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Getting Geeky with Website Design – the Saga, part 1

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It’s that time again.

Every couple of years, Housechick.com gets a revamp, or in this case, a complete redesign, in order to keep it on the cutting edge. If you look at it now, it’s, well, blah. A little better than the “look at me” first version, but overall, not impressive.

I was discussing it with Benn the other day and he suggested that I blog about it here, which I took to mean “create an epic blog series of your journey from idea to website.”

I’ll warn you now that I tend to go a little overboard with my projects. It’s the engineer in me, I can’t help it. I’m not going to post the Gantt chart, but rest assured that it’s been created and we’ve got timelines and deliverables and requirements and all the good things that keep me organized.

We’ll be outsourcing some portions of the design, and Hubby will be developing most of the back end, so that we can reuse the components for other ideas. Which means conversations at home go like this:

“Kelley, what are you doing?”

Making a Halloween pumpkin using only Paint.”

“Um, that’s not on the project plan.”

Here’s the overall process:

  1. Discovery. This is where we will define the objectives for the website, develop a strategy, and uncover who the client is and what they want. This is developing the who of the website.
  2. Framing. This is where we will define the flow of the site. We’ll define potential entry and exit points, decision points, and the paths a visitor might take through the site: where those paths lead, and if those paths will achieve our objectives. This is the what of the site.
  3. Prototyping. This is how we will achieve the what of the site. Included here is a graphic design, development of page copy, overall style, structure, and navigation. Here’s where we look closely at usability, ease of navigation, the look and feel of the site.
  4. Coding and Content. This is where Hubby comes in with his development of the back end – the integration of the interface with the data – and I get to create the actual content of the site – presentations, reports, and whatnot.
  5. Testing. Once the site is live, there’ll be some initial testing and tweaking, to make sure our landing pages are optimized and converting the way we want them to. This is really an ongoing process, where we evaluate elements of the design or content or navigation to make sure everything is working as best and as smoothly as possible.

I’m sure it sounds like overkill (if you’ve even read this far), but I think the overall scheme is applicable even if you’re not as huge a geek as me. There’s no use getting excited over technologies and cool features if they don’t answer a need or provide value for your site visitors. Once we know how to be useful, how to provide value, how to keep someone coming back to the site, then we can make decisions: WordPress or Drupal? Blue or Green? Ajax or Flash? Top navigation or side?

Next time – Discovery begins. The Client, Strategy, and Objectives.

Kelley Koehler, aka the Housechick, is usually found focused on her Tucson, Arizona, real estate business. You may also find her on Twitter, where she doubles as a super hero, at Social Media Training Camp, where she trains and coaches people on how to integrate social media into successful business practices, or at KelleyKoehler.com, a collection of all things housechick-ish. Despite her engineering background, Kelley enjoys translating complex technical concepts into understandable and clear ideas that are practical and useful to the striving real estate agent.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Benn Rosales

    October 15, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    Ajax and why not joomla instead of drupal?

  2. Pete Brand

    October 15, 2007 at 5:26 pm

    I think you are right on! The problem is most web development companies skip through discovery (from the creative side) and framing and go directly to the prototyping. The good solid companies know the importance of quality design, ease of use, and functionality. If you forget any of the three…the site will be ineffective.

  3. Shailes Ghimire

    October 15, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    Kelley,

    Very timely. Our website is old – I put it together in early 2005 using Dreamweaver (static HTML). I’ve been thinking about a makeover. Following your journey will be very helpful.

    Do you know if Flash is still a big no no when it comes to SEO?

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Kelley Koehler

    October 15, 2007 at 6:16 pm

    Benn – Ah, mostly because we already know Drupal and don’t know Joomla. I’ll point it out to Hubby, but unless it has some defining feature that we can’t live without, we’ll most likely go Drupal. There will be tradeoffs between existing technology knowledge and time it takes to learn new stuff as we go along.

    Pete – The starting discovery work is the least fun and exciting, but necessary. Working with interface and design is a lot more entertaining, but we don’t want to end up with a pretty but useless site.

    Shailesh – Looking into the seo-ness of technologies will come a little bit later in the process, but from some initial research, Flash doesn’t really ‘read’ for the bots, it’s just a big binary file. I’ve heard not to do menus in Flash because those nice words in the menus won’t be ‘read’ as part of the site. We’ll probably only do the search interface in Flash. The actual search interface isn’t necessarily something I need crawled – just a bunch of blank boxes and drop-downs – and I found a function that can present something different to search bots and those without flash installed without being considered blackhat. The only thing from the search that would be nice to have crawled would be a list of subdivisions, but we can take care of that in a much better way elsewhere on the site.

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Business Marketing

How a Facebook boycott ended up benefitting Snapchat and Pinterest

(MARKETING) Businesses are pulling ad spends from Facebook following “Stop Hate for Profit” social media campaign, and Snapchat and Pinterest are profiting from it.

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Phone in hand open to social media, coffee held in other hand.

In June, the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign demanded social media companies be held accountable for hate speech on their platforms and prioritize people over profit. As part of the campaign, advertisers were called to boycott Facebook in July. More than 1,000 businesses, nonprofits, and other consumers supported the movement.

But, did this movement actually do any damage to Facebook, and who, if any, benefited from their missing revenue profits?

According to The Information, “what was likely crumbs falling from the table for Facebook appears to have been a feast for its smaller rivals, Snap and Pinterest.” They reported that data from Mediaocean, an ad-tech firm, showed Snap reaped the biggest benefit of the 2 social media platforms during the ad pause. Snapchat’s app saw advertisers spending more than double from July through September compared to the same time last year. And, although not as drastic, Pinterest also saw an increase of 40% in ad sales.

