What Simple Polls Can Tell You

What Simple Polls Can Tell You

I’m sitting at a Starbucks getting ready to do some client work. I had already picked up my little dried fruit snacks and fruit drink. Ironically no coffee since I don’t want to make it back to back late night, so that’s why I chose the fruit juice instead. Upon signing in I am brought to a quick pop-up window for a poll that I am fairly used to when coming here.

What’s different about this poll among others I’ve participated before was this question that resonated a lot closer to me as an internet creative than others before. This one asked what I craved more, internet or coffee. Normally I’d quickly choose my poll answer and continue about my business. Sometimes I’d check the answers to see how much of a difference in range it could be. This time I was kind of amazed that it was an even draw for the answers.

Over forty-seven thousand people answered this poll and it was even? Really? That’s strange and amazing to me at the same time. I’ve never really thought of one without the other, but clearly people do and both are equally important to many.

I haven’t used a poll for my own gain in my reach or business knowledge yet. There’s a bunch of good sites out there that offer good polls from free to premium like Google Forms and Survey Monkey, but for some reason I haven’t tried. I can’t tell you why I haven’t, but I’ll say it’s mostly due to laziness and lack of priority among other things. Meh, I’m just being honest. However the amount of data that I’d be able to get even if ten people out of 30 participated in my poll.

Questions could be:

  • Do you prefer the ability to make updates to your website on your own, or would you pay a small fee to have a web designer do them for you so you can save time?
  • Do you prefer having professional photos all digital, or would you pay to have some prints as well as have some digital?

I know those are questions I ask potential clients from time to time, but I don’t track it, and I certainly can’t identify a trend. Could be the way I ask or whom I ask I suppose. Still if you could create a poll right now, what would you ask? What would you like to know about your services or product or website that you don’t really know full feedback about? Lets talk about it in the comments below. Oh, and I chose internet!

Design Projects: The Exit Interview

web designers at a deskWhen a new website is completed and launched, there is a great sense of relief and jubilation from my design firm. All the extra work we put into a project feels like it was so worth it.¬† Almost like we could have done it for free had we been given the chance. Hearing how the client or group is so excited and hearing their praises gives us some great confidence and feedback that we met or exceeded their expectations. However the project actually isn’t completed at that point. I pull together all the staff members who were involved with the project for an exit interview.

In Corporate America when someone is let go from a job or moving to a new department, the sitting manager or HR representative will host a meeting with the employee that is moving to get their honest opinion on their soon to be previous role. Their asked to be candid and explain how they felt about their manager, job function, duties, achievements, and of course moral. The end of a design I feel should be the same in some aspects.

Some things to consider or talk about with your team or reflect on yourself would be:

Content: Was there enough content provided from the beginning? How much copy needed to be edited or rewritten? Did the client provide enough? Was I delivered or provided to us on time or when asked?

Budget: Was the client charged adequately for every deliverable we were tasked with. Did we find any areas in the project that could have been handled a different way that would have given us more services we could have offered? Does it seem like the client would have paid more for the same level of service?

Timeline: Did we beat our deadline? We’re we late and why? What were some factors that contributed to our timeline. How can we avoid any setbacks on our end or the clients going forward. We’re they’re new requests submitted that effected the timeline that was not accounted for?

Teamwork: Overall how did everyone work together? Did anyone feel like they didn’t get their opinions expressed or considered enough? Did everyone pull their weight? Did everyone feel they were given all they needed to complete their tasks? Was the communication across the team well enough or does it need improvement? What was the best medium for communication?

Customer Experience: Did the customer play a big enough role in the project. Were there enough options provided yet not too much to hinder a confident choice? Did all the team members have a chance to meet and/or talk to the client? We’re all of our responses timely? Did email communications go well, or could more phone calls iron out misunderstandings?

After reading through these I’m sure you may have wondered or even asked some of these questions to yourself after completing a project. It may seem a bit time-consuming but I promise you it’s worth the effort. It will help you avoid mistakes in your future projects while providing some self-examination to your firm and tactics. If you have some other points to add please do so in the comments below. As always we love hearing your opinions and contrary thoughts.

(Image credit: auremar / 123RF Stock Photo)

Blogging: Why Your Small Business Needs It

Hand writing in cloudsOur last 4 prospective client requests for websites all had questions about blogs. I personally was pleased because there seems to be a growing conscientious to how effective blogging is to not only your site’s SEO but to your business’s brand. There’s a few things I want to talk about like transparency, effectiveness, analytics, and search engine optimization. Now I know there are many blog platforms out there, but for me a self hosted WordPress site offers so many options and features and the learning curve is fantastic to pick up and go.

The Reach: Taking some time out each week to write a post or two can really help drive some numbers to your website. Mainly because WordPress and search engines get along really well, but also because blogging creates fresh new content on your website where a traditional website may only see new content once a quarter. Even what could be seen as a low-interest website like stamp collecting could achieve visits by the thousands each week based on what they talk about and how. Never limit your business products or services to just what you think may be a small target audience. This is the internet we’re talking about here, millions of people are on throughout the day and night. There’s bound to be hundreds of thousands who share your views and can appreciate your opinions and opposition to a subject matter.

