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Even now, I am receiving requests for Flash introductions and Flash sites.
For those of you who don’t know what Flash is, Flash is an amazing piece of software. It is robust illustration and animation combined with all sorts of interactive items for web surfers to play with. It has a really neat programmer’s side to it, too, allowing people with no knowledge of how to write website code to put pieces together (kinda like that Mousetrap game we played as kids) and do some really cool things on someone’s computer.
On the downside, though, it uses up a LOT of computer resources, crashes a lot of browsers, and has been involved in all sorts of software conflicts with several companies…
…most recently: Apple.
…even Apple has had enough of Flash’s resource-hogging.
…Apple… you know, the company that graphic and web designers like to use… the same people who use Flash…
Flash doesn’t even play on the iPhones or iPads.
Now yes, the Androids do… and that’s another whole discussion.
But as a business, as a marketer trying to reach as many people in your target audience as possible:
Don’t use Flash.
Otherwise, you alienate a large portion of your potential buyers… and they’re the ones who will spend more money on something if they think it is good.
“But Website Dave, my site must have animation on it? What am I to do?”
There are alternatives… good ones that have developed and don’t crash browsers… and that do a better job of showing what you do.
Here’s the short answer: Keep it on your radar and don’t ignore it.
Time will tell what Google+ becomes. Nobody outside of Google really seems to be convinced that it is going to be a Facebook killer, but there are a lot of signs that say this is going to be a strong force in the internet.
That being said… (I’m not going to make this into a Google+ vs. Facebook post)
As a business owner, you will want to have a presence on Google+. How big? Just like any other marketing: Test, Test, Test.
Note: Google has asked businesses to wait to build profiles until they launch their business environments.
In the coming months, Facebook and Google+ are going to make big plays to earn our business. I will never tell someone not to put their business profile on Google+. I would rather use this time getting used to both environments and seeing what there is to see. Try to see how your target clients are acting in both environments, and choose your tactics carefully.
Remember: Strategy is the overall marketing plan. Tactics is the “boots on the ground” specific actions that you take in specific areas. There will be more posting about this as Google+ and its users develop.
A true sign that someone is gaining a reputation in one’s field is when another professional in the same field tells one of their customers that they need to see you about getting work done.
This was the case for this website. Another web design professional (we’re not competitors… not only is there enough business out there for everybody, but they offer web sites as a side offering to what they normally do) told their client to call me because they wanted things done that they were not equipped to do.
The Keller Interiors website is two websites in one: One for commercial customers and the other for residential clients. Both sides feature their staff and contact information, and both sides are thorough about the company itself. However, that is where the similarity stops.
Residential and Commercial customers have very different needs, and the navigation, while very similar and consistent throughout the site, sends their site visitors to different information, depending on which side of the business they are working with.
This site does include Flash navigation, however, we built it in a way that it doesn’t use a whole lot of system resources, and their customers aren’t using iphones or ipads to look at the site. They are on their computers in their home or in their office, so it doesn’t cause any issues for their business.
Blogs tell a visitor a whole lot about a business.
A blog that has been going on for a while tells a visitor that this business stays on track, is dependable, and has a lot to say or is an expert in their field. It is an indicator that someone is taking their business seriously.
It is also fantastic fodder for the search engines to play with and to find you and to maybe even push you up the rankings if you are doing it enough.
However, it is also a double-edged sword.
When a company is not maintaining their blog, it tells visitors a different story… it says that a company is not organized enough to take care of their website.
Make a meeting with yourself once a week and write something into your blog. This is part of image management, and if your blog is all that someone sees of your business, then it needs to look like you care and are taking care of your business.
If you just can not take the time to update your blog, remove it from your website. Really. Take what posts you have written and change them into articles. You will be taken a lot more seriously… you’ll just lose all the search and recent information benefits.
If once a week is too much to do, then take two to four hours once a month, write out all of your blog posts for the month and schedule them to come out one at a time. It will do you a whole lot more good than doing nothing.
Remember, this is your business, and this is how you find new bosses to hire you!
Adapt. Improvise. Overcome.
This is a mantra in the United States Marine Corps.
The most successful businesses operate the same way.
Take, for example, MiLend Mortgage. They find ways to help people get financed to purchase or refinance a home. They look for solutions to problems and have grown well over the past year, when it’s supposed to be hard to sell a home.
