Category Archives: Websites

Sorry Kevin – An Open Letter

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Dear Kevin

I just want to apologise for criticising your website in public last week – it was unfair of me to call it a “piece of shit” in front of a room full of people.

I know that you must have spent quite a bit of time and money to get it launched seven years ago. And anyway, word on the street is those particular shades of brown are going to be big again in 2015… so you’re actually on the cutting edge there. Respect.

Just who the hell did I think I was when I said that the stock image on your homepage looked ridiculous?? Hey, that was my mistake – two suited-up alpha-males facing off on a chessboard is powerful stuff. I should have seen it for what it was: a multi-layered business metaphor.

And what about that totally cheap crack I made about you not having your telephone number anywhere on the site? A contact form alone is perfectly fine for people who need to get in touch with you. On reflection, I hate it too when potential new clients call me on the phone – usually right when I’m in the middle of something!

Bigger, brighter, wider websites – who needs em? The way your little site floats in the middle of my computer screen all surrounded by black is a statement of confidence in of itself – you just don’t see enough of that  ‘devil may care’ attitude anymore.

Here it is: my core misunderstanding was that I didn’t appreciate what a super-busy operator you are – there’s really no way a guy like you should ever need to spare a passing thought for his primary, branded online presence. Just let it be, everything’s cool Mac. Sheesh, like you I’ve got to learn not to get so uptight over the little things.

So Kevin, I’m totally back in my box where I belong. I’m sorry. Can you forgive me?

Best,
Tim

P.S. Fully loving that Facebook page you guys have happening. To help make up for my potty mouth in public I’ve gone ahead and liked your page, boosting your fan-count almost into double figures. And I’m really looking forward to seeing your stuff on my newsfeed. I showed my wife your last post, the one with the cat rollerblading… we both laughed until it hurt. Keep it coming!

 



We need to talk about your outsourcing…

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You’re outsourcing too much. You’ve made, and are making, unnecessary payments to others for those simple tasks which you need performed repeatedly. You know the sort: basic image manipulation for a branded social media banner or post; adding, amending or deleting content from your website; analytics reporting (to name just a few). It seems like an easy out but it’s counter-productive for both you and your business:

It’s a mystery
It looks complicated and it’s not. Because of your triple-digital IQ and open mind we can teach you how do all of this stuff within minutes or hours – with the same ease your consultant/ agency learnt how to do it. Better still, get your agency to show you how any of it’s done next time rather than getting them to parachute it into you directly.

No feel for the tools
“But you never asked us for that.” You’ll hear that after discovering a new tool, application or process all by yourself and then asking your agency why they never offered it to you as an option. When you play with the tools yourself you get a feel for them and their wider application (because you don’t know what you don’t know).

Life in the slow lane
In the time it takes to communicate your requirement you could have done it yourself (really). And get it the way you wanted it the first time before your brief was misinterpreted.

The axe
Lots of little costs =  one big cost. One day you’ll announce “Let’s cut this big cost.” i.e. axe this consultant/ agency. Then a bunch of small but important things will stop getting done because neither you or anyone else  internally knows how to do any of it (most of the internet’s stale websites have gone down this path).

The fun police
Don’t be your own fun police. Get hands-on with the tools – YOU’LL LIKE IT. You may even decide to set up your own consultancy once you work out how simple it is, how much fun it can be, and how many people are willing to pay easy coin to get others to do it for them.

 



The Trunk.

Your website: the truck which must support everything else you have online.

Email: an outbound marketing channel without equal; always be inviting visitors to your website to opt into your comms loop, and then invite them back to the site from within the newsletter.  Social media: your community… eventually they’ll end up back at the website (hopefully). Search engine optimisation: a website without wide and varied market-aligned content is like a guitar without strings… you won’t be able to play the informational tunes your target audiences are hungry for. Analytics: track website conversions and value via your most valuable referral sources: email, social and organic search.

Respect the trunk.

trunk

 



Stains Down Your Front?

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Would you turn up to a business meeting with a honking great food stain down the front of your shirt?

You’re welcome of course to present anywhere in any which way you choose, and granted, you’d still be the same cool individual underneath regardless of your appearance. But why force yourself to push uphill against the weight of a negative first impression? That dance-step we know as the initial business introduction can usually be reduced to one inner-thought in the mind of the person opposite: demonstrate why I should trust you.

Nobody wantonly sabotages their professionalism, yet a shit website will cruelly and silently undermine the credibility of the brand and people sitting behind it. For many of us the organisational website will be our first touch-point when undertaking pre-selection research: decisions on who we will select for a purchase, for an interview, for an invitation to speak, to partner with, to fund, or to work for. The website is a brand’s 24/7 reception area – make it a solid visitor experience… nay, make it bloody amazing. You’re only setting the scene for all future engagement after all.

So why do so many business-owners and brand guardians let themselves down by presenting an ugly, confused, piece-of-rubbish website to the world? The very same people who wouldn’t be caught dead walking into a business meeting with tomato sauce down their shirt-front? Here’s why: people will readily check themselves in a mirror before entering an important room, but rarely ever do they look at their own website. Business owners and executives are often shocked when somebody holds up a mirror to their primary online branded asset, finally getting to see what the rest of us have been painfully labouring through for years.

The underlying truth is that a website needs constant grooming – left on its own for an extended period it starts to take on a deranged, even menacing appearance… parents can be seen protectively turning the heads of their children away, and decent folk will cross to the other side of the street to avoid making eye contact. And to think it all started with one lousy little food stain.



Strange things oft seen

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Strange things oft seen:

  • A website without a telephone number
  • An ‘About Us’ section devoid of information about people
  • A website without installed analytics
  • A website with installed analytics that no-one is analysing
  • A contact form with no response-time commitment
  • A cheesy stock image already seen on 1089 other websites
  • A negative online business review without an owner response
  • A positive online business review without an owner response
  • A social media profile page without fully customised branding
  • A query/ complaint/ comment on a social media account gone unacknowledged
  • A personal LinkedIn profile without a profile pic
  • A blog post posted from a person named ‘Admin’
  • A Facebook brand page with no codified and visible House Rules
  • A public or private event of size without a centrally communicated hashtag
  • A repetitive hard-sell newsletter
  • A repetitive hard-sell newsletter

Ooh, look over there!



How to Embed Tweets into Your Website or Blog

Embedding specific posts from Twitter into a webpage or blog post is a simple 2-step process. The embeds render as fully interactive and look smart within their individual frames. Embedded tweets can be displayed as customer testimonials or as part of a narrative from one or several Twitter users.

Here are a two embed examples from people who tweeted about my courses:

Here’s the 2-step embedding process in action:

Step 1 – hover over the bottom of the tweet, click on the ‘… More’ link and then select ‘Embed Tweet’

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Step 2 – grab the embed code from the dialogue box and paste into your website or blog via the HTML or text editor of your CMS

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Google+ Releases a New Set of Interactive Badges for Your Website or Blog

 

If you don’t have a brand presence on Google+ you should correct that sooner rather than later (yes, that’s what I’m saying). If you are on board already Google has released a smart new set of badges. These interactive badges are designed to lift the visibility of your personal profile, brand pages or G+ communities by allowing people to add any of them to their own circles directly from a badge on your website or blog. Customise and grab your own own G+ badges here.

Layout Examples

Personal Profile
 

 
 

 
 
Brand Page
 

 
 
G+ Community