Web Site Design Challenges

Web site design challenges are far and wide, depending on the type of site being built. Here is a quick take on core web site design challenges and how to handle them to build a high quality web site.

SEO Integration

What’s the SEO Strategy and how does it map to the web site design? Bring the SEO geeks/agency into the web site design tent and have them involved early on. Or, your going to spend more money downstream trying to fix the Content and Menus so they are search friendly and deal with other SEO issues.

WordPress Platform

Use WordPress for your platform. Why build a web site in plain old HTML in today’s Web 2.0 world. WordPress has tens of thousands of plug ins that extend its functionality, an equal number of developers familiar with the platform, is very/very SEO friendly, has a built in Content Management System, is Open Source and much more.

Minimalist Design Elements

Great web sites are like a beautiful woman’s dress - the simpler the better, less is more, with minimalist design elements, universal menus at top and bottom, should be able to navigate through the site in 2-3 clicks easily, have integrated calls to action like signing up for Newsletter.

Speaking of women, better design the site with a color scheme that is appealing to the latter. Hello guys, the largest demographic on the web is women and they typically like (ignoring Courtney Love) softer color pallets, minimal in your face calls to action - in short a color and design scheme that is on the feminine side.

Menus First

Layout the menu structure first. Think of Menus as the frame of a web site - once these are mapped out you will have a good sense for how many pages of content you’ll have, how to integrate Social Media elements (when & where), etc. And, don’t forget Keywords in the Menus - these can be important for SEO results.

URL Selection Important

Pick a URL that reflects your core branding and has high trafficked keywords in it. We would refer you to an earlier blog post that will give you much more information about this important process.

Web Site Design Elements

Web developers almost always fall in love with their own work - it just comes with the territory.  Be prepared to reign them in if they get carried away with imagery - you want enough images to break up the text but you don’t want so many that your load times (time it takes the site to be viewed) to be slowed down, as this negates search rankings, especially via Google.

Build A Social Site

Sociables are the little Twitter, Like (Facebooks newest),  Facebook and/or other icons that should be incorporated with your site so that people can easily share the site - this drives incremental viewer and traffic. Don’t forget to include a Twitter plug in for your site if you have an account or other useful plugins that will show your visitors fresh content.

Yahoo is Going Down Like the Titanic!

Can’t believe what’s happening to Yahoo - the once storied, shining star of the web. Apparently they’ve retained Goldman Sachs this week to fight off the circling pool of predators, including AOL and a hedge fund or two.

Just think a few years ago Microsoft was prepared to pay $47.5 Billion but Jerry Yang would have none of it and forced the BOD to turn the deal down, insisting Yahoo could survive and grow as an independent portal. Fast forward to today and the market cap of the company is less than half that amount, with a value or $22 Billion.

Carol Bartz has been great at doing a female impression of Scott McNeily at his most brash best - but in the end, machismo posturing hasn’t done much for the company. It’s a hodge podge of properties, sites, email services, directories, services, etc.With no clear branding and no foot print whatsoever in the hottest market, social media, other than Flickr.

Paying $100 Million for Associated Content earlier this summer was not a brilliant stroke by any means. Associated Content had been on the sales block for several years and their content is mostly a collection of search engine optimized “articles” written to generate backlinks and help companies generate better search rankings.

Sad to say - but somebody put a fork in this turkey and put it out of its misery. Calling SteveB - we got a great deal for you!

Don Draper is Alive and Well!

‘Too many agencies today are “Don Draperish” focused - they think about making and broadcasting messages, whether they are Web, Print, TV, Radio, Billboard-centric.  They aren’t thinking about creating communities around their client’s brands and engaging with the community to build long term relationships.

No lighting bolt of knowledge to announce marketing is shifting from Analog to Digital and even beyond this to Web 2.0 and 3.0. But, still, many agencies we bump into are s in an Analog frame set - targeting consumers with a message that is not relevant and “pushed out” to attract attention (that is quickly waning).

