Occasionally we take a break from creating work for our clients to spend quality time talking about the work we've done, who we've done it for and hopefully provide some insight into the processes of what is involved.
The internet and associated technologies represent the great revolution of our era. On a daily basis it touches all aspects of our life, we utilise it within our careers, we use it to search for information, to provide our entertainment and for social interaction.
One of the great things about this technology is that it provides a means for anyone and everyone to get their thoughts and ideas out to a wider audience. Adversely one of the major downsides is that it provides a means for anyone and everyone to get their thoughts and ideas out to a wider audience.
The internet has changed how many people think about knowledge, expertise within a given field is now longer the exclusive domain of experts, replaced by the opinions of anyone with internet access and too much time on their hands. In the words of “Dirty” Harry Callaghan “…opinions are like assholes…everybody has one.”
It doesn’t take much effort to find a plethora of gurus and “thought leaders” each offering their vision of success built around a collection of blogs and social media platforms. Particularly within sales you will find those blinding people with a technobabble and the latest buzzwords or copying wholesale ideas from genuinely innovative thinkers, regurgitating and selling them on to an ever expanding market of people desperate for their next sale. Snake Oil for the Digital Age.
Terms such as “Social Media Expert”, “Web Design Guru”, “SEO Ninja” (I kid you not) and “Online Marketing Guru” pepper the industry I work in, often by individuals with little to no experience or expertise to back up the titles. Replacing creative processes and genuine innovation with off-the-shelf templates and a pick and mix design culture does not a “Web Expert” make. Opensource CMS has turned a sizeable chunk of the web design industry into a minefield of have-a-go-heroes, usually resulting in those with genuine experience having to fix the work of amateurs at a latter date.
The other effect is that people get exactly what they pay for. Using the cheaper option could cost your business much more in the long run. In the cut-throat world of business the way in which you define your brand can mean the difference between success and the also rans. Unless your business is signwriting you would be ill-advised to doodle your name outside your office.
To utilise the web for your business effectively you will either need to engage someone with actual long term experience of the industry or to spend a substantial amount of time becoming a master in the field yourself. Either way you will need to spend money and/or time to get the most benefit for you and your business. No “Web Guru” out there offering to teach you the secret to success will be able to offer anything that doesn’t have one of those two costs at its heart. The more you put in the more you will get out.
J Craig Melia - 01/10/2012
Several months ago we were asked by the local Parish Council to produce a website for the village. The village at that time had two existing sites, one an amateur offering created by a local “IT Guy”, the other a basic CMS-based service aimed at Parish Councils. It was felt that neither projected a positive image, not engaged with the community in any wider sense.
Over a series of meetings involving representatives from the local community, the Parish Council and Fibre Valley (a community led campaign to see next generation high speed broadband services universally available to homes, farms and businesses in the Worth Valley) a plan grew around a village website that allowed for communication and connection within the community and a central resource for local information.
One of the primary aims was provide a platform for the village to come together and share and promote the many wonderful activities taking place in Oxenhope. Clubs and communities of interest would be able to form groups and post content and useful information online, providing a 21st century village noticeboard.
We are extremely proud to announce the launch of Oxenhope Online – www.oxenhope.org.uk
J Craig Melia - 07/08/2012
Your website is a tiny speck of virtual light in the night sky, a single star within an ever-expanding galaxy…..chances are your site is obscured by bigger and brighter cosmic bodies and that it lies hidden amongst those of greater magnitude within a wider constellation.
The good news is that there are a number of techniques to make your site supernova!
Firstly though you must ask the most important questions regarding your site. What is the purpose of the website, what is its function? Is it a glossy brochure, a sales leads generator, is the focus on direct sales, does it focus on the business or on the company products or services, building brand awareness?
Chances are you will want it to do all of these things to varying degrees, any web design agency worth its salt should be able to advise on how to utilise successful methodologies to make the most out of your website.
There are four key areas that need to be addressed, these are Content, Aesthetics, Usability and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
Content is King
Valid up-to-date information on your website is a must. Any web designer worth their salt can put together a “pretty” website, but content remains king. Design should be used to set the image, but this needs to be backed up with copy which reflects and augments that same image.
Creating customer value is one of the main functions of any marketing, whilst creating, communicating, delivering the value of your offering is important it remains the needs of clients and potential clients that should be the main focus of your copy.
Good Design/Bad Design
Aesthetics, from graphic imagery to page layout, from colour scheme to fonts, must have visual appeal. An effective, highly visible website, with good web design and a clear message, can dramatically increase new business as well as increasing your standing with existing customers.
Usability and Userbility
Meeting usability standards are often the deciding factor on whether a website succeeds or fails, however, in the never ending quest for new technologies or creativity within design innovation it frequently becomes relegated. or is not given enough attention simply because of ignorance.
Usability and the user friendliness of a website is not an elusive concept nor is it subjective, but is based on rigorous research which can be attained by easily applied solutions. Navigation should “flow” and not force the user into having to learn complex procedures to be able to reach information.
Search Engine Friendly
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) isn’t something that you can simply “bolt on” to your website, it is something that is fundamental to the building of a website from its very foundation. Before a single line of code, text is written or an image is produced the basics of SEO need to be addressed so that your content, your chosen keywords when applied within the design benefit the flow of traffic to your site.
Factors for building search engine friendly websites include keyword rich content, code validation, meta information but for the most part it is a matter of getting things right from the start.
J Craig Melia - 05/07/2012
In the early hours of this morning my friend, mentor and former boss Fred Klass passed away. The last day I had travelled down to see him last december was the day he was told he had six months to live. Despite the care of his wife Ros, his son Alex, family, friends and medical services he passed, and I would like to offer my deepest sympathy to them at this time.
Often at these times people will focus on remembering specific actions or deeds, but I think the true value of someone’s life is in how they have touched upon the lives of others and within that they live on. Fred’s gift to me was his faith and belief in my abilities, his support and encouragement remain probably the greatest influence on my continuing desire to master my craft, on standing up for what you believe in, and remaining calm no matter the situation.
For a man of his years to keep abreast of technical matters, things that some people half his age would struggle with, says a lot about his attitude to life, that we can all keep learning new things, improving and bettering ourselves in the process. An open, keen mind is one of the greatest gifts we can possess, and to do all that he did with a modest, calm smile speaks volumes.
I can offer no greater eulogy than to hope that in my time of passing I am held in the same high regard and with the same love and respect by those whose life I have touched. RIP.
J Craig Melia - 25/05/2012
Social Evolution is pleased to announce the launch of OfficiaNet, an innovative business networking site designed to encourage collaboration and cross sector interaction.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
- Margaret Mead
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