Archive for the ‘Falcon Blog Commentary’ Category
You’re going to hear it to death! If you’re anywhere near content marketing, you’re going to hear the term ‘marketing automation’ tossed around like a karaoke microphone at a ‘soaking wet’ office party. Everybody’s going to want a piece whether they have a clue how to use it in a sentence or not. But a word to the wise, get on board. Not just for the ride, but for the loads of extra leads that you’re going to bring in with the same amount of effort.
Everybody’s Doing It
If they aren’t now, they will be. Marketing automation will make itself known in a big was in 2014. After all, it’s really just a smarter way of managing lead generation. While that is very general, and it can mean so much more depending on implementation, that’s essentially what it is. Why wouldn’t you want to almost instantly increase the efficiency of your lead generation machine? Sure, that’s an easy answer, however we also understand that the breadth of what marketing automation is capable of creates an intimidating proposition for newly indoctrinated marketers. There’s no need to dive into the deep end here. Start slow and simple and then develop and grow into what marketing automation should be doing for your specific endeavor.
Download our Marketing Automation Introductory Whitepaper
We understand that it could be a bit frightening (although no one will admit it right?), so we developed a concise and accessible whitepaper on the specifics of marketing automation. It’s a free download and we hope that it helps to clear up a few aspects of this great new marketer’s universe. Enjoy.
CMS-Connected Show on Marketing Automation
If you missed it, take a moment to listen to some smart dudes talking about marketing automation in the video below:
And, in case you missed it:
Download the Whitepaper:
We’ve posted about Responsive Web Design (RWD) before and develop it into all of our projects when budgets won’t allow for a standalone mobile site. With any new fad or technology, it’s up to the implementation to really let it perform. For instance if you mess up the grid hierarchy, then you’ll push lousy content to the top of the page when viewing on a mobile device. There’s no doubt that any new development must roll out with a mobile solution, with RWD at the low end and a stand alone development at the high end.
Google helped fuel the great RWD debate with a post and video by Matt Cutt’s, an engineer and the face behind search quality. In the video Matt let’s everyone know that responsive frameworks are just fine since they appropriately scale to the device in order to increase the experience of the visitor. Most importantly is that the URL is preserved.
Now, there was a stipulation regarding external mobile sites. When developing a mobile site (m. or sub-domain or whatever), you DO run the risk of cannibalizing PageRank (PR Splitting) across the 2 since the content is likely identical. Just ensure that you have specified the ‘Canonical URL’ back to the desktop page and you will be protected. Have a look for yourself:
- Don’t lose sleep over the SEO implications of RWD
- External sites have potential for a better overall mobile experience
- Set the Canonical URL to the main domain/URL
Sites that use responsive web design, i.e. sites that serve all devices on the same set of URLs, with each URL serving the same HTML to all devices and using just CSS to change how the page is rendered on the device. This is Google’s recommended configuration.
-Excerpt from Google Developers portal
For the ultra nerds bounce over to the official Webmasters blog for the unplugged version of what Responsive is all about with a technical summary. http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.ca/2012/04/responsive-design-harnessing-power-of.html
Detractors and Conspiracy Theorists
Matt isn’t going to describe in great detail how to rank your webpages, but he’s not going to lie to you either. If he says ‘don’t sweat it’, then move on and continue to develop high quality content for your niche or market. However, there are always going to be those headline grabbers that are looking for their 15 minutes. This fellow has pretty much spent the last year lambasting the responsive design framework. The comments are fun to read.
So with everyone and their dog pushing out responsive websites, sure, you’re going to see some less than stellar examples, but to spend every ounce of energy blasting the whole concept is a bit rich.
We love RWD and we do it well. Let us know if you need us to take a quick look at what you have!
In September, 2010, Gary wrote about this topic and since then, the page has still managed to attract the attention of internet searches. It’s one of our best posts to date. I thought we should reprint the post and see what else we could add to the discussion.