We are morphing to community silos that are driven by the consumer listening to other consumers (Yelp is great example), while simultaneously tuning out marketing messages, regardless of how artfully the latter are crafted.

The purchasing decision is driven by consumers engaging with other consumers - ad agencies need to find a way to stimulate the conversation and then participate directly or on behalf of their clients.

Course Corrections for Agencies:

  1. Create viral content that consumers share with each other.
  2. Get out of “broadcast” mode and into engagement.
  3. Learn the “Pay it Forward” maxim of Social Media Marketing - Communicate something of value, engage and add more value - sales and brand awareness will come.
  4. Deploy, broadcast and publish meaningful/informative content (see first bullet) across multiple Social Media Platforms simultaneously (You Tube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Digg, Reddit, Facebook, SlideShare, etc.) and measure effectiveness.
  5. Get Web 3.0 Analytics Savvy: grok more than Clickthrough Traffic, Impressions, et al - this means understanding ReTweets, Likes/Dislikes, Mentions, Followers, Friends, Social Votes, Viral Forwarding, Comment Value, Conversation Flow - must be much more than Google Alerts coupled with Google Analytics reports.
  6. Utilize and understand baseline Search Engine Optimization and how it complements Social Media Marketing - there is a lot of overlap and this will increase over time.
  7. Think about Google Instant making SEO obsolete in three years - will it happen (?) hard to say, but preparing for it might not be bad idea.
  8. Learn how to cross promote content across the Social Web - your clients need help understanding how to leverage content development costs and economies of scale for publishing to drive engagement with their brands.
  9. Ignore half of the heat and light around Social Media - there are no social media experts; we are all building this beast as we move forward in time - creativity and paying it forward will seize the day.

Remember the old Arab Proverb: “The dogs bark but the caravan rolls on.” Keep rolling down the road and listen, learn and be creative - works for the rest of us!

Ten Best Tools for Building Business Online

1) Google Analytics works great, it’s free, very high value and an industry standard; be aware it’s not 100% accurate, you will find some discrepancies with Ad Servers, Twitter traffic and even Bit.Ly URL shortening services. Has a wealth of data for site metrics, keyword analysis, time on site, content viewed, exit and entry pages and much more (click on “Google Analytics” to go to reg page).

2) Google’s Keyword Analysis Tool - this tool used to be unavailable without registration but Google has generously made it available over the public web; you get the same functionality in Google Analytics, but comes in hand some times if you don’t want to log in to your account.  Be sure to understand how to use Broad, Exact and Phrase Search when looking at Keyword Traffic Projection.

3) Skype saves phone bills, has built in instant messaging which works great, enables you to record a call with third party apps, has built in conferencing and now even includes free video conferencing - the latter works great.

You occasionally may experience a dropped call, but certainly no worse than typical cell phone usage. Voice quality is excellent, it’s ubiquitous, used by tens of millions of people around the world. Also, now supports Iphone too.

4) Spyfu.com- best Pay per Click analysis service on the market bar none if you want to analyze competitor’s PPC campaigns and even organic search engine rankings. This low cost/high value Pay Per Click Service has a free (light) web based service with an upgrade (about $300. per annum) to a monthly or annual service.

It’s an invaluable tool that will save you significant time and money and give you a snapshot of exactly what and how your competitors are utilizing Pay per Click Marketing.

5) Aaron Wall’s Search Engine Optimization Book is much more than just a book; we use the free toolbar to get a quick snapshot of any site; but there is a back end community, sophisticated, meaningful training course and much more - Wall St. Journal, Wharton School of Business, PBS and many others have ranked this service well. There so much “SEO snake oil” being sold on the web but Aaron’s course and services are the real deal!

6) Constant Contact has been around for years - we’ve used their services for opt-in email campaigns many times; the service is not free, but it has so many extras; i.e. Analytics, Templates, Personal Coaching, Free sixty day trial and much more. Pricing plans start as low as under $50. per month - very economical - market leader in technology and customer service.

