Making the Designer Work For YouWritten by Sean Rice
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your insurance carrier know that this contractor is going to get their hands dirty on your front line.
The reason why VW Bug ads are fun, while Mercedes ads are a different fun is not merely car, but culture of organization. The designers for both companies are geniuses not only in their ability to talk to target market, but to talk to that target market about company culture.
Allow for test ideas, experiments and mind games.
The designers job is to come up with ideas that fit hundreds and thousands of pieces of data that are coming to them from all of steps above. They are not merely painting a picture on a canvas that has to have meaning only to them as artists. The designer has to paint a picture that distills data and objectives down to simple, communicable visualizations.
Let them play. Let them develop prototypes, explore an idea to see where it will lead, paint a web site idea on side of a barn if they feel need. They are trying to come up with something new and unique; something that hasnt been done a million times before. If you think that it is easy, ask yourself when was last time you ever came up with a truly new idea?
A designer at play with your idea is a designer who is trying to break box that they have been thinking in. It really doesnt cost you more than a generic idea would cost. Budget for it.
Test idea as much as you have budget for.
Focus groups can be as simple as going out with a laptop and accosting passer-bys to try out left navigation bar (Dont laugh! I did that for an IBM project once). Its important to understand that when youve been staring at a project for weeks over shoulder of your designer, that both of you have forgotten what its like to look at your site for first time
and have to move through it.
Test out ideas. Test often. Test again.
(OK you LOVE color orange, but all of your test subjects hate it. Guess what?)
Now, its time to get your production team together.
What? You thought you were working on actual web site? Oh, no. That would have cost you a lot of money to be trying to produce site while thinking about and creating it at same time.
Dont worry, though, because your production team (who might actually be original designer) knows exactly what to do and how they need to do it. We promise that if youve gone through all of steps, production phase will be much smoother than you could expect, otherwise. Not as many bottlenecks, fewer delays, less surprises.
Launch site and youre done, right?
Hopefully, your designer is going to stick around, because after site is live, youre going to be able to see result of all your and your designer's assumptions
and a few will have to be changed, or corrected.
Visitor tracking will have been worked in at very beginning of project and you have developed a metric system for evaluating whether your objectives are being met. If they arent, then your ability to track visitors will pinpoint parts of web site that are causing problems and your designer will have to come up with solutions.
Its inevitable and it should be seen as an easy opportunity, so dont miss it.
"I have to go through all of this? I only wanted a web site for my business!"
You don't. And, I can make a web site for you. I know PhotoShop and I know Dreamweaver. I'm pretty handy with PHP and could probably get all code to work, though it may be bloated and slow (a programmer could do it better and faster, but I'm just a designer). I don't need to know much about your business, just give me a copy of your logo and I'll paste it in to template I have laying around.
You want a custom design, not a template? Not a problem. It'll take me an extra day. Flash Intro? No problem (do 14% of your customers hate Flash?).
Are you going to achieve your objectives? Yes: Your business has a web site and it looks cool.
Here are some numbers to think about in comparison to design costs.
85% of all e-commerce traffic will be from Search Engines or directories. If your site is not readible by Search Engines, yet an objective is to generate sales, then you're not acheiving a substantial part of your objectives.
Most Search Engines cannot read and index Flash files. Google and a couple of other Search Engines only do it with partial success. If your designer does not know your objectives, and if you've told then that you want a Flash Intro, then again, you've lost value your designer could have offered you.
Let's say you sell widgets for $100.00 a piece and gadget accessories for widgets for $10.00 per.
If 100 people visit your site in a day and three people finish a transaction for a total of two widgets and one gadget, you've made $210.00.
Not bad. But what if I told you that neither of widget buyers knew that you sold gadgets, and guy that bought gadget actually wanted a widget and couldn't find it... he bought gadget from you and thought that he'd have buy widget elsewhere.,
Further, what If I said that there was one other person that started to make a purchase, but got confused about form and simply gave up and left.
Another person loved your gadget, but couldn't find (very obvious to you) Buy Now button. He left.
Another person really didn't feel like searching your entire site for one widget, another came to your site thinking that you sold widgets, but after seeing your Flash intro, couldn't really say what your business was about at all. He left.
Were you going at that with a calculator? You missed at least three up-sale opportunities, chased away rest with their money in hand.
Now, how much does a good designer cost? How much for a good design process? How badly do you want that Flash Intro if you're not a local band looking for gigs?
Part 1 of 2
Sean Rice and Rasa Design Studio specializes in web design and marketing for e-business sites. Rasa Design Studio provides the 'eBusiness' section of its site as a free service with articles and tools for designers, marketers and clients. You can visit this Western Massachusetts firm and read several of our other articles at www.rasadesign.com.
Converting Visitors into SubscribersWritten by Javier Salces
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4.Watch out for 'bugs'
Sometimes software can fail for no apparent reason. Your server might be experiencing a database issue, your site might be temporarily unreachable or your autoresponder script may be malfunctioning.
It's always a good idea to do periodic tests by subscribing to your own list to check that everything still runs smoothly.
Ultimately, conversion comes down to offering prospects enough benefits to make joining your list an obvious choice. Your copy should get them excited, motivated and curious. Make it as clear as possible that you are offering them valuable information for free.
If your copy is too much of a sales pitch and short on benefits, visitor will have a hard time finding a compelling reason to subscribe. People are wary of hype these days and too much focus on "buy my product!" mindset raises a lot of suspicion. Most prospects see that and immediately think "this site will spam me with a bunch of offers I don't want", and quickly click off page.
Treat your opt-in page as an honest invitation to start a mutually beneficial relationship, and you'll see your conversion rates soar.
Javier Salces is an experienced online marketer who runs a successful viral marketing web site with thousands of members. Feel free to submit your own articles at: http://opt-inleads.com/cgi-bin/vp/articles.cgi