Questions to ask BEFORE you hire a web partner

June 5, 2007

Web So you need to update your website.  Or, build one for the first time.  It’s easy to get blinded by some of the cool, visually spectacular things that can be done on the web.  But let’s remember that first and foremost — your website is a marketing tool. 

Before you hire a web partner, make sure you ask some smart questions and do your homework.  This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a good start.

Seeing is believing:

  • Ask to see samples of their work within the last 6 months.  Get references.
  • Ask to see the user interface so you understand what is required to make changes.

There are many ways to view a website:

  • Ask which browsers (and versions) they test for compatibility
  • Ask how your site will appear on hand-held devices like Blackberries and Palm Pilots.

You will keep your content fresh if it’s easy to do:

  • Do they use a WYSIWYG software to build sites?
  • If you want to update text, photos, add pages etc. – can you do that yourself without knowing any code?
  • If the web firm has to make the changes, how much do you charge and what is the turnaround time?

Will you be easy to find?

  • How does their construction natively help your site’s search engine rankings?

Your audiences:

  • Will the site be handicap accessible?  (If you receive federal funding, you should find out about Section 508 requirements.)
  • What help, if any, do you give you to attract an audience?

Nuts and bolts:

  • Who owns the site?  Can you move it to a different server if you want?
  • What kind of support are you given after the site goes live?  Is there an additional cost for this?

Keep in mind that you need three different kinds of thinkers to help you design a site:

  • A strategic thinker who helps create the user experience
  • A smart designer who understands graphic design, your brand and how to design specifically for the web
  • A savvy, up-to-speed web developer who can actually construct the site

Don’t get boxed in to thinking that you have to buy all of those services from one firm.  For almost 15 years, we’ve fulfilled the first two roles for our clients — but always hire out the final component. 

Come on marketing pros — what questions did I miss that you know should be added to the list?

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You want my name and e-mail address? What’s it going to take?

May 14, 2007

So, part of your marketing strategy is to capture contact information off your website.   You might offer a free webinar or white paper.  But what will be enticing enough for your visitors to cough up their info?  And actually give you real data?

and KnowledgeStorm did a survey to ask just those sorts of questions.  Here are some interesting stats from their research summary. You’ll be able to view all the results on KnowledgeStorm’s website in a few weeks.

What will prompt someone to register?


The golden oldie — the white paper still reigns supreme.  But case studies are close behind. Vendors are clearly more tolerant (which makes sense) than users.  But even product literature is at a respectable 45%.

Will I go by Drew McLellan or Derek Monohan?


This is the chart that fascinated me.  I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but it has never even occurred to me to put false information into the form.  I am sure it speaks to my own  foolishness or something.  Makes you want to come try to sell me something doesn’t it?  But, it’s fascinating to study what people guard and what they’re pretty free with.  Why would someone lie more often about their title than their name?  And who cares what industry you’re in?

This chart reminded me of a very insightful post that Matt Dickman wrote in March about the impact of trying to collect too much data too fast

What do you think?  If you had to give your website a letter grade today — how are you doing on this stuff?  Are you offering the right mix of enticements?  Are you asking for too much or too  little information?

What could you do differently that would improve your results?

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I need your opinion, please

May 14, 2007

Grad If you remember, many people jumped on board when I asked for feedback on advice to college grads on how to get their first job.  I promised to make an e-book.  Which is now complete.  50 pages –lots of great advice.

But here’s my question.  When I originally created it, I wanted it to be visually appealing so I added photos to many of the pieces.  Which grew to be a very large file.  So now I am what people’s tolerance for download size is.

Which e-book would you download?

High quality photos with the content — 3 mg

So-so quality photos with the content — 1.5 mg

No photos with the content — far less than 1 mg.

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Meet the Age of Conversation Authors

April 19, 2007

Picture_5 About two weeks ago, Gavin Heaton and I announced that we were going to publish an e-book called The Age of Conversation.

We’re going to donate all proceeds to Variety, the Children’s Charity.  We’ve been spotlighting different chapters across the globe throughout our posts.

Then we shared that the book will be dedicated to CK and her mom, Sandra Kerley.

Of course, it was going to be an incredibly short book if only Gavin and I wrote it. So we invited all of you to join us.  To kick it off with some fire power, we started with an impressive list of confirmed authors to be sure:

Gavin Heaton
Drew McLellan
Valeria Maltoni
Emily Reed
Katie Chatfield
Greg Verdino
Mack Collier
Lewis Green
Ann Handley
Paul McEnany
Roger von Oech
Anna Farmery
David Armano
Bob Glaza
Mark Goren
Matt Dickman
Scott Monty
Richard Huntington
Cam Beck
David Reich
Luc Debaisieux
Sean Howard
Tim Jackson
Patrick Schaber
Roberta Rosenberg
Uwe Hook
Tony D. Clark
Todd Andrlik
Toby Bloomberg
Steve Woodruff
Steve Bannister
Steve Roesler
Stanley Johnson
Spike Jones
Nathan Snell
Simon Payn
Ryan Rasmussen
Ron Shevlin
Roger Anderson
Robert Hruzek
Rishi Desai
Phil Gerbyshak
Peter Corbett
Pete Deutschman
Nick Rice
Nick Wright
Michael Morton
Mark Earls
Mark Blair
Mario Vellandi
Lori Magno
Kristin Gorski
Kris Hoet
G.Kofi Annan
Kimberly Dawn Wells
Karl Long
Julie Fleischer
Jordan