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43 The 5 Personalities Every Successful Website Must Employ

split personalityLaunching a successful website is no easy task. There are many practical and technical details to assemble and implement and many business and marketing objectives to consider. Generally speaking, there is no one person, such as a web designer, who can pull this job off. Worse yet, the business owner turned do-it-yourself web site creator, even armed with a simple site creation tool, almost always lacks the split personality traits required to view the project properly.

A successful website launch, regardless of size or budget, must involve these five personalities to some degree or another. You can think of these as phases in the creation of your site or actual tasks done by specific providers, either way you must address them all.

1) Strategist

This is the strategy before tactics applied to your website. Most folks want to go to design first, but a design that’s not informed by your business strategy is, at best, a nice bit of eye candy. Do yourself, and anyone involved in designing your site, a favor and try to get a handle on all of the things you want your web site to do for you. Do you have major segments or markets to consider, do you have divisions of products and services, do you have a content strategy, are you trying to sell, educate or create leads? In an effort to make your site as effective as possible it’s essential that you focus on one overriding strategy and filter your content and design decisions based on that. A website that’s confusing or even ambiguous will generally lead to no action.

I’ll introduce the other personalities needed for this lesson below, but it’s safe to say that while there is an order to this almost all parties will collaborate and circle back into the process from time to time. The marketer, for example, should be fully present for strategy decisions to offer some thoughts on what keywords and phrases should make up the primary content focus.

2) Designer

A great design is one that allows your strategy, brand and content to be presented in a way that makes it pleasing, supports the elements and image of the brand, and moves the visitor effortlessly to the information and results thought through in your strategy sessions.

Many people look at this like decorating a space, but the best interior designers will tell you that usability is key to good design. People may not even notice the drapes or colors, although they will notice them subconsciously for good or bad, but they will notice if something seems out of place or if they can’t find the bathroom.

99 Designs and Crowdspring are great places to take your strategy and find a designer

3) Developer

Another key to a successful web site is functionality. There are many ways to integrate widgets, plug-ins, communities, ratings, subscription, comments, customer portals, and membership only sections to increase engagement and usability. Successful web sites employ the right mix of these added features to enhance the overall experience without making a site look like a Christmas tree decorated by a six year old.

The developer personality should also be in charge of the under the hood code. Standards compliant (See WC3) code, search engine friendly code, and a fast loading site are all very important, but too often get little consideration from the marketer or the designer. I guess this is a good place to make my common pitch for WordPress software. It comes out of the box with beautiful code and a host of add-ons to extend the functionality.

Elance and Guru.com have long been places to find freelance programmers, but increasingly people are turning to sites like LinkedIn and Twitter get specific recommendations.

4) User

No matter how brilliant your strategy, design and code appear to be, it’s the web site visitor that determines success of failure. It is very easy to fall slowly in love with what you have developed, but the visitor may only take a second or two to determine if your site has what they are looking for. Get your site in front of actual and target customers through low cost usability tools like UserTesting.com or by creating A/B tests in Google Website Optimizer so you can test and tweak your site and how people actually use and interact with it.

While your site is still in beta you should also consider this phase the place to bug fix, proofread and link check. Spellr.us will check spelling for up to 100 pages for free. Using Google’s Webmaster Tools or LinkSleuth on a PC/ Integrity on a Mac you can track down broken links throughout your website.

5) Marketer

Ah, last but not least, how are you going to get people to this site? As stated above the marketer is involved in all phases to some degree, but is ultimately unleashed for good when the site is live.

The marketer must keep the content and SEO plans moving forward, network for links, analyze the traffic and user patterns (the programmer added Google Analytics for the marketer to lean on) capture lead data, drive more traffic, manage PPC, and create and test campaign specific landing pages.

The marketer is also ideally suited to orchestrate the integration of the organization’s social media strategy and the impact is has on website objectives as well as all of the elements of offline activity that further leads to the successful use of the website as a business building tool.

In my opinion, these considerations must be planned and managed by the owner of the site. Even if some or all of the actual work is delegated, you, the business owner and marketer, must drive the collaboration of these five personalities in order to create a tool that will mesh with your overall business strategies. Don’t expect to hire someone and let them create your website. You can’t abdicate this important tool. If manage the multiple disciplines you are more likely to get a result that will serve your needs.

Image credit: Alcino

43 Crowd

Croutsourcing Design

Marketing podcast with crowdSPRING cofounders Ross Kimbarovsky and Mike Samson – click to listen or right click and Save As to download

I know, I know – another goofy made-up word, but hey, it’s Friday so outsourcing design to the crowd became croutsourcing.

The point is that the web has certainly made it much easier to find great design from around the world and on the flip side created an unlimited market for those wishing to sell their design services.

Some smart folks have built businesses around corralling and managing the introduction and design process and made buying and selling graphic design a snap. As with most innovations, these services have their detractors. The most vocal being some in the design community that feel this drives the price of quality design down and cheapens the value of great design. Whether this is true or not, the web has impacted most industries in a similar fashion. The ultimate answer usually comes from the market’s assessment of the greatest value.

The process in croutsourced design is that you describe a project (in the greatest, brand oriented way you can) and designers in your chosen platform’s community compete for your project. In some cases the designers bid on your work, in others they submit designs in an effort to win a set award. Usually, you, the client, get multiple designs and alterations to work with on the way to a finished project.

The true strength, and possibly longevity, of these organizations lies in the professionalism of their design community. The one that keeps the designers the happiest wins.

The latest innovation in the industry is that your design competition can be open to public view if you choose. Some high profile brands have started to look to this model to get a design done in public view as a PR opportunity. Here’s an example of a public logo contest at 99 Designs and here’s a competition at crowdSPRING for a Tony Robbins web site design.

Here’s a run down of some of the croutsourcing design players that I’ve worked with:

LogoWorks – Actually LogoWorks, an HP company, wouldn’t really qualify as crowd driven in the same manner as these other three as they do offer your design project out for a bit of competition, but it’s a closed process with a fixed price.

99Designs – This was one of the first compete for an award players and has done a nice job putting designers and clients together at very affordable prices.

Elance – The first and biggest of the crowd sourcing community. Elance’s model is a bid for project model and certainly not just focused on design.

crowdSPRING – This is one of the newest players, but they seem to be capturing a lot of buzz and some pretty high profile projects. (I interviewed crowdSPRING cofounders Ross Kimbarovsky and Mike Samson for an episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast – click to listen or right click and Save As to download.)

28 What Does Labor Day Mean Today?

The Labor Day holiday in the U.S. was created as a way to celebrate and highlight the struggles of the American worker for organized rights.

The way we work, the workforce, and what work even means has changed so much over the years that it almost calls for an entirely new definition.

I’ve been asked to judge what I think is a pretty clever Labor Day related contest from the folks at Elance. First off, the grand prize winner gets healthcare coverage for 2010

The event is being called Labor Day 2.0: Online Workers and Elance Celebrate “New Way to Work” and it’s an opportunity for self-employed professionals and their clients to showcase working online. Recent research estimated that there are 37 million American workers who are independent contractors, part-time or temporary staffers, or self-employed and pioneering a new way to work — completely online.

The “New Way to Work” contest begins on Labor Day, September 7, 2009 and ends with the winner announced on December 11, 2009. The contest will give the broader world of online workers and their clients an opportunity to earn their moment in the spotlight.

To take part in the contest, participants need to:
1. Showcase their “new way to work” through any medium they choose, be it photography, a blog article, a Web page, YouTube video, tweet, cartoon, art installation, song, haiku, or any other means to demonstrate their point.
2. Publish and promote their example to capture the attention and imagination of a broader online community.
3. Notify contest judges of their effort via Twitter (use #new-way-to-work) or by posting a link on Elance’s Facebook fan page.

Get more info on the contest on the Elance blog

Throughout the contest, Elance will highlight the most creative, compelling, innovative and inspiring entrants on the Elance blog. After narrowing the contestants to a set of finalists, the Grand Prize winner will be selected by Elance and a panel of judges including Tim Ferriss, bestselling author of The 4-Hour Workweek, technology investor, and productivity expert; Tory Johnson, career expert, founder and CEO of Women For Hire and New York Times bestselling author whose latest book is Fired to Hired; and John Jantsch, author of Free to Choose: How to select any 80 hours a week you want to work (soon to be not so best seller).

5 Rightsourcing As Important As Ever

For a recent episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast I cornered Brad Porteus, Chief Marketing Officer at Elance in between sessions at the Small Business Summit in NYC.

As most know Elance is an online marketplace that allows you to bring projects to designers, programmers, writers, you name it, and request bids to complete the work. Of course the flip side of that is true if you are designer, programmer or writer looking for work.

I’ve been an Elance user for a number of years and I’ve had great experiences with Elance and some not so great, and in both cases it was my fault. As with any project, the more communication the better. When trying to find a service provider that you may never meet face to face this is even more relevant. Because a computer interface makes is so easy to find people willing to bid on your work, it’s easy to get lazy and pick someone based solely on price or on a misunderstanding of your needs.

In any face to face situation you do your homework and make sure you’ve have a good fit, with references, right? I think you must view the hiring of someone on Elance the same way. Do that and you’ll find some tremendously professional resources that knock out projects the right way.

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