Archive for March, 2009

Who Decides Good Website Design?

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

The approach to web design is set by the schools. The programmers develop a website and the art department designs the website. This process is carried on to the industry where the art or graphic people in the company are given the task to design a website. But, website design is a misleading phrase and it is often thought to be the ‘look’ of a website. That ‘look’ might include good animation with a little sound or music and perhaps a discreet video. We need to understand the phrase website design as it is applied to building a business’ online presence.
For businesses, websites serve as marketing tools. On the web, the best way to market a site is to use the search engines. Consequently, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) needs to be the first consideration when building a site and it is dictated by a strategy. Neither the graphics person nor the programmer should be involved in setting the strategy. Strategy must come from the marketing department; unfortunately, most marketing people are not equipped to create a web strategy. Click here to continue…

The Look is the First Impression

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

When websites give the right visual impression to visitors, it can create a loyal user. Once you have developed a strategy for your site and a clear message, it is time to build a look around those two items – strategy and message. First, identify your audience. Who will be your target market? Some marketing gurus suggest that you have a clear mental picture of your potential customer because every target customer has different needs, likes and dislikes. Business-to-business websites will look very different from websites that are targeting parents of young children.

The website content or marketing information visible to your visitors has to communicate to search engines and to customers. But, the look of the site communicates directly to your customers. Sometimes a look is purely functional. Craigslist is a good example; it really has no eye appeal, but its ease of use and simple layout are critical to its universal nature.

We know that the WWW was built on information. When we do a search, we are seeking information. If we want to buy something, we are probably going to buy from the best price. But, other factors might influence a purchase. Does the site look secure? Does the look make a buyer feel comfortable enough to put in personal, private information? A corporate, official look often helps motivate this decision. Click here for the rest…

The Strategy of a Website

Monday, March 16th, 2009

There are three parts to the strategy of a website.
1. Communicating to the search engines
2. Communicating to existing clients
3. Communicating to new clients
When a site is first being built many business owners see it as establishing credibility for their business. They’ll state: “If we have a website, it is proof we are in business. Let’s just get a website up.” Once the novelty wears off, the question becomes where are we in the search engines. If this consideration was not addressed from the beginning, then the chances are the website is hard to find.
Communicating to the search engines means picking the keywords that users employ when they begin a search and then aligning the website with those keywords. If your site is not using the keywords that your potential clients use, then your website will most likely not appear on the first page of the search results. Many companies rank high when their name is used in a search. But, when users search with keywords normally associated with the type of business they want to find, the companies fare poorly. Click here to continue…

How Important Is the Domain Name

Monday, March 9th, 2009

A strategy we recommend involves using your company’s name as a domain name as well as registering a generic name. For instance, if you own a plumbing company in Arizona, but plumbing.com and plumber.com is not available, you could buy AZplumbing.com or 4AZplumbing.com. But, also purchase the domain of your business name like Smithplumbingcompany.com, and point it to AZplumbing.com where your site is. You’ve successfully created a website based on words people would use when looking for a plumber, but you have also helped people who know your company’s name find you on the web. Be aware, though, that just using keywords doesn’t guarantee that your site will receive a high page ranking.
Choosing a domain name is similar to choosing your company’s name – keep it short, but more importantly, keep it memorable. Your name might also suggest what you want your company to be Names that are easy to use in marketing campaigns work well. For example, Lotsofgifts.com is a good name because it reveals what your company offers and is easy to say. However, if lotsofgifts.com were taken, do not recreate it with hyphens as in lots-of-gifts.com. Hyphens are hard to spell out on a keyboard and difficult to remember. Lotsofgifts.com involves no thought when entering it.
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Should a Startup Website Have a Strategy?

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

When a company decides to start a website, they face a plethora of choices. Choosing a web designer can mean employing a nephew who puts a great site on Facebook or MySpace or employing an elaborate, expensive .net site that promotes all the bells and whistles as well as quotes a high price tag. Some deals work and others somehow lose the business’s focus in the process. Overall, when planning its first website, a company should consider three items: 1. Search engine usage, 2. Domain name choice, and 3. Business tools
During my 14 years of website design, I often hear that search engines should not be considered when putting up a new website. In one sense this is true because search engines robot the website only every few months. So, even with a good strategy, a website might not show up for a couple of months. Instead of search engine strategy, a web designer might promote branding and image as the focal point for a new website. Sending the right message combined with the right look is important, too.
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