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By raise of hands, how many of you think that Web sites are going to go away? With all this talk of social media on one hand, and the clicks version of bricks on the other, there might remain little appeal for a static, brochure-like online presence. Business directories and aggregators do a better job of providing an address and contact information that is not a form more often than you think.

Yet, there is still a place for Web sites in your marketing mix, provided you think about a few ideas. When you improve its performance, it in turn performs for your business. A few thoughts to consider as you review your site:
Does the language sound stilted? Do you use too many buzzwords? How about technical terms? Short, to the point, and human speak is best. You want to use normal words, and let the personality of your business shine through.
As far as engagement goes, you'd want to organize your presentation as a marketing conversation. It starts with your customer and prospect, the questions they ask themselves, and the issues they face. The reasons why they would be visiting in the fist place. Seth (Godin) has a colorful expression for representing that: "where is the banana?"
People are getting used to browsing and reading blogs. Even online publications have become more interactive. By writing your content in small chunks as a marketing conversation, you take the next best step with your reader - that of ghosting the conversation that is going in in their head.
Make good use of white space and be economical at the same time. Aesthetics has its place, yes, but not at the expense of clarity. What do you want your reader to do? That is exactly how you should present to them. There is a logical sequence and topical grouping you can follow, depending on your content.
Use of font, colors, etc. should be common sense. Then again, I still see dark sites with reverse color type. It is extremely difficult to read white type on a black or dark background online.
Where do I start? Is your navigation clean, simple, and self-explanatory? Is your site easy to upload on a BlackBerry? More and more people use mobile technology to look up information, if your site is not mobile-ready, they're out of there, and they might not visit you when at their laptop. I actually asked a cross-section of people about it, and this is mostly the answer I got.
Flash may look fancy, but is it easy to take in visually? Yes, it lends a dynamic element to the site, except for it tends to be the same over and over.
If you use video, have you considered how easy it is to upload and view from a number of tools? The same conversation goes here as we had for content. Keep it short, to the point, in easy language to understand and remember.
This is the part of your site you have greater opportunity to update frequently. Do that. Include a calendar of event - we all like to know what's going on. Consider putting on it the events you attend, too. They might go to your passion for your practice area, and desire to keep up to speed. Plus it might provide an opportunity to meet up with people as you're on the road.
It's tempting to use contact forms to avoid spammers. But if you do, 100% of the times the form goes to a blind email, one your customers cannot see. They do not know who is responsible for the response. It's a good disincentive, it does not inspire trust. Why would you not want to be easily accessible to customers and prospects?
I've seen a few bloggers do the form thing, too. It's a big turnoff. Especially since when I used it to contact one or two who already know me, I got no response. Maybe it goes directly into a spam folder?
These are just a few design features to consider if you're giving you blog a spring cleaning. But here's the most important of all: What is your blog about? Look at your page. How does each element contribute to telling the story of your site? If you can't answer this question, it's time to rethink your blog's narrative.

Continue reading "Let's Talk About Your Web Site" ... Read the full article

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Valeria Maltoni helps businesses understand how customers and communities have changed marketing, public relations, and communications - and how to build value in this new environment. As a communicator she specializes in marketing communications, customer dialogue, and brand management. Valeria has come to define modern business as a long and open conversation. Conversation Agent is recognized among the world's top online marketing blogs. Valeria is a Fast Company expert blogger and a contributor to The Blog Herald. She is a co-author of , a groundbreaking ebook collaboration by 103 of today's top marketing writers. Valeria is a frequent public speaker on brand marketing, customer service, and building successful business teams. She publishes in both English and Italian. Educated at the University of Bologna and Villanova University, Valeria combines New World sensibilities with Italian style. She's an active member of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), the American Marketing Association (AMA), the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia (WACA), and the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).