In today’s show, Daniel sits down with Garrett Jackson and Nathan Miller of Audigy Group to discuss what makes a good web site and how you can create one!
Read the transcript:
Today were gonna be talking about web development, that includes the value of the website, why you want to have one, what makes it good, and its value to your customers. Enjoy the show, everybody.
My name is Garrett Jackson, and I’m Manager of Digital Services here at Audigy Group.
Hello everybody, I’m Nathan Miller. I’m the Creative Director for Audigy Group, Audigy Medical, and Stratus Dental Group.
We’re gonna talk a little bit today about website development, and what it means to actually make a good website, and the value of a good website. So, the first place to start with that is, what is the value of a website? Why do people need a website? And let’s just talk in really basic terms about why this is our starting point for this show, and for online marketing, in general.
So, when we talk about websites I think we just need to start with, why it’s completely changed the way that we interact with our consumers. Before, you had to get someone inside your store for them to get familiar with your brand, or at least to come and see your products outside. They had to come to a physical location.
And there was also kind of the demand of having to interact with somebody, possibility of a salesperson coming to you. The beauty of the internet is that if I’ve got a question– even before I start wondering about what products are out there– if I’ve got a question, I can go to this magical computer, type it in, and there’s likely going to be a business that’s going to answer that question, or provide a solution for me.
So, having a website is that opportunity to be able to give people answers, and have them come in, get familiar with your brand, and get to know your store or your company, without ever having to immediately make a decision or jump ahead. So, if someone comes to my store, I want them to be able to immediately understand what I represent, what products I sell, what’s my focus, what’s my message that I’m trying to get out there. And it’s the same thing with the website. I have this place that I can create my brand, and really make sure that that is expressed throughout the entire site.
So, if I sell, I don’t know, I’ll pick something. If I sell–
Oh, pencils. Yeah, there we go. So if I sell pencils, if someone’s coming to me and saying, well why should I buy pencils from you? A website is just the perfect place to be able to answer that question. Well, people need pencils for the following reasons. Here’s why our pencils are superior to other pencils. And here’s a place that you can go and compare different pencil sizes, depending on the– I don’t know. If there are other sizes, or something like that. I’m sure there are.
Oh, there’s more than just number two.
Well, I thought the number two was the only one that people-
That’s just the standard.
Yeah, it’s the standard.
This ain’t your grandmother’s pencil.
Yeah, so, you have a place to be able to really sell your product and make sure that people understand what you stand for. More so than just walking into a business. I don’t walk in to Target and know exactly what they stand for. But by the imagery, and the way that they’ve laid out the store, the cleanliness, all of that matters in that brand experience.
And the same thing with a website. If it takes forever to load, if I can’t find the information I’m looking for, if I can’t figure out why I’m here in the first place, or if I get lost in the process. You don’t very often get lost in the corner of Target between a couple different aisles, but you can easily get lost on a website between a couple different pages.
That’s true. And you know what comes to mind, since we’re kind of correlating the web to the real-world experience, I remember a restaurant experience I had once, where I sat down and it took 45 minutes to get my menu. And what a lasting impression– in fact, that was a restaurant I used to go to very frequently and ever since then, I’ve had a negative connotation to it, too. So when we’re talking about web development, load time is one of those things that’s really important in that. There’s a lot that goes into your experience in both worlds.
Restaurant websites are one of my favorites, because it’s amazing to me how impossible it is to find a menu on a website, sometimes. I mean, if I’m looking for Chinese food, I don’t necessarily need to know everything about your restaurant, like your mission statement, or anything like that. I just want to find out what the menu is, how much the food costs, and if I can drive there, and be there and eat your food. And a lot of times they’ll have it buried in some part of the site, or they won’t even have a list of the items on it. So, even something as basic as that.
If you are selling something, you need to make it really clear what it is, how to get it, and just everything that would be a question around it, that’s available on your website.
How would someone who’s managing their own website, let’s say, manage that content in that way, so they know that their users are getting the information that they need and want, before they even get there?
I think that’s kind of the marketer’s quest in the first place is, what do my consumers want? That’s what we’re always trying to answer, and we try and create advertising that matches that. But, the way I would go about it is first, looking at specifically, what kind of questions am I getting asked when people come to me?