Back then we had just rejected a Request for Proposal (RFP) that landed on our desk from a government organization. Generally these types of requests are very welcomed and are, for the most part, very well developed and come with a healthy and openly declared budget. The value of this project would have, most definitely been north of 6 digits. So why on Earth would we reject an RFP with that sort of monetary potential? That doesn’t seem like good business doesn’t it? Taking a step back; receiving RFP’s is what sustains us as a website development company. We don’t reject proposals on a whim and have a very focused methodology that we follow when accepting or rejecting an RFP. On average we deliver responses to about 85% of the requests. The other 15% get tossed. Unfortunately many are from government sources and they all fail to recognize the significant time commitment and resources required to deliver an industry leading RFP response. For example, demands for a one week turnaround with a 3-month development timeline for a $100,000 project is a huge red flag. This may set a precedence towards them generally behaving in an unrealistic manner with inappropriate expectations. We always get a chuckle when we see “10 pages or less using Arial font”, just before they get immediately rejected. “No Response For You!”
FREE WHITEPAPER: How to Select a CMS Development Partner
If you just read that paragraph and are nodding your head in approval based on ‘experience’, well you know what we mean. If you haven’t had the misfortune of being burdened with unrealistic timelines and scope, well read on. We will save you $10,000′s of dollars in the long run!
#10. Requesting Multiple Print Versions
Okay, this is just laughable. However, this isn’t a deal breaker for the project; of course. This just places needless costs and wastes resources on the responders end. Everything from Ink, paper and courier charges all land on the shoulders of the development company. Mailing hard copy printouts in 2013 is a ridiculous and disconnected request. Especially from government agencies where limiting consumption and environmental stewardship should be paramount. We recently fielded an RFP with a demand for 3 printed copies of a 60 page response. Really?! Are your printers broken? Are there no Kinko’s or Staples in your area? This is borderline disrespectful.
#9. Requests for Company Financials
Easy one; No. As a privately owned incorporation, our financial statements will never accompany an RFP response. Discussion over. Okay, that’s a pretty hard line but really, we understand coherently, the need to vet the financial sustainability of a prospective development partner. One stand out event comes to mind when a purchasing agent requested company financials covering the last 3 years. The response: “Show me yours and I’ll show you mine”, at which point the agent said, “no worries, we’ll strike that from the requirements”. This is a good example of how asking questions or communicating well can work in your favor. We will take every opportunity to find a solution, but unless we are satisfied, they will end up on the reject pile.
#8. Boilerplate Matrix Questions
If you don’t know what this is, consider yourself blessed. If you do, you ‘get it’. These ‘matrices’ are, in our opinion, entirely unnecessary and are generally at the behest of an agency which has been hired to oversee the selection process. We have seen a high number of these, most of which are virtually identical and show a real disconnection to the project. For instance including a plethora of requests related to commerce features on multilingual and globalization features on a project that will only promote to English speaking, United States citizens. We find that logistically, the RFP is delivered into the project life-cycle far too early and the client should have committed to a much more intensive due-diligence exercise prior to the RFP handout. Additionally, these questionnaires which can reach 70 pages in length, relate specifically to the 3rd party software vendors’ capabilities and so we find ourselves managing this whole process with the vendor(s) as well. Also, we find that while the vendors feel their solutions positively meet all of the criteria, in actual fact, there can be a great deal of costly customization involved. “Will that VW reach 200MPH? Of course, it just needs some minor modifications, such as a completely new motor, chassis, axles, differentials, fuel system, etc…”
#7. Complex Solutions to be Proposed in 10 Pages or Less
We pointed this out early on. Heed our advice here: do not place your most neurotic, control freak as the project lead for your RFP process. We will just toss your proposal. “Please provide a complete, technical document detailing your plan to develop our complex requirements on 10 pages or less using verdana 11pt with 10mm margins delivered by courier wearing a green shirt and red bow tie!” Okay, taking some liberties there, but really?! We managed to deliver a 15 pager once accompanied by some appendices. This is the best we could do. 10 pages would make a good ballpark estimate but is entirely unrealistic for a complex website development implementation plan complete with detailed cost analysis.
#6. Unconfirmed Budgets
This may hit close to home for some clients, but really, it needs to be asked. Even a range can help determine the true commitment from an RFP. We consistently bid up towards $80,000 to $100,000 for large projects. We need to know if the prospect is looking for a $25,000 solution at which point we can politely decline the invitation. There’s nothing more unnerving than hearing ‘we don’t have a confirmed budget’ or ‘we can’t disclose our budget’. The first excuse means that they shouldn’t even be at this stage! They are generally unclear as to their direction and we will find a great deal of scope creep during the development. We have bid on projects where clients have been vague with their requirements only to see the true cost double once we work them through the entire project discovery and scope. It won’t be the last time either. It’s a sign of respect on the part of the client to at least disclose a range in order to factor in our time and expectations since we won’t bid on anything below a certain range.
