I’ve got a website, I can relax now…

Marketing for any business these days almost certainly includes having a website that sets out your stall. But I am going to just throw it out there and say that businesses can have huge (and sometimes unrealistic) expectations when having a website.

Sometimes organisations think that having a website is just a box ticked in the marketing box and that, once done, the person responsible should get a pat on the back from colleagues and then the phone will ring off the hook and their inboxes will fill up with enquiries within minutes of launch.
Similarly, sometimes organisations go through the process of designing and building a website, make a bit of a fuss when it’s launched and then leave it unattended for months or even years at a time or unmaintained so none of the working elements are updated and yet they still feel like it should be the gift that keeps on giving with an indefinite ROI.

I want to ask you all one simple question……what is having a great website that works on smart devises, is great in Google, is fast to load, is always working and gives your organisation a global platform worth to you? What would it actually be worth in money, in stress and in time.
Like millions of others, I pay to insure my house, insure my car, insure my company, insure my health……I also invest in training, have an accountant, research new technology, stay fit, have quality time outside work, attend seminars……but how much do you invest in your website?  How much per calendar month do you invest in making sure it stays live, optimised, up to date and secure?

To me the answer is simple. A website should be everything to your business and justifies investment and constant maintenance as a minimum.

Without a website, how do people realistically find you? How do people get in touch with you? Where would people go for due diligence?

So…..if you do not value your website, no one else will.

Although a hugely vital “shop window” for a company, many may have the money to invest in a website, but simply don’t like spending it and will often engage a cheap company or one man band to knock up something for them or, Heaven forbid, go to a DIY website company and do it themselves. Once done, they then leave it alone until it eventually crashes or is so out of date they don’t even refer to it.

In 2019 we’ve seen a real trend in organisations wanting advice as to what to do with their websites. People are now seeking advice about how they get them to “work” harder or what they need to do to boost their positions in Google or even, how to maintain them. Yes, websites can be done yourself and can be done cheaply and left unattended, but, please don’t!!

 

WordPress. Should it be used as a website?

WordPress is a great platform for creating your blog, but
should you create your entire website using WordPress? Bath Marketing
Consultancy has created both blogs and entire sites on WordPress before and we’ve
learned that there are some good reasons to use WordPress to create your
website, and some good reasons not to.Wordpress. Should it be used as a website?

So………..here’s our rundown of the good, the bad, and some of our

experiences using WordPress to create websites.

Software: Frequent upgrades, plenty of plug-ins, large community
behind it

Good: WordPress is an open-source product and there are
plenty of developers, so the (sometimes frequent!) security flaws get repaired quickly
and new features and plug-ins appear regularly. The large, helpful community of
users can help you fix problems. If you’ve had a problem, chances are, someone
else has too!

Bad: Plug-ins can sometimes stop working when you
upgrade WordPress to the latest version. Since plug-ins are often developed by
individuals, mostly volunteers, fixes aren’t always done immediately.

Functionality: Built-in search, search engine optimization
(SEO)

Good: WordPress has a built-in search function and
facilitates SEO. The search function is easily added to all pages of your site.
WordPress allows you to tag all contents, create custom keyword-rich URLs, and
allow trackbacks and pingbacks, all of which help your site to be found in
online searches.

Bad: WordPress search is limited — results are sorted
by date, not relevance, and there are no advanced searching options. For a more
robust search function, you should install Google Site Search on your WordPress
website.

Platform: Based on PHP and MySQL

Good: Allows experienced developers to completely
customize sites.

Bad: Not as easy to customize for non-developers or
those who know only HTML. WordPress has its own PHP syntax and functions that
create a bit of a learning curve, even for experienced PHP coders. Also, you
can’t just preview a post in your browser without having a WordPress testing
server set up.

Design: Plenty of templates

Good: Even if you don’t hire a designer to customise

your site, there are enough templates so your site won’t look too much like
everyone else’s site.

Bad: The templates are not designed to further your
brand. You may find one that is similar to your current branding, but it won’t
match exactly. You might want to start with a simple template, which takes care
of a lot of the drudge work of setting up the site. Then, to customize the
template to match your branding, you definitely should hire a web
designer/developer.

We can spot a WordPress website a mile off so iIf you want
to make some pages in your site look significantly different from a regular
“blog” structure, you will need to spend a lot of time working with style
sheets and PHP.

Updates: Content Management System (CMS)

Good: Can be used as a simple CMS, and it is relatively
standards-compliant. Adding new content doesn’t require much training and there
are many plug-ins you can use to add CMS functionality to your site.

Bad: With some work, you can turn WordPress into a
CMS, but WordPress is not really a full-featured CMS. For example, WordPress
won’t keep you from introducing bad code if you use Word to write your posts
instead of WordPress. It also doesn’t do workflow management or track user
roles.

Overall, creating a website with WordPress is
straightforward, especially if you are happy with an existing template.
However, if you want to customize the look and functionality of the template,
you’ll need to have robust web development skills, or hire a developer……like Bath
Marketing Consultancy!

It’s important to keep in mind what WordPress does well, and
what it does only with great effort, so you can have realistic expectations
from the beginning.

As long as you want your site to leverage WordPress’s
strengths, such as blogging, posting frequent updates, and sorting by date or
alphabetically, WordPress is a good way to go.

But….and this is important to keep in mind, if you’re
looking for a straight CMS, highly customized page layouts, but few of the
blogging features of WordPress, you’d probably be better off going with a
straight CMS solution, not WordPress.

Pretty pictures vs making marketing work

Some might see this topic as controversial, but my aim is to show that having a beautiful logo, a “creative” advertisement and/or a pretty website is not necessarily going to mean a fast track to early retirement! I have spent my career “debating” the importance of creativity with numerous creative directors and, as yet, opinions still differ.


What I am saying is that, in my opinion when it comes to the pecking order, producing an effective marketing platform like a website is more important that what it looks like. Why? Because I feel that design is so subjective. What a designer may like or what an MD of a company might like may be totally different to what a customer or prospective customer may like. This is where testing can play a major part.

Dont be too “arty”

The key area for me is ensuring that the initiative ticks certain boxes BEFORE the creatives get hold of it! I am not devaluing the importance of visual impact (after all, there are awards ceremonies for creativity and not strategy!); more that, if a website doesn’t take the browser on a journey and/or answer all their questions, they are not going to interact with the site. Thus, do a site map for a new website before the initial design.


In addition, the trend a while back was for having an advert with lots of “white space” which meant that essential information that the buyer needed may have been left off. e.g Dont assume just putting a website address or a facebook page will suffice vs showing your full contact details!  


Similarly, never underestimate the importance of good copy. Some businesses are very quick to dismiss content in favour of doing it themselves, but a business owner is unlikely to write about their business in the correct way that attracts a potential customer.

When communicating with customers, give them enough information to make a decision. Yes, make the look of the advert or the website or the exhibition stand inviting, but try not to dwell too much on the look. 

It is the job of the marketing consultant to get under the skin of an organisation; i.e. get to know its personality, its customers, its target market and then put together its brand identity and USP.

I know there are lots of designers out there who may disagree so I would be interested in hearing any comments.