Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Improve Website Results 100%, 5 Steps

You may think this is a joke, not possible...what if it was guaranteed? Don't look for a guarantee like this on this blog, it's not my style, but I will say that these kind of improvements are very possible with a well executed and organized web development plan...oh no, here I go with the plan thing again. Yes, hear me, you are not going to get those kind of results without planning unless you are unbelievably lucky. For those who think this isn't possible I offer this, if it is possible and you don't engage with this kind of process, then the new opportunities that would have been yours? Well, they'll be go to someone else. How much will that cost you?

Five Steps

Step 1- Content, content, content. Check it over, are you giving your visitors the solutions they're looking for? Nobody cares about your product except you, they care about their problem and solutions for the problem, get your answers lined up and give them what they want.

Step 2- Check out your competition, what are they doing? What are they saying? How are they ranking in searches, why? How are they converting site visitors? Standard business. You don't have to re-create the wheel, just improve it a little and you'll win all the business you want.

Step 3- SEO, you think I'm crazy mentioning this don't you? Well let me tell you something, I surf a lot of websites and an unbelievably high percentage don't even have keywords and those that do well, many have the same keywords on every page of the website. Missed opportunities.

Step 4- Blog. Yes, again I say blog. This is probably the easiest way to improve rankings with the search engines. A blog provides your website with changing content, blog more, more change, more search engine relevance.

Step 5- Social network campaign. It's time that you engage in the conversation, offer your tweet, your wall space, your flick...beware, this isn't where you advertise, this is where you provide good conversation, want to be interesting? Be interested.

There you go, five steps. Yes, there are many more, no I haven't said all there is to say, there are many details, come back again soon and I'll have something else.

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Are 'Things' Changing

Yeeeeeaah! In the world of online communication...wow are they changing!

OK, so much for the exclamation points. I bring this topic up for two reasons, first, in a recent conversation with a friend who knows of my involvement with website services, he asked me about Facebook. I asked him, "What do you want to know?", his answer (really) "What is it?" I have to tell you, I was a little blown away but realized quickly that there are a lot of people like John, (not his real name) who are so busy with their business that they truly don't think they have time for such things and truly don't understand what social networks can provide their business with. In a nutshell, my first point is that they don't get to access information that will allow them to make an informed decision, and this is really too bad because there are so many opportunities for them to improve their business that never existed before. Website design, website services...online communications is evolving at a remarkable pace, I truly believe it will be better for all of us, allowing better, more targeted and concise information distribution which will result in improved outcomes. That said, I also hope that the SMB marketplace will avail itself of this continuing evolution in communications.

Second reason...find a way to engage in the process, I strongly believe this is really important. Should I emphasize that some more? REALLY IMPORTANT! Whether you're in the internet industry to help others, or you're seeking that help, find a way to access the info you need that will help you, either better serve your clients, or serve the business outcomes you seek. For business owners and managers, you should probably put this process into other peoples hands, you don't really have time. Just make certain you're working with someone you're comfortable with and who is really keen on what is happening in this online communication world. When you do this, your investment will be paid back many many times over. If you chose not to engage somehow...well let's not go there.

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Friday, March 20, 2009

Live at Last!

The final step in getting your website live is to flick the switch so to speak. All of your information is correct and to your satisfaction, the content is laid out well, the initial optimization is completed, you're ready to be live and so...flick the switch! You might think this is where the process ends and really, it's where the process begins, let me explain.

What has been laid out in the last few entries is a process that will lead to your getting your website up and live for online visitors to come and engage with, you've built your online real estate, the online house so to speak. You've made an investment of time and capital resources to bring this project to fruition, and you should be excited about what can happen now and in the future as a result of this investment. Like any asset or tool of your business, or like the home that you live in for that matter, your online presence requires maintenance in order to preserve and increase it's value. Do you paint your house? Repair the windows? Replace the furnace or air conditioner as needed? Of course you do, if you didn't what would happen? The investment you've made in your house would depreciate. Similarly for your business, do you repair or replace your business equipment as needed? Do you change your business processes to better use the resources of the company? Again the answer is yes, and just as you complete these maintenance items for your home and business, you need to have the same attitude about your online investments. Why? Good question.