#5. Unreasonable Timelines
Number 5 is a pretty big deal and just comes down to lack of experience or strait up ignorance about what an enterprise CMS development project consists of. Hard launch dates on complex web projects will usually result in catastrophic doom. We just don’t get why this still shows up in high end RFP’s. It’s reasonable to implement a deadline for smaller, phased projects, micro campaigns or whatnot. But for the entire, all encompassing web project, this is an unnecessary lesson in stress management. Mind you, we’re not condoning an open ended, no timeline strategy either. We must have tangible and attainable delivery goals which are only reasonable once the development company has had the opportunity to take a holistic look at the project requirements in order to determine what a realistic timeline should look like. No client should dictate this. And again, if the client is unwilling to develop a mutually workable solution, this is a red flag for behaviour and we will remove ourselves from the process at that point. Intelligently run projects include contingencies in case of scope creep, technology glitches, zombie apocalypse, miscommunications or any number of possible scenarios that could delay a project. We have always felt that the best companion to an Agile Methodology are milestone deadlines; attainable short term goals. They keep morale up and provide several ‘successes’ during the project life-cycle. It’s crucial to keep the project moving; this includes the client and developers. Enforcing end-game deadlines only encourages the likelihood of calamitous bugs and hasty quality control sequences.
#4. Lack of Communication
This is a good sign of things to come if you are having difficulty reaching your point of contact (POC) at the company. Remarkably, many large government RFP’s reject direct contact during the process citing an unfair advantage. We find that this is more a case of pretentious laziness. As stated earlier, most clients are processing the RFP phase way to early in their development and should have undergone a much more rigorous due diligence exercise before sending out an RFP to vendors that likely have no reason to be involved. Roadblocking communication shuts off a healthy channel of dialogue that will provide insight into the vendors attention to detail and willingness to ask questions. Vendors that do not ask questions should be flagged. A personal issue that we have is when we ask intelligent questions to the client only to have them broadcast our conversation to the entire bidding community! We think this is a strategic skill and shouldn’t be shared. Oh well, we have often been on the receiving end of some quality QA sessions as well. We find the source of a failed project leads back to poor communication, so displaying this early is a huge red flag. Why would a company steamroll communication during the vendor selection process?!
#3. Vague and Incomplete Requirements
Development firms like ours have seen hundreds of RFP’s. Clients, building out a new website presence likely produces one. Therefore we can spot a problem client from a mile away! RFP’s that are incomplete or include vague requirements demonstrate the client’s lack of preparation and can foreshadow a long and problematic business relationship. Indecision is death for a project. Again, in this case we would possibly reach out to the client and ask them if this ambiguity is by design or just an ill conceived RFP. At that point we will swiftly decline the invitation. On rare occasions, clients are sussing out the high level communication and capabilities of the vendors in order to proceed to a phase 2 selection process where a great deal more details will be provided. Be sure to take one stab at asking questions before moving on.
#2. Fixed Price Quotes
Another one of our deal breaker policies is to refrain from bidding on complex projects with fixed pricing attached. In rare occasions we may bid on a project with our best CMS so long as the requirements are solid and the communication lines are open, friendly and succinct. However, this is very rare and we don’t subscribe to the popular tactic of building in massive contingency or doubling quotes just to make up for a fixed price strategy. We pride ourselves in our ability to accurately estimate a project within 10% of the final price. Clients are under the mistaken impression that fixed prices are efficient and will save them money; it doesn’t. Fixed prices inflate project bids and if there are delays and scope creep the vendor will hasten production putting quality control and the stability of the project at risk. It’s just not worth it.
#1. Open (Free For All) Bids
Yay! Finally our #1 reason for rejecting an RFP is: You guessed it, Open Bids. Open bids are a virus affecting most government and municipal software development procurement processes. It’s just plain nasty. Why would you possibly open up this process to hundreds of vendors knowing full well that you will need to vet each and every one of them. From our experience we have found that open bid winners usually have an inside connection and the fix is in before it’s even started. It’s a colossal waste of our time (unless we have an inside connection, heh).
Did we miss anything?
Have any of your own horror stories? Did we miss any glaringly obvious reasons? Please share your thoughts below and pass this around. You may just save someone dozens of hours working an RFP that they have no reason to be bidding on.
