How to Dominate Your Competition Online With Great Design 

By Steve Hoag

dominate your competition online with great design

Capitalism is all about beating your competition to a pulp. It’s dog eat dog, and not all dogs go to Heaven. I understand that every industry is different, but for the sake of this article let’s assume that you and your competitors are more or less the same. Similar prices, product, strategy etc. So how to you beat someone that is a mirror image of yourself? By going the extra mile of course!

Using data and research to drive website design decisions

Data is king these days. Everyone wants actionable data that they can use to make informed decision. When it comes to website design, there are some different types of research you need to focus on. First of all, you need to truly understand who your customers are, and design your website around their needs, not yours. Using customer surveys or doing online secondary research can provide valuable insights into what your target segment wants/needs from you. Secondly, learn to use programs like Google Analytics, and truly become a master in interpreting the information they provide. Factors like abandonment rates, and hotspots on each page can help you identify how users are using your site, and where problem areas are. Use data like this to continually optimize your site design, so that you always your finger on your customers’ pulse.

Responsive Design

 One of the latest trends in website design is responsive design. This basically means designing your website so that it adapts to fit any device’s screen. More and more people are using mobile devices to access the Internet, which makes this new trend all the more important. Companies are steadily making the changes necessary to optimize their websites for mobile devices, but it hasn’t necessarily become industry standard yet. By utilizing responsive design in your website you will be going the extra mile, and making sure that anyone and everyone can use your site.

Strong Central Message

Content is arguably the most crucial part of website design. Your site may have a great layout, but customers won’t be coming back if the content isn’t compelling. Having a strong central message is critical. You need one that will resonate with your customers. This is true regardless of industry. Create a compelling reason for your target segment to think that your company has more to offer than anyone else. Focus on benefits over pricing. Pricing can change, but a strategy that revolves around identifying customer pain points, and responding with benefits is harder to imitate.

Awesome Branding

Branding is critical at every stage of a company’s life. As a small fish in a big pond it is even more important. You need to convince potential customers that you can hang with the big boys, and beat them at their own game. One of the easiest ways of doing this is through successful branding. Make sure your site looks as professional as possible, and be sure to select a strong logo. This will help to make your company look bigger than it is, and instill more confidence in users.

Simplicity – Less can be More

Trying to do too much at once can oftentimes inhibit your ability to be successful at anything. It’s the same idea when it comes to websites. Minimalism can be a great approach. Make it easy for your customers to see the important points, while giving them the option to read more details if they want to. Try to keep website copy concise, without babbling. Also avoid going overboard with media. This can really impact the professionalism of your site. Stick to what is absolutely necessary. Focus on readability when it comes to font choice, color, and size. There can be people with varying degrees of vision viewing your site, and maximizing accessibility is important.

Transparency

Another key area to focus on in your company's website design is maintaining a high degree of transparency. Since people don’t know much about you, you need to be really upfront with everything. This means providing easily accessible contact and business information. Anticipating any questions your customers have before they ask them is crucial. Make sure to address typical ones like what you sell, who you sell to, pricing, benefits etc.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Friday, November 29, 2013 2:52:00 AM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise SMB web design website

5 Things SMB's Should Avoid Doing on Social Media 

By Steve Hoag

things SMBs should doing on social media

Everyone is using social media these days. Even my grandparents are figuring out how to use Facebook and Twitter. Thanks to its incredible rise in popularity, social media has quickly become an important marketing tool. There are a bunch of articles online that will give you great tips on how to use social media, but there aren’t as many that detail what you shouldn’t do. If you avoid the following pitfalls, your business will be in better shape than most.

Don’t spam followers

No one likes spam. This is especially true on social media, where people opt in to see news from your company. They aren’t being forced to see your posts, so don’t make un-following your profile an appealing option. Avoid multiple posts in short periods of time. Try to space them out on networks. Hourly tweets are fine, but aim for only a few posts a week on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Don’t only promote your own products

Everyone has that one friend who only talks about themselves. This routine gets really old, really fast. Pretty soon you find yourself avoiding that person whenever possible. The same thing goes for consumers when they see a company only promoting themselves. Everyone likes sales deals, but they don’t want to be bombarded by them 24/7. Mix it up! Include some links to interesting industry articles, infographics, or videos from other websites.

Don’t forget to use relevant hashtags

Hashtags are a great way to create more exposure on networks like Twitter. They are essentially an easy way of searching and organizing information for users. For instance, if you would like to see everything that is being said about website design, you could just search for #websitedesign on Twitter. That being said, remember to use only relevant hashtags whenever possible. If you are a website design business common hashtags might include #webdesign, #websitedesign etc. #Don’t #use #hashtags #for #every #word #like #some #teenagers #do. That’s just #annoying.

Don’t post at irregular hours

Find out when your target segment is most active online. If they are using social media from 9 am – 5 pm then post during that time. Don’t post at 8 pm. This will help to maximize your exposure, and increase your chances of finding a lead.