Engage, Engage, Engage: Consider other blogger’s and sites that talk about what you do and comment on their posts. Not so much to try to drive away readers, but to bring up valid points that may have been missed, or a little bit of controversy. We all like drama, and some of the hottest posts aren’t in the original article but in the comments where readers go back and forth trying to one up each other or drive home a point. You’d also be surprised at all the places you post, and who may want to view your blog entries to see if you know what you yourself are talking about.

Crowd-sourcing and Feedback: Without full-out asking for it, blogging can be a way to get great customer feedback. Consider a competitor of yours recently launched a new product. At first it seems like a great idea and may be a great product to those that need it. But what if it has a major flaw or is missing something vital that one of your products has and your clients appreciate much more than your competitors? Well after writing a post about it comparing the two products, you can see how your visitor weigh in with their comments. Of course your post won’t be written in a way to seem like your bashing. We’re not trying to be e-thugs, but a tasteful comparison could lead to better R&D for your brand, even when there isn’t competition.

Search Engines: I wonder when we’ll stop calling them search engines and just refer to Google instead. Google’s algorithms are still quite unknown, but what is known is how well an unknown website can pop-up as a number 1 or 3 organic result for a subject matter. Regardless of what the site looks like, and more so on how relevant the content is to the string of keywords used in a user’s search. With a static HTML site, you’d have to embed keywords, a page description, and some meta-tags to your page’s code. Not to mention the on-page keyword usage and image ALT tags you’d have to remember to include. With WordPress all of that is mostly taken into consideration. When adding an image to a post you easily have the options to put captions and alternate text messages for your images and graphics. You have a categories and tags box to check off and type in your keywords and associated post categories. It all really makes for an effortless optimization.

Overall Effectiveness: If you’re a small business who thinks that no one out there is interested in reading about what you have to say, let me tell you that you’re wrong. Even for the stamp collector, there is plenty to say that people are looking for. Imagine if you were the only blog out there talking about the history of some stamps, or hidden facts about some designs for stamps, or maybe even ways to save money on postage that most people wouldn’t know. I’m not a stamp collector but show me how to save money on postage and I’ll be all over it, and share it with my friends who may share it with their friends. One because its easy to read and share both on computers and mobile devices, and Two because it offers an audience I normally wouldn’t be able to reach on my own through traditional marketing. When I first started blogging late last year, I posted once a month (maybe) and I had traffic to my blog at about 25-50 people a month. Now I have a team of 2 other (3 soon) bloggers and we each post a different subject article once a week. In the past 30 days we’ve had almost 1500 visits (Google Analytics).

I hope that this clears some uncertainty on why you should get blogging NOW! For those of you that already do, add your pointers in the comments below. We can all learn something to be more effective!

Brag About Your Business More: Client Testimonials

Feedback form These days we have so many ways to talk about our businesses, products, and services both online and off. From talking about a new addition to your business or soliciting visitors to your brand using social media. The point is, we’re always looking for ways to grab attention to our business. Enter Testimonials. There usually isn’t too much focus on grabbing the feedback we receive from clients when finishing a new design project. Usually the great gratification is a nice email or phone call appreciating the hard work and efforts followed by a nice check or direct deposit. However I’d like to challenge you to sift back through some of your conversations with not only your recent clients but ALL of them in an attempt to modestly “brag” about your design skills.

Testimonials sometimes come in few different ways. Could be a follow-up phone call from a firms executive team thanking you for putting together such a great new website redesign. Or an email from a marketing director who never worked with a designer that actually put to life their exact thoughts for a brochure.¬† Personally, anything you can get in writing is fantastic because you’ll always have their words exactly. A phone call is good too, but try to ask them if they wouldn’t mind being quoted and their testimonial being used on your media.

So how do you use all this to brag? Let me show you a few great ways:

On Paper: A hand written letter from a client may be harder to get than some other means. But most won’t mind typing up a few sentences (or paragraphs), in Microsoft Word and printing it on their company letterhead and mailing it to you. I’ve actually visited a few storefronts where they had a cork board in their entrance that was full of letters from clients. It immediately give you a sense of validity towards that establishment.

Via Email: A really easy and may be a more common way of receiving a testimonial is via email. This is because it’s short, direct and to the point. You can even provoke a client to send you one by pre-emptively sending them an email asking for their opinion or grace of your recent or past work.

From a Phone Call: This one could be a bit tricky. Since we’re all busy, phone conversation usually start one way then drift to another before the call is ended. So remembering what was exactly said (verbatim) may be a bit tricky if you don’t write things down immediately after the call. Also getting the “ok” at the end may sometimes be hard or awkward to ask for.

From Your Website: A great way to capture testimonials that’s almost effortless is your own website. It’s already up right? Why not make it work a little more for you. Setup a page that can be linked from your Contact Us page that will be solely for testimonials. I’ve provided some links to some nice examples below. You don’t have to get crazy elaborate. Mainly you want to have an example of the work you did next to the text of your testimonial along with the clients name. Maybe first name and last initial to keep a bit of their identity hidden.

 Testimonial Examples Link 1

Testimonial Examples Link 2

So after all this, I’d love to hear your own success and stories with testimonials. Share with us in the comments below. We can all learn from each other.