Archive for the ‘Design Meanderings’ Category

Top 5 Reasons Why Proprietary Websites are Bad News for You

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Proprietary Websites

Proprietary websites are everywhere; they offer cheap website designs and often, cheap hosting as well.  However, there are free or open source options that provide much better benefits. There are a multitude of issues that come with this type of website platform – our top 5 are below:

  1. Limited Design & Branding Options
  2. No Ownership or Flexibility
  3. No SEO Options
  4. No Search Engine Respect
  5. No Support

1. Limited Design & Branding Options

You are limited to the color palates, lay out templates, and widgets that they have available.

There are thousands of websites out there – and probably hundreds of businesses that do something similar to yours. So how do you stand out? Being online is important – including social media (but we’ve gone over that before); however, it doesn’t help to distinguish yourself when your website looks like everyone else’s. Your business is unique in some way, shape or form – show that to your clients!

2. No Ownership or Flexibility

You do not own your proprietary website – the creator does. If you want to move your site or use a different designer, you have to start from scratch. This is frustrating and costly as the services you have already paid for basically disappear and are wasted. You cannot take it with you when you leave – and if something happens to the business that created your proprietary website – you lose everything.

3. No SEO Options

Most websites are being created so people (clients or customers) can find them and buy the service or product you sell. The way a website is found by most people is through searching.  We enter keywords or terms we think apply to our topic and a list of relevant websites is returned to us.  These keywords or terms are coded into the back end of every webpage. Without them, your website can only be found by someone who has the exact address – so they already know you and your website.

These proprietary websites often have no way for you to set up your SEO (search engine optimization), which means no one will find your website unless you tell them how to get there. No searches will return your company and your website is pretty much useless for bringing in new clients.

4. No Search Engine Respect

If, by some miracle, your proprietary website has a special upgrade or ‘pro plan’ that will give you SEO options (for a price), you need to know one last thing: Search Engines can tell who built your website, and they don’t love proprietary site builders. If your search engine doesn’t respect your website, you are not likely to end up at the top of your target client’s search results; which means unhappiness for your business rather than increased sales and a bright new outlook on the future growth of your company and cash flow.

5. No Support

Let’s face it – things go wrong- and when they do, a great portion of our satisfaction with a service is the ability of the offender to make it right again.  Most of these proprietary websites have clunky forms, round-a-bout ways to contact them, or no human response whatsoever. When your company reputation or your personal one depends on how you respond, you need to know that you have fast, reliable support available.  This is usually not the case with a proprietary website – if you can find a way to contact them, they are not usually very efficient and an emergency on your part does not an emergency on their part make.

Our Recommendations

We have been designing and developing websites for many years – and we have learned that open source platforms are the most user-friendly, wholly owned, SEO ready, massively supported and unique option for websites today.

Platforms like WordPress, Joomla!, and Drupal make creating a customized, branded experience for your customers a simple, straight forward, and effective process for your business.

Call us today at 775-322-3663 to learn more about how Integris Marketing can help your website work for you!

Company Website Boring Visitors to Death?

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Tired of your company website?

Is your company website boring even to you? People are more and more obsessed with flashy, bright, shiny objects and websites are no different. Yes, you will need to have killer content on your website that is easy to understand and explains your product or services in a way that will make anyone want to buy it, but first – you have to get their attention – and in a positive way.

A Website is an Experience

As you browse through a site, you experience layout, colors, fonts, photographs, and content until you begin to feel a certain way. Of course, when it comes to your customers, you want that ‘certain way’ to be a positive one, one that converts to sales. Creating those positive experiences through design is what our team does best.

Remodelling: Ideas and Considerations

If you were to think about your website as the large billboard that everyone will see as they sit in a movie theatre and wait for their film to start – what would you want them to see?  I use the theatre example because, in this instance, you have a somewhat captive audience and the time frame is relatively lengthy.  Your website IS a marketing piece and it should fit with your branding as well as your vision and mission for the company.

However, you want more than a brochure or a static, unchanging picture as your website – you want to engage the audience and make them feel that you are right there with them.  This can be done with a custom layout that makes finding information for your users simple and almost automatic, it can be done with content that makes them feel instantly at home and trusting, it can be done with colors that evoke the emotional response you ultimately want your customers to have, and it can be done with images, videos, and sharing options where they can find out what their friends think of your product or service, and inform the rest of their friends of their opinions about you as well.

Your Website is the First Touch

Your website is the first touch you have on your customer; it is extremely important for it to be a positive experience and that it entices your target audience to take that next step and contact you.  Ultimately we have websites to initiate a customer relationship and to sell something, whether it is advice or kitchen spoons, we are all in a business to make some kind of money – whether sales or donations for a non-profit to support a meaningful cause, the desired result is the same. As you have probably heard in business, it takes money to make money. Designing your website is not free – but if it is done correctly, it IS worth it.

Think about it – if you wouldn’t stay on your company website for more than 2 minutes, then why would anyone else?  You have a lot of competition in the online world, so make yourself stand out. If you need ideas or a quote, check out our web portfolio or call us at 775.322.3663 or 800.233.0239

Your Target Audience May be YOU!

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

In a recent blog posted on Duct Tape Marketing by John Jantsch, called “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, I’m My Ideal Client After All“, the idea that we most want to work with customers that are like ourselves, is well stated. It isn’t just that we prefer people who think the way we do, or that have the same values and common definitions of customer service or partnership – it is also that we want to feel comfortable enough to be ourselves.

Tailor your business or brand to the niche that best suits you!

It is a good idea to put attention and thought into reaching your target audience. It’s a GREAT idea  to know WHO your target audience truly is.  In order to do that effectively, you have to have a clear vision of who you are (as a company or brand) and how you are going to use that special something to your customers’ advantage. So, what kinds of people do you want to have as clients?

Choose wisely!

We have all had those situations where you suddenly realize that while you and your customer are in the same book, there are pages between you, yet you were both under the impression you were communicating clearly. Much of this happens because of differing views on expectations. This can be greatly reduced by following the advice in the article mentioned above – make sure you match the needs and expectations of your customers or clients and they fit the client model you need to be successful.

Be True to Your Brand

The moral of the story is that you have to be true to the essence of who you are (as a brand and a person) and how you want to interact with your customers.  As long as you keep your expectations in alignment with those of your customers or clients, you will not only be a choice with integrity, you will also be their number one choice – because they see themselves as ‘one of you’.  And we all know we’d rather spend time and do business with people that are ‘like us’.

It Takes a Team to Build a Website

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Building Your Own Website?

It’s not for the faint-of-heart…

I love the small business owner who wants to make their own website… So courageous! And perhaps a bit shortsighted.

But then again, we all have to start somewhere.

I must admit in the early days (with one or two days of hair-pulling way back in the exciting days of 1994-1995ish when the web was oh so young and small) I thought that I could probably learn to code a website myself…

Soon though I was asking “But why should I? I don’t really like this coding part… It never looks like what my vision is”. My brain just seemed to be wired in a different way and I realized right away I needed help.. or if you will, a team to help me.

And so began my journey into the realm of team interaction to build projects for myself, clients, friends and family.

Does anyone ever really build their own website anymore really?

Take this site.. even at first simplistic overview. This humble website has taken 7 people to make it happen and get it to the current state of soft launch.

  1. Creative Director & Designer & Writer (Yours truly, Blair O’Neil)
  2. Another writer & editor (Judith Harlan)
  3. Yet another editor, collaborator and vision holder (Jenna O’Neil)
  4. System administrators (Melissa W. & Jenna)
  5. IT & Server Manager (Ken Williams)
  6. A project manager and Google Adwords promoter and SEO-minded individual (Stephen R.).
  7. And of course the critical job of HTML coder and WordPress expert (John Schroedel).

Plus website bells and whistles – Time for research!

And even though we had the team and the vision, we still needed the right technology that fit that our needs and vision.

Enter the dreaded “Time for research” black hole.

Now we have to find, evaluate and integrate all the other software and plugins that need to installed linked and configured… Things that do email, that stop spammers, that help with SEO, that organize content, display portfolios and that are helpful for gathering information about site visitors, linking to social media and other sites… plus the various forms for questions, RFQs and Referrals. Then there are the site visitors and friends that are more than happy to give advice (thank you very much!) that allows us to evolve, have fun and still provide good value to our treasured clients.

And for lots of businesses it doesn’t stop there. You need database connections, ads, live-feed data streams, video feeds, live chat modules, e-commerce, appointment setting software integration, calendars and on and on. And it just keeps getting more and more complex as the days roll by.

I think that if you begin to total everything up you end up with a huge pool of people that are indirectly involved.. likely thousands… and we are just getting started!

So does it take a team to build a website?

Well I say “YES” if you are truly serious about the well-crafted message, the integrated design, adherence to your brand and integration with best practices for SEO.

But can you do it yourself? You bet you can. Lots of people do. It’s just that very few of them do it successfully. (But if you are a business owner why are you working on your own website instead of making sales? Do you know what your high payoff activities really are? What really brings the cash in the door? Sounds like another post in the making. For now just check out these local Reno/Sparks Sales and Business Consulting resources that might be able to help you with this… Sales Class, Sales Training Information & Consulting, Business Consulting that Actually Works!)

But if you are going to do this yourself I have one word of advice: “WordPress” (Because it will grow with you and you can grow with it. It’s not too hard, it’s a low cost item, relatively easy to deploy and gives you access to some of the best web technology on the planet… but’s that another blog post or so)

So if you think you can build a website yourself—All I can say is good luck and be sure to send me an email when you’re done.

Ban Comic Sans – A Typographic Meandering

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Remember the phrase “Desktop Publishing”? Well I do and it heralded a new day for graphic design and empowered many people and companies to take things into their own hands. The problem is that many people have no formal training in typography, design, color theory, art history or related fields. The result? People do whatever they want and many times sacrifice things like readability, credibility or relevance for convenience and the thrill of the moment… Enter Comic Sans.

OK, so I admit it… I am a little prejudiced.. but when one has been schooled in all things art, taken advanced classes in typography,  art history, all manner of design and communications, both historical and contemporary, plus being indoctrinated into formal graphic design and communications standards, comic sans becomes mostly taboo except for the true intended use, bubble text in cartoons.

So ban Comic Sans? I say a resounding (& qualified) YES!… (We don’t let children play with matches so why should we let adults play with Comic Sans? OK.. so I digress a little).. My wife says no.. (but that’s a different blog post and likely a different blog) and most people say “But I like it! It’s cute and fun”… well I might be outnumbered in this, so all I can say is you better not put it on my gravestone!

That all said, I leave it to you dear reader, to determine whether Ban Comic Sans is really the best approach.

Here’s a great little video that captures some of the reasons why Comic Sans should be only used after careful consideration.


Comic Sans from Sam and Anita on Vimeo.

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