Tag Archives: Websites

Websites are like Gardens

Running Away From HomeI lost a customer recently and that really bothers me. A small vendor of woman’s accessories, the customer bought a website from Net Solutions last year. She wanted an eCommerce site and she wanted to keep costs as low as possible. She used PayPal as her payment gateway and I designed her site, set up the pages, wrote and added text, added the items into her shopping cart and got her site launched.

After the site went live, she indicated that she did not like the flow of the PayPal system and requested that I change it. I tactfully informed her that I could not change PayPal’s processes even if I wanted to. I am not convinced she believed me. She never did anything with her website, nothing ever changed. After several months she pulled all the products off her site and now she’s canceled her site and her domain name. I feel like I let her down because her site wasn’t as successful as she wanted it to be.

One thought led to another and I thought about many of my clients and the misconception that a lot of small business owners seem to share, “I have a website, where are my customers?”

A website, especially one that’s as easy to use and maintain as a ProFusion Ultra IS website, is a fantastic marketing tool and when used correctly, can bring in new customers to your business, helping it grow and thrive. Unlike a phone book or print ad you can add all the color you want at no additional cost. Websites Are Like GardensAdd additional pages, video, forms, photos – things to make the website easier for your visitors to interact with your business easily, quickly and often – with no waiting for publication dates.

It doesn’t end there however, to be an effective marketing tool a website must be kept sharp, up to date and fresh. It’s like a garden, it’s never done. Ignore it at your own peril and like this customer did weeds will grow and choke the life out of it. It will languish with the millions of other websites, never found because no time was taken to keep it fresh and updated – no reason for search engines or humans to visit or ever come back. This is the main reason why Search Engine Optimization is so important for your website – it keeps your site from becoming just another pretty face among the millions of other pretty faces in Cyberspace. Use your website like the tool it was designed to be, keep your site sharp and up to date so you can reap the rewards it can offer you for years to come.

Even though I can rationalize why my client canceled her domain and took down her site, I still hate losing her as a customer.

Branding with Employee Images

Most companies choose to introduce themselves and their employees through their Website on the About Us Page. This page is typically used to help visitors get to know the business they are visiting and the people who represent it a little better.

Pictures of employees can help visitors connect with the business more quickly; it makes the website seem a bit more personal and warm. An employee’s photo with a friendly smile can tell a visitor a lot about a person that the bio can’t and can help build rapport.

Photos of employees and owners help tell the world the company message and promote the company brand, whether fun-loving and professional such as
http://www.netsolutionsna.com/content/company/team.asp
or strictly professional: http://www.itssimplyplaced.com/content/about_/the_team.asp

A website works as part of your company’s brand which is a permanent voice or message that your company communicates to the public. A brand rarely changes – it should always be consistent, clear and personable. Using a Website as a portion of your company’s brand and people will come to know, trust and visit your site because of who your company is.
Branding isn’t just promotional because no matter what the trend is at the time your brand should always be the same, just as your attitude towards your potential customers will always be the same.
A website has one hurdle to overcome when a visitor enters – it has to show the brand and the personality of the business in the virtual world. This can be done by building a Website that is clean, clear, concise and most importantly personable.
Photos of employees on the Website can also help the visitor connect with employees they may talk to later – they will feel that they know the employee and feel they have something in common. People will deal with a company or individual that they like and can identify with.
Customers will come back because they like the brand; they like what is being put out to the world and in most cases photos on the Website of people who work for the company help create a relationship with these people.
There are a few instances when photos of employees are not placed on the Website. Companies who deal with sensitive issues and policies may not want to show the employee photos in order to protect them from the public that may disagree with the company’s stand.
In this case the brand will stay consistent and clear by telling the world the message in a confidential manner. This will display a strictly professional image and create a brand identity of a different manner.
No matter what type of brand you attempt to display to the world, personable and warm, or confidential and strict it is important to always remain consistent and concise in your message. Whether or not employee photos are placed on the Website or left off helps to deliver that message.

A critical critique….

Funny thing… I stumbled upon a blog today that critiqued our “Does Your Website Stink” ad. She wrote this…

Deciding what makes for good creative is subjective. Results are all that really matter. But how many ads do you see that make you cringe? For me, this one did. It’s ugly. But what’s important is that people click on it. Following the rules is not top priority, like in David Ogilvy’s days. Click. Or not. And I wouldn’t.