Nice title hey? Well, you’re looking at it. When implemented correctly, no single addition to your website will develop more qualified traffic than an active blog. I know right? This isn’t some secret formula and it’s the first thing that I tell all of my clients who inquire about strategic approach towards boosting their brand awareness and web profile. But, considering that 99% of blogs are complete garbage, it’s no surprise that my repeated recommendations leave people frustrated knowing full well the level of commitment required for maintaining an active blog. So many people seem resistant to working hard for their customers with regards to content development. Well muffin, the truth can really hurt sometimes. Building a viable blog takes work, and lots of it.
Okay, Get on With it
So, I’m asked repeatedly how to generate more traffic. Because I’m the ‘SEO guy’, 99% of people that ask for advice are still under the impression that a few little on page updates will fix everything. The ‘magic button’ expectation is alive and well all around us. “Here, press this and you’ll be ‘Top of Google’, guaranteed”. To demonstrate how my conversations generally go, I’ve listed a few of the most common questions that I field, and bear in mind, the answers are very brief and each could generate many blog posts on their own.
- How can I get more traffic? – Write compelling content based on your niche, aka a blog.
- But what about keywords? – Write compelling content based on your niche, aka a blog.
- What if I don’t have time to write blog posts? – Come back when you’re interested in generating more traffic.
- What about Social Media? – Write compelling content based on your niche, aka a blog.
- What about content marketing? – Write compelling … (get the picture).
Oh Yea? Prove it!
Everything to do with Content Marketing starts and ends at the blog. To accentuate this point, I just read a fantastic article from SalesForce (they’re pretty big and stuff). This article statistically lists some compelling reasons to take a blog seriously. Here are a few of the stats that the author lists in her post:
- B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those who don’t.
- 61% of consumers say they feel better about, and are more likely to buy from, a company that delivers custom content.
- Interesting content is a top 3 reason people follow brands on social media.
- 78% of consumers believe that organizations providing custom content are interested in building good relationships.
- Blogs give websites 434% more indexed pages.
- Blog give websites 97% more indexed links.
- Interesting content is one of the top 3 reasons people connect with brands on social media.
- Social media sites and blogs reach 8 out of 10 of all U.S. Internet users.
- 90% of consumers find custom content useful.
- 37% of marketers say blogs are the most valuable type of content marketing.
- Companies with active blogs receive 97% more leads
- Content creation is ranked as the single most effective SEO technique
Convinced yet? If not please head over to the article that I linked to above and follow all of the ‘cite’ links. It’s scientific and factual.
Don’t cheap out on your blog. Make sure that your site build involved a fully functional and robust blog feature plugged in with social sharing, commenting and media management features. But most of all, make the time!
We love backtracking to fix things right? Ya, me to. On a website a backtrack can cost thousands and sometimes a renders a complete rewrite. Really though, it would have to be a monumental fail to require a full rebuild, but I’ve seen it happen with terrible planning and a ‘one man show’ trying to do everything and talk to no one. At any rate, here are a few things that you will absolutely need to do before your next new build.
1. Mobile Strategy
Mashable recently touted that 17.4% of global traffic is mobile based. North America showed an increase from 9.4% to 15.2% in 12 months. This isn’t a trend that can be ignored. The hot button phrase these days is Responsive Design or Responsive Web Design (RWD). Responsive, or Adaptive design is a framework that is built into the website structure BEFORE the design layer is applied. Here is a smart description of what’s all up in the RWD shizzle (prepare for some gratuitous scrolling) http://johnpolacek.github.io/scrolldeck.js/decks/responsive/. It is a planned strategy which is chiseled out very early in the process. If you’re even remotely attached to local search, hospitality, cuisine or any service, you must incorporate a mobile first philosophy into your site architecture. Further depending on your particular market, you would be much better suited to develop a mobile specific website since usage and patterns differ greatly from the desktop to the handheld. Reverse engineering a large CMS based website to handle a responsive framework is VERY expensive. Don’t make this brutal mistake.
SEE ALSO: Responsive Design is not a Trend
2. Website Transition to protect Rankings and Web Traffic
A few years ago, it used to be commonplace to place a blanket redirect on the entire old website pointing to the homepage; maybe some suckers still do this. Anyone who does this now should be tickled to death by 500 baby chickens. Basically the premise is that migrating to a new CMS will rewrite your page names (URL’s). This will render all of your search engine ranked pages broken (except for the domain/homepage naturally). This will effectively turn off your traffic overnight and is generally frowned upon. The solution is developing a redirect map which points all of the meaningful pages to their new versions on the new website. This is done exclusively using 301 ‘Moved Permanently’ redirects. When done correctly, you will preserve your revenue generating traffic by redirecting people correctly. You will also protect your backlinks and bookmarks. Don’t screw this up!