Regardless of what type of store or business you have, you’re constantly getting questions over the phone, over email, in person. I mean, when you’re out talking to even friends or family and they’re asking about what you do, they have specific questions. Jotting those type of things down on a notepad, those are the things that you want to answer on your website. Those are the things that people are gonna be searching for online. And that’s how you can answer those, best.
I’m really stuck on this restaurant thing because I eat it a lot, almost everyday.
Food is good!
Food is good. But I can’t tell you– I think, Garrett, that’s a great example of– I’ve seen a lot of restaurant websites too that, they will have lots of content that is not what I’m looking for. For instance, I, like you, decide that I want to eat Chinese food today. So I Google, and I’ve had lots of websites where I will immediately be shown a koi fish or something like that. And then every time I move my mouse cursor, there’s floating leaves that kind of follow it, and I can’t figure out what I’m actually looking at, but I know it’s not Chinese food. And so then I have to begin to think about, where do I go to look for this kind of stuff?
I’m left wondering, what is it that I actually even came here for in the first place, and do I want to go somewhere else? To another web page, or if we want to use the analogy, a different store or a different business, right?
Yeah, I really miss the changing icons of your mouse on the web , or the snowflakes that would fall down on some websites. There’s some things that had their time and place.
It was so seasonal. You always knew the holidays were right around the corner, or somebody didn’t know what they were doing.
What can you tell us about the value of what the content actually is? Like the text that they have, and how this should be written.
You know, the content not only needs to answer my questions, but it needs to have a voice, it needs to have a feeling behind it. And then, it also needs to ask me to do something. No one wants to go to a website and just be fed information without necessarily knowing what the next step is. And if they don’t have a next step, what is the incentive to stay on your site? If they got their answer, they’re gonna go somewhere else.
So that’s why call-to-actions are incredibly important on your website. Even if it’s just saying, not necessarily, buy this widget but, read a little bit more about this topic here. Or having links within your text saying, oh, were you curious about this specific section, right here? We’re gonna highlight that and if you click on that, you can read an article that’s all about that specific area.
So we kind of want to continue to lead people through it. One of my favorite examples, like real world examples of this, is Ikea. When you go to Ikea, at least the one here in Portland, and when you up the escalator, you’re suddenly in this magical world and there’s arrows that tell you where to go. And you walk through this whole amazing thing, and they show you all the amazing possibilities of what Ikea can do for you. And then by the end of it you are downstairs, and now you can just get all of those amazing things. But they’ve walked you through this experience, before you start making those decisions.
And, it’s a little creepy when you realize that you’ve just made a giant circle around the entire building, and just followed these arrows kind of blindly, but you feel so involved in this experience that you don’t really question it by the time you get to the checkout stands.
It’s impossible to get out otherwise. You have to follow their pathway.
I’ve tried to go through like little kid tunnels in hopes that it would take me through a secret route downstairs. Pretty sure there’s gotta be some sort of trap door or something to get down to the basement.
So are you saying that there’s a way I can program my website to get me Swedish meatballs, halfway through my experience?
Yeah, only with a side of lingonberry or however you say it. Yeah, I’m not really sure.
How would you direct a business owner in ensuring that the tone of their copy matches the type of business, and the type of personality, and the brand that they’re really trying to convey to the end user?
I think the brand comes from two places. Obviously, it comes from your internal perception or your internal team’s perception of who you are, and what you think you represent. And then the second part is, how the consumers perceive you. I mean, I could change up my brand and change the whole outside and do all these things, but if consumers still think that I sell really poor quality things, that’s not going to change it immediately.
So, I think with looking at how you want to show your brand, and share that, and develop who you are– asking your team. First, looking at your employees. What do you think that we represent? What do you hear from our customers or from people that work with us, about what we represent the best, or what we do the best? And then, asking them how they feel about what they do.
You know, it sounds a little cheesy, but the heart that goes into your company can really be displayed. And then going to the consumers and actually asking them, what is the reason that you keep coming back to us? What was the best experience that you had with this product, or with our staff, or with our team? You’re able to get a feel for that unique experience.
