Thursday, March 17, 2011

My website wants to be the "belle of the ball"

Design, when applied to fashion, includes cons...Image via Wikipedia
Am I an amazing website designer? No. Do I know a great website when I see one? I think so. The challenge I have when designing a website is not getting carried away and trying to copy the slickly designed sites that are intended to show how great the designer behind the scenes is at design, rather than providing a clean website packed with useful information for my customers, prospects and random Googlers. As I balance a desire to produce a slicker website, I constantly have to remind myself why it is there. And that in itself opens up quite a can of worms. Why is the website there? What is the point of the business it is representing? Can this thing be beautiful and functional?

As a small business owner, I have the self-imposed responsibility for the company website. I'm quite comfortable with this, despite it being horribly time consuming. If I can spend the time to verbalize what I think the company offers customers on the website, then I'm in a better position to talk about it with prospects and partners. It reflects what I alway knew about the best software salespeople I worked with in a previous life as a product manager -- the best of the best could understand enough of the technology to talk lucidly with customers about what they were selling. They didn't just walk in the door with shiny shoes, a big smile and hand over the show to the sales engineer to do the talking. If I can write decent copy for the website, I understand what is being sold well enough and what value it offers the customer. If I end up in technical jargon, or marketing fluff, then I need to think a bit more. Yes, I do regularly go back and read what I have written. Then I add it to the to-do list to fix up later.

So a website now has great content, an aesthetic appeal to match what it is selling. What more is there? If the website has the potential to be the  "belle of the ball", but never stops staring at itself in the mirror, then nobody is going to notice it. Twitter, Facebook, whatever other social media tools are all very nice, if you can generate a credible number of real friends. But as I've seen from my own website stats, a little paid advertising can go a very long way! 

My one rule of websites: flaunt what you have, then when people talk about how beautiful you are you can stun them with your depth of knowledge too.

(It seems that this blog and the Consected website still need a little cosmetic work!)

A post from the Improving It blog
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