Don’t ignore mentions, comments, RTs

Acknowledge your customers if they interact with you via social media! Say thank you for re-tweets or shares on different networks. Be sure to respond to any questions or comments you receive. Timely responses makes users feel valued, and improve your overall brand equity.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Tuesday, November 26, 2013 6:40:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise SMB social media social media marketing

3 Things To Look For In A Web Developer 

By Steve Hoag

things to look for in a web developer

Finding the right web developer for your enterprise project is one of the most important steps during the website creation process. There are a ton of options out there, but only a handful will provide exactly what you want. What should you look for when choosing a web developer? Start with these three factors:

Relevant Experience

A developer with years of experience is obviously more valuable than someone with limited experience. They know best practices and solutions to all the problems that may crop up. However, do they have relevant experience? For instance, if you are a municipality looking for a new government website, you should look for developers with government experience. They'll have a better understanding of your needs, wants, and market.

Location

Thanks to the Internet industry, companies have access to an enormous talent pool. Hiring a local developer can be a good option if you want someone you can easily get a hold of, and speaks your language fluently. On the other hand, outsourcing development can lead to lower costs, while there may be some communication problems. Just make sure you do your research and hire someone who is a good fit for you. There are great options both domestic and abroad.

Price/Features

Every developer is going to have a different pricing/feature mix. You need to ensure that you find a developer that fits your budget while offering the best feature set. Ask for quotes from different developers so you can get a sense of the industry average and avoid overpaying. You also want to avoid selecting the cheapest solution simply because it's cheaper. Make sure the quality of the work is the same as more expensive options. One of the worst things to do is underpay for a project, and then realize you need to redo all the development work.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Monday, November 25, 2013 8:15:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise SMB web development website

Three Ways You Can Improve Your Design Firm's Customer Service 

By Steve Hoag

designing a great website for client

Designing a great website for a client is extremely rewarding. It's even more rewarding when your customer thanks you for your excellent customer service and promises to refer you to others in their network. Providing great customer service is crucial if you want to be able to retain business and gain access to new clients easily. So how do you go about improving your customer service? Check out these three tips:

Go above and beyond the status quo to understand their business, industry, and vision.

As a designer you need to interpret words and ideas, and turn those into a visual masterpiece. This is not an easy task if you don't understand what their business is about. A great way of improving the quality of your designs is to do background research on your client's industry. Get to know what sort of design approaches sell well for their target market. Also, make sure to sit down with them and go over their business vision. This is important because you want your design to evoke their ideas. Your clients will undoubtedly be impressed with your dedication.

Make sure you clearly communicate your pricing and deliverables before starting work.

No one likes surprise charges. That's why people are always complaining about cable companies or banks. You agreed to pay $100 per month for cable/internet and now it's $145. That's terrible customer service on their part. There should be no surprises for the customer. As a designer, make sure you all of your pricing and deliverables are communicated upfront. The client needs to know exactly what they are going to get with their investment. Surprise charges drive away business. Don't be like a cable company.

Be available on different channels of communication so your customer can easily reach you with concerns.

Being available to communicate with a client is also very important for web designers. Web design is a back and forth process. Being on hand to deal with customer concerns or questions is critical to improving customer satisfaction. It's also important to use multiple channels of communication. Sometimes your client won't be able to reach you by phone, but can ping you on Skype. Maybe their e-mail isn't working, so they need to call you instead. As a designer you need to facilitate communication, not impede it. By being available on multiple channels you avoid customers getting frustrated.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Wednesday, November 20, 2013 6:19:00 PM Categories: B2B enterprise SMB web design web development website

What is a De-Coupled CMS? 

By Steve Hoag

de-coupled content management system

Choosing the right CMS is important to every website. While there are many options out there, there is also a dichotomy to be aware of.

One thing you'll need to determine is whether or not to choose between a coupled or de-coupled CMS. A coupled CMS is like a blog engine where the underlying store for your content is used for both authoring and delivering. Authoring is part of your live delivery system, and only certain users with permissions can create content.

On the flip side, a de-coupled system separates authoring and delivery into two different applications. You use a publishing application to push content from the authoring app to the content delivery platform.

If you decide to choose a de-coupled system, you need to make sure it fits your business goals, processes, and requirements. Here is a quick breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages of a de-coupled system:

Advantages:

- De-coupled systems scale better with high traffic websites, and managing multiple websites.

- SLAs are de-coupled. The authoring app can be down while the delivery platform is running and content will still go through.

- Content migration and sharing with other systems is easier.

- De-coupled systems have better multi-channel support, allowing you to publish content to social media, mobile apps, etc.

- Content sharing and syndication are supported better.

- Code complexity is isolated in the two different platforms, allowing you to make code as complex or simple in either app without affecting the other.-

- It is easy to develop awesome features for users when coding is isolated and scaling is easy.

Weaknesses:

- Set up of the system is more complex because of more components and moving parts.

- If not managed properly, all the different components can create more complexity and negatively impact the user experience.

 

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Tuesday, November 19, 2013 6:11:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C blogging enterprise SMB web design web development website
Page 16 of 21 << < 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 > >>