Because my experience in going to Target might be very different than Dan’s. Dan might have a very different perception of the brand than I do.
How do you feel about Target, Dan?
I have a lot to say about that. We’ll have to save it for another episode.
Next time, on Reach. Da, da, dah.
Yeah, I mean, I like Target.
I’m down with Target.
But I think you’re making a good point about getting patient feedback, about getting team feedback. Because I’m oftentimes presenting to small business owners about what branding is, or at least what our philosophy of branding really is. And oftentimes I’ll ask the question, can you sum up your brand in a single sentence? And typically, these folks cannot.
So, what I’m giving back to them is, if you can’t do that in this room, in a single sentence, in a group of your peers, than odds are your staff is not able to do that. And if you and your staff cannot do that, then the people that you want to serve cannot do that either.
Right, and you don’t want to have an existential crisis after your meeting with your web developer. You need to know who you are, before you come to someone and ask them to build something that reflects who you are. So I think, like you’re saying, this is a huge preliminary step to really be familiar with what you represent, what you want to exude to the public, and to these consumers. And have that really well established before you even start looking at building a website. You need to know what you want to represent online. And then from there, it’s a lot easier for a developer, or someone who’s working on your ads, or anything like that, to know what to make, and what to create.
I imagine that a lot of the people who are going to listen to this are immediately gonna pull out a pen and paper and write down everything that they think that their clients, or their patients, or whatever, are going to be asking them, and they’re gonna want to put all of it on the website.
What can you tell me about finding out which of those things is actually the most important? How should a brand do that? And how should a web developer help them? And what can you say about consistency in that messaging?
You know, with the Ikea example, I think that they do a good job too, of giving you the more large, bigger picture things up front, and then they start getting down to the more specifics like, here’s that cool little widget that you saw in this other room. And I think it’s the same way with a website. When you first hit the home page, you want to be able to have a good vision of everything that is possible to you.
So when you look at those questions and answers, think about the more basic ones. Just, why should I use this in the first place? Why are you the person that I should reach out to? And, what are the top three reasons that your product is the best?
After that, you can get more specific. I don’t necessarily need to see screenshots of every single thing that your app does before I make a decision. I might make a decision on the home page, just based on the way that you answer those questions. But the more specific information should come a little bit after that.
And everything should kind of lead you by links and by the navigation on your website, down into more information. And I think that’s something that you can work really closely with a web developer on and say, this is what my customer experience feels like when they talk to me in person. And this is how I think the website should lead someone through this. They’ll be able to tell you through navigation, through animation, through layout, how to have that conversation online, just as easily as you could have it in person.
I think a good web developer too, during your process of communicating your updates, is gonna be able to tell you, you need a little bit more content here, or we need to explore this a little bit more fully, or– You know, a relationship with a web developer lasts beyond just launching a website, too. It’s ongoing. You could even going into, hey, people aren’t really responding to this part of your content as much as they are to this part of your content, too. So, you’ll know the answers to those questions, but they might be able to help you to understand what it is that’s really working at the time.
Yeah, I think that definitely depends on the type of web developer you hire. I mean, if you hire a guy who’s just gonna slap together a site for you, yeah. Don’t expect much more than just getting something delivered to you, and signed off, and–
But I think that it is important to think about the relationship that you want to have with the web developer. Do you want someone who is going to help you mold this experience into something more? Do you want someone that’s going to continue to build something with you over time, and really make those kind of improvements, and suggestions, and recommendations? Or, are you looking for someone to help you just get it off the ground?
It’s also important to think about what kind of contributions you want to make to the site. Is it going to be built so that I can go in and add content myself, or am I gonna have to pay for every single edit that’s made to the website? There’s a lot of considerations to think about, when you start looking at who you’re going to be working with, potentially. But, I would just kind of be really careful up front when you talk to a web developer about, what exactly am I getting out of this relationship, and what am I going to be paying for.
Right. And then also, from what you’re saying, it almost sounds like– maybe this is a weird analogy to make, if it’s even an analogy– that a website is a living thing, in a sense. That it’s not just about–
You’re not just building a site and then it’s done. What are you doing with it? How are you going to add additional content to it? How are you going to continue to invest in enhancing that experience for the user?
