We’ve all been there. Some of us more than others – yet still the idea of a redesign initially starts out with great aspirations, then leads to feverish or lackluster enthusiasm weeks later. Let me back up and explain my story.
It’s been probably three or four years since our last redesign of the Design Theory Website. Years ago I can remember when I first tried WordPress and had a blog in a sub-domain while having our main website in HTML on the root. It worked out better than I could have expected and within about nine months I was ready to convert everything into one site on WordPress.
Fast forward to present day, and I can honestly say that I’ve been working on this redesign for about two months. Not consistently, more on-and-off. Reason being is that, well, we’ve been busy. Being busy is a good thing when you’re a creative but only to a certain point. Some of our best ideas get filtered into our client websites and strategy efforts, meanwhile our own website gets the cold shoulder.
Why Are We Taking So Long
To be honest and short, we want a really good and clean experience for you. We want all of our services laid out in a way that is easier to navigate, lead/sales funnels created with purpose, and products easier to identify and purchase. What we’ve learned over the years is that the customer experience is what matters the most in any website. It kind of needs to be catered to them more so than what I think the website should be designed like.
Another reason for the redesign is to make the new website load much faster than the current one does. Realizing that more web traffic is done via mobile browsers than desktops, we have to make sure that our website loads smooth and fast on hand-held devices. Make sure that it’s also Google Mobile Friendly is key too. It’s important to make sure that the almighty Google deems our website acceptable.
Lastly, we believe it’s time for a refresh. There are a lot of ideas that we want to do that include a rebrand, but we’re going to have to hold off on some of those bigger and more time intensive initiatives to be able to focus on tangible goals and a timeline. Good ideas are great but they’re truly a dime a dozen. It’s really about executing and to be able to launch some of our more necessary ideas we have to stay focused. When it comes to our customer redesigns we treat them the same. We come up with a lot of great ideas from improved functionality, new software, and new graphics, but we also stage things out in milestones so that there is always something to look forward to over the next several weeks and months.
As you can see we’ve got a lot to consider with our redesign. It’s more important to us that it’s done right than just putting together a new design and layout without constructive though behind it for usability. Have you been thinking about a redesign of your website? What is holding you back from getting started? Let us know in the comments below or contact us directly if we can help.
Earlier this week I did a presentation at my local WordPress Orlando MeetUp about Client Transparency. This talk was a really open look at what it’s like being a creative, dispelling some perceptions on the creative lifestyle, as well as some insight into the thought process of a designer or developer working with the average client. I’ll be honest and say that most of these views are my sole perception, however many other creatives have echoed the same emotions and feelings.
The purpose of this though was to bring some light and understanding to both sides of the table when it comes to working through creative projects. The better both creatives and clients understand and respect each other, the better the development process will be and increase working relationships for long terms.
If you were unable to attend the live presentation, it was recorded and will be shared soon.
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When I am hired to do photography, I almost never know what to truly expect. Sometimes the weather may not cooperate, venue changes last minute, kids aren’t in the mood, and other things to keep me on my toes. While I like it, it does make for interesting situations from shoot to shoot.
These photos are a good example of a family that took time to get dressed up really nice, kids included, and things just got out of hand and so much more fun as the session progressed.
Because there were so many kids present (more than what you’re seeing here) I informed the parents that they should through their expectations of the kids all cooperating at the same time out the window. Kids do what they want, when they want. And when you’ve got plenty of them together that are already used to playing around with each other, they’re surely not going to want to sit still.
Rather than show you the “posed” shots, these zany ones I felt captured more of who they are and the moments of fun they were having.
I met Vel at a networking event years ago here in Orlando. We instantly befriended and shared similar business and entrepreneurial stories to almost no end. Her history in working within Florida State government in the capital and working closely with elected officials to local community leaders was inspiring. I’ve always said that it’s not always about what you know, but who you know, and Vel is well-connected! In this brief 3 Question Interview you’ll get an idea of who she is and what Vasaj Communications has to offer in the way of small business marketing and public relations.
1: How do you define public relations different from what the initial naïve perception people may have of this type of service?
On this amazing journey as a public relations professional, I enjoy specializing in the art of transformation and helping businesses grow! The ever-expanding world of public relations largely impacts public opinion, financial performance, and business success. My personal definition of public relations serves at the critical core of my life’s work. I believe it’s the experience, leadership and collaborative approach that is required to be a catalyst for business growth, visibility, and longevity. The public relations approach may be unique to every business and individual, but its intrinsic value is unwavering in being an integral component of influence on industry.
2: With a $500 monthly budget for marketing, what would you suggest a small business owner do with that to increase their brand awareness?
A consultation with the potential client would be required to expertly recommend the most effective manner for building brand awareness. However, there are a couple of measures the business owner should consider before being able to establish a practical and effective approach to setting a marketing budget. First, the business owner needs to identify short and long-term objectives, consider the target market, and know and understand the needs of this audience, as much as possible. Having insight into the demographics (the statistical data of a population, especially those showing average age, income, education, etc.) and psychographics (the measure of the customers’ attitudes and interests) will help guide the campaign’s marketing vehicle and contribute to being able to adequately establish a budget. Secondly, the business owner must realize that as the depth and extent of business goals will vary from business to business, so will the range of professional experience, industry knowledge, and retainer fees vary for branding experts. Just as you would visit more than one car dealer if in the market for a new car, I suggest speaking to more than one marketing professional to find one that is a comfortable fit.
