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Archive for June, 2012

Why Good Content is Critical for Your Website’s Success

It’s always exciting for a new business website to launch. Even businesses that already have websites understand that a website is never really finished. The website is a living entity that needs updating. A website is always going through minor design tweaks and changes.

Something that happens when businesses get involved in website projects is the focus tends to lean heavily toward the design. It’s understandable. We all love looking at beautiful things including websites.

There is something that gets lost, though, in the design process.

Why Good Content is Critical for Website Success

Content is commonly overlooked during website projects. We get caught up in the design elements like colors and graphics and buttons that we forget to focus on the content like descriptions, headings, and even photos. In reality, the content is just as important and in some cases it’s more important than the design.

Ok. I won’t say that content is more important than the design. The two are equally important for a website to become successful and achieve results. But content is often getting pushed aside and that’s something that can derail your website project if you don’t pay attention.

Content Tells Your Story

Why are you creating a website?

Most websites are created to represent you or your company when you can’t be there. You want people to purchase something from you and when you aren’t available to sell it to those people face-to-face you need something to replace you. Since people spend time online a website makes sense.

Think about how you start relationships with your customers. you probably start by asking questions and getting to know their story. Next you probably tell them your story and weave in details about how you and your company can provide some answers and possibly solutions for their problems. The process involves you telling your story, but the focus remains on the other person, the potential customer.

The story you tell in person needs to be represented on your website. In order to do this you need content.

When focusing on content most of the time we think of textual content. Text is certainly a big part of the content strategy puzzle, but don’t forget about photos, graphics, and even videos. It is all forms of content and it all helps you tell your story to customers when they visit your site.

Your website is a storyteller when you’re not there to tell it. Use the design and the content as your storyteller. Focus on the words that need to be shared and the images that can enhance the story. Also remember to focus on the needs of the customer. You’re telling a story, but it’s not always about you. It’s about the issues the customer has and how you can help them.

Influential Content Sells

In the beginning, the marketing model was to broadcast as loud as possible any campaign or promotion. Since the web has taken over, customers now have the ability to interact with your content. The web is no longer about transactions, but long-term relationships.

You probably have goals for your website. Most often the goal is to sell more of something. You want to appeal to Internet users and have an entity available at all times. Thus you hire a company to design and create your website. But design alone cannot sell your products and services.

You need good content.

The headlines, descriptions, images, etc. are all working to sell to your website visitors. It makes sense to start focusing on the content as the driver of the sales on your website. Design plays an important role, but equal focus needs to be put into the development of the content.

Developing Influential Content

It actually makes sense to start your website project with the content strategy first.

Most designers will agree that a project is easier when the content strategy and the content is ready before the design is started. This means you’ll have to work on the content prior to having thoughts about the design.

When developing website content you’re actually focusing on a content strategy. This goes back to telling your story. Consider your current customers or your target customers. What are their issues? Use their issues and concerns to create content (headings, descriptions, explanations, photos, etc.) that builds a relationship of trust with them. It’s weird to think about a website having the ability to build a relationship with someone, but really the website is just an extension of you. Website visitors read your content and trust is built. Ultimately the goal is to have that relationship lead to a sale. When people trust you and you have something to help them they are happy to pay you for it.

Focus on your story, your selling goals and remeber to consider your end user experience.

Overall be sure to think about content just as much as you think about the design of your website.

7 Thoughts on Mobile Design and Marketing

Mobile marketing is becoming important as more consumers use tablets and smartphones.

How are you preparing for the increase in tablet and smartphone usage?

The use of mobile devices is going to impact how your target visitors interact with your Web properties and Web content. Businesses and organizations that want to get the most out of their websites are going to need to evolve in order to stay relevant for the modern Web browsing person.

Here are seven thoughts to have as we head into the future of mobile Web browsing:

1. Consider Responsive Design for Various Devices

Responsive design allows you to have one Website that adjusts dimensions for various devices and screen sizes. Basically the site takes longer to setup originally with coding and design, but will save you time in the long run from having to manage multiple sites for multiple devices. A responsive site will adjust the elements on the page to make it a better experience for big screens and small screens. It’s a basic idea that can benefit any website.

2. Think Finger Taps Instead of Mouse Clicks

Have you ever struggled to tap a button on a website when browsing on your smartphone? It can be extremely frustrating. Make sure to consider this when working on your future website and even items like emails.

3. Scrolling Can Be Horizontal and Vertical

Horizontal scrolling is a pain on a desktop. It’s strange for most folks to scroll that way with their mouse or mouse pad. But it’s easier and more common on a phone. There are new opportunities to stand out and be different with horizontal scrolling so don’t be afraid to experiment.

4. Video is in Demand

Video is popular on the desktop and will remain popular with mobile users. Marketers should focus on the importance of using video on websites in the future. Mobile connections will only improve so don’t be afraid of losing interest just because people aren’t at home. It can actually be easier to comprehend a message in video form when you’re on the go as opposed to reading it.

5. The Intersection of Written Text and Design Remains Important

It has always been important for written text to blend well with design. Newspapers and magazines have always found a balance so that reading is an enjoyable experience. The same has been true of website design. As mobile devices become more popular it’s important to keep the text on your websites easy to read and understand. One general rule of thumb is that shorter headlines are better on mobile devices. Also make sure your text is large enough to read, but not obnoxiously large so it doesn’t turn people away.

6. Avoid Too Much Clutter and Distraction

With change always comes opportunity, but the danger with new opportunities is the feeling that we must do everything. Something that should never change is your focus and your goals for your website. Most businesses and organizations do not need a mobile site with all the features available. A simple site with basic yet valuable information that converts visitors is still the best course of action for most. Have your conversion goals as the leading factors for any website change. You can make your site easy to navigate on a mobile site, but don’t make it distracting. Make it simple so visitors can make the decisions you want them to make when they are on your site.

7. Leave Room for Change

Most business owners and website managers understand that websites are no longer static entities. The desktop revolution happened. Today there is a mixture of desktop Web browsing and mobile browsing. In the future it appears as if the world will be viewing the Web more on their mobile devices – tablets and phones. The devices are changing rapidly. The best step you can take today is to change your mindset that you’ll have to leave your site open for change in the future. A Website design is never complete. Think about the entire design as a process that is changing and evolving as browsing habits change.

Bonus: Consider the Context of Mobile Device Usage

Marketers would be wise to think about the settings where people use their mobile devices. Desktops limit people to offices or rooms at their homes. Laptops helped some and got people into coffee shops, but mobile devices allow people to go anywhere (even if they still just sit on the couch at home). Consider the context of a person using a mobile device. If you can figure out what triggers a person browsing their phone while riding the bus to make a purchase you can see your marketing go to another level of success.