3 Tips for Renovating your Web Presence for Less than $500
by Rob Parker
As the sun is finally starting to come out in Vancouver after many months of rain, it seems that many people’s minds are turning to the proverbial late Spring / early Summer activity: the home renovation. I admit that I too have been caught up in the frenzy, and have of late been covered in a great deal of paint, primer, dust, and blisters (and some new manly callouses to go with the pads of toughened finger flesh that serve me as a guitar picker).
But I’m looking forward to the completion of the job; a clean and happy home that incorporates the best of the old, with new innovations and inspirations. And that’s really why you renovate, isn’t it? Rather than just buying something new, you disrupt the comfy piles of detritus for a fresh start that doesn’t get rid of the old things that work. It’s a start that incorporates what is still useful and comfortable about the old, with the clean, fresh and exciting of the new.
Such as it is with our homes, sometimes our online presence can use a freshening up. You don’t necessarily have to get rid of the old things that work, but tighten the screws, slap on a fresh coat of CSS, and re-caulk the sidebar widgets … ok, I’m getting a bit carried away with the metaphor, but you get what I’m saying.
So, here are three ways to help you give your website a boost without busting your marketing budget:
- Counter the Design Drift
Remember how great your website looked when you launched it a couple of years back? All crispy and clean with clear blocks of information, yummy calls to action, and just enough imagery and negative space to keep the viewer engaged and interested? Then what happened? Where did all those off-kilter, fuzzy logos come from? Why is the homepage 26x longer than it was when you launched?The answer, my friends, is called Design Drift – the inevitable kludge that comes as more stakeholders (and new VPs) want to leave their mark on the website. Well, marketing and sales execs may come and go, but the brand is still the brand, buddy, so dust off those expensive website mockups that your agency or in-house team sold you on, and get that website back on track. You paid the big bucks for a reason, and unless your corporate strategy has changed a lot in the last 2-3 years since your website last got updated you probably don’t have to spring for a re-design.
- Freshen up your colors
Ever wonder what the hip colors are this season? Well, our friends at Pantone are in the business on keeping up on the latest trends and are always happy to share the results of their research (http://www.pantone.com/pages/pantone/Pantone.aspx?pg=20708&ca=4 ). And remember, fresh colors don’t have to take you off-brand. Use tools like Adobe’s Kuler site (http://kuler.adobe.com) to match the latest hues to make accents to your brand pallete, or use photography to bring in a fresh splash of color while still keeping the flavor and tone of your message on target. By the way, the big color themes for Fall 2011 will be “modern nostalgia” — coffee browns joined by yellow, and orchid with purplish blue and jade green accents (thanks Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute!).
- Speaking of photography…
There aren’t a lot of things that I truly hate in this world (except maybe PowerPoint), but one of them is stock photography. Is it easy? Yes. Is it cheap? It can be. Is it a good idea? No, not really. I mean seriously, how many people in business suits really group around a desk and point at a computer monitor? And how many times do we really need to see a bunch of out of focus, moving legs cropped at the knees? Custom photography may be a bit expensive, but how costly is it to your brand to have the same images on your website as on your competitor’s? And since we as marketers are supposed to be all “engaging” and “enchanting” and have “real conversations” with our customers now, why the heck would we be so disingenuous as to use stock photography anyway? So hire a decent photographer or give Steve in QA his big break as a shooter. (That’s what many amateur photographers call themselves. I know, right? Nerds.) You don’t have to invest thousands for decent images either. Plan your shoot and do it close to home. Show pictures of your staff at work (if they agree) or your fancy front foyer. Think about how real images of real people doing real things can help your online narrative, then book a couple of hours for the photographer to come in. And hey, having a photographer onsite always feels a bit like a movie shoot and can be pretty fun for the troops.
So, get your website back on track and enjoy kudos from your boss and co-workers. Your company will be glad not to invest the money and months associated with a website re-design, and you can be a brand hero and have more time to work on your tan.
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