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Designing My Web Site: What I Learnt From My Marketing Execs by Suzanne Elshult, Your Executive Coach, HRNow

marketing-ornate-yak-fnl-160-100Impeccable timing! Several months ago I scheduled a peer group session with my marketing executives and invited guest Aaron Burnett with Wheelhouse Search to discuss web trends. And then, in the midst of migrating to Windows 8 and just a few weeks before our meeting I find out that the web site my daughter’s High School teacher developed for my coaching business some fifteen years ago is not supported. Now I am re-prioritizing and doing my utmost to tap into my resilience and agility. GOING WITH THE FLOW!!! Suddenly my business day is dominated by getting a new web site up and running-PRONTO!!!. After a few well chosen tirades in Swedish as the news hit me full force, I have now shifted my mindset to seeing the “opportunity” that was dropped in my lap and executing with “gusto.”

Here are some things I have learnt and questions I still have about developing my website:

1. THE WEB IS CHANGING! In fact, fundamentals are changing quickly and dramatically all the time….it is like gardening.
2. Clarity and simplicity. I need to create better focus around what the one thing is that I am trying to achieve with my web site. That will help me make strategic decisions. In the past most of my business has been word of mouth but as I am going more global and I am incorporating social media, event management and the ability to establish thought leadership more aggressively,,y web site needs to adapt.
3. My web site will never be done. The new game is really to constantly tweak and update my strategy as I keep up to speed with the ever changing environment.
4. Content is not only about volume but what my target clients need. What questions do they have? What are their pain points?
5. Did you know that Google changed it’s algorithm 650 times last year. You have probably heard of Hummingbird, Penguin and Panda, but the others? Gaming the system? Don’t even try it! Google now wants value to accrue to a domain naturally over time.. Meta keywords are “out”-actually ignored Google, and bing and Yahoo consider them an indication of spam and manipulation. Authorship is important: Google cares who wrote your web site. Attribute every article on my blog. Oh goodie…
6. Mobile is growing by leaps and bounds. This is a big issue. I need a responsive site!!!! Do I need an app?
7. The international scope of a business impacts web strategy. Since I want to coach globally, does that mean I have to have IP addresses in other countries for localized sites? Not likely that a small business like mine will go that route.
8. What kind of dashboard will I have and will Google Analytics do the job? Am I interested in how many people come to my site and how many convert to actual paying clients? I need to really focus on just the vital few metrics for MY business.
9. Strategic use of colors. My key color has always been red and I am sticking to that, but now I am learning all about “Call to Action Colors and Call to Action Buttons! Settled for orange.
10. Have the mentality that every page is a home page. The percentage of traffic that comes to a site via a home page is actually dropping. I need to be aware of what I want visitors to do on every home page. It’s no longer a hierarchy where people start at the top and move down.
11. Word press is a good platform. It can scale, simplifies development time, reduces custom coding and has a lot of plug-ins.
12. Manage the user experience before people get to my site. Think about social networks! Think about interactivity and what makes people come back.
13. Make my Google+ page active and vibrant. Google wants to win against Facebook, so they will make Google+ results show up high in a search. Add a headshot-images get more clicks! Integrate my blog with Google+.
14. I need to explore video as I move forward. It is 50 times easier to rank with video than with text.
15. I need professional help. I really cannot do it all myself. I am grateful to have a web designer that is agile and working/learning with me every step of the way.

I am so grateful for all the feedback I received on my first cut at a new homepage from my marketing executives. They drove me nuts: some love what others hate. And, when all is said and done, I learnt a lot from listening. Now I need to sit back and figure out “what I want my web site to do” and what resonates with me. After all I have to live with it – the site- for a long time to come. I do know that I want my site to be personally branded and show my authentic self, quirks and all. I know what kind of clients I want to attract and coach and it should be clear when prospects go on my site. I don’t want to waste anybody’s time. I want my site to be a fun and interesting experience inviting people in to engage and “yak with me” (yes I have a “Yak” theme…..). I want my site to support my legacy of “building community” in all I do!

Stay tuned for my new site. Coming soon!

Favorite quotes from my marketing group:

Burn the web site to the ground and salt the ground where it existed!

Do you want one large, beautiful site or one large button and call to action?

Forget ranking. It is not a good way to see if your site is optimized.

Deliver value above the fold.

Is your site dynamic? Is it interactive? Does it engage? Does it have a responsive design?

I thought I knew what I was doing, but my strategy is a year old and relies on old data!

I need help. Professional help. I cannot do it all on my own.

The scale of the web can be all consuming, but we cannot ignore it.


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