- web apps
The panel participants included:
The Foundation, the Website
(Darryl Brown, Owner 2b Design)
- What is your definition of a successfuly website?
There is no magic bullet one answer to this. A successful website must be judged against the purpose it is trying to serve. So, the first thing is to define what is THE purpose of the site—a brand site is different from a sales site is different from a service site. Once you have that, you can measure the success or failure based on how it fulfills that purpose.
- Walk us through your process for creating a website for a client?
- client: Define the purpose of the site. From that, derive the specifications - how will it function? What kind of content will you have? What audience do you want to reach. I can help during this process, but the client makes these decisions.
- designer: create a bid for the specifications as laid out.
- designer: provide prototype(s) for review on design/layout.
- client: review designs, provide feedback.
- designer: iterate on design...
- client: in parallel with design work, client should be generating the content for the site - text, images, video as needed.
- designer: apply design to content, add functionality.
- client: review implementation, provide feedback for tweaking content/functions.
- Final Review/Live/Marketing
- client: gives go ahead to go live.
- designer: takes site live.
- client/designer: marketing (social media, paid advertising, google adwords, etc).
- The last step in the process is one that few people take. If you don't reach all your goals, you can experiment with other ideas/functions/content on your site to see if you can better reach your goals. The most successful clients do this constantly.
What costs can be associated with building a website?
Basic website with 5 pages costs around $1,200 in my shop. This includes mobile compatibility, basic SEO work, and a professional, beautiful design. Some contractors offer less cost, and I can steer folks in that direction if their budget does not accommodate my level of service. Do note though that extremely detailed or specific design requirements do add cost. The more functions and pages add cost to the build.
What’s on your website checklist of must haves? Top 3-5
Be purposeful! Need to know why you have a site, as all decisions flow from that.
Provide value. If you can provide something people want/need, then they will visit your site, and revisit it. Also - people will be more likely to link to it. They will forgive a bad interface, poor content, ugly design, IF you provide something of value.
Mobile compatibility. Many sites out now do not account for mobile devices. Mobile browsing is growing and is not going to go away. It is a huge part of most any site's market.
NOTE: Katherine added the following:
Measure, measure, measure. Google Analytics is a free and pretty simple solution to implement to track what your websites are doing.
Clear, strong and prominent calls to action. If you’re an eCommerce site, don’t bury your add to cart button below the fold, for example.
Mobile friendly! Responsive design is a brilliant solution to make websites design-friendly for all devices and we saw an immediate 40% improvement in conversion rates (rates at which people purchase compared to all people that visited the site) when we moved to responsive.
Are there any particular open source platforms you are drawn to? (add advantages and disadvantages)
There is not specific platform that I preach for. The key is to use SOME platform (or many platforms/toolsets) that are
widely used and have been around for a while. The advantage is that your developer is not re-inventing the wheel.
Not only does that make the designer very inefficient, but it also creates code that is not robust and is less likely
to last as time goes on.
Being Seen, The Search
(Katherine Romero, Sr. Marketing Mgr. Deckers Outdoor Corporation)
You oversee ecommerce and marketing for all of Deckers Outdoor shoe brands. Deckers Outdoor does roughly $170mm per year in sales a month just in their own websites, but you are also competing with every online store that sells Deckers’ shoes. How do you get your websites noticed? Define SEO
Question for audience… if you’re looking to purchase a product but want to do research, where do you start first? Search engines, right?!
To get found on search engines, you’ve got to have a well-designed site in the appropriate technologies for search engines to consume the content on the site (Darryl’s territory).
Next, know what your consumers want. Google has a free keyword tool so you can see what consumers are searching. Highly recommend you use this guide what content you create on your site.
Another piece of ranking higher on Google is social media. Big brands like Overstock and JC Penney gamed the Google algorithm a few years ago and ended up buying links to their site, which links pointing to your site are a sign of an authoritative website. Google got savvy and as a result, are putting more weight on social media signals.
When you create content people want, AND push it out through your social media, and as it gets liked/shared/plus 1’d/tweeted/pinned, etc, Google sees this as a sign that you’re real and authoritative and you start to rank higher.
(UGG Care and Cleaning content example)
How do you make SEO work for you?
What are some tricks to increase SEO presence on the web?
Find out who your lowest hanging fruit is and work to reach them.
When or where does SEO fail?
We are failing right now in non-brand keywords. People searching for slippers, for example, but don’t know which brand they want. So the takeaway here is brand and non-brand terms are equally important – one drives sales today, the other drives sales for tomorrow. Pay attention to both and nurture both and reach consumers in all points in their research process.
Also, don’t buy links to get quick SEO rankings!