7) Aweber is best of breed Autoresponder but has also broadened out their services to include opt-in email campaigns as well, so some overlap with Constant Contact. Their powerful Autoresponder system is used by hundreds of thousands if not millions of web sites and will help you automate a great deal of your inbound and outbound marketing.

8) Snag It is a handy little application graphics and screen capture application that (under $50. USD) will save you a great deal of time if you are a Blogger that wants to quickly snag an image online (legally), make some image modifications and save.

Snag It  does not mirror an Adobe app  in terms of feature set, but our developers found that after they started using it their Adobe usage dropped dramatically. And the User Interface can be picked up by anyone in a few minutes, has a minimal learning curve.

9) Ginpic is a great little image search application that searches multiple search engines simultaneously - it’s powerful and free, works great, saves lots of time trying to find images online,  shows you the source of the image in the search return and much more.

10) WordPress - we saved the best for last and could wax poetically about the breadth, depth and power of this powerful best of breed Open Source Platform - we, like many other agencies and businesses could not run a business without it.

It’s free, there is huge community of add on plug ins and applications that extend its functionality and a large number of developers that can easily be found to help you build a site on WordPress. In the last 1-2 years it has moved from being the defacto Blog Platform to an industry standard platform for huge web sites; it’s robust enough to support virtually any type of web site that you can conceive.

So, our short list of the Ten Best Tools for Building a Business Online - please contact us via our web site if we can help your business grow online. www.Twitter.com/LinkedMedia

Ten Best Tools for Building Business Online

Using Social Media for Business

Social Media is not a Panacea for Many Business! Depending on marketing budget, headcount and size of company, some businesses will fail miserably using Social Media Marketing.

Many smaller businesses don’t have adequate resources, knowledge of the marketing processes, sufficient technical expertise to leverage web-based platforms that don’t always behave properly (think updating a Squidoo Lens), etc. Our Practical Advice for Using Social Media For Business:

1) Don’t believe the media pundits raving about tremendous success companies find using Facebook, Twitter or whatever VC-backed/20something wunderkind company is being touted via your Tech Columnist du jour!!

Don’t get us wrong, the media is great at pointing out that next great horizon that could reshape your business; but, details are the religion of success, not sexy five start review by reporters who aren’t worried about making a payroll.

2) Set up a budget and stick to it; start off small with one or two types of Social Media Marketing Activities. We’d suggest  Blogging as a first start; when you have 2-4 months of successful blogging under your digital belt then move to Twitter, Facebook or YouTube video development.

3) Be prepared to make a great deal of investment before you make any payoff for your efforts - time takes time right? Well Social Media Marketing is no different - unless your Ashton Kutcher or today’s hot starlet of the moment you won’t have 50,000 Followers on Twitter overnight.

4) Think about partnering with an online advertising firm that has some broad experience - yep, we are in the biz so self-serving to say so. But, if we could only tell you the tails of the orphan marketing campaigns that have died in the dust with insufficient budget, knowledge or human resources invested in the campaign.

5) Again, don’t get lost in the Social Media Hype Machine - old fashioned Press Releases still help to get your brand established and email campaigns, if done properly, still generate a great returns.

6) At the end of the day, your business needs and should use social media marketing - it’s in high growth mode and you want to have a presence when/where your customers visit online. There’s lots of free resources to generate a presence online via social media sites:

Squidoo Pages are free, great way to build a presence in this vibrant community and traffic back to your site.

Hub Pages are similar to Squidoo and give you visibility and links back to your site.

Upload those digital pictures floating around by setting up a Flickr Account - don’t forget to link them and do a good job on the descriptions.

Ping.Fm is a great web based service that let’s you upload a message/post/text to multiple Social Media Sites - there’s a list of 50-100 sites on their site. Challenge is setting up accounts for all; if you do, use the same email address and password to save time.

Google has a ton of free services that you can utilize to set up visibility within their “information silos” including Google Maps - great for organic search ranking if done properly.

We’ll have more thoughts on Practical Advice for Using Social Media Marketing for Business moving forward - bookmark us or follow our TwitterStream: http://www.Twitter/LinkedMedia