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Archive for the ‘Importance of Website Design’ Category

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

I ran into a FANTASTIC solution to find images for your website.  Yes, therapysites and others have huge libraries.  That’s great.  But if you’re not a member and need photos for brochures, business card, website… this is what I’m using for the Marriage Friendly Therapist website makeover.

Head over to ThinkStockPhotos.com.  I am going to do the $249 month subscription where you can get up to 750 images (note, however, you can ONLY use images in that window of time… so be ready to launch when you download the photos.  They don’t want the images hoarded when they have no use.)  You can buy just five images for $25, I think.

I tell ya, some of these images create a web article all by themselves!  It’s heartbreaking to know the pain couples are experiencing out there and these images really speak to an emotional truth.

New Website in 8 Hours

One of the ongoing issues with ones website is that things change.  You change.  Technology changes.  Your client base changes.  And yet without work, your website stays the same.  It may simply be the coloring and images are really outdated.  Or perhaps, as happened to us, you thought you’d have a simple website and end up growing and expanding well beyond your original intentions.

One of the most powerful results of me learning a little about websites is that while I can’t design a website from scratch, I can FIND thousands of free website designs and use them for my own needs.  And that is exactly what I did.  Over the course of a few days and what I calculate to be about 8 hours, my Thomas Consultation website had a dramatic update.  Perhaps you never went to it, but it looks nothing like my old website, which is the $99 template we resell.  That template was really awesome for a couple years, but now I need something very different.

And now, as of 10:30pm last night, with a new design, I am at the beginning of a project to better organize this blog with that website so I don’t have blog fly-bys who don’t go to my website.  In fact I have a new subscription so you can add your email and I’ll email you when there are new products or services.

I can definitely vouch for the stuff I teach.  I use it all the time.  I get stuck and I ask myself the questions I tell therapists to ask.  I analyze the way I ask others to analyze.  It really works and it’s REALLY empowering.  And yes, it can be hard to find the time and patience to do it!

Beautiful website design example

I just found another gorgeous therapy website design.  Of course design is like art…HIGHLY Personal.  I’m unabashedly a fan of the color red.  I even have a rule in life that if I am trying to decide between two items (usually clothing), to ALWAYS chose the red.  Colors are very personal.  But therapy is also very personal!  Does your website reflect who you are and the emotions you want people to feel when they see it?

The issue of design relates to what you want if you chose to grow.  This is a simple website, so there may be issues in growing bigger (more content = more traffic, as a general rule.) We had to destroy what was a very simple, neutral The First Dance website 3-4 years ago because we severely outgrew the design.

Here is a really good website tip!  If you EVER find a website you absolutely love, contact the webmaster about buying the website design.  The amount they want may be a bit shocking ($1,000+) but it IS their intellectual property and they worked very hard for it.  And trust me…if you like it, it may be well worth owning it for 1K rather than going with a new webdesign that may not at all look like what you want and may take months.  You will still have costs of getting your content up and some of the design is “images” that will need to be changed according to what you want.  But even if the webmaster who make the site is a bit of a flake, you already have most of the work DONE so delays won’t take nearly as long as it did for the first person who commissioned the site.  Plus you can ask the owner of the site whether they liked working with their webmaster.

A “Flash” based website example

I’m going to put this website in “Great website examples” even though it’s HORRIBLE FROM A SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING standpoint!  I haven’t spent much time on the site but it’s very colorful, engaging, and seems fun as a parent of young children.  I’d get rid of the music (with an option to play it) but the bummer is Google can only read the homepage, and can only read the text at the VERY bottom of the homepage.

I link to it to show you  this is what Flash looks like.  See how it’s more movie like?  And notice as you click around that the top of your browser you would not be able to bookmark a particular page (bad for parents who are big into social media and would want to share a particular page of the website.)

You can get away with this sort of website is you have no need to market to web surfers who already know who you are.  For example, Chipotle restaurants often do Flash websites and they can get away with that because nobody is searching for “a tasty burrito.”  Flash looks super cool and web designers, as I say over and over, may not have a clue about search engine marketing, so they may sell you on a super slick website without realizing they’re selling you the fanciest, most nearly-useless marketing tool ever.  Sure, if you can GET your website linked all over the web, it’s totally fine to have Flash because you’re “spreading the word” via all those other websites sending you traffic.  But, at least have a non-Flash version of the same website so search engines can read the text.  Or drop flash altogether.

