Tag Archives: web design methods

Delivering Great – year 2

2 years

It’s our 2nd anniversary

I’ve heard it said that most businesses fail within the first 2 years.  If this is true, I guess we’ve overcome a big hurdle.  I am proud and humbled by our success. Over the last 2 years we have focused on delivering great. Great products. Great results. Great effort. All of these things, we believe will lead to great success.  We have never focused on the money. I’ve always said that if you deliver great, the money will follow.  So far, we’ve been right.

We, our, us

When I speak about Propel Pages, I often say we, our and us.  This may seem odd since Propel Pages at face value is really just me, but looking deeper it’s really made up of many people who have an influence on this business.  Propel Pages is made up of our customers, contractors, friends, family and advisers. We all share in the success of this venture. We have succeeded in spite of others in our industry saying that it can’t be done without a full-time sales dept., big office and all of the conventional business operations. As I’ve said before; it’s the product that drives the sales, not the other way around.

Don’t take it personally, it’s just business.

Keep reading. It just keeps getting better.

The K.I.S.S. Method…and other uses for butter.

What Do Online Marketing and Suicide Have In Common?

Here is a reprint from an article I read recently.

Use more butterAccording to China Daily & the UK’s Metro Newspaper, Government officials in Guangzhou have ordered a 1,000ft long steel bridge to be covered in greasy fat, to prevent people from climbing on the structure. The bridge has a history of attracting jumpers that often attempt to gain media coverage or draw attention to personal problems.

Government spokesman Shiu Liang said that they’ve tried employing guards at both ends of the bridge, and went as far as installing special fences with notices asking people not to commit suicide. And every new attempt, successful or not, means several hours of backed up traffic and a wave of complaints from local residents.

The butter however, has seen positive results. Bridge guard Wong Man stated, “Since we put up the butter there have been no problems with these attention seekers.”

It seems that the easiest and least expensive way was the most efficient.  I’m sure someone could have come up with more complicated ideas to help solve this suicide jumper problem.  They could have perhaps had some sweet laser alarm sensors or they could have electrified parts of the bridge or one idea I had would be to open up a 24 hour suicide counseling center at the bridge funded by tax dollars.  The last idea sounds like something that would happen here in the U.S., not in China however.  So…How does this apply to online marketing?

Keep It Simple Stupid

…or better yet keep it stupid simple.  Many times when a company starts thinking about a new website they think about all of the bells and whistles they could incorporate.  Many times however, they don’t think about why they should have or even why they would need those bells and whistles.  There are many great new gizmos on the web that do some cool things, but you shouldn’t use them if you don’t need them.  A shovel can dig a hole. A backhoe can dig a hole.  Would you use a backhoe to plant flowers?  I hope you said no.  There is a correct tool for every job and you need to identify what they are.

Give ’em what they want

I’ve said this a hundred times before, let the end user decide what you need to put on the site.  The site is for them.  IT IS NOT FOR YOU! Get it? Good.  If you need a photo gallery, put it on the site.  If you want a photo gallery to show pictures of your employees but your customers don’t care about your employees, don’t do it.  Insider tip: nobody cares about your employees but you. You may want some cool flash animation, but if it’s not going to help your user…Don’t Do It!

Case Studies

I had a client that wanted to put hunting pictures on their website.  They manufactured super heavy duty steel tables to hold hundreds of pounds.  They thought it would be a nice personal touch since many of their clients hunt.  How about you show me the pictures of the tables instead.  We can talk about hunting at the bar.

I had a client that had a flash based website.  On the website was a robot that when you opened the page would come out of the background flying to the foreground making noises and doing flips.  They don’t make robots.  They don’t have anything to do with robotics.  They just thought it was cool.  The robot was a distraction to visitors and caused the website’s purpose to be unclear.

Don’t spare the butter

The message is clear.  Don’t over-think what you’re trying to accomplish.  If you sell wobble washers,  talk about wobble washers.  Make your information useful to visitors.  There is no need to give every spec. and detail if the visitors doesn’t need it.  You don’t need all the crazy cool stuff unless it helps the user achieve their end goal; gaining the information they were there for in the first place. Forget all the barbed wire and armed guards. Just use lots and lots of butter.

Website Design & Marketing…and Mini-Bikes.