Building a Brand
(Kiersten Hathcock, CEO/Founder of Mod Mom Furniture)
What thought process went into creating the Mod Mom Furniture brand?
First, I had a need to bring in additional monies to our family’s monthly cash flow. I saw a niche in the marketplace for modern kid’s storage. Throughout our friends and personal network I also saw that a lot of them were being drawn to mid century design and architecture in Los Angeles. My husband and I liked this style as well, but there wasn’t any toy storage to accompany the design esthetic of Herman Miller or furniture stores like Design Within Reach. The great thing too about to about this esthetic is that was easier for me learn to build with its clean simple lines (remember, I had no prior carpentry skills). Then I created a brand that spoke to both the audience I wanted and aspired to attract…all while learning how to build a toy box. Once I had successfully built a few toy boxes I sold them initially on Craiglist.org and through friends. Based on their feedback, this gave me more confidence and I continued to design variations of the product I knew I could build, but always making sure each piece spoke to my brand vision.
Which social media platform(s) did you use to help build your client base?
Well, this was before Facebook had really taken-off, so for me I found mentors on Linkedin, NYC bloggers, and most importantly I started my own blog called “Life In My Garage.” My blogging was about my journey, my family, and the day-to-day life of running my own business—it WAS NOT about selling my product. I was an authentic voice behind my brand.
Now, that was in 2007, today you’ve been hired by Stanley Furniture brand to be their voice of their brand in social media, how has the social media world changed since you started Mod Mom Furniture?
Everything has changed and I continue to adapt my social media strategy using everything that is available-- Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest, Facebook, Google+, bloggers. I still use my authentic brand voice (because Its all I got), but I find ways to make that voice really speak and connect to the various audiences that each of these platforms deliver.
Driving Customer Engagement with Social Media
Personally, who do you guys see becoming the up-incoming social media outlets we should be paying attention? Why?
Pinterest! Pinterest drives our highest conversion rates of all social media. You can do it in ways that are more than just “look at my product!”. Pink Jeep Tours has phenomenal pinterest boards about everything related to Sedona, not just the great tours you can take with them.
Google+, less rules than Facebook for businesses plus has a huge network pool of Google users
Kiersten, it can be a full time job just to manage just one social media account. Can you give us an idea of how many hours one should reasonably be spending daily?
It’s really hard to say as it requires a deeper understanding as to what you are trying to do and what brand messages you are attempting to deliver.
Are there any tricks to managing all often various social media platforms?
Hootesuite (www.hootesuite.com) offers a multilayered campaign management dashboard for just about all social media platforms that exist today.
If a business owner cannot undertake the daily driving of their social media brand, what costs could be associated with outsourcing that responsibility?
Maybe $2,500 dollars a month for the management of two social media platforms or to use interns!
Darryl, not considered part of social media but definitely part of driving engagement is the APP. You develop a lot of APPs for clients. What should one consider when looking to create an APP? What is the most successful APP you have created and why?
Apps are subject to the same rules as web sites in general. They must have a strong purpose. The most successful app I created was from a running coach that had an online running coach business. He wrote an article that had a special running calculator embedded in it. It was difficult to get to, but it turned out to be something people really wanted. In spite of the difficulty in finding it, it began to get a million hits a year. He decided to shift his business to take advantage of this popularity. We redesigned his site to have this calculator be at the crux of his site, with a professional version (on subscription) that gave even more features. He has thousands of subscribers to his pro version now. Add value beyond the website!
Katherine, how long do you typically give an online campaign? What is defined as a success? To date, what has been Deckers most successful digital/social media campaign?
It really depends on the campaign; some of our shorter ones are one-and-done; for example, an email blast or a PPC campaign. We know within a few hours how it’s performing. Some are an entire season like “UGG for Men” which is a multi-year effort to reach the male consumer with the UGG brand.
What is everyone favorite online tool or product they can’t live without?
Darryl Brown-- Adobe Kuler
Katherine-- Google Analytics
Whatever direction you may choice to go in your digital strategy, don’t forget about the power of radio and the geographical and diversified listener reach Great Circle Media offers across Northern Arizona with their family of radio stations (92.9 KAFF Country, 93.9 The Mountain, Hits 106, Flagstaff Country 93.5, Magic 99.1, and Fun Oldies 100.9). In this part of the state, radio offers you the biggest megaphone to announce your brand and create an authentic voice, so take advantage of it! You should strive to boost your presence/reach by strategically tying your radio and digital efforts together. With every radio spot you run you should be driving listeners to your storefront, website, Facebook page, Twitter feed, etc. And, for every new website or social media campaign launch consider stacking tapping into radio to better assist in driving your efforts online. You may just be surprised how powerful :15 second radio spots can boost your digital efforts. Very few campaigns are successful using just one tactic, so cover all of your bases.