3. Content Personalization
Success online right now is all about engagement. It’s about having a meaningful conversation with your target audience. We used to dictate everything to our visitors with terrible websites and endless, confusing internal linking structures. Links on the left, content on the right. Boring… The social media revolution or zombie apocalypse, depending on who you ask, has allowed us to engage directly with a very large audience as well as glean some very personal information from these networks in order to exploit their trust. By tapping into social ‘connect’ features, you can speak directly to visitors and display their friends right in your content! Content personalization is revolutionizing the way in which we deliver relevant and meaningful content. Don’t get left behind. Be sure to investigate whether your CMS system includes any content personalization features and how to get them running right away!
We’re pretty passionate about these issues and helping our clients get the most from their CMS platforms. All of our implementation projects feature each of these items above. We also take great pride in ensuring that our clients rip their CMS systems to pieces to ensure that they know exactly what the capabilities are. There are often hidden gems or perhaps an eye opening lack of features…
SEO IS DEAD!
Yea, that’s it. I’ve seen this so many times over the years and it’s really nothing more than link bait. Maybe it was a slow content day or the CEO demanded some traffic, what have you. Well, today I read another hilarious post with this exact title. I had a little giggle and then read the post. I’ve read a ton of ‘SEO is Dead’ posts but this one I felt was particularly weak. If you’re going to lay down the ‘SEO is Dead’ bomb, you’d better drop a ton of intelligent, supporting content instead of just “it’s dead and CMS killed it”. Convince me why… Instead this author decides that the only way to be successful at SEO is to ‘game the system’ and revert to Black Hat tactics. Sorry man, it ain’t so. Linking to a Matt Cutts video also doesn’t validate these statements. The post really has no substance and attempts to make grandiose, earth shattering commandments:
“Sure, developing a strategy to be ranked or improve your rankings helps. But here’s the big secret to it all, come in a bit closer, I’ll whisper it to you so no one else hears it….it’s about delivering content to the right people at the right time”. Let’s keep that between you and me, ok?.”
Really?? I think that statement may have been cited from the pages of “The Marketer’s most Obvious Marketing Strategies by Captain Obvious“. If you are an ‘SEO’ and you don’t already know that, stop now and rehearse the phrase “would you like fries with that?”.
Here’s another beauty:
“(when implementing a continuing SEO campaign) …you’ll eventually come to a fork in the road where the only thing left to do is to put on a Black Hat.” (he means cheat)
So, in other words, give up. Regarding this, I have some advice; come in a bit closer, I’ll whisper it to you so no one else hears it; this isn’t really good strategy when attempting to distinguish yourself as a smart online marketer.
Anyhow, my point is that no self respecting and informed SEO would ever write this sort of post because they would have already been developing multi-channel SEO and content marketing strategies for years. Besides, the whole motivation behind a successful ‘long term’ SEO campaign is based on Relevance and Context… This is NOT a new idea and is the basis for every Google update since its inception; How do we present the most contextually relevant content based on a given search phrases. I would wage that even the ‘great’ Matt Cutts would concur with that one.
Further, I’ve seen many CMS systems (granted they are improving) that are garbage for SEO unless the editor is acutely aware of specific nuances and can correct them along the way. Items like:
- Spaces in page names (meaning the CMS isn’t smart enough to insert dashes when building the URL for the newly created (and named) content items)
- Allowing illegal characters in page names (URL’s, as above)
- Globalization features that pump out reams of duplicate content (‘/en/products’ is identical to ‘/products’ and every page beneath)
- Even more brutal globalization features that serve up translated content under identical URL’s (I see this frequently)
- No options for canonical declaration (utterly critical for most eCommerce product solutions)
- 1000’s of lines of code served up before the body content
- No automated 301 redirecting of updated content names (this should be integral to ALL CMS!)
- Not re-sizing images intelligently
- It won’t tell me when my Linking is bunk or the content isn’t silo’d efficiently
- Antiquated content editors that destroy code and persists with deprecated HTML elements
- Intense ‘ViewState’ sizes reaching into the 10,000′s of characters and beyond (although Kentico has a smart solution for this)
- And on and on…
So while I agree that a well featured CMS platform can assist with SEO, most are a fair ways off, and to say that SEO is Dead is just a bit uninformed.