Free Website Workshop.  Yes, Lunch Is Included On This Flight.

strange machine
A couple years ago I gave my first of many workshop presentations to a room full of web info-seekers.  These folks were there to either learn how to improve traffic to their existing sites or what pitfalls to avoid when building a new website.  The room consisted of business owners, in-house I.T. guys, and in-house web designers. The goal of the website workshops was to not only offer information, but also through this process gather leads and possibly earn the business of those attending.  The attendees also got a free lunch after the workshop.  I’m sure some were there just to get out of the office for a while and have a free lunch, but they took the time to come and that was appreciated.

You Sure Are Talkative

I can always tell how the workshop went after the workshop.  I can tell during too, but after the workshop is the tell all.  After that first workshop, I had many of the attendees come up to me and want to discuss their website, what direction they should go in, how to increase their organic search engine results, etc.  They wanted to talk and I was happy to oblige. If the people still want to talk to you after you’ve been talking to them for 30-45 minutes, you did good.  One of my colleagues had some concerns however.  He said he thought the workshop was a success too, but maybe we gave away too much.  I’m not talking about the free lunch, I’m talking too much information.

If we give them less they’ll have to buy more.

Really when you think about it some of these folks were gathering information to take back to their people and fix their websites without any intention of hiring us.  Did we shoot ourselves in the foot? I really thought about it. I did give out a lot of great information for free.  So for the next month’s workshop I scaled it back.  Not so much pinpoint information.  I was a little more vague, still leaving the attendees with some questions and not such clear instructions on how to improve their websites.  A crazy thing happened, I didn’t get as many questions and conversations after the workshop.  When you’d think I’d get even more questions after this less informative workshop it had the opposite effect.  What happened?

Too Much Of A Good Thing…Is A good Thing.

We made a mistake.  The one thing I always preach about when discussing the road to an effective website, think less about yourself and think more about your visitor.  All of these people took the time out of their busy schedules to come be with us for a couple of hours.  They could have gone fishing or played golf but they were with us because they thought we had something valuable for them.  On this latest workshop we let them down.  The more specific information is what they expected and what they wanted.  It got their ideas flowing and they were excited about their online marketing and the potential of their new or improved website.  They wanted to talk about it.  When we scaled the info back, we scaled their ideas back.  They weren’t as excited.

Mini-Bikes, Information & Execution.

What I realized beside the fact that people want as much information as you can give them is that you don’t need to worry about giving it away.  Give them all you have and don’t worry about it because there is a big difference between information and execution.  Let me explain.  When I was a kid around 10 years old, like most kids around 10 I wanted a mini-bike.  I wanted that 2 wheeled death machine that could zip me around the neighborhood and expand my world from the areas I could reach just through pedal power.  I could feel the wind in my face and through my hair because I obviously wouldn’t be wearing a lame-o helmet.  I was all set to go except for 2 things, my parents.  My parents were adventuresome people. They rode snowmobiles and had their share of fun, but they were dead against any of their kids having a “donor-cycle”.  Big problem for me and my Devils Angels plans.  I knew there was a work around and one day I found it.  I found an ad in the back of a comic book or some like magazine for plans on building your own mini-bike…JACKPOT! If they won’t buy me one, I’ll build my own. I sent my $2 in for the plans and waited the 4-6 weeks for delivery.  They finally came and I ran from the mailbox to my bedroom to view the road map to freedom.  All I needed was a lawnmower engine, some angle iron, a chain, some sprockets, bearings, handlebars, an acetylene torch, a welder, and the list went on and on.  My dreams sunk.  It was just as advertised.  All of the information you could possibly need to build a working mini-bike.  The problem was I didn’t have the tools to execute the plans.  I didn’t have the materials or the know how to pull it off at 10.  Just like the attendees at the workshops, I gave them all the detailed information that got them excited and communicating, but they couldn’t execute and they realized it.  We ended up getting business from the folks we gave it all away to.  They knew that we knew what we were doing, and they had a better understanding of what needed to be done.  By giving it all away, we earned their trust and they felt more a part of the process.

Give Away More and Get More

What I learned is that don’t be afraid to give away what you know.  Give clients and prospective clients what they want and expect.  This is after all just web design and marketing, we’re not giving away the recipe to Coke.  Don’t concentrate so much on the outcome you want and think a bit more about the process and what the people who take time to listen to you want.