Open Source or Proprietary CMS

Executive Summary: if you have an internal team or are hiring a team to get the job done: Open Source; it offers so much more in flexibility, options and growth and you have many resources out there. If you are doing it on your own and are OK with spending hours to learn new stuff and get your hands dirty, then Proprietary it is; you have to learn the ‘box’, but it generally provides a decent end result. IMHO

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Oppression of the Web Designing Masses

No this doesn’t have a religious agenda…

Time and time again I have to keep reminding myself that “the customer is always right”; but there are a lot of times in my web design and marketing career that I beg to differ on this outdated mantra and yet give in to the old standby; reluctantly.

Experience matters, doesn’t it?

Typically when I give my designer(s) a creative brief for a custom template, I try to be generic in nature stating the target audience, the business focus, primary and secondary links and the call to action(s).  In the past, 9 times out of 10 when I get the comp back for client review, it’s approved with very minor updates; lately that number has decreased in that the client had a certain view in their mind of what it should look like.  The masses are oppressing and it’s stressing me out.

I’m better with examples…

I reviewed a splash and an internal comp with a client this morning.   With some hesitation, she says that the sales guy didn’t tell her it would look like this.  I tell her that we need to trust the designer and the sales guy is merely providing guideline elements, but still, she insists that this wasn’t what she had in mind.  A part of me wants to fight this battle and had it been a ‘basic’ comp creation, I would have fought harder, but since they are long running customers and it IS in both of our best interests to comply, I complied.

This goes along with another post I had in mind, along the lines of How to Win Friends…(Carnegie); sometimes it isn’t worth the battle if it is just to prove a point.  In this case, the ‘point’ is so subjective that it wasn’t worth the battle.

In another case, I’ve been going back and forth with another production team that wants us to create a fully Flashed site.  Their client has been adamant about using their team but is stuck on a low price (I want that Corvette, but I only want to pay for a Chevette.  One week later…ok, I STILL want the Corvette, but I will pay for a Malibu.  One week later…ok, I still want the Corvette, minus the fancy wheels and I will pay for a stripped down Silverado.)  Red flags go off in my head left and right.  He has just copy on the pages and still he wants Flash; he doesn’t care about search engine optimization, he just wants a site that has horizontal navigation that goes beep and boop when you click on the links – really!   Again, I believe I know what’s right in this case, but should I give in and put on my high heels and fishnet stockings?  Or should I fight for decent websites everywhere?  I am open to both models.

Then there’s Template Monster…

Simplest Cheapest Way to Start SEO On Your Website

Add title property to your a href tags.

Add alt property to your img srcs.

Add meta title, description and kewords to your pages.

Name your pages and images with keywords.

And if you’re really daring and advanced, your CSS classes should be aptly named with keywords too – don’t go overboard.

Diligence.

End Lesson One.

Biggest Mistakes in the Web Industry

In my 10+ yrs in web I’ve seen sites come and go faster than popcorn at a movie theatre.

Here are the common website development and management issues we see in dealing with mom and pop shops all the way up to the high rollers in big business.

1. Biting off more than you can chew

While it’s great to think big, you need to also be able to partition your goals into manageable chunks. This is our strength. We will help you phase your website into full blossom, but first we must start with a seed. Create Web Presence. Don’t just be there, GET PICKED!

2. Nibbling away at the details

Yes, we’ve seen those people too with the microscopes out at every turn of the corner. These are the people who will lament over a shade of green (on the web, you must understand, the colors are dependent upon a users monitor and we must, therefore select a hue that is interpreted by the majority) or fuss over design pixel width. Please let us (web professionals – we’re everywhere!) determine this for you. We will create the big picture for your company to help you get recognized. In subsequent phases AFTER you are receiving revenue and getting the conversion and hits you desire, we will enhance.

3. Management By Committee – NOT!

Typically this happens in non-profit organizations and government constituents. Give us one point of contact. Put one person in charge of final approvals and empower that person. Whomever gets this lucky role, be sure to make it clear that while you will accept and note all requests, not ALL of them can or will be implemented immediately. Be sure to praise people who provide feedback and don’t scoff at new ideas. We (again the royal “we”)  just don’t want your job to become stressful. Keep positive and keep in touch with us to discuss your concerns.

4. Print is not the same as Web design!

We get the biggest push-back on designs from the print companies.  Some of us turn down print companies for this reason. Print media allows for more definition and saturation; these are the detail people. Web design varies by (each user’s monitor) and computer display set-up. All monitors can only reasonably display 72dpi (dots per inch) and can only reasonably display a smaller spectrum of colors: http://html-color-codes.com.

5. eCommerce

This goes along with #1 above; don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you do decide to add products to your website, add 10-15 best sellers that will implement a similar shipping policy and are simple products. By this we mean; don’t offer a t-shirt that offers 15 sizes, 10 colors, , 7 collar types, 3 sleeve lengths, 5 embroidery patterns, and 25 colors of stitching to select unless you are ready to commit and spend the money to do it all.

6. Don’t be cheap

Spend money on advertising. We will advise you on how to spend your money wisely using Pay Per Click (PPC) ads or Social Networking ala Twitter, Facebook, article publishing, etc.  It is suggested that you talk to your accounting department to see what you can spend on marketing. We recommend starting at $500/mo for PPC; if you can start with more, let us know. We may not need it all, but it’s always good to know. I left this area completely open for comment because each website is different and will require an individual customized plan.

7. Don’t Design

We (royal) have professional designers on staff or on call to create a design that is simple for search engines to spider and is appealing.  Give us your website goals; why are you creating a web presence?  All you have to do is provide some sites you like (any why) and don’t like (and why).  Any brochures or pamphletes; a professionally designed logo; all would be helpful.  Don’t have a logo?  We can provide that as well.  Be prepared (see #6) to start at $3500 for logo design (includes web AND print value).

8. Trust a Professional

We are good at what we do.  Why should you have to learn this inside and out? You know your business, we know how to promote business and help you GET PICKED!  Almost started a business with a low-hanging peach (I’m in Atlanta).  Get it? Get Picked?