Social Media, “you ain’t all that”…and websites your not “and a bag of potato chips”.

The title is a stretch; I think I was looking for anyway to quote Dr. Evil. You are probably thinking, “what the heck is this idiot rambling about this time.” Put simply, social media and a great website are nothing without a great product and great customer service.

To start, I am a web designer and I use social media a lot for learning, networking and connecting with communities, friends and colleagues. I also understand people who don’t like social media or don’t understand it. I am not going to debate that here, I am just saying…so with that said on to Social Media and websites.

Many social media “gurus” and “experts” will tell you that if you don’t have a social media strategy, if you’re not on Twitter and Facebook, you’re missing out. Most web strategists and designers (like me;-) will tell you that if you don’t have a great website, if you’re not selling your product on the web you are missing out. For the most part I would tend to agree with both of these opinions. Most companies could benefit from a well thought out social media strategy. Yes, most companies should have a well put together site and if possible your products should be available for search and or purchase. I could take this tangent and talk about all the reason why, but instead I wanted to point out a company that doesn’t really do either, but that I LOVE!

Total Wines. If you are not fortunate enough to live near one then I am truly sorry for you. For you all, Total Wines is the Costco of wine shops. They literally have every bottle of wine ever made (okay may be I’m exaggerating a bit). The stores have a HUGE selection of wines, beers and most have liquors as well. Not only is the selection awesome, the prices are cheaper then Costco. Needless to say I think they have a great product.

Other then prices and selection, when you go into a Total Wines (or at least the ones I have been in) the staff are amazing. You never have a staff member walk away after eye contact like many other warehouse stores. When they engage they make sure that you find what you are looking for. Their customer service goes beyond the normal since all of their floor staff have intimate knowledge of the wines and can recommend based on your tastes and price range. Great customer services.

As far as I can tell Total Wines has no presence on social media. No Twitter followers, no Facebook friends or fans, no LinkedIn connections and no MySpace what ever they have. If you visit their website, uh..well…umm, well (sorry guys) it SUCKS. Put in a nicer way, it leaves me wanting more. No product search, no ecommerce, and heck the navigation doesn’t even work in all browsers. Guess what? I DON’T CARE. I still LOVE them.

I hope by now you see where I am going with this rant. I know what some of you are thinking (besides you just wasted 5 minute of your life you will never get back). Total Wines could improve their customer interaction by initiating a social media plan. They could increase sales by improve their web presence, for sure. My point is they don’t HAVE to.

So at least one company tells social media and websites to “talk to the hand because the face don’t want to hear it anymore”.

The first question every web site designer must ask. by Seth Godin

OK, Seth Godin is brilliant I think most of us agree on that. This post is one I read over and over and over.

If a client comes to you for a web site, the first thing you need to know is:

“Do you want the people visiting this site to notice it?”

It’s a subtle but essential question.

For artists, musicians and web 2.0 companies, the answer is probably yes. Yes we want people to see the interface or remark on our skills or cleverness.

For everyone else, it’s no. The purpose of the site is to tell a story or to generate some sort of action. And if the user notices the site, not the story, you’ve lost.

Amazingly, this means that not only can’t the site be too cutting edge, clever or slick, it also can’t be too horrible, garish or amateurish. It’s sort of like the clothes you want the person giving a eulogy to wear. No Armani, no cutoff jeans.

View the original post here: The first question every web site designer must ask

SEO – Do you know what a NOFOLLOW tag is?

The NOFOLLOW tag essentially tells the search engine to not follow this link. The actual html looks like this embedded into a href link tag:

So, why would you want to NOFOLLOW something. The quick answer is, the pages that you don’t really care about (copyright, terms of service, privacy policy, etc) “steal” valuable “link juice” on a page. You would rather have more relavant pages get indexed. So many SEO and link development specialists recommend the NOFOLLOW tag be inserted in links that you feel are not as relavent. The following video warns of the dangers of the NOFOLLOW.

Dangers of Nofollow.

SEOmoz Whiteboard Friday – Dangers of Nofollow from Scott Willoughby on Vimeo.

Does your website take forever to load?

website design, load time
Well say good bye then…to your costumers.

Let’s start by doing a search for your product or service on the search engine of your choice. How many results show? Probably hundreds of thousands of pages listed. That’s how many pages are competing for your customers visit.

It is hard enough to get a customer to visit your site, but what happens when they get there. Does there browser sit and spin? Chances are that customer is GONE. Hitting the back button and heading to the next website in the search results (your competition).

This tragedy can be avoided by following some best practices.

Page Size
As a general rule your default page (the first page a visitor sees) should be no more the 50-60k. That means the physical size of the html (ASP, PHP) should be rather small. The smaller the page, the faster it loads.

Image Size
All websites need images to enhance the aesthetics, but don’t over do it. If you site is all images it will significantly increase your load time, not to mention the SEO (search engine optimization) issues that presents. All images on a website should be optimized for the web, compressed as much as possible without losing resolution or pixilation.

Flash and Animation
OK, everyone loves web animation and it has grown leaps and bounds over the last years, but don’t over do it. That fact is not everyone has the latest version of Flash. Believe it or not, not very one want to see how clever you animation is. Most people want to find what they are looking for as fast as possible and most animation gets in the way of that.

I know that more and more people have faster broadband connections. I know that the browsers are getting better about “forcing” users to upgrading and therefore stay compatible. Even with all that, in my opinion, you should target the development of your website for the “lowest level” of compatibility. Concern yourself with the users that don’t have a 10MB pipe and the latest version of Firefox and you’ll make more of your customer base happy.

Let me know what you think.