Each week I come across something new and interesting about what is evolving with respect to online communications, it's a rapidly expanding area. This research is critical in order that I can be of greatest help to my clients in their online development plans. Great news...there is a ton of new internet technology being introduced all the time! Why great news? These developments will allow you to achieve with increased efficiencies, to a wider audience, at less cost resulting in better business results for your company. As these innovations continue to roll out they will provide you with more opportunities than ever before, but there is a catch...you must replace the windows, apply fresh paint, change your heating and air conditioning system as needed to preserve and enhance your investment and achieve the greatest ROI for your efforts.

1- monitor results
2- evaluate data
3- plan based on interpretation
4- implement new plan
5- repeat

I'm going to repeat something that I offered a while back...In 2006 google was receiving 2.7 billion inquires monthly, in 2008 it was up to 37 billion! Plan well and you will be positioned to benefit, fail to plan...well let's not even go there.

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Website Development Phase 3

You're have done much of the 'work' that you'll be responsible for by now, the idea and needs of your website are established, you've made arrangements for your development partner, they've created a plan that you've agreed to, the next phase is the actual 'Production' of your website.During this part of the projects development your input is limited for the most part to confirmation and approvals.

Your development partner should be addressing the following as they relate to your new website and seeking your approvals along the way:

1-Content integration
2-Backend application development (databases, email systems etc.) if applicable
3-Finalising graphic design
4-QA (quality assurance) testing
5-Cross browser, platforms testing
6-Content check
7-Final revision by client

You should be able to see the website as it's developed on a development website and so you'll be able to provide your input when needed. One word of caution, let your website service partner ask you for input. I mention this because often in the process of these projects you'll be excited and want to offer all kinds of input along the way, let them do their job, when they're done they should ask you for your input and that's the time to view the product, listen to the thought behind the development, and offer your considered input. This is how you will achieve the best outcomes. You're really close to being live!

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Friday, March 13, 2009

After the website idea...what's next?

In my last installment I outlined a process to develop a website idea, that will eventually lead to the creation of a website. Today I'd like to start working from where I left off, to review you now have the idea and budget fairly clear in your mind, what next? Concept development.

1- You now need to select a company that will work with you to bring your idea to virtual reality. I wrote extensively on the selection process for an online development partner back on December 12th and stand by my recommendations in that article, check it out. After you've chosen who you'll be working with move on to step 2.

2- Create a schedule of how the development process will unfold. This should include everything from initial concept discussion, to 'live' online website deployment. Some flexibility is required on the schedule as there may be changes that you see as necessary as the project unfolds.

3- Your online partner should now take your project and provide you with:
a) A basic site structure plan;
b) Graphic ideas as required for the project;
c) A site navigation plan.

4- Remember, you are hopefully working with a 'partner' who is implementing your ideas for a website, be sure to have open communications about the progress and provide regular feedback to them. This relationship is really important for the long-term, invest your time accordingly to ensure you have the right development partner.

It's a very exciting time for your company/organization, the first website is underway, congratulations!

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Friday, March 6, 2009

In the beginning...5 steps to a website idea.

Since I've been having a number of discussions lately with companies that are creating their first website I want to go through what I believe to be a good planning process for that first website. This will be done in a number of installments, what I hope to do is give you a road map that will take you from your initial idea, to being live on the internet, so here we go...

1- Requirements: Meet with your key personnel, stakeholders or trusted advisors to brainstorm what essential requirements you have for the website;

2- Define objectives: What is the purpose of your website? Information, sales, registration, membership, employee communications? What do you want the website to accomplish? At this stage let your imagination run wild, if you can think it, it can probably be done;

3- Competitive analysis: You know who the competition is, what are they doing, and what are they NOT doing that you can address;

4- Business processing: Are there repetitive tasks associated with new client development? Would automating these improve efficiency, and profitability?

5- Budget: Decide how much you can afford in both human and capital resources.

I've saved the budget for last intentionally. When you are planning don't think about the budget first because you want to be as creative as possible. It may be that your first website isn't everything you had conceived but if you know where you would like to get to it will help the overall development process. It's also important to think of this budget item as an ongoing expense because just like any other asset you have it will require at least maintenance, and in all likelihood, once you see the results you achieve with a well planned and implemented website, you will want to add the next level of functionality that you had initially dreamed of. Budgeting appropriately is key to the long-term project success.

As a final observation, too often I talk with companies that think of the website as something that is separate from the rest of the business. I strongly urge you to think of your website as a partner or another tool for your business. This kind of thinking will allow you to see the future more clearly and achieve the greatest ROI. By the way, companies who go through this kind of process and implement an effective website and internet presence plan, end up identifying this asset as having the greatest ROI for their business. Take time, get help, engage!

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse