Today via email, I received the Executive Summary released today by Lyris (penned by The Economist Intelligence Unit) titled “Mind the marketing gap – Sizing up marketer and consumer perceptions.” The article indicated “The findings of…surveys indicate some gaps in marketers’ perception of how consumers want to engage with brands, what influences their purchase decisions and how they view privacy.” I found this article very interesting and I’ll share some tidbits from it below. Considering their findings, I began thinking about how we marketers view our marketing campaigns vs. how consumers interpret our attempts, successes and even failures.
When designing websites, I often say that I create with my marketing & copywriting hat on and then flip it backwards to gauge the visitors utilization response. Is it user friendly? Does the imagery and written content engage me? And so forth. Admittedly, I don’t always do that with print collateral to the same extent. But I should. So I want to share some of what the Executive Summary disclosed in hopes of educating both you and I on what we’re doing right, wrong and what we should be doing and considering as we engage our consumer audiences. It’s just a few tidbits but you can access the whole article on the hyperlink above.
“Consumers are put off by superficial personalization, but they appreciate customized product recommendations.
About 1 in 5 consumers say that customized offers are more likely to meet their needs than mass market offers and
that inclusion of personal details (e.g. previous transactions) makes them feel valued as customers.”
“Ways of engaging and influencing consumers vary by industry. Industries like travel, automotive and entertainment are investing in data to increase customized promotions. For automotive executives, deep analysis of consumer data top
the list of marketing strategies at 30%—higher than the all-industry average of 23% and up from 13% five years ago. The
automotive industry leads all others in spending on corporate websites, which is closely aligned with consumer
preferences. The clothing industry, on the other hand, spends more than other industries on branded social media
pages, even though clothing consumers are least likely to say they prefer to engage with brands through those
This is a touchy topic for some people because it involves the main thing we’re all battling with in the current economy – MONEY. Depending on how familiar you are with the web world and which side you fall on (user/consumer or developer/geek), the cost of building/creating a website can be a mystery to business owners Because it’s not just about selling you the service but helping you to understand what goes into the cost and ultimately and why you’re being charged what you are for your businesses website
Most people think its pretty easy to build a website. And for some that may be true. But for most, the key considerations are beyond their level of expertise and a designer or developer is the best options. When contracting a designer or developer, understand that you’re not paying for the technology. You’re paying for their time and knowledge. To be honest, there isn’t anything that a web designer does that anyone else cannot do. So let’s go deeper to understand what the common needs are, clarify some myths about web design and give a clear understanding of what the “time and knowledge” really provides you with.
Small Budget but Big Ideas
There are plenty of you out there that are either thinking of starting a business or at the beginning stages of developing your business. Chances are you don’t have that huge SBA loan or a stockpile of start-up cash, so penny-pinching and sweat equity is you’ll be building on. As a small, budget conscious business owner you might have a great idea in your head but are unable to bring it to life because you don’t know how to or have the necessary tools. You could spend hundreds of dollars on buying a tutorial software program, spend hours to learn from them all in hopes of a “DIY” success. Just the thought process of designing your own brand takes time. Then bringing that vision to a digital medium takes some additional time and skills. So what’s more likely is that it might be cheaper and faster (and less of a headache) to hire a designer who can make your vision a reality with a little less Advil.
Why You Don’t Know-It-All
We love these types of people. Why? Because they likely already have a plan and concepts for what you want your website to look like and convey to your consumers. Which is great that you’re that clear about your market base and what they need or want. The only drawback, is you usually believe the building process is as simple as copy and paste. Know-It-Alls sometimes will sign up for a trial version of some web-based CMS (Content Management System), built a few pages of a simple website, and now assume that it’s a quick and easy process. Like some .99 cent WYSIWYG app which can would work just the same as every app that a seasoned developer must be using. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Here’s what that time and knowledge consists of a seasoned web designer and developer offers:
- Knowing how to build page structures
- Creating responsive designs for a better user interface and user experience
- Adapting the website for optimum browser compatibility
- Ensuring all necessary software updates
- Typography for a better look and feel
- Working with image sizing and quality
- Optimizing page loading times
- Creating content for landing pages
- and so much more
If You Want Full Control
I have no argument with clients who want to manage their websites once it is completed. The ability to update content, images, links and so on without having to contact your developer is truly ideal. We used to sell desktop programs for this back when we primarily built HTML websites to allow this indulgence. Now with WordPress, not only is the learning curve smaller, there is no cost for additional software. Now because most people aren’t looking to change the base structure of their websites; WordPress is a great option to self manager. But here’s the warning. Be aware that with a few wrong clicks or improper coding edits, you can actually break your website. These types of mistakes can render your site with a 404 error quick and in some cases may not have an easy fix. This is just one of many examples why its better to leave it to the professionals. If we break it you justifiably can yell at us!
When Time is of the Essence
There are plenty fly-by-night and quick turn around website builders out there. Also some software programs available from your local Best Buy or Office Depot, as well as online with quick setups that seem like great financial options. . I’d like to raise just a small, red flag on this seemingly time and cost-effective option. You technically don’t “own” the software. What I’ve seen happen countless times is that after purchasing the software, the software developer goes out of business. Or worse, no longer cares to update their software for the most current browsers and security loopholes. So you the consumer are left holding the empty bag and spending hours Google’ing how to fix something you had no part in creating.
So what’s the best option when you need to get online with your website within the next few days and don’t have the time to learn, study, design, or build it. Most designers and design firms can accommodate your prompt request, but may entail a slightly higher cost because of the quick turnaround.
BYOS (Bring Your Own Stuff)
If you want to see a designer or developer do a face-palm smack, tell them you need a website, but you’re not sure how many pages; don’t have any content; the pictures you have are all on your cell phone as text messages; and oh your favorite colors are all in the rainbow. Sure my example may seem a bit comical and slightly unrealistic but I can assure you those requests have come to us. Clients who come to web designers unknowingly unprepared should be prepared for higher costs as a result. Additionally some of these issues which may come up haphazardly during the development process, can require redesigns, restructuring and reorganizations, shooting the cost up even higher.
To keep costs at quoted or at priced levels, clients must BYOS or prepare to PMM (Pay More Money). Lack of preparation can also hold a project at a standstill or cause a push back the launch date. Additionally, when those requested materials are inadequate, there might be more incurred charges for the designer to find stock imagery, perform research on your industry for content as well as securing a content writing for your website. So before you sign on the dotted line, think about what you’re able bring to the table to mitigate costs, both time and money. If you’re not a great content writer, admit it and pay for someone to write for you. If you don’t have time to take product pictures, let a photographer come in and do that.
The Wrap Up
Know that most designers and developers who have been around for more than a few years, do what they do because they really get joy out of it. We enjoy seeing a happy client at the end of a project that’s excited to tell the world about their new worldwide face and presence on the web. One of Design Theory’s “theories” is that we don’t treat businesses as a one time sale. Me and each of my team members maintain good working business relationships with each of our clients. They know we’re always looking out for their best interest as we offer the right products and services to make their project a success.
If you have questions about our pricing, (or our competitors), don’t hesitate to call our office at 888.603.1090.
(image credit from RGBStock.com)
Let’s lead in with a fact shall we? The Online Publishers Association (OPA) research has found that 57 % of technology users time is spent accessing content via the mobile Web, while the remaining 43 % is spent accessing content via apps. Wow, one wonders what the future of PC’s will be at those increasing rates of usage of mobile devices in a manner that was once relegated to PC’s. Don’t bother pondering too long because according to Peter Thompson’s recent article it has been predicted that during 2013, mobile devices will overtake PCs as the most common technology to access the Internet. That means smartphones & handheld device content will remain hand-in-hand and maintain quite the profitable marriage this coming year.
What it Looks Like
Based on the statistics above, the mobile device viewing of web content is growing at astronomical rates. Because of this, mobile operating systems and device specific websites require optimized content and high-quality imagery resolution for smartphone & tablet users. So most web designers and content writers are trading in their traditional methods of web marketing (including HTML sites) and traveling down the aisle with other tools on their arms such as WordPress and SEO-rich platforms.
Now a days, “infotainment” (which is information-based media content or programming that also includes entertainment content in an effort to enhance popularity with audiences and consumers) is a premier reason enhanced mobile devices screen resolutions need to be what iPad with Retina display has achieved for games, music and video. And just when you thought that was a match made in heaven, Chris Yewdall informed us that coming in 2015, software & mobile device giants like Samsung & HTC are releasing 3D phones that will not only enable consumers to shoot 3D content but to consume 2D content in 3D. AND to watch the converted 3D content on their TV’s. All of this innovations help us escape from the daily grind and enhance users experience.
Although most weddings cost a fortune, when it comes to espousal of apps & mobility, cost-free remains the key to our hearts. Many note that with the current economy, customers are increasingly on the hunt for free apps. Recent statistics show that Android free apps will continue to outnumber free iPhone apps into 2013. According to DISTIMO, a leader in app analytics, there are now more free apps available for Google’s mobile OS than the iPhone.
Purchase Power On The Go
After honeymoon bliss, couples go about the business of daily living and with most of our time spent on the go, our lives require mobile purchasing power. The ability to make purchases when the customer is “on the go” requires mobilized versions of websites that are fully functional but with quick and easy purchasing directives. Vivid imagery & engaging content are required to move the consumer from enticed to committed buying making on-device purchasing easy & effective.
Jumping the Broom with Cars?
Getting hitched on the physical & technological mobility bandwagon, Hyundai is taking us to another level! Ready for release in 2015, this car manufacturer will be coupling smartphone technology with their vehicles via the Hyundai Connectivity Concept. This new innovation is designed to wirelessly mirror the contents of your smartphone directly within your vehicle. By 2015, Hyundai says it can replace a conventional key fob with the consumers’ smartphone to lock/unlock doors by placing it over the NFC (Near Field Communications) sticker on the window or door. Inside, the smartphone is placed in a docking station within the center console where it activates the user’s profile & streams content to a touchscreen that displays all of the user’s music, radio stations and phone contacts. It can even control the navigation and various other on-board infotainment and telematics systems. Yes all that while recharging the phone’s battery wirelessly. And here’s the real gift of this technology and user interface nuptial, multiple users and their individual smartphones can access the same car in the same way.
So there you are folks…technology wed to content equals blissful & entertaining engagement for us.
While talking to a client about her new website that Design Theory is currently creating, we began discussing and distinguishing the differences of websites similar to her industry. During the discussion I asked her if she wanted a Pop Tart vs. Toaster Strudel design and content. We both chuckled while I explained the difference and how that would affect her readership and visitation numbers. As I explained my breakfast treat comparison, it occurred to me that this would make great content itself for a blog. So with sweet treat comparatives, tongs in hand, let’s see what the difference is and what to look out for when designing your own personal use or business website.
Sticky Jelly or Oozing Content
Pop Tarts Toaster Strudel
Can be stored at room temperature Must stay frozen until ready for consumption
No need for refrigeration Leaving it out over 12 hours may make it unfit for consumption
What does this say about the quality of your content & about your website? Quickly written, often plagiarized content will only be worth the effort put into it. However content that is fresh, witty and deliberate will evoke the proper response for the goal set before it. It will be more pleasing and can easily be distinguished. And that’s exactly what you want and need to get your product and/or services sold. Once again, it’s a distinction between what looks good and achieves the goal that should direct the content accordingly.
Static or Creative Icing
Is your content very cookie-cutter, stationary or could be considered stale? Or does the verbiage move, flow and swirl to create interest and hold your reader’s attention? Is your use of imagery typical or often used stock photography or is it distinctive and has an artistic, creative flare to it? When choosing imagery, keep in mind that it should enhance and not compete with your written content to give a cohesive and an overall polished look to your website. You can have fun and go outside the box with most industries. Even content that is more factual and less opinionated can be creatively distinct while getting your message across and conveying important information.
Sometimes Pricing Makes a Difference, Sometimes Not
Pop Tarts Toaster Strudel
$3.99 for a 8 piece box $3 for a 6 pastry box
Being in the middle of the pricing spectrum for websites, we at Design Theory have had to burst the bubble of misconceptions when it comes to our prices versus the quality of talent/work we do. Our goal is to match the goals and level of business of a client’s company with a website that will do just that within the confines of their allotted budget. Now sometimes we have to push back and encourage a particular client to go beyond their budget and give them some industry inside look as to why. And because we do what we do well, it’s usually not hard for them to acknowledge the benefits of doing so and agree. But for other companies, just be aware that all that glitters may not be gold and likewise, the cheapest design/pricing may not be tarnished brass. Remember, there’s a difference between cheap and affordable web designs. I believe you have to ask the right questions, look at a company’s track record/dossier and determine what’s best for your business. Then you can make an educated decision about how much you NEED to pay for a website that fulfills its purpose for your business or personal objectives.
So depending on what your business palate wants and needs, you can determine whether you choose a “mediocre but gets the job done” website & content, or if you’re in need of a step-up, more sophisticated level design. Whichever works for you, make sure you choose well and always consider the palate of your consumers.
~ Content Writing Inspiration ~
True Ease in Writing comes from Art, not Chance,
As those move easiest who have learn’d to dance.
~Alexander Pope, “An Essay on Criticism”