Brochures and Websites Don’t Mix

Pick up a magazine and try to notice what you look at. Where do your eyes go? Directly to the middle of the page? The big headline on the right-hand side? What do you do when you hold the publication: flip from the back to the front like I do?

Now go to a new website you’ve never seen before, and think about where your eyes go. If you’re paying attention, you’ll discover you do not look at the same places. You’re certainly not going to the back cover first and work your way forward.

This is because websites and print publications are designed completely differently. Occasionally a client will come to us with a design that’s been created by the company that made their brochure or put together a postcard for them. Invariably, these websites don’t work. Even when they’re beautiful, print publications are simply made for a different way of reading.

So next time you pick out a Web designer, it’s OK to suggest colors and ideas and even the look and feel of a print publication, but don’t try to reproduce it online.

Wedding a Blog and a Website

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[Photo credit: Vintage Wedding Postcard ~ Bride & Groom, on Flickr]

So you’ve decided to start a blog – good for you! Blogs are important ways for you to build a faithful following and enrich your site with valuable content.

But before you open up your first free Blogger or WordPress account, think about how that blog will integrate with your overall communications strategy and online presence. Websites and blogs should support each other, not compete. Too many efforts are siloed, the blog hanging off the side like an extra appendage, or vice versa.

A few ideas for integrating them more closely:

Publish blog entries directly into your website. If what you’re writing in the blog relates to your site, make it show up there. Vice versa, if you’re creating content within your main website that could be useful for your blog readers, republish.

Share tags.
Tags, or categories, can be shown on both website material and blog entries. Link them together.

Make the blog appear within the framework of your website. The Talance blog is actually on WordPress while our website is on Drupal. But we’ve made them look the same so you never really feel like you’re leaving our website.

Create a related links section
at the bottom of blog entries that refer back to related material on your main website.

Create a Feedback page
on your blog that links back to your website feedback page.

Four Useful Links

What we’re reading this week:

What Makes a Product Cool
People go nuts for the iPod. It’s useful to read about neuromarketing to understand better how people emotionally connect with products. How does this transfer to popular websites?

Twitalyzer – The Average Twitter User
This slideshow from the company that measures who uses your Twitter account. Good overview to the kinds of people who use Twitter.

Design Patterns
Ever wonder why things are designed the way they are? This library of conventions tells you the why behind where website widgets are placed.

Building a successful online community
One of our own mantras is to make the web a friendlier place. This article from the Creating Passionate Users blog shows you how you might build your own community through being friendly.

9 Website Upgrades That Visitors Love

If you’re trying to sell a house, update the kitchen and bathroom. If you’re trying to get people to use your website, do it with these easy upgrades.

1.Most recent blog entry.

Some organizations have a blog, but hide it. An easy way to bring your words closer to your visitors is not only to provide a prominent link to your blog, but to also let the first few entries display on your homepage.

2.Twitter feed.

If you have a Twitter account, you should provide access to it on your website. It’s surprising how many organizations have an account, but you’d never know it by visiting their site. Treat your Twitter updates just like your blog updates, and show the most recent ones on your website.

3.Big Share buttons.

Any time you publish something worth sharing, you should encourage people to do so through e-mail or a social network. Big buttons encouraging people to share do better than small ones.

4.One-click donation.

It’s a pity if you miss out on donations simply because no one can figure out how to donate on your site. Make sure it’s easy to donate by clicking just one link.

5.Search.

If you have more than five pages, include a way to search your website. And make search easy to find. No hiding it in the lower regions of your site.

6.CMS (Content Management System).

If you’re struggling with keeping a mass of single-file pages looking the same, give up and get a CMS. Your visitors will respond to the organization.

7.Call to action links.

Tell people what you want them to do whenever you provide a link on your site. If you want donations, name your donation button “Give.” If you want people to register for your newsletter, call your newsletter link, “Sign up for the newsletter.” People will respond if you make it clear.

8.Home link.

Always, always provide a clearly labeled link that says Home.

9.Feedback form.

If there’s no way for people to respond to you, they won’t. Make it easy with a feedback form.

The best thing you can do for your website is to keep thinking about it. Keep tabs on what people like and what they ask for. Make upgrades on a regular basis, and you’ll notice a difference.

January 2010 Newsletter: Birthday Issue

[This little gem is the e-mail newsletter our subscribers just received. Want a slice of this for yourself? Sign up now.]

Hi, Friends.

We’re all giddy at Talance because 2010 marks our 10th year. Ten is an important number. It’s the diamond anniversary. It’s the first double digit. It’s also a long time for an Internet development company to have been in business.

A decade ago, while the country was stockpiling soup cans in preparation for a Y2K catastrophe, we were busy launching something special. We wanted to use our skills building enterprise quality systems for organizations that rarely had access to those tools. We also knew that most developers spoke in cryptic, intimidating terms, and we wanted to make the Web a kinder, gentler place.

These past 10 years have been outstanding. We know, because you tell us so:

  • “The support from Talance has been incredible,” says Reuben Rotman from Jewish Family Services of MetroWest New Jersey.
  • Lauren Dean from Mass Mentoring Partnership says, “Talance was able to simplify our Web site in ways I never dreamed imaginable!”
  • “Anyone who wants advice from experts who are thorough, pay attention to details and deadlines, and provide support should engage Talance in their technical projects,” said Jill Friedman Fixler from JFFixler & Associates.

OK, we’re bragging. But it’s still nice to know that over the last decade we’ve reached our goals of helping people understand technology better and keep up with the wild tech landscape. We have more and bigger goals for the coming years and look forward to working with you during them.

Happy New Year, and happy new decade,

The birthday bunch at Talance

January Birthday Treat

We’d serve you a big piece of cake for our 10th anniversary, but since cake doesn’t do well in the mail, we’re going to celebrate by offering you something special each month of 2010.

Your January treat: a free copy of Ready, Set, Go! Social Media Plan Workbook. You need a plan to develop a meaningful social media program, and this workbook takes you through the basic steps to become organized.

>> Get your copy here.