3: What’s the most challenging aspect of your job that most of your clients wouldn’t know from the outside looking in?
That’s a thoughtful question, Jean. I thoroughly enjoy supporting clients of different backgrounds and needs with media and government relations, press communications, author campaigns, messaging, social media management, event coordination, webinar creation, and a host of other branding mechanisms. However, what may not be glaringly obvious is that there is no cookie cutter approach to optimizing one’s brand, and even within the same industry, branding objectives differ. As a public relations professional, I believe it’s important to spend time getting to know the unique personality, business acumen, and mindset of each client, particularly if I’m going to write their talking points, digital messaging, or serve as a company spokesperson. I completely customize services to best fit the client’s overall need. To learn more about Vasaj Communications and our scope of services, visit www.vasajcommunications.com. I can be emailed directly at email@example.com.
Your readers are more visual now then ever. Captivating them with great headlines is key, and so is capturing their attention with an interesting photo or graphic that goes along with the headline. Full disclosure, we actually use these websites along with paid RF websites like iStock and 123RF for our projects as well as client projects. Reason being is that there are a good amount of free resources for images online with creative commons licensing, but there are times when you’ll need to purchase a specific image that just isn’t found anywhere on the free market.
All images and videos on Pixabay are released free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0. You may download, modify, distribute, and use them royalty free for anything you like, even in commercial applications. Attribution is not required.”
What I really like about this site is the free videos. Don’t get me wrong, they have a great library of photos to choose from with a broad range, but lets face it video is where it’s at these days and getting to use some HD quality ones for your project will make a great impression for your viewers.
“Hundreds of high resolution images added weekly. Free from copyright restrictions.“
This is a very clean and easy to navigate and search user generated stock photography website. It’s easy and quick to create an account, and I encourage that you do so that as you download photos you take the time to “like” the photographs that you come across. As a photographer this means a lot to us!
We are a stock photo community where photographers & designers can share their own photos and artwork with people from all over the world.”
If you’re looking for really great high quality photography from photographers around the world, you’ll enjoy this website. I’ve seen a bunch of highly edited and HDR photographs posted here for free use.
“Startup Stock Photos was started as an outlet for photos we were already taking on a regular basis. It’s grown to be much more than that. People and organization all over the world have used these photos to make some really awesome things. We’re happy to have helped.”
If you’re looking for photos and images with that “startup” or agency look, you’re going to enjoy this website. From wooden desk tables to white board and monitor screens, you’ll no doubt find an image or two to fit your project. While there isn’t a search feature or a huge library of photos, the ones that this photographer uploaded for your free use are fantastic.
What did you think of the list? Hopefully this helps you if you were looking for some great sources for photography and images. Remember to give credit back to the website/author of the photos you choose to use. While what you find may be free, what it does cost time, expertise, and skill to do photography. Having credit and recognition goes a long way!
We often get questions from our clients and people to our website or social media about ways to generate traffic on a website that don’t cost as much as doing full blown SEO Marketing. If you don’t know already, the median cost for adequate SEO (search engine optimization) campaigns can range from $250 – $5,000 a month if not more. Depending on your business’ marketing budget, you may not be able to afford anything towards paid marketing, and that’s ok. One of the best things you can do to promote your business and drive traffic “organically” to your website is to create great content on a your website.
Creating organic content is rather easy in thought. If you’ve got a WordPress website, you’ve already got a blog built in. So logging in and creating a post and publishing it is a snap. Check out our free how to videos if you need a refresher.
The Value Add
The value in your posts is what you talk about and how detailed or defined you can get. It’s not so much on repeating what most may already know about your industry, but a different take on something common or a simple way of solving a problem that most suffer though the hard way. And in there lies the organic and realistic perspective that only you can provide in your words.
The more topics you write about in this same fashion you will build up a fan base. People who respect what you have to say over some industry leaders even. Why? Because of your unique perspective and how relatable you are.
Provoke An Action
Once your readers have consumed your posts, you should ask them to take an action. This action may be fulfilling a promise, sharing your post with 2-3 people, trying out the steps you laid out, or maybe even to prove you wrong in a way. Lastly, you can offer a give-a-way of something of value to your readers. Could be a top 10 list, discount coupon, or something of the like so that they are willing to give you their names and email addresses in exchange for this free option. This is also a great way to build your email list!
Monitor Your Analytics
While you may not see too many comments on your posts, you may notice the increase in traffic to your website on the days you post, and a couple of days after each post. But first lets talk about consistency. Your readers would appreciate knowing that you’ll be publishing new content on a regular basis. That “regular” basis may be once a week or more, but it is at the least consistent. This is probably the hardest challenge of all. We all get bogged down with busy work and life moments that pouring into our business can sometimes be more of a chore than a pleasure. I promise you the results will encourage you, where the lack of publishing will also be seen in your analytics.
While these are just a few benefits of self publishing for what I like to call sweat equity marketing, there are always more. We’ll write more about it next week to keep this post short. In the meantime what are some topics in mind that you are ready to publish? Check out this cool and FREE Editorial Calendar. It may help you put all those ideas down and plan when to write and publish them for the next few days and weeks.