Until the next time someone plies the interwebs for some easy traffic.
Let’s talk about building an intranet system that your staff will get excited about. What?! Really?! I know that phrase seems pretty grandiose and shocking. How many well meaning intranet builds do you know of which started out as a great plan only to descend into a quagmire of dull Client Records Management and smatterings of internal documentation and HR info.
Fortunately when the decision making executives and marketing managers take a swig of ‘Ego Diffuser’, amazing things can happen. It’s called communication and collaboration and will produce a truly gratifying Intranet experience for all staff and not just a select few sitting around the boardroom table.
Did you know we wrote a white paper on this very thing? Read it: 7 Essential Steps to an Expertly Planned Intranet System.
The underlying message is that you can purchase the most robust enterprise intranet solution, however if it isn’t planned and executed with expert precision, it will be a colossal waste of time and money.
4 of the Most Important Steps to a Building a Successful Intranet
Our whitepaper discusses 7 essential steps, but here are 4 to help get the juices flowing.
- Single Sign On (SSO)
Single Sign-On allows a network user to simultaneously authenticate across multiple secure applications via a single login procedure. Consider how many company passwords we have had to remember at any given moment:
- Company Email
- CRM Login
- Custom Intranet Solution login
- Desktop Computer Login
- Network Login
- Secure Document Server
- Digital Marketing Suite
The possibilities are nearly endless depending on the network organization and make up. Now consider the quantifiable benefits to consolidating all these separate processes into a single procedure.
SSO is so powerful that a case study that is identified in the whitepaper demonstrated a 93% reduction in (internal) support call and a savings calculation of $2 million annually!
- Enterprise Search
The challenges presented by a sub-par Intranet search should be immediately obvious. Consider you have committed valuable time and resources into your new Intranet only to find that the search capabilities are simply not delivering the efficiencies that you were expecting.
There are many situations which would lead to a less than optimal search deployment:
- Setup incorrectly
- Shallow directory indexation depth
- Inadequate staff interviews, use case research and requirements gathering
- Inability to scan and catalog content from document types (PDF, DOC, XML, HTML, etc.)
- Inability to filter against taxonomy, date ranges, folksonomy, etc…
Out of frustration, staff may revert back to hunting and pecking through the nest of directories attempting to locate an archived client audit from 2010. Unfortunately, someone has moved the archive and there is no centralized notification system in place to inform the account managers of the content change.
It’s quite possible that the capabilities exist in the Intranet system; however, the implementation may have been hastily applied without the appropriate stakeholder interviews, requirements gathering, or customization.
- The Social Enterprise
Many organizations show a resistance toward implementing the ‘Social Enterprise.’ Often this is a systematic failure to identify with this new ‘here to stay’ model of staff engagement and social behavior. Denying this inevitability only hastens to suppress an open and transparent collaboration of knowledge across the business units.
Staff is, for the most part, already engaged socially; and many will already have connected with, or endorsed the brand outside of the organizations network on platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.
Stifling this level of engagement may risk perpetuating the philosophy of the old-timey corporate organizations where the perception is that the true merit of contributions from the front line employees are not valued.
- Analytics and Reporting
It is generally common knowledge that providing information on an Intranet’s performance is virtually impossible without some level of statistical information. We can gauge value sometimes via staff feedback and perception; however executives will most likely wish to see that referenced in some sort of a pie chart or graph. Whether we are looking for user access trends, which departments frequent the Intranet or how many HR forms were downloaded, they all require reporting.
Some immediate challenges with limited reporting are that the administrators won’t know when Intranet users are coming up against various issues with the system.
- Broken Links
- Unsuccessful Logins
- Problems with Search
These critical problems often go unreported without a succinct support mechanism in place for instant bug reporting.
Search and access logs provide immediate usability feedback.
- Commonly searched phrases provide opportunity to develop additional content since the search logs support additional development.
- Misspellings allow administrators to create associations with the correct spelling using ‘did you mean’ advanced search features.
- ‘No results’ searches support the creation of content based on the volume of searches that provided no results.
There are excerpts of 4 of the 7 factors that we discuss in much greater detail in the whitepaper. Perhaps take a few minutes and grab a copy. It’s totally free.
