You’re reading this on the latest version of the Creagent Marketing website, which means we’ve gone through another internal update. Just like moving into a new home or apartment, designing a new website is an opportunity to de-clutter and focus on only the best stuff. As a website design agency, this is a secondary benefit to our services.
I focus on designing websites for other businesses all the time. So being my own client is an opportunity to assess the approach and process. And ideally make it even better for future clients.
Here are a few things I learned:
Identifying model websites is a MUST.
I always ask my clients to dig up a few designs they really love or specific elements that stand out. The process helps me understand their aesthetic, but it can also be a tool for becoming un-stuck. As I worked on the new Creagent Marketing site, there were times when I was at a loss for how to lay out certain sections. Reviewing other agency sites served as an inspiration. It also provided specific ideas that led me down the right creative path.
Photography is the number one asset.
There was a noticeable difference from the last time I re-designed our website because we had fewer photos to use back then. This time, it was luxurious to be able to dig through several years of pictures. For those businesses who don’t have an extensive library of photos, I suggest budgeting for a photographer as part of a website redesign moving forward. It’s not absolutely necessary, but it makes a huge difference.
One piece of “pillar content” is a great launchpad.
Search engine compatibility and optimization is one of the most important features of any website. An emerging trend is for businesses to generate “content clusters,” or a series of pages and posts around one primary topic. In 2018, I worked on an ebook about travel consumer segments, which became a central piece of content for our new website. In blog and social media posts moving forward, we’ll be able to reference this ebook to increase visitors and leads. This is something I will encourage businesses to attempt in the future. Having a central piece of content helps visitors find and navigate the site. It also establishes a strong, authoritative voice around a specific topic. The benefits are endless.
I enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about my work. This process revealed more tools that can be used for future projects and clients. As always, I look forward to implementing these – and many other – lessons into our upcoming website designs.
It’s often stated as a disadvantage that large businesses cannot turn on a dime. Change requires monumental efforts; new processes and employee buy-in, soft launches, layers of approval, and hundreds of power point presentations. This culture certainly deserves its share of criticism, but it’s not all bad.
Small businesses have the luxury of quick pivots. At various stages of growth and development, it’s easy to adopt new software and new ideas. An organization with 20 clients can communicate more effectively than an organization with 20,000 customers or more.
Combine those small business advantages with the ever-changing world of social media and suddenly the communication possibilities seem endless. “My last Facebook post didn’t do so well, I’m going to try something different.”
But perhaps this is the point where big corporations can teach us a thing or two about branding and patience. It’s not without much deliberation that a Fortune 500 company launches a Twitter account. Marketing managers work with social media agencies to research target demographics, understand the customers’ persona, and develop the right tone with which to Tweet. Full time employees are solely in charge of social media, not interns or “whoever’s young enough to understand this stuff.”
As a small business, it’s important to understand this distinction and see it for its advantages. You don’t need a 20-page manifesto to start posting to Facebook, but you should have a basic understanding of your clients and customers. You don’t have to be so rigid that the strategy doesn’t leave room for adjustment, but you should establish some consistency and let your audience grow organically over time.
It can be very frustrating to work hard trying to build that social media following and feel like you’re spinning your tires; still no major engagement after several weeks or even a couple months! But over the long run, consistency will build a foundation of trust and your customers will know what to expect from you.
Take a cue from big corporations on this one – draft a social media strategy and stick with it. Make small adjustments over time, but always communicate with one cohesive voice. You’ll never get out of the woods by walking in circles; it may take a while, but walk in a straight line and you’ll eventually find a road.
Today, we are announcing the launch of a new mobile-responsive website for The Cellar, a restaurant and wine bar in Corning, NY. This project was fun to sync up with recent renovations to the Market Street restaurant, and the new website provides a better all-around experience for visitors looking to peruse the menu, connect on social media, and make dinner reservations online.
Below is a screen shot of the old website:
Creagent Marketing designed the original website for The Cellar almost 5 years prior, and it was time to not only update the aesthetic, but also to make it more mobile friendly. The new website features much of the same content while highlighting some of the great photography by Lee Speary and making it easier to navigate and read on all devices.
Below is a screen shot of the new website with mobile optimization:
To view and navigate the full site, visit www.CorningWineBar.com.