Ante Meridiem Design: New York based website development company

3 Jun 2012

4 Steps from Idea to Web

Step 1: Enquiry

There are a few details you should know about your project before contacting a web designer.

  • Have a clear idea of how many pages and/or products your website will have, because those numbers affect how much the site will cost.
  • Estimate your budget for the project, and remember that pinching pennies often leads to a site that isn’t good enough to return any profit.
  • Review what the sites of your competitors look like, and take note of what you like and what your site could improve on.
  • Browse through galleries such as this one (http://www.designfridge.co.uk/) to see what the most well-designed sites look like at the moment. Notice the stylistic approaches you like and mention them to your designer, who will appreciate that you are aware of current trends.
  • Determine what your marketing plan will look like. Ask yourself if you have the time and resources to produce content and market your business on a regular basis. If not, consider adding content marketing and copywriting to the list of services you request.

Unsure of how to choose a web designer? Read more »

Step 2: Content

If you can deliver all content specifications to the designer, great. However, the vast majority of people think that content will take care of itself, or they get stuck when their designer asks them to articulate the text that will go on the site. Designers are responsible for the look of the site, not its content. Services like content strategy and copywriting will deliver the appropriate content when you can’t do it yourself.

Step 3: Design & Development

Once the designer has your content specifications, he or she will give you a mock-up, which is not a live site but an image of what it might look like. This is your opportunity to request any changes, because after the development process begins major changes will be costly. After a few rounds of feedback, the designer will ask for your final approval.

Step 4: Market

How you go from here will determine whether the site will continue to attract visitors and generate business for you. Many people make the mistake of sitting back and waiting for traffic to come, but sites that are static business cards will not attract much attention. Actively look for ways to promote your brand by updating your site with engaging, useful and shareable content.

28 May 2012

#1 thing new yorkers can teach you about your online business

In New York, no one is going to look at you with a wondering eye if you walk down the street dressed as a clown. No one will slow down and ask you how your day is going so far. No one will strike up a conversation with you unless they know you personally.

In other words, no one cares about you. The same idea applies to your online business.

Many people fail to grasp this idea. For example:

Companies that think their website is a place to brag about how they are this percent more efficient and that percent more reliable than their competitors.
Companies that talk about how they are enthusiastic, hardworking, committed to excellence, etc.
Designers who list hobbies in a prominent place on their professional website. There is usually a dog, typefaces and some kind of drink involved.

This approach isn’t new. It’s a watered-down, less aggressive version of old school advertising. Television and radio used to force flashy one-liners down people’s throats. Now, people don’t have to pay attention because they can search for their own sources of entertainment. Why do people get so angry at the ads that play before Youtube videos? Why will Facebook crumble if they don’t find another way to earn money from ads? Because this model of push marketing doesn’t work anymore. And if people don’t have to listen to how great you are, they won’t.

It’s easy to talk about how great your business is but difficult to prove it. Many online businesses expect their marketing efforts to yield immediate results. They start a blog and wait for traffic to come after three posts. They optimize content for search engines and wonder why their site isn’t on the first page of Google after six weeks.

The businesses that are thriving online understand that providing helpful information to people who are willing to listen is more rewarding than self-promotion. More importantly, these businesses understand that building an audience takes time and a commitment to providing fresh, relevant content.

24 May 2012

5 characteristics of quality content

Online content is a commodity. Marketers have emphasized this point for the past couple of years but not enough businesses are willing to embrace it. Ten, twenty years ago, newspapers, magazines and books were the commodities you purchased to get information. Now, that information is free and available immediately, so content itself is valuable.

Take the wildly popular tumblr that posts pictures of Ryan Gosling with the ‘Hey Girl’ meme. The blogger who started it for laughs landed a book deal less than a year later.

Notice that the type of content is more varied than ever before. Blog posts, videos, images, even pictures of Ryan Gosling captioned by feminist theory count as content.

More businesses need to think about the quality of their content just as much as they think about the quality of their other products. Shipping products that are poorly designed and low quality says something about your brand. Shipping low quality content reflects your brand in the same, negative way.

Here are some ideas of what might define quality for online content and why it matters.

Specificity. If you’re trying to impress everyone on the web, your content is probably too watered down to impress anyone.

Consistency. To capture and sustain people’s attention, and establish your voice as an authority, you need to produce content on a frequent basis.

Context. Why is Pinterest so popular? Because it allows people to create personal context for all of the content they choose to pin on their boards.

Uniqueness. No one has patience for jargon anymore, so talk like you would at a casual cocktail party.

Share-ability. For your ideas to spread, you need to create content that others want to tweet, link to and talk about.

20 May 2012

10 Benefits of having a content strategy for your website

Perhaps you have said or thought the following regarding web content:

The designer will help me figure out what content will be best for my site. I will come up with some text when I have a chance. Let’s make a blog, Facebook page and Twitter account, and post things related to the business. Is content strategy really necessary? My product and site design are compelling enough to speak for themselves.

Here’s what actually happens. Coming up with content without a plan is tedious, so you put it off. Because the designer is not responsible for the content on your site, the project stalls for a few weeks before you cough up an inadequate amount of it. In a burst of enthusiasm, you create a blog, Facebook page and Twitter account, only to realize that maintaining all of those takes too much time and effort. After a few weeks, you run out of enthusiasm and ideas, abandon your efforts to build a content empire, and return to running your business. The remnants appear half-hearted and unprofessional to your customers, and you fall behind businesses who use content strategy to their best advantage.

Developing a strategy for how to create and distribute content to market your business might sound too time consuming or expensive. To convince you that’s not the case, consider the following benefits of content strategy.

  • It gives content a specific set of purposes that are directly related to your business goals.
  • It saves time and energy spent developing content in ways that don’t work.
  • It aligns your content to the right platforms.
  • It helps you figure out how to use content you already have.
  • It asks you to think about what people want to hear rather than what you want to say.
  • It converts fragmented bits of text into one cohesive marketing package.
  • It assigns responsibility for creating content on a regular basis.
  • It gives you a way to evaluate the success of your content in terms of number of visits to your site, products sold, etc.
  • It makes SEO a lot more meaningful.
  • It allows web designers to focus on the job they’re happy to do.

Read a related post on content strategy for small businesses:
3 content strategy basics for small businesses

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