As a result, Facebook said its year-over-year ad revenue growth was only up 10 percent during the first 3 weeks of July. But, the company expects its ad revenue to continue that growth rate in Q3. And, some people think that Facebook is benefitting from the boycott. Claudia Page, senior vice president, product and operations at Vivendi-owned video platform Dailymotion said, “All the boycott did was open the marketplace so SMBs could spend more heavily. It freed-up inventory.”

Even CNBC reported that Wedbush analysts said in a note that Facebook will see “minimal financial impact from the boycotts.” They said about $100 million of “near term revenue is at risk.” And for Facebook, this represents less than 1% of the growth in Q3. However, despite what analysts say, there is still a chance for both Snapchat and Pinterest to hold their ground.

Yesterday, Snap reported their surprising Q3 results. Compared to the prior year, Snap’s revenue increased to $679 million, up 52% from 2019. Its net loss decreased from $227 million to $200 million compared to last year. Daily active users increased 18% year-over-year to 249 million. Also, Snap’s stock price soared more than 22% in after-hours trading. Take that Facebook!

In a prepared statement, Chief Business Officer Jeremi Gorman said, “As brands and other organizations used this period of uncertainty as an opportunity to evaluate their advertising spend, we saw many brands look to align their marketing efforts with platforms who share their corporate values.” As in, hint, hint, Facebook’s summer boycott did positively affect their amazing Q3 results.

So, Snapchat and Pinterest have benefited from the #StopHateForProfit campaign. Snapchat’s results show promising optimism that maybe Pinterest might fare as well. But, of course, Facebook doesn’t think they will benefit much longer. Back in July, CEO Mark Zuckerberg told his employees, “[his] guess is that all these advertisers will be back on the platform soon enough.”

Facebook isn’t worried, but I guess we will see soon enough. Pinterest is set to report its Q3 results on October 28th and Facebook on the 29th.

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Business Marketing

Cooler temps mean restaurants have to get creative to survive

(BUSINESS MARKETING) In the midst of a pandemic and with winter approaching, restaurants are starting to find creative and sustainable ways to keep customers coming in… and warm.

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Outdoor eating at restaurants grows in popularity.

Over the last decade we have seen a change in the approach to clientele experiences in the restaurant business. It’s no longer just about how good your food is, although that is still key. Now you have to give your customers an experience to remember. There are now restaurants that feed you in the dark, and others who require you to check all your clothes at the door. Each of these provides an experience to remember alongside food that ranges from good to exquisite, depending on your taste.

Now, however, the global pandemic has rearranged how we think about dining. We can no longer just shove people into a building and create a delectable meal. If you’ve relied mostly on people coming into your restaurant, you may struggle to survive now.

The new rules of keeping clients safe means setting things up outside is the easiest means of keeping large numbers of them from crowding inside. Because of this, weather has become a key influence in a company’s daily income. Tents that were a gimmick before, only needed by presumptuous millennials, are now a requirement to keep afloat. People are rushing to make their yards into lawns that bring some in some fancy feeling.

The ties to the sun in some areas are so strong that cloudy days have been shown to drop attendance as much as 14% for the day. This will become the more apparent the colder it gets. For me, I always mention hibernation weight in the winter, when all I want to do is curl up and eat at home. Down here in Texas we are already finding cooler weather, drops into the 70s even in August and September. We are all assuming a cold winter ahead. So, a bit of foresight is finding a means of keeping your guests warm for the winter ahead.

San Francisco restaurants have started with heat lamps during their cooler evenings. Fiberglass igloos have also been added to outdoor seating as a means of temperature control. A few places down in the Lonestar state keep roaring fires going for their outdoor activities. While others actually keep you running in between beverages by encouraging volleyball matches. This is the new future ahead of us, and being memorable is the way to go.

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Business Marketing

Healthcare during pandemic goes virtual, looks to stay that way

(BUSINESS NEWS) Employment-based health insurance has already been through the ringer with COVID-19, but company healthcare options are adapting for long term.

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Stethoscope with laptop, showing healthcare going virtual.

Changes in employment-based health insurance may end up costing employers more, but will provide crucial benefits to workers responding to the healthcare challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a recent survey by the Business Group on Health, a member-driven advocacy organization that helps large employers navigate providing health insurance to their employees, businesses will increase access to telehealth, mental health resources, and on-site clinics in the upcoming year.

Besides the obvious impacts of the coronavirus itself, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have also rippled out to affect other aspects of public health and how we engage with medical care. With so many people staying home to reduce their in-person contacts, there has been a significant increase in the use of telehealth services such as virtual doctor’s visits. According to the survey from Business Group on Health, whose members include 74 Fortune 100 companies, more than half of large employers will offer more options for virtual healthcare in the upcoming year than in the past.

The pandemic, resulting economic fallout, and dramatic changes to our lives have inevitably exacerbated peoples’ anxieties and feelings of hopelessness. As we move into cold weather, with no end in sight to the need to socially distance, this promises to be a particularly dreary, lonely winter. Mental health support will be more necessary than ever. In 2019, 73% of large employers provided virtual mental health services. That number will increase to 91% next year, with 45% of large employers also expanding their mental health care provider networks, making it easier for employees to find the right the therapist or other mental health service provider, and making it easier to access those services from home, virtually.

In addition, there will be a 20% increase in employers offering virtual emotional well-being services. Altogether, 9 out of 10 of the employers surveyed will provide online mental health resources, which, besides virtual appointments, could also include apps, webinars, and educational videos.

There has also been a slight increase the availability of on-site clinics that provide coronavirus testing and other basic health services. This also included an expansion of resources for prenatal care, weight management, and chronic health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

These improvement won’t come free of charge. While deductibles will remain about the same, premiums and out-of-pocket costs will increase about 5%. In most cases, employers will handle these costs, rather than passing them on to employees.

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