Thursday, January 31, 2008

Debunking web-myths

"If you build it, they will come."

It's a quote from the fantastic Kevin Costner movie Field of Dreams. The premise of the movie is not unlike the desire so many folks have about building a website and hoping to improve their business. But like the Ray Kinsella character in the movie -- with a tremendous amount of hard work and a steadfast dedication, creating a web design to attract potential customers.

But where it's okay to be idealistic and thinking that all you need to do is to build a website - and the world will flock to you --- the reality is: it doesn't happen like it does in the movies. There are, however, some strategic steps that you can take to improve your standing online.

Surrounding yourself with smart people and developing a keen strategy.

It's a long standing belief that if you surround yourself with smart folks who can give you really great advice -- then they can optimize your business in a way that won't cost you a hefty sum of money. Web Designers can be hired to evaluate your potential footprint on the web and to help construct a viable strategy to optimize your online presence. We stay up on trends and news about the internet and how to employ the best options available to our clients.

It's all about the content.

Websites are tagged according to your content, who links to you, and whether or not you're a "real website." Keeping your content concise, non-repetitive and descriptive will improve your standing in the majority of search engines like Google and Yahoo! Avoid those "offers" that say they can promote your business so you can get more hits Oftentimes, these "optimizer" deals are nothing more than link farms. And if you agree to put your site on a link farm, then you're destined to be black listed. And if you're black listed - then no one will find your site from Google and Yahoo!

Patience little snowflake

The moment your website goes live, it's natural to want the visitor to come to your website within the first hour it's up. Unless you're publicizing the launch of your website on lists across the internet, spanning several hundreds of people, the traffic to your site will start out slow. This is natural and it happens because just like "word of mouth" it takes time to generate a buzz for people to come to your site.

It's not the "end all, be all" for your marketing strategy

And that ties in with what your marketing strategy is about your website. I regularly caution our clients who think of their website as the heart of their marketing process when in reality, your website is an extension to your overall strategy. You simply don't stop your marketing process after you've created business cards, right? Business cards are a tool, much like the internet, or your yellow page ad, or your listing in a magazine, or your posters for your upcoming show. Having an online presence is essential in today's businesses because people want a wealth of information and they want to get to know you and your company. The more "established" you appear, the greater that someone is going to be interested in hiring you or purchasing what you're selling.

It used to be that as long as you had a glitzy storefront with an interesting window display, that people would want to visit your store. In today's informational age, customers want to know more about the store, the artist, or the business person before they decide they want to conduct business with you.

Once my website is up - it's on auto-pilot

When you're sitting at your breakfast table and you're sipping your coffee, what if your morning newspaper happened to be the exact same newspaper as yesterday?? You might think that was an error on the news carrier's part - or you might even think it was a foul up somewhere in the process. If you called up your newspaper and they told you: "no, it was no mistake, we just don't have anything new to report today." A newspaper that isn't new each day?

Websites work along the same lines in a way. Bottom line: it depends on the function of the website and how it works along side with your marketing strategy. If you want repeating customers or visitors that will keep coming back - you have to give them a reason to come back. A fresh website accomplishes this task. This means keeping things updated and new whether you're selling artwork or whether you're informing a select group of people about an industry, group, or business.

How to make your website continually fresh may require some additional add-ons in the form of a blog or a Content Management System like Joomla or Drupal. These add-ons do not require extensive programming knowledge once the website has been assembled, uploaded and configured. In the case of a blog, you can be up and blogging in a matter of minutes whereas designing a CMS structure from scratch might take several weeks to accomplish with the help of a programmer and/or designer.

Depending on your marketing strategy, some websites may opt to remain static as they are nothing more than passing billboards on the super information highway. The strategy is different, but no less important to ensure that visitors can find your product, service or information with ease.

SUMMARY: Developing your online strategy is essential before even beginning to design a website. It's important to discuss with your designer the types of options available and how the website is going to work with your overall marketing plans. There's a lot of considerations that goes into the creation of a website in as much as it's important to consider what will happen after the website has gone live. Ultimately you want an online presence that will complement the plan you have in place for the success of your business, organization or agency. Keeping it real, planning it out and working with your support team guarantees the best possible outcome for your web experience.

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