Their website is built from the same philosophy. We found solutions for what they were wanting. It also brought in all the capabilities of Website Dave, Inc. It is a good example of all Website Dave building resources coming together at once. We even set up a photo studio in their offices and took head shot pictures for their staff.
I had met with Dr. Brian Nadolne about building some sites for them and they wanted to think about it for a while. A couple weeks later, I was making some follow-up calls and when I pulled up his website, his website wasn’t there!
The doctor’s entire online presence came to a screeching halt.
About a third of my clients come from situations where they have either had a falling out with their web designer, or worse, they can’t find them at all. This particular time, though, the web designer was an old friend of the doctor, which would either make things easier, or make them worse.
In this case, it was the latter.
It took some work, but we were able to get the doctor back online with a new website in a few days, and soon thereafter, he had ownership of all of his domain names, something that he had not had before.
…and his friend… well, there’s a happy ending there, too. There was nothing hostile involved. It was just a “forgot to update the domain” situation. He was very helpful and cooperative throughout the process. He and the doctor are still friends, and everything is good.
So the information about Google+ has been coming out slowly but steadily, and although this may not be the Facebook-killer it is supposed to be, yet, it’s got some neat features built into it and more coming.
The biggest obstacle they will have to overcome is getting people to change their habits, but time has shown that it’s easier to get people to do so on the internet.
Google+ is using a lot of graphical interfaces. Instead of groups of contacts, it’s done via circles (social circles, etc…) and instead of grouping everyone together automatically, it practically forces you to assign people to circles as you add them.
It also allows you to hide your contacts from others, so that in Google’s own words, you can “hide that weird aunt you’re embarrassed about, and show off the coolest people you know.”
They have put a lot of effort into groups.. er… circles, which to me is the most fundamental difference between Facebook and Google+, and represents the biggest required changed behavior…
…managing all the circles!
We’ll see how it goes. Google has had its share of hits and misses as it tries to expand from just being “the search engine.” With as many people who have signed on board, so far, though… it will get a fair amount of use to see what people do and don’t like.
If I could offer one bit of advice that would make your photographs come out much better and potentially save you a lot of money, it would be to hire a makeup artist to work on the people in the pictures.
Whenever it comes down to choosing between a model and a makeup artist, I advise to choose the artist. They are schooled in making people look absolutely fabulous in their pictures (even those of us who have no business being in front of a camera).
Makeup artists do a great job of softening our skin, hiding our blemishes, reducing the shine off our faces (and heads), and are valuable resources to make sure that we are using the right colors on someone’s face.
A lot of photographers’ time is spent touching up our photos, doing all of those things on every single shot. It can be very hard for even the best graphic artist to give a consistent look across each picture.
However, the makeup artist does the work once and then does touchup work throughout the shoot to keep it consistent.
Want great head shots for your executive staff? Makeup artists do amazing things to help hide flaws and bring out the best in each person.
Here’s a case study:
I recently took a set of pregnancy photographs. The lady had gone through a lot of outfits and other preparation, including a facial, hairdo and getting makeup applied to her face by a cosmetologist.
She didn’t do anything to cover the stretch marks on her belly. I recommended that she have the make up artist cover her marks for her. She didn’t want to pay them any more than she already had.
It would have taken no longer than fifteen minutes to cover her marks.
It took several hours to remove those marks from the pictures and make them look right. She could have saved a lot of money if she had just gotten the makeup artist to cover marks up that one time. Instead, she would up paying for every hour I spent in processing removing those marks.
On hot Summer days in Atlanta, going down the Chattahoochee river with some friends is a popular way to beat the heat.
Urban Currents is a tube and kayak rental outfitting company that also teaches kayak lessons and takes groups down the river.
Chuck Armentrout, owner of Urban Currents, places a lot of importance on using the company to provide experiences for kids who might not normally get the opportunity to take trips like this. So he takes groups of inner city kids tubing, and they have a blast.
Chuck’s website makes it possible to book groups, download and print any applicable waivers and rental agreements and to get all the details so that everyone has a good time. A lot of questions get answered on the site, and he makes himself available to answer questions that the site doesn’t have answered (yet…).
In Cartersville, there is a quickly growing body shop that handles all sorts of work. Their bread and butter is the insurance claim work that they receive day in and day out, but what they really love is restoring classics and customizing bikes.
Collision and Restoration Specialists uses their website to show not only before and after pictures, but also to show a job’s progress. It is another way that a company can use a website and blog combination. They can choose to be very descriptive or very generic in their wording, using the right keywords as applicable.