11 Dos and Don’ts of Successful Websites

11 Dos & Don’ts For Successful Websites

Your website is often the first place consumers encounter your brand and your offerings. The First Moment of Truth (FMOT) that used to occur in store aisles is happening more and more on websites. Is yours doing its job to capture sales, awareness and brand engagement?

The most important thing to understand is that not all websites are created equal, nor should they be. A law firm won’t need all the functionality of an online fulfillment company. But each company will have unique needs that aren’t likely to be met by off-the-shelf websites.

Whether you have a website, are planning to build one or want to upgrade, check your plans against this list of proven dos and don’ts of successful websites.

1. Don’t Go Generic. You should confer with qualified web designers and/or your agency to map out a website to meet your needs. Beware the $500 one-size-fits-all offerings. You’ll probably waste your money, and almost certainly disappoint visitors.

2. Navigation, Navigation, Navigation. The header, footer and sidebars of a site can contain navigation links. Understand why each is important and the opportunities you have for guiding visitors easily from what they want to see to what you want them to see, and ultimately to what you want them to do. Poor navigation has rendered more than a few websites useless.

3. A Clear Call to Action. Amazingly, many sites for even top brands fail to guide visitors to a clear course of action. Do you want them to buy? To interact? To donate? Tell them, and not just once, but on every page. Tell them what (Exp: Take a Tour) and how (Exp: Click Here).

4. Be SEO Friendly. You sometimes hear the term “robust” associated with a website. That refers to the strength of its Search Engine Optimization. If you don’t understand the term, search it online and learn its significance. It will make the difference in whether you come up in viewer searches near the top of the first page or hopelessly lost somewhere on following pages. Most viewers select from the top ten choices on the first page of a search (in Google, Bing, Yahoo or others).

5. Craft your Content. You’re not writing simple ad copy here. The content on each page of your site needs to go beyond informing to encouraging interaction. Sprinkle it with links to other parts of your site and with SEO-,friendly words. Unless you’re an online catalog, you don’t need to give away the whole show. Include enough to entice your visitor enough to inquire for more information, make a call or to take other action.

6. Internal Links. This is a continuation of the above thought, but it’s important enough to deserve its own spot on the list. Internal links within your content not only help visitors jump to more information on a topic, they help immensely with how search engines read your relevance and decide your ranking in the golden top ten.

7. Brand Facing. This is a lesson from Advertising 101. Make sure your brand is depicted online in a manner consistent with how it is seen in all other forms of communication, from billboards to magazine ads to television commercials. The content must speak in the voice of the brand, and all interaction with visitors should reflect that same character. We have seen many websites that have inexplicably forgotten this.

8. Inviting Design. Some websites are just plain ugly. Will that keep visitors from exploring your site? Not necessarily, but it sure won’t help your brand or enhance the user experience. Not all web designers are good graphic designers. Make sure you have the expertise of both.

9. Customer Interaction. The online world opens the possibilities for instant consumer action and interaction. This may not be relevant to your company. Then again, maybe it’s something you haven’t thought was relevant. Your website gives you the chance to hear what customers are saying, helping them with their questions and delivering products or information in real time. You can take them on virtual tours, show videos or even let them play games that lead to loyalty to your brand. This is sales muscle you won’t find anywhere else.

10. Consistency of Message. Are you running a promotion on television or in other media? Is your company supporting a cause? Make sure these are communicated on your home page. If your website is not concurrent with your other media, you risk viewers believing it out of date and not returning.

11. Mobile. Is your site mobile specific or mobile responsive? Do you know the difference? Catering to mobile users is hugely important. Understand their needs and how to meet them.

Check your current site against this list or let it guide you in developing or upgrading a new one. Getting it right means getting it to pay you back for years to come.

– From the Brain Trust @ Creative Dimensions

Rebranding Creative Dimensions

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Advertising agencies are notorious for putting their own brand on the backburner while they focus on their clients’ brands. It’s the old case of the cobbler’s children going without shoes. That’s probably because ad agency branding is an incredibly difficult undertaking. Not only is finding the time to work on your own brand an issue – when you’re busy with paying clients – but feeling satisfied with the work is another huge obstacle. The work not only has to be effective at capturing the essence of the agency and its people, but we hold our own branding up as an example of the quality and attention to detail our clients could, and should, give to their own brands.

So when is the right time to rebrand? For us, the time was now because we’ve realized fundamental changes in our company, mainly in experience and capabilities. Taking a page from our name, we truly are much more dimensional than ever before. With the hiring of some key new people, we have combined experience that’s now broader and deeper. We’ve always excelled at traditional advertising and media planning and buying, but now we also boast expertise in strategic planning, digital marketing and brand development, among other things.

To give you a brief glimpse behind the green curtain, here are the highlights of our rebranding process:

1. The Discovery Process

We began by having an honest conversation with ourselves and asking a lot of questions. Some easy…some not so easy. What do we stand for as an agency? What do we want to say about ourselves? What do others think about us? What is our competition doing and saying about themselves? What do potential clients look for in an agency? And so on, and so on, and so on…

2. What We Believe

After spending a considerable amount of time hammering out step one, we ultimately decided to hang our collective branding hats on What We Believe – personifying our business philosophy you might say. We boiled it down to nine “beliefs” that state who we are as an agency, and what our current and future marketing partners can expect from us.

3. Brand Look & Feel

Finally, the fun part! We moved onto designing a new agency logo, business cards, stationery, agency brochure and ultimately a new web site. We decided to go bold, colorful, and slightly irreverent, while providing enough – but hopefully not too much – information about our agency.

4. Execution

With the new site up and running and our identity package complete, now it’s time to practice what we preach through shameless self-promotion. We are dedicated to continually updating the site and posting to social media, while always looking for new ways to improve our agency and bring better results to our clients.

This is a simplified snapshot of what we’ve been up to the past few months. If you’d like additional information about our process, or how the process might apply to your company, please give us a call or send us an email. Until then, we hope you appreciate the outcome of the Creative Dimensions’ rebranding process. It’s been a labor of love. (With great emphasis on the word “labor”).

– Steve Schaeffer, Creative Director/CEO @ Creative Dimensions