Ogilvy, the author of Confessions of an Advertising Man and Ogilvy on Advertising, would argue that every ad needs a compelling headline; “Does Your Website Stink?” is attention-getting, for sure. He would also require an appropriate graphic. Using the gas mask assumes the reader wouldn’t get it without this literal reference. I’m thinking an outhouse or litter box may have been considered as well. In Mr. O.’s day, a good ad needed a call to action, like the logo and link to the company’s site that I removed. I don’t want to point fingers. Not today, anyway.

To me, the ad says a lot about this web design firm–it makes them look crass by appealing to crass sensibilities–which may have been the goal. If so, they achieved it, and I hope they have thousands of hits today.

At least they didn’t ask, “Does your website suck?” with a picture of a straw.

I tried to respond on her blog, but it wasn’t working, so I sent an email response that said…

I am the owner of the company whose ad you are critiquing. Feel free to put our logo back on the ad as we are not embarrassed or regretful for creating that advertisement. Please feel free to post it as you found it which also had a link back to our website (www.netsolutionsna.com). Whether the ad annoys you, offends you, or hurts your eyes, it made you look, you read it, and you even took the time to Blog about it. I can only hope now that our ad is recognizable enough that people will want to go to our Blog to see if we have a response to what you have written. If that happens, then our ultimate goal of getting a potential customer to our website will have been achieved.

The one aspect of your post that I found insightful was “To me, the ad says a lot about this web design firm–it makes them look crass by appealing to crass sensibilities–which may have been the goal.” Certainly, this is not the goal. We know that in advertising you have only a small window of opportunity to grab someone’s attention. We know that posting our logo does not grab anyone’s attention. But we knew that those 4 little words, for better or for worse, would grab someone’s attention. The clients that we get from these click-throughs are the “low hanging fruit”. They are the people that are already in the market, are feeling some pain because their existing website “doesn’t work” and they are looking to make a change immediately. For someone who is not looking to create a new website or web application in the next few weeks, this ad probably means very little to them. For those people, we need to find another way to get their attention. That is why we offer quarterly website classes that teach you how to build an effective website, how to optimize it, and how to edit and maintain it yourself. By educating our potential customers in our classes, we are putting in motion the law of reciprocity. If we educate them (not sell to them) they are likely to use us in the future if/when they are in the market for what we sell.

Since you are in the marketing/advertising world Teresa, I am sure you can appreciate the need for multiple ads that have different headlines and different uses. The ad that you critiqued is attention grabbing and is meant more as a joke than as a crude or crass comment. We try not to take ourselves too seriously around here and that is the spirit in which that ad was created.

What do you think? Is our ad offensive or crass?

First Quarter 2009 | Website Launches

The first quarter of 2009 has already come and gone. We’ve been busy improving our product and launching many new websites.

Some of the notable projects are:

www.studioninefitness.com
www.nikondealerco-op.com
www.blackrockcharters.com
www.skitosea.com
www.shamrockhose.com
www.nmea.org
www.wynkoopaccounting.com
www.bellinghambizeview.com
www.extolohio.com
www.adkpropertymanagement.com
www.gamewardens.com
www.chriselliottfund.org
www.osirisendeavors.com
www.audioinnovationsnw.com
www.bbqchick.com
www.localbuildindex.com
www.cascadesfly.com
www.evolution-audio.com
www.prostockathletic.com
www.widenet-consulting.com
www.phoenixapplianceservice.com
www.mpelectric.net

We learned something from each one of these projects and have made changes to our base application (the ProFusion Ultra Internet Solution) because of the requests of these clients. All of these clients have elected to take their website maintenance into their own hands. Because they are all on our application, the website owner has the ability to add, edit, delete content, pages, images, forms, and more right from our easy to use website content management system (CMS).

The term CMS can be a little misleading. The PF Ultra IS is more than a CMS. CMS infers that only the content can be changed. With the UIS, all aspects of the website can be changed. The color scheme, the header images, the layout, the images… you name it, you can change it using the UIS. And the best part is that if you don’t want to do it yourself, we can do it for you. Or if you don’t like the way something works, we can customize the UIS to fit whatever your need is. That is way more than 1000 small businesses have chosen NSNA to be their web solution partner.

If you need to take control of your website, contact us today.