type of person you aim to attract – based on some Buyer Persona profiling
  • Written in everyday language that the consumers expect and understand. As you would speak to a friend or colleague when explaining what you do !!
  • Dont just do it in text … it is now easy and cost-effective to add a variety of media – (Pictures, Videos, Audio etc ) throughout the site .. not just the home page
  • Make sure there are lots of relevant calls to action wherever and whenever appropriate – throughout the sign – sign up for News, become a Facebook Fan etc
  • Linked to all of your Social media Channels (eg LinkedIn, Facebook, Blog, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr) – in one place bringing together all the forms of content and interaction that you are engaged in
  • Ensure that the site is Search Engine Friendly as you are playing the Game of Getting Found and the competition is fierce. Blogs, News, Quiz, Links to/from other sites, Status Updates from your social media links will all help here by constantly changing the content. Refreshing and Refocusing!
  • Use some form of analytic tools (eg Google Analytics) to track effectiveness of the site in terms of ongoing activity.  See what changes work best.
  • Ensure that the site is developed using tools that allow you to make changes easily as you need … don’t tie yourself to a web developer that needs to do the work . It’s your site and as such you must own it …  But make sure you have an ongoing support agreement to ensure that you get backup for the things that you can’t manage yourself…  and to get updates to the tools you use to keep them relevant.
  • Make sure everything on the site is relevant to and in sync with your overall marketing objectives.
  • Use lots of “testimonials”  to tell your story in the words of those you help – preferably in video, at least in pics … dont rely on words … they could have been written by someone like me paid to do so for a client …  Not that I would !!!

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