Welcome to the fourth issue of the Carolyn Hasenfratz Design email newsletter.
Upcoming Show Opening at Art St. Louis
This Saturday, January 19, 2008, the opening reception for an art show titled "Signs of Time" will be held at the Art St. Louis gallery downtown. The reception is free and runs from 6-9 pm. For more information please see the Art St. Louis web site. A collage of mine was selected for this exhibition. If you want to see the collage but can't come to the show, I have an image of it on one of my web sites along with a longer version of the artist's statement I submitted for the show - to see it click here.
Carolyn's "State of Your Web Site" Address
While we are on the subject of time, here is something we usually think about around the New Year. When the calendar rolls over, what really changes other than the date? One thing that often does change is our state of mind, and that can make a lot of good things happen in the coming year. We might take a look at our own personal happiness and make resolutions to help get us to where we'd like to be at this time next year. In business, we might be thinking about how much profit we had in 2007 and how we can increase that amount in 2008.
If you have a web site, it functions as the central hub of all your marketing activities. It makes sense to pay some attention to your very valuable asset at this time. Many of us, myself included, need to check over our web sites for problems that might cause us to lose opportunities in the coming year. Following are some common issues to think about while you're planning how to be successful in 2008.
- Check for outdated information and dead links
When you're deciding whether or not to do business with someone, don't you feel more confident dealing with someone whose web site looks up to date? Here are some suggestions to get you thinking of things to check and update on your web site:
- Contact information
- The copyright date
- The links page
- Personnel information
- Product offerings - is there anything discontinued or left out?
- Sales and specials
- Time sensitive wording in text, such as "Four years ago we opened a new store..."
- Make sure all your forms and interactive features work
Every time changes are made to the content of your web site or it is moved to a new server, there is the possibility of human error on the part of the webmaster or differences in how the sever works. It's obvious why your site should be tested at such times.
You many not be aware that even if you have not changed anything on your site since the last time you tested, things can break. It might not be obvious unless someone tries to use the broken part. For example, the hard drive of the host can deteriorate, causing bits of data here and there to be missing to the point where something stops working. An employee can quit or get fired, and if their email address is deactivated, things that depend on it may stop working or emails from customers wind up in Nowhere Land. A data file can get too big and cause something to stop working. A server administrator can change a setting and not warn anyone or even be aware of the possible consequences. I have personal experience with EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE SCENARIOS and more. So I know that periodic testing pays. (Whether or not I do it often enough on my own sites is another issue - that's one of MY New Year's Resolutions.)
Some of your customers will be kind enough to let you know if they see a problem, but many will not say anything. Try not to let your customers be the one to find any errors that might be there! Test all the forms and shopping carts, email links, and any other interactive features on your site periodically.
- Make sure your staff is familiar with your web site's content
You might consider asking each member of your staff to look carefully at your company's web site and to make suggestions about how it could better meet the needs of themselves and the customers. The people who actually use the web site every day or talk to customers who use the web site are sources of valuable insight into how your web site could be improved.
If some of the suggestions from your staff end up getting used, your team will have more of a sense of ownership of the web site, which is likely to cause them to use it more and promote it to customers more, and you'll get more out of your investment. Overall customer service will probably improve and as an added bonus your team will be more likely to spot any errors that might exist on your site and subsequently alert someone so that it can be fixed promptly. If your web site does happen to develop a problem, it's better for a staff member to see it before a customer does!
How is your site doing in the search engines?
When your site was built or most recently overhauled, your strategy for being found in the search results may have been very sound. Unfortunately, this isn't something you can work on one time and then forget about - too many factors that affect your site's performance in search engines are out of your control, even if your original strategy hasn't changed much.
The beginning of a new year is a perfect time to go back to your original search engine marketing plan and see if it's still getting the job done. If it isn't, getting back on track should be a priority so that you don't fall behind your competitors in 2008.
A little attention to your web site now has the potential to lead to a much more prosperous 2008. I hope you have a profitable, healthy, and happy New Year!
Until next time,
Links to former newsletter issues:
If you would like to add yourself to the list to receive future issues of this newsletter, please fill out the short form below. Thank you!