Content to inform, inspire and build up your business: the art and science
Content generation service
I am just one of thousands of web designers out there, filling up the internet with a web site with the claim that I can provide a better service at a competitive price. I will expand on this 'glib' claim and hopefully having read this text and seen my past work, you will consider me for your next project.
Whether it is an individual, team or a design agency, all web designers love to finish a project as quickly as possible and get paid. This will suit most clients as well, as in business the word 'urgent' is almost universal, even when it is not the most important factor in the tasks / priorities of that business. One of the biggest short-cuts a web designer can do is to steer the client to a design and content he is familiar with, often a template, often altering it slightly with a text he has composed with some client input, and a menu system that is familiar to the 'web community'. The job gets done quickly (hopefully) and ideally everybody is happy. This I term 'railroading' a site, the result being a site resembling in broad outlines millions out there on the net, but it fulfils the basic purpose for people who do find it, your services or products are thus promoted online.
But what of the future, how much will this web designer you have employed will carry on working on issues on this web site, updating it, dealing with problems when they arise, reporting on its progress. To me there is no clear distinction between web site creation, maintenance, search engine optimisation and reporting the results of the SEO campaign. On all projects I undertake I will monitor, report and recommend changes in the content and structure of the web site to improve its performance, this will by nature be a long-term commitment - more details:
Naturally the scope of a project needs to be pre-determined and the cost and period agreed in the initial agreement. Being vague is the danger, I will avoid this by plain talk from the start. Projects can go wrong from the start because basic things are not agreed and later relationships break down, I will avoid this situation at all costs. I will commit to paper a contract from the start of the project, to protect us both.
How to deal with the competition
Wherever you are in the world, whatever the product or service you are offering, there will be competition. Some will be bigger than you, some smaller, some more established, some will be new player, but all will have some sort of web presence. There will not necessarily be any correlation between the size of the company and the 'professionalism' of these individual web sites. This is where with my assistance we can create a web site to outshine the competition.
As a first step I will determine the web sites that most closely match in message as well as their 'ranking' in terms of web visibility and how high up they appear in Google returns. The next stage is to set up a 'bench marking' exercise where over regular monthly monitoring of the performance of our site with respect to these marked competitors we will see a long term trend and starting to overtake them in visibility with search engines. This is of course a long term strategy and we have many tools we can use for this 'fight for the highest position', which I will explain and provide options during the project.
If you as the client want to know where I get my data (metrics) from, and wish to take a full part in formulating strategy to take away online business from the competitors, I will be happy to work as a team. This strategy to closely monitor what changes these marked competitors do themselves will be a long term task, as the internet is dynamic, web sites change, the way search engines log (index) web pages will also respond to this, and even how they 'weigh' different elements of a web site in their rankings alters over time. Ultimately remaining highly visible on the web requires a strategy and willingness to continue the 'fight', and the success in this 'survival of the fittest' is always satisfying to share.
Harmonisation of vision and the web site
All projects, all businesses have started from an idea, a vision in the past. This might have taken years to take shape, mature, often with extensive market research. With all this input from its inception and maintenance work since to help build it up, it would seem crazy to instruct a web designer merely to 'make us a web site', with a vague design, menu and content guidelines. But many businesses do that and then are forced over time to 'improve it' with additions on this frame-work.
My style is different, I provide and in a way 'strongly urge' the client to start the process; focussing on facets such as for who the web site is for, what is the most important message and aims, what makes them special, what separates them from the competition. With me, we would sit down and talk about just these issues even if there is already a web site up and running and I have done projects where I have been engaged to totally redesign sites that were bringing unsatisfactory results. Once the vision of the web site is clearly laid out the next stage is for the style of presentation, menu and content to harmonise with this plan. This stage will not be rushed as well, with a dummy live web site to show you the look if necessary, and careful consideration will be given to the competition in the same sector and region out there, with the aim of bettering their look and functionality with our site.
Web sites are your window frontage to the outside world and with careful consideration, it will make you stand out within seconds of somebody landing on that page. Bear in mind that unless you force people through the coding, people can land on any page of the web site, so this has to be factored, for example, provision of a means of navigation to the home page.
The difficulties of persuasion
'You can take a horse to water but you can't force it to drink it'. All commercial sites have the same general purpose; to commit the visitor to buy the product or service, hopefully 'in the heat of the moment'. Unless the web site is trying to sell a commodity of high value such as real estate, this ability for the web user to commit is possible. There are different levels of persuasion, it might be an expression of interest, monitored through the progression to 'more information' pages, downloading extra information provided for free on that item, that can also be recorded, a 'apply for a brochure' type of form or ultimately a 'buy now' button. A phone call leading from this web site is also a very valid level of commitment.
Persuading people to commit or half-commit is an art, and I feel if we work as a close team we can achieve this, perhaps the hardest step of all, on the creation of a successful web site. Again monitoring how the competition approach this critical step would be part of my remit. And if the page doesn't show a good take-up in the long term, we will review, and try a new strategy until we get it right. Read more about persuasive content copywriting:
Plan 'B', is there one?
There will always be minor problems, issues to deal with, unexpected developments in any project. The skill is to deal with it, fore-see issues and when they arise to sort it out quickly and if more complex, create strategies to deal with this problem. You, the client, will be involved in all stages, and if you wish to go deeper into these issues, I am happy to explain these details in a non-jargon manner. The common issue with all sites will be low-visibility, low Google ranking, a critical problem as if people have difficulty finding the site, how can one sell the goods or service to them? This is a huge field termed Search Engine Optimisation and this is the next and perhaps the most vital issue which I will deal with in the next chapter.