Head Turning Or Finger Moving?

As you browse the web, oogling the awesomeness of your favorite website and its Lupita-Nyong’o-esque beauty, you begin to realize that the website YOU rely on the most to tell YOUR business story and bring in the coin is quckly becoming stale and a little Liza-Minnelli-ish (okay, she can still turn some heads but YOU want to turn more heads).

Oh my, you realize that your site is all over the place when viewed from a phone and requires lots of pinching and heavy swiping of the touchscreen to view all of your content or to simply find your way around it. Maybe you even remember someone telling you that your site is built on something called a table – yes, it’s that old.

Get Your Website Young Again

I’m not trying to shame you into updating your website, but I can’t emphasize enough from experience that, if you want to stand out and be remembered on the web, you need to be young.

I’m not descriminating against age, because maturity is just fine in my book, however a website needs to feel young to thrive. It can have a vintage and even plain look, but underneath any makeup, at the foundation of the site, which is not something you even see, it must be young. Maybe not seen, but its effects are clearly felt.

What do I mean?

Your website is built on certain design principles. The language of the web has come a long ways since the early days. The fact that we live more-and-more in a mobile world, demands that our websites adjust to this reality. A website built on tables will show it’s age in today’s world. Modern design principles and best practices are quickly felt when you visit a fresh Lupita-Nyong’o-esque website though – it’s remembered.

Today’s buzz is often focused on using social media to tell our business story and reach a wider audience, so why are we bashing Nick-Nolte-esque websites now?

A good social media strategy is going to help tell your story and what you’re about, but it has to lead your fans and followers someplace. Conversations are one thing, but having something to talk about is another. Your website should be viewed as the source for topics of conversation. It’s where your side of the story begins.

Keep in mind that it boils down to your story and user experience. User Experience (UE) is a huge topic but it guides the most successful of brands. You shape part of that with social media, but it sort of grows from the whisper that you start from your website. Of course your product or service is the main topic, but we want our customers to feel happy when they hear and think about our story – a whisper that begins from our website. If the product or service is trash, it doesn’t matter what your story is on the website though. So, good UE brings everything together to make sure that your story is remembered – remembered well.

If the whisper begins on our website, then it’s important to make sure that we’ve put some thought into keeping it young.

Keep turning heads and being remembered by keeping your website fresh.

Now here’s where a reasonably good designer will come in. That person should be bringing in some experience with the most recent trends in web designs and best practices. That person is as much an artist as a Lego brick builder.

It’s one thing to randomly connect a few bricks, but quite another to build something that will be remembered and last a while.

So if it’s time to refresh your website, you need to be prepared for a few changes. Change is not always easy to accept, but remember that you’re paying someone who has some design experience and knows a thing or two about the modern web. Do you just want to make some minor changes here or there? Okay, but listen carefully to the designer or developer if they recommend a few more changes or sometimes a complete rebuild. I know that my recommendations are based upon wanting your story to stand out.

For example, when I look at a social media project, I’ll try to get a grasp of the complete business story. I visualize the whole story, sifting out the fluff and condensing it to a few words. Then I build from there, making sure that the whisper which begins on the website is fresh, modern and memorable – that it contributes successfully to the entire user and brand experience. I’m also bringing in a product manager’s viewpoint to a website – looking at all the angles including cost, longevity, time constraints, value, UI, customer experience, marketing, user experience as well as design.

Be Prepared

I’m jotting down just a few things that you may want to think about before talking to a designer or developer about your website.

  • Do I want a few minor changes, a basic refresh or a completely new website design? Your web person will help answer this question, but look at some other sites for ideas of what a modern site looks like and how it displays on different devices.
  • What is my brand story? A large company should already know this but smaller businesses may have to give it some thought. Think about what your business motto or slogan would be if you don’t have one.
  • Do I have examples of other sites that I like? This will help your web person understand your tastes. Know what you like and dislike about other sites. Be prepared to listen to suggestions though that you might not have considered before.
  • Will I use the text content on my current site for the new one? I’m comfortable writing content with an eye toward SEO, but be aware that it does add to a project’s final cost due to the extra time and work involved.
  • Will I need to provide new images to use for the redesign? If your current site hasn’t been updated in awhile, your current images may not display well on a new design. Images can also add to a project’s cost, but your web person can help you through this area. Working with images will require some time.
  • Do I know what colors and brand image I want to present to visitors? Larger companies will probably already have a style guide or brand manual, but smaller businesses may only have a business card and outdated website to work from. Never downplay colors and branding. Your web person can offer suggestions on this too. Your business cards though should always match your website.
  • Should I consider a blog? Yes, it will add some to the cost of a project, but it is one of the best ways to keep your story fresh and relevant to search engines. I highly recommend this for SEO purposes.
  • Am I focused on SEO for this project? SEO takes time and thought. It adds to a project’s price and deployment schedule, but should be considered a necessity. This is really a huge topic and requires more space than I’m prepared to discuss here. I’m always thinking about SEO though. It stands for Search Engine Optimization and many things about a website (backend code, key words in content, images, links, ect.) can contribute to it. Consider adding a blog if you are truly SEO driven.
  • Do I know my budget? When I know what a client’s budget is, I’m better able to recommend the design options that will give the most bang for the buck. I’m not a cookie cutter designer. Because I enjoy my work, I take pride in making things stand out. I often end up adding personal tweaks that add a little more flare. Share with me your thoughts on costs and budgets and I’m sure we’ll end up with a happy story.

So, that’s it for now. I’ll update this post with more planning questions as they come to mind.

Remember, your story doesn’t have to stay stuck to a table. It can live and breathe with a young website – growing from a whisper to a party conversation. Contact TeazMedia if you have any further questions about keeping your website fresh.

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