Archive for April, 2007

diagnosis without examination is malpractice

As a young lad selling sign machines to retailers in the Midwest, I had the President of a small town department store in West Virginia say my posting title to me just before he hung up. The moment before, I was saying how a good signing program, using effective selling copy, would increase his sales and that he needed to buy a Printasign machine today.  He asked if I had ever walked through his store. I said no, I had never walked through his store…

I had never talked to anyone about his store and I had not even visited his town. I was telling him what to do with no knowledge of his business.  I had not done my homework, and rightly so, he had no time for me…

That man taught me a very valuable lesson about consultive selling. If you do not spend time understanding how a business is run, what challenges they face and where they want to go…how can you really help them? As dad used to say, “You better ask people questions before you start talking because God gave you one mouth and two ears to be used in that proportion.”

How effective your website strategy works is directly related to how well you understand what makes your business unique and important to clients. It is more than what you do; it is how and why you do it and why that is good for your target audience.  We would recommend not having a website if this is not clear to your organization.  A bad website will cost you in the long run. Spend a little time examining the mission of your organization at this exact moment in time before your join the World Wide Web. It only takes a couple of hours and is worth it at so many levels.

It begins by understanding your organization’s passion. How do you want to “service” your target audience? What is your

Mission?

Mission, in its simplest form, includes:

  • A practical mission statement of what you do everyday
  • A practical vision of what you will celebrate in the future when you achieve a special goal
  • The core values that you operate by, even on the day you go out of business

Your mission must be discussed and understood by the entire organization.

The words you choose to describe your mission will be the language you use in your website and marketing information, to describe what you do, who you do it for and how you will serve them.  A clearly communicated mission builds trust and understanding about how you will make people safer, smarter, happier and/or more productive. 

A good mission is the connection between what your employees do and why clients choose you.  Besides being a critical element of a web strategy, it will also help your organization operate more smoothly by setting a direction and reducing the number of crises daily.

PS Several years latter I returned to that store after doing my homework sold him a Printasign machine. I returned years later he upgraded his sign shop to a PACC electronic sign machine

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admin on April 24th 2007 in Web Strategy

one company, multiple websites

Michelle Howe, president of Internet Word Magic (http://www.InternetWordMagic.com) says:
“Building customer trust online is a combination of good branding, good design, and good content. A website needs all three components to be successful in creating a climate of trust that encourages sales.”

Well said.  Michelle goes on to say, “Branding is about finding a specific idea that you stand for, finding a way to own that idea in a credible way, and ultimately building a total trust that you will always deliver.” Also well said, but I like to link image to good branding because it becomes a symbol of that trust.  A picture is worth a 1000 words”

What if you have multiple websites in your company?  Where does branding and image come in to play? Branding considerations are more important with multiple websites. Using your brand properly will strengthen and build trust. Neglecting to use your brand will cause confusion and undermine trust. On the World Wide Web you have 4 seconds to make an impression and get people to stick to your website. Branding and image play a big role in slowing them down to look at what you have to say.

Image is the visual presentation of your brand and communicates a specific idea or ideas that your organization stands for. Image includes logo, typefaces, color photographs and graphic images. Consistent presentation of an image becomes synonymous with your brand. Most companies and organizations understand this for their identity (calling cards and letterhead) and marketing pieces, but may forget it when building multiple websites.

Begin your strategy by clearly presenting your unique brand on every site. Let them know to whom they are working with. Confusion undermines trust. Internet users have no patience. It is important to be clear in order to optimize your web results.

 We are not suggesting that every website look the same. We are suggesting that by clearly using your branding elements on every website you will help people know who you are and why they should trust what you do. Consistent and wise use of your brand and image is the cornerstone to an effective web strategy.

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admin on April 10th 2007 in Web Strategy

What makes a good website-Part One

Kathy Hernandez and I like to keep list of what makes a good website. Below are 35 things to think about. There will be more coming soon.

  1. Does the website design meet the needs of our visitors or meet the needs of our organization(more sales/contributions)?
  2. Does the site tell how we will solve a visitor’s problems or does it tell how wonderful we are as a company?
  3. In four seconds can any visitor understand what our site is about?
  4. Is it easy to find the focal point of the home page?
  5. Is it easy to find the focal point of the current page?
  6. This website communicates that the owners are credible professionals?
  7. This website makes visitors feel they can trust the owners?
  8. Does the home page — or any page — load in four seconds or less?
  9. By quickly scanning the page a visitor will know our purpose or mission.
  10. Design elements are where our visitors expect them.
  11. There are no unnecessary design elements.
  12. The website operates properly when visited with the JavaScript turned off.
  13. “Welcome to…” is not said on our home page.
  14. The site is not Flash-based.
  15. The site’s navigation is not Flash-based.
  16. The site is not just a splash page.
  17. The site does not make visitors register before they can enter.
  18. The site does not use two or more splash pages.
  19. The site’s TITLE tag includes the name of your company or other search-engine friendly terms.
  20. The site does not have a sound file automatically playing in the background when a web page loads
  21. Does the site look the same in the major browsers?
  22. Does the important content reside in the first screen, above the fold?
  23. Do all the pages have correct amounts of white space?
  24. The site has no pop-up windows.
  25. The site does not force visitors to install weird plug-ins.
  26. The site does not have “Download latest browser” text or buttons.
  27. The website does not prominently display what hardware and software was used to create the site.
  28. The website is original and not “borrowed” from another site.
  29. The site provides clear instructions on how to perform tasks like ordering, filling out forms, etc.
  30. The site is not a template that is code heavy making it difficult to maintain and broken.
  31. Are there PDF files identified with an icon?
  32. Do you have log files that can be analyzed?
  33. Have you ever conducted user testing?
  34. You have your password and user name for your URL and host in a file
  35. You know who made your website and they are still in business

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admin on April 5th 2007 in Web Strategy