Yeah. Websites are incredibly organic, and they should be. They are a living manifestation of your business.
A lot of people make it seem like it’s something that you can check off your list. Like, I’ve got five stores, and they all have this website. You’ve gotta think about that website being one of your stores.
It’s this living thing. It has needs. It needs to have new content added to it. It needs to be evolving and improving, just as much as the way that you stock your shelves, or the way that you treat your patients, or the way that you have your processes work. Your website needs to have just as much of an intention, that you would give your customers or your patients, when they come to your practice or your business.
So how do you know how often you should be updating your website? I mean, there’s probably no one-size-fits-all solution, but just in a very general sense, how should people be managing that aspect of their site?
I think it depends on what you mean by update. Are we talking about upgrading the site, or just adding content to the site?
I would imagine both of those questions would need answers.
OK. So, as far as adding content to your website, I would say, make it as consistent as possible. And I know that’s a really vague answer, but if you can only commit to adding a new page or a blog post once a month, that’s better than nothing. At least you’re doing it once a month and anybody that’s affiliated or using your site, will expect those kind of updates on a regular basis. If you can get to two times a week, and add a new blog post, and maybe cycle through your employees and have them all post this content, that’s great.
And it also depends on what industry you’re in. Obviously e-commerce, you’re going to be shuffling through so many different types of products and goods that you’re going to be selling, that you’re going to be updating it daily, or regularly. You know, with most businesses, you can probably get by with doing it on a weekly basis, just adding some sort of new content to it.
And then as far as looking at updating the site, adding a new template, or having a web developer completely overhaul that for you, I think for the most time– Well, most of the time your website should be able to be built with the future enough in mind, that it can last for a couple years. Depending on what it’s built on, what platform it’s built on, that’s also gonna be a factor. But typically, with internet, it’s evolving.
I mean, you see the advent of the smartphones in the last 10 years, and just how that’s completely taken over. Your website needs to be responsive to that, or it need to adjust the website to whatever screen size you’re looking at. So if you have a website that predates that, then it’s outdated. So, I think it’s more important to watch for those big technological movements, and if you have a good web developer whom you can trust, they’ll definitely give you a red flag of, this is a good time to upgrade, this is the time that we need to update it.
And then I would say the other instance would be, a brand overhaul. If you decide to change the way that you want to present your brand, or you’re updating things, that’s also a good time to look at restructuring.
So are there some platforms that are better than others, to build a website on?
I mean, it depends on who you talk to, yeah. But, I would say for the most part, for most business owners, having a developer build something in WordPress for you, is a great way to go. WordPress is a content management system and so, it allows you to be able to have a website that can be managed from a platform that’s easy for just about anybody to use.
If I want to go and add a blog post, I don’t have to go in and code anything. The developer can set it up for me. So he gives me a user name and a password, and I go into it and I write it, pretty similarly into the same way I would write an email. It’s easy to format and change things up. And it gives me that kind of access.
It’s also really well built for search engines. WordPress just has a very great backbone in the way that it presents all that information. Now it also depends too, because if you’re looking for something much more custom, then having a developer code something for you, hard code something for you, that’s very specific and unique and kind of defies the typical web page that you’re going to see, WordPress is not going to fit within that. And that’s not going to be a good answer for you.
So, I’d say for most small businesses, and that’s who we’re talking to here for the most part, a WordPress site is a great way to go.
Garrett, we’re just about out of time. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Yeah, thank you.
Tell people your top three things that you want them to remember from this podcast, today. The top three things about the value of a website.
Target and Chinese food aside.
Yeah. Well, we’ll set those aside for a minute. So first and foremost, your website is the first impression that most people are going to have with your brand. I think that is the most important thing to take away from this.
Second, I would say that your website is there to be an extension of your experience that you would have. So that should answer questions, and it should help people find answers.
So then third, I would say that the most important things is to have your website built on a platform, or a system that allows for updating with changes that you see in the future, and that you’ve got something that’s flexible enough to be able to adapt over time. And like we talked about, a lot of that hinges on the developer that you work with, and a lot of the planning that you do up front.
Garrett, Nathan, thank you both for being here today.
It’s been a pleasure.
Yeah, thank you.