Admit that you need to Include staff in the research and development of the intranet = SUCCESS.
Admit that you already know everything and including staff will only prolong the build of the intranet = FAIL.
‘Words on a Page’. This will strike the death knell for even the most well written and informative, thought provoking content. Content design is literally centuries old. Yet we still insist on pouring reams of uninteresting words onto a page and call it content. It’s a perpetual ‘face palm’ based on the fact that there is no logical reason, not to build design elements into your web content.
Download our Content Design Whitepaper: http://www.falcon-software.com/Resources/White-Papers/The-Importance-of-Content-Design
The History of Content Design – 1609 and The Holy Roman Empire
Basically, since the inception of print there has been content design. So anyone in control of web content really has no excuse not to optimize the reading experience. Take for instance the first known newspaper printed in what is now Germany, formerly the Holy Roman Empire!
So the above image, which is the inception of print, clearly displays a Primary heading (H1), a secondary heading (h2) and supporting content. Further white space is used to separate the second content chunk which also sports a healthy sized heading. That’s over 400 YEARS AGO and we still can’t figure it out. Okay, well we are slowly getting it. Web sites seem to understand the need for headings, however the rest of the content tends to be bland and uninteresting.
Content Design Inspiration from 1918
When many of us would rather look at our cell phones instead of the road ‘while driving’, we need to understand that our society has become fickle and impatient. With that we need to be incorporating a modern equivalent of the ‘Newspaper Front Page’ approach with our content design. Simply put, allow a quick headline scan of your content.
Once again we can see in the example above from nearly 100 YEARS AGO, content design is as old as the newspaper itself. Notice the H1 (Primary Heading) followed by many secondary content ‘chunks’. Some chunks have been highlighted with a thin border which draws the eye to the content. Many secondary headings allows the reader to ‘headline scan’ in order to select stories which are more meaningful to that particular reader. Further, the content of the headings need to be convincing in order to entice the reader to proceed to the body content. It really isn’t rocket science, yet we see websites fail time and time again.
Need More Encouragement for your own Content Optimization?
Falcon-Software’s creative director wrote a very thought provoking and informative whitepaper on The Importance of Content Design. It will teach you the basics in order to get a better understanding about content design and how it can equate to website conversions, increased traffic and subsequent sharing through social media channels.
See any ‘crimes against content design’ out there? Leave us a comment. Or if you see some brilliant design examples, please leave us a comment with a link to share with our readers.
So you’ve just hired a super rock star UX expert to help develop your next generation website concept. With their guidance, you have planned everything down to the last micro, lead scoring, click through, sign up, checkout, CRM integration detail and you’re ready to hand over your masterpiece to your development team to integrate into your CMS Platform. They take one look at the plan and in no uncertain terms, tell you that your CMS can’t handle it. What the!?
Indeed. This is a scenario that may seem like a rare occurrence but you (like I thought) would be wrong. First off, it seems that many site owners lack the progressive insight to develop their website from a multi-channel, mobile first, visitor centric perspective.
A truly strategic build up is a really amazing process. A lot of individuals come to the table to help with the planning, persona development and requirements gathering. One by one, team leaders and staff lend their feedback. Friends and family share their experience with the website’s ability to deliver them to where they want to be from a ‘non staff’ angle (this will often be the most valuable). And on and on. If you want to refresh on some critical pieces to choosing a new content management system and engaging your staff in the process read these two whitepapers; you will learn a ton!
Each isolated feature of a website concept may or may not have the appropriate level of support from the CMS. This become even more evident when we want to take a leap down the Digital Marketing rabbit hole. Let’s look at a few specific features that will make or break your entire concept.
Mobile First / Responsive Design / Mobile Device Detection
A mobile first philosophy should be a de-facto requirement for any CMS / Website development carried out today. See the gratuitously over sized info graphic below: (click bullets for annual growth)
That’s a pretty astounding increase in adoption. What’s more shocking is that site owners are brutally negligent in catching up to the desperate need to provide an appropriate experience for mobile browsers. There are multiple sources that will show that while mobile browsing is dramatically increasing, the ability of websites to convert is falling. Get the picture?!
So your whole concept can be put on ice if your CMS Platform doesn’t provide a manageable way to provide a unique experience for mobile devices. Responsive design or Liquid designs are a relatively new concept so the older CMS systems may have a detection system that will serve up an alternative website. But considering the time and resources needed here and the low quality user experience seen over the years, it’s unlikely that this will be realized. Your CMS should be ‘Responsive’ out of the box (OOB).
