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Say it in a heartbeat

One of the most evasive things to understand is what makes a good web design. If you have not created a website before, it seems easy. After all, you know what you like and you know all the details of your business.

A website begins with the homepage and the home page needs to bring a compelling marketing message in most cases. It should answer why should someone do business with you now or in the future? If a visitor can’t find this reason in the first 15 seconds, they are gone. So an effective home page should “say it in a heartbeat.”

To do this, a home page needs to have the right mix of images, white space and a few key words or ideas. Images that capture your competitive benefit remind your existing customers why they continue to use your company. They also immediately communicate what your potential customers will get…”a picture is worth a thousand words.”

If visitors are interested, they will look further. A good site will be organized according to how your customers think i.e. by the problems you solve for them. To a customer, it is not really about what you do but about what they get. The ability to organize content or information architecture is not a skill that every web developer has. As you look for a developer, find one that has this skill and you will be miles ahead when your website is completed.

There are an infinite amount of style considerations that help you communicate your marketing message. Many of these will be discussed in our upcoming e-book about building sites Joomla. Stay tuned for updates.

How Many People are Really Using Social Networking?

For those who have not yet taken the plunge into the social networking domain, it may seem unreal how many people are actually interacting in the multitude of virtual networks. In the past few months several articles have been released that state specific statistics as to just how large the social media domain has grow:

If you have a business that relies on word-of-mouth networking, social media is a something you should consider. If you're unsure of how to get started, there are many blogs to provide information. Just search for "getting started with social media" in Google.

Landau Design also offers introduction to social media online classes where we take you through each of the most popular networks so you can decide what will be most effective for your business.

You might also want to check out The Social Media Diet, which gives an effective approach with limited time investment.

How Do I Create My First Website?

A Web site has become an integral part of doing business. If you do not have one, you should. If yours is not effective, you need to change it. Here is a basic decision making process we suggest to assist you in planning a Web project.

1. Identify your customer profile(s).

  • Who will be using your site?
  • How often would they look online for new information related to your product or service?
  • Does they rely on the web, print or both for information?
  • If you have more than one customer profile or segment, do they differ in web usage?

2. Define how a Web site will effect your business.
  • What is the multiplier effect of the web for your business?
  • Is it a long term strategy or does it have immediate implications?
  • Will it save time and resources within the company?

3. Research other Web sites for companies similar to your own.
Also research latest trends in new Web sites. Determine what options might be a good fit for your company.

4. Create an online Web strategy.
Your strategy will look different for each objective, for example:
  • Become a destination online merchant.
  • Create a virtual community to encourage collaboration and repeat sales.
  • Providing a portal for information to support your customer base.
  • Enhance references to your site to boost search engine performance.
  • Become an online expert and enhance professional standing.

5. Decide how your web presence relates to the rest of your marketing materials.

  • How do you create a cohesive, branded image?
  • Are the same terms, sales concepts and customer service applied all around?
  • How could you re-use your print copy for the Web?

6. What content should you have?

Determine what type of new content you need to implement your web strategy. Include in this assessment information from the stakeholders, subject matter experts and others that will affect the project timeline. Look at competitor sites and even ask your customers what they would like to see.

7. Create a budget that reflects what you can do now.
Be realistic in what you can afford, and then figure out what is most important to build. A budget is an integral part of web development. Without it you may build more than you can handle, and you may find you build more than you need.

8. Create your website team
Determine who in the company fulfills the roles to manage and update your site. Assign resources if your strategy involves activities that will need updating e.g. blogs, calendars, newsletter.

9. Write an RFP and Get Bids
Plan your implementation by evaluating which vendors and partners will meet your strategic and financial needs. Writing an RFP equals the bidding field so you know how each vendor would approach the same project. Review the resumes and portfolios of the web development company and ask pointed questions to determine if you want to hire them to build your site. Knowledge is power even more so in the Internet world. Put your business assumptions in your agreements so you have leverage if needed.

If you initially thought that you could never relate to the Internet, it should be reassuring that the steps above could be used in planning any marketing activity. For more ideas about how to manage your project, contact us at Landau Design.

10 LinkedIn Tips to Grow Your Business

1. List every important detail
Include your complete work history. You will likely remember colleagues and classmates you may have forgotten. Those contacts will be able to search for you based on what is in your profile and most social networking sites will suggest people that share these groups or interests.

2. Add updates regularly
By adding connections and editing your profile, you are more likely to be at the top of the list when somebody searches for a company like yours. Each time you edit your profile, the information will be circulated to your network, which regularly puts your name in front of your contacts.

3. Let people know what you’re doing
Use the status field to put in updates. This information is usually sent in emails to others that are connected, share an affinity group or are following specific people.

4. Join Groups
Joining professional groups within LinkedIn gives you opportunities to provide input and gain exposure. Whether it’s your own industry, or one your business serves, professional groups are an excellent way to generate new contacts through the online Q&A section.
5. Become known as an expert
By posting answers in the questions online, you can share with others what you know. If you have good answers, it will create an interest in knowing more about your services.

6. Get recommended by peers and clients
Recommendations are always an excellent source of credibility and your recommendations are always there for anyone to see.

7. Research new opportunities
If you keep abreast of your affinity groups or browse the profiles of competitors, you will likely find new ideas. This can be done by searches online, but the content is distilled better in social networks.

8. Find the leads you seek
If you know of specific business that fits your target market, you can learn a great deal about them in social networks. In addition to knowing the background of the key people, you might be able to find shared connections or shared affinity groups e.g. alma maters. This can make your first contact much smoother.

9. Improve your search engine rankings
If your public profile is set to “full view,” Google will index your profile and your Linked In page will draw more traffic. If you use Linked In to showcase your talents well, your website will gain traffic. You can increase traffic to all sites by cross-linking from social network sites, your own blog and posts you make to other blogs.

10. See what others see
Google yourself and see what shows up. If your online strategy is working, you should see more links and more relevant information show up first. If your own website is not at the top of the list, consider some new strategies for enhancing the virtual you.

Joomla Branded the Most Popular CMS

At Landau Design we find Joomla to be an easy and effective tool for creating and maintaining websites. We've been using it for years, but recent surveys have shown that its popularity has gained increasing market share. Joomla, Wordpress and Drupal are considered the "big 3" applications used to build websites. While Joomla and Drupal are true CMS (content management system) platforms, Wordpress is actually a blogging platform that is evolving to something like a CMS.

Don't take our word for it...
Recently many CMS-watch entities have been releasing reports and surveys on the platforms used for creation of CMS-managed websites. CMS Wire put out a 20-page report that shows Joomla is the most popular CMS on the market.

In June 2009 saw the 10 millionth download of Joomla from, and it is estimated over 50 million sites worldwide are built using the platform.

And in 2007, 2008 and 2009 Joomla won awards from Packt Publishing's CMS Awards. The 2009 CMS Awards is in progress, and Joomla is once again in the running for another trophy.

The great news about being popular
With all the hype about Joomla's popularity, it bolsters the community and brings in new users. That means that Joomla isn't going away, and with a thriving development community, it's only going to get better. Joomla 1.6 beta has been released, so in 2010 we can look forward to an even easier and more effective Joomla platform.