Save Time Save Money Sleep Well: 3 Giant Hassles to Avoid on Your Web Project

February 25, 2007

I’ve been ‘doing websites’ for over 10 years now and in Internet years I’m as old as Noah’s dog –or something like that. I hope with my dog-years comes a little bit of wisdom that will help make your life better. Read this report and do what it says. It’ll save you time, energy, effort and lost sleep.Each and every website (I prefer to spell it as one word) that I have worked on has been unique in its own way, but there have been a few trouble spots that they have all had in common. These are the three problems every new website faces from pre-design to post-launch. Eradicate these issues and you will enjoy a smooth development project and a great website for years to come.

First, every web site know to mankind has been bottlenecked by lack of content supplied in a copy-ready format from the client. Secondly, none of them have had enough high-quality photographs displaying the subject matter in its best light. Finally, without fail, none have had a viable maintenance strategy to keep the site fresh and usable going forward.

By alleviating these 3 hassles your website will be launched sooner, look better and garner more business-generating traffic than you ever thought possible. If you are in need of a website for your establishment read this carefully. It’s worth the money.

Lack of Content Supplied by YOU the Client!

I’ve been the sales person, the project manager, the graphic designer, the programmer, the hosting company, and every other hat you can wear and this part is never our fault! We don’t know what you want your website to say? It’s your business. Unless you can afford to hire a professional copywriter –and this may be the best option– you must take the time to sit down and type out in perfect copy-ready format the actual words that will be displayed on each page of the site.

You will save days and maybe even weeks of time if you are able to supply this information to the design team at the beginning of the project. It will shave hours of time from communication, project management and even the graphic design stage.

It is a “Big Freakin’ Hassle” to get close to the end of a project and find yourself hunting down the client to get the website copy. Many times it is weeks or months after the start of the project that a critical piece of copy is needed and the client is not as motivated as they were at the beginning making it excruciatingly difficult to pry it out of them. I’ve waited months for final copy.

If you are “the client” on the next project, don’t make the design team wait on you for anything. It will cost you time, money and that is what I call a big freakin’ hassle.

Your Photographs Cannot Suck

Digital cameras make it easy to take snap shots of things and post them onto a website. I think this is part of the problem. There are a lot of really good cameras in the hands of people who don’t know the first thing about design, lighting, angles, architecture, megapixels and resolution.
I have found two things to be true. Clients either don’t have the quantity of photos that is needed or the photos that clients do have are terribly poor. Amateur photos convey amateur subject matter. A bad photographer can make a Ferrari look bad.

I have seen the best chef’s in the world waste years of culinary school by presenting poor quality, unappetizing food photos in their menus and on their websites. If it looks unappetizing in the photo, it does not matter if it was cooked by Iron Chef Morimoto it’s not going to be appealing.
5 ideas for better photos

• Hire a pro. Great photos will serve you for years to come!
• Look at magazines and mimic the pros if you can’t afford one.
• Use natural light and use a digital camera.
• Take tons of very high-resolution photos from many angles.
• Focus in on the right spot. Look at magazines you’ll see what I mean.

Your photographs show the end user what it is that you offer. In a way they demonstrate what you are selling or offering. They must be good. Here’s an example.
Inexpensive Quality Photos on a Simple and Effective Website

This was a very simple site that my company did for a home remodeling contractor. We insisted that a professional take the photos for his website. These photos were taken in the contractor’s own home, not a model home per se. The result was fantastic and it truly demonstrates the power of good photos.
Check out: http://www.byerleycontracting.com/about.asp

No Maintenance Strategy Going Forward
The biggest myth regarding websites is that they get “finished”

They are never “finished.” They launch. Like a rocket launches into space, they have inertia. Remember inertia? They will keep going in the same direction until acted upon by an outside force. If you want to reach the moon with your launch you must keep acting on your website. You have to force it to the moon.

To be clear, you must change, update, adjust, fix, correct, refresh your site as often as you possibly can and in accordance with your business. A dot-com will have to maintain every day. While a restaurant should update events monthly or weekly and always make sure the menu on the website matches the one at the table.

I received a frantic call from a restaurant owner one day basically offering to pay me whatever it took for me to remove a certain dish from the menu as it was posted on the website. It was a dish they no longer offered and at least one person had ordered it, “every single day for the last two weeks and we’re making people angry.”
[That goes to show you the power of a restaurant menu page]

Strategies that Don’t Work

• Forcing someone within your organization to learn how to update it.
• Placing an automatically updated ‘date’ display on the homepage so that it looks like you updated it that day.
• Insisting that the design firm design your site so that a WYSIWIG editor can be used to update it. “Make it so the Secretary can use Microsoft Frontpage? to update it.”
Strategies that Work Great!

• Outsource the updates to a firm that works fast and inexpensively. Expect a lower price if you sign a contract for 12 or 24 month term.
• Hire someone in house to update the site everyday.
• Only update certain portions of the site. Don’t bite off too much at first. Your motivation will wane over time, so start small.
• Update the site on certain days of the month or week, but keep it consistent. Regular guests will know when to expect changes. Be consistent.
• Change with change not for the sake of it. If your brick and mortar changes update your site to reflect reality. (See menu story above)

Do Your Part on Day One and You’re Done

All three of these big freakin’ hassles can be altogether avoided in a single day’s work. You will avoid many headaches if at the onset of your website project you will type out what you want each page to say, schedule a photo shoot from top to bottom, and finally develop a “go forward” plan. Best of all you will pay less money for the site to be developed, because it won’t take as long. More people will visit the site, because they can trust that the content reflects reality. Besides, why wouldn’t they want to do business with an organization with such beautiful product, “What gorgeous photography!” they will say to their friends.

Yes, this report is part pragmatic and part therapeutic. I feel much better knowing that should you give my firm the privilege of working for you it’ll be a big freakin’ success!

Best of luck!

Kind Regards

Keith Eddleman

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