There was a time when Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) was seen as some mysterious black art. Developers would pit their wits against search engines to get their sites high in the rankings – usually higher than their content warranted. This often involved trying every trick in the book to shoehorn keywords into a site – exhibit a: endless lists of keyword links at the foot of each page. Sometimes it actually worked, but it came at a cost to those actually using the site.
A website needs not only to be technically suitable for your needs and attractive and appropriate to your audience but also needs to be legally compliant. At the simplest level your site must display your corporate registration details in the same way as your notepaper and you must secure the necessary rights to use the different elements that make up your site.
Absent any agreement to the contrary the copyright in the website design and the individual elements within it such as logos and photographs belong to the individuals who create them or their employer where the work is carried out in the course of their employment, so if you are using third parties for any part of this work you need to make sure that the copyright is either made over to you or that you have ongoing rights to use it and to adapt it as you please. You will normally want a fully paid up perpetual licence to these elements so that you do not have to worry about losing the rights later or having to pay additional fees. If any element of the design is to be used for other purposes such as flyers or presentations you need to ensure that the licence you obtain from the originator covers these additional uses.
Imagine the scenario: you need to drive to a city you’ve never been to, say Milton Keynes (since I’ve never been there). You know the M1 takes you pretty close so you set off, safe in the knowledge British roads are well signposted and all major cities can be reached with a bit of concentration.
You drive for a few hours but there are no signs for Milton Keynes, other obscure towns and cities seem to get a mention but not your destination. Eventually you spot a sign for Milton Malsor, that sounds near enough so you turn off as instructed. It turns out Milton Malsor is not connected to Milton Keynes*
So you try to get back on the motorway, except you can’t because you can’t go back the way you came (slip roads quite rightly being one-way) and you’ve no idea where you are.
Sound ridiculous? It is, and yet it’s no more ridiculous than the navigation systems employed by countless websites.
The holy grail of marketing has always been to develop a relationship with your customer. The idea being that through this relationship with your client base, you can predict, pre-empt and possibly even coerce them into remaining loyal to your product, service or brand.
The predominance of social media over the last 18 months has been a gift for marketeers – now your customers can actively choose to follow you on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook, link with you on Linkedin or promote their involvement with you through their FourSquare updates.
An essential part of the modern marketing mix is to incorporate the power of social media into your marketing strategy for the year.
Like search engine optimisation a few years ago, a number of consultants, specialists and expensive advisers will, for a fee, advise you on how to maximise your profile, increase your followers and attempt to monetise those that choose to interact with you on a social media channel. For many SME’s, engaging an external social media consultancy can be a costly exercise that will need to be proven as a worthwhile part of a marketing strategy before additional budget can be allocated to it.
It’s good to be busy but it can often mean that important business development tasks are neglected.
So, at the end of a busy few months, and as a new year begins, it seemed like a good time to write about the importance of focus.
All graphic design, in print and on screen, is about communication. Clients have something to say and it’s up to designers to make sure the message is communicated successfully. This is what I enjoy most about web design; taking information from a client and working out the most effective way to convey it to their customers.
But if the original message is not clear then no amount of design magic will enlighten the end user. This lack of direction often reveals itself in two ways: trying to say too much and trying to say too many different things at once.
In the last blog I looked at the importance of keeping your site updated and the reasons for that. To be honest, few people would argue with the principle. Where arguments tend to arise is with the nature of these updates. I thought it would be helpful to give some thoughts on creating effective website content.
It may be useful to define what I mean by ‘content’. It’s quite a vague term and can cover different media (e.g. text, audio, video), and different formats (e.g. a blog post, an offer or competition, a podcast). Most of the examples in this post are given with written content in mind but the points can apply to most media and formats.
Whatever methods are used, the key is to make sure your content is clear and focussed, carefully created, useful and stimulating.
I was at a business development group the other week and at one point the conversation turned to online marketing. It’s a huge subject to get into when you’ve only a few hours to chat but there were some interesting points raised.
The main area of discussion centred on how to attract potential customers to your site, and then how to keep them coming back for more. It’s an important question with no shortage of suggested solutions but I’d argue the answer’s simple: keep your site updated.
So, how does updating your site increase visitors and then keep them coming back?