Tomorrow we will talk about Personalization & Social Media…
The challenge of staying ahead of trends and adapting to customer’s needs is a life and death struggle for businesses that rely on their web presence to promote themselves or generate revenue. With limited budgets for marketing and the need to maximize ROI, successful businesses can no longer afford to build multiple sites for different devices; and dare not risk that their one site performs badly on certain devices.
Enter responsive design; the buzzword in the creative web world for the last couple of years. Everyone is talking about it, but you may be wondering exactly what it is, or questioning whether to allocate the extra budget now just to follow the newest trend. Here are the reasons why you need to be thinking about a responsive website for your company.
What is it?
Firstly, you need to understand that a responsive design is one where the content and the user’s device are completely independent. The goal of responsive design is to build a web page that detects the visitor’s screen size and orientation and responds by changing its layout accordingly. In this way, it will never matter again what device a user has – your site and its content will be presented in the best way possible every time.
Why should I care?
The mobile market is exploding with exponential growth, and new devices are released regularly. However, responsive design isn’t just a mobile thing. The point is you can no longer predict how your customers will experience your content.
Your content should scale to any resolution, big or small. The whole idea of responsive design is to build an end product that will provide an optimal user experience across as many devices as possible, now and in the future.
“With a responsive website, businesses can be in front of consumers at every step of their online journey. People who search for a business’ site begin reading content and viewing videos from their desktop computers at work, and then look for the same business on their smartphones during lunch are able to continue their research into products and services uninterrupted.
In contrast, if the business has a traditional website and a mobile site, someone investigating products and services online can become frustrated by the lack of complete content on the mobile site or the inability to navigate through the full site on her smartphone. They might give up the search altogether.”
~ A quote from Forbes.com post “Why You Need to Prioritize Responsive Design Right Now”
What is involved?
You should start with a content audit. Content is king, after all. Determining what content your users need is paramount in building an online experience they will value. Consider what information is critical to your typical user. Remember, bandwidth rates and load times will be an issue for many device users, so be as brief as possible. Your content must be easy to navigate and concise. Once you have established the content, you can finesse the presentational aspects for a variety of standard screen sizes accordingly by adding graphics and new layout elements.
The best responsive designs start by thinking mobile first – not desktop first. A good mobile user experience usually translates well to desktop. The same isn’t always true the other way round.
Your design company will most likely build wireframes to illustrate how your content will be organized. It is essential to plan your design approach before beginning any design. The image below demonstrates how a layout will change on different devices.
Where’s the ROI?
Better all-around User Experience
Sites not optimised for mobile devices often display content that is difficult to navigate or too small to read. Responsive design, when done right, provides for a simpler and faster experience; and it also increases visitor engagement, encouraging more page visits and clicks while decreasing bounce rates.
It’s also more advantageous from a social standpoint, as now when your visitors share your page content they will all be sharing the same URL regardless of their device.
Better SEO performance
Developing multiple sites can dilute SEO performance because multiples compete against each other for traffic. Google refers to responsive web design as the industry best practice. This is because responsive design sites have one URL and the same HTML, regardless of device, which makes it easier and more efficient for Google to crawl, index, and organize content. Responsive design today will lead to higher ranking in the future.
Simplify Content Management
Separate desktop and mobile sites are doubly hard to manage and maintain. Save time by optimizing your content and creating fewer pages that work across devices. A well-implemented responsive design can ensure the most consistent experience for the user and reduce the costs of creating and managing content.
Reduce Long-term Development Costs
The costs to build a responsive website are somewhat higher than building a conventional website; but the expense of building separate websites for a variety of phones and other devices gets completely eliminated cutting total development costs significantly. In addition to that, a responsive design cuts the total ownership cost by reducing the efforts needed to maintain those different websites. Investing in responsive website design is a savvy financial decision.
Here is a small sample of real data that measures the increases in conversions and revenue growth for some companies that have invested in responsive web redesigns.
“One thing is certain, you don’t want to fall behind and watch your competitors launch responsive websites while yours is still stuck in 2010 (or earlier). The time to get responsive with your web design is now.”
~ A quote from Forbes.com post “Why You Need to Prioritize Responsive Design Right Now”
Contact Falcon-Software to find out how we can help you unlock the potential of your website by creating a responsive design today.