Why Web Design and Organization of your Content Matters

This is my first video for you all!  It’s six minutes and goes through THREE versions of The First Dance.  I’m frantically trying to get this last design “live” and it’s taking a lot of attention to detail.

I teach others all these concepts and am finally DOING them myself!  A design that catches my demographic, ways to organize my material that make sense for readers AND search engines, and “cross-selling” all that you do or offer in logical ways.

I turned off You Tube ratings and comments because I am not looking to be in the Top 10 Coolest Web Marketing Videos ever.  Feel free to let me know if you found it useful, though.  For more robust help, my website content training and website organization mp3’s and cd’s are were I go into a lot more depth.

Website “mapping” from an old to new website

If you have, or will, ever go through a “redesign” of a website, chances are very high your webmaster is going to start fresh.  They are going to use the names THEY are used to using to name pages.  For example, is it contact, or contact-us.  Is it About, or About-Us.  These seem like minor decisions with no real consequences.

Until you move a high traffic website.  And all your high traffic website pages no longer EXIST, because your webmaster renamed everything.  Imagine putting a huge print ad for your new retail store but by the time people drive to the store, you’ve closed up and moved?  Not good.

Let’s say you have a page called “pinkly.”  Pinkly gets a lot of traffic from Google searches and it really makes you happy to rank so high for that word!  You give your webmaster the content for Pinkly, or s/he grabs the content themselves, and decides to call it something different.  They don’t think anything of it.  Afterall they aren’t in your profession and have no way to know what “pinkly” means.  So they may name it about-pinkly, or maybe it’s a form of therapy treatment, so they create a new page called treatments, and they stick it inside there.  The point is once they set up your new website, all those people who Google and find your website under “Pinkly” will open a BROKEN link.  It’ll give them a web error!

A really good webmaster will either keep the same page names, or at least attempt to forward old pages to the newly named ones.  But this is not common.  Or, it’s very time consuming, which results in a large invoice to you!

A new website design

When my father and I launched The First Dance, we had a DVD (individual for couples and a 2 hour class.)  We still have those.  But we had just a few pages, mostly “corporate” FAQ, About Us, Contact Us.  Not innovative.  And mostly a failure. 

That is, until I got really frustrated knowing we had amazing stuff to offer.  And learned how to get traffic.  Now we get thousands of visitors a month, for free, who read all sorts of great content!

But in the last four years, we now offer the Prepare/Enrich Couple Checkup, premarital books, a money game, and an online class! We have hundreds of website pages with great advice and stories.  I’m even working with wedding vendors to get them to offer DISCOUNTS if couples purchase our products.  I’ve already got an Ohio DJ service giving couples $100 off if they buy a marriage prep book.  That is the definition of innovative – they get a free ad, they support marriages, we sell a book and help spread our wisdom, and couples get a huge deal.

Our website has been hacked way too much to get it to “retro fit.”  If we were a real house, we’d be on stilts, precariously adding chunks off windows, to get more room!  It’s frustrating for many reasons, including how much design matters!

Today I found a free website template that excites me!  I’m starting the arduous task of moving everything over, but already, the SAME information pops, intrigues, and welcomes the eye 100x more than my current website.  Knowing what I know will save us probably $3,000 in labor hiring someone else.  And, I don’t do the BIG MISTAKES webmasters do, namely, renaming every website page!!  They often start over, forgetting that Google and readers have read the old pages, which vanish when the new website launchs.  This is a total disaster, but you often have no idea because you don’t look at your web traffic.  One website I know had a full 50% bomb – or one in every two people coming to their site using keywords, were unable to get to the site because the page no longer existed. 

I’ve got a ton of work ahead of me, but it’s also a great opportunity to rethink everything!  Just like a home, websites really do require a “spring cleaning”, or complete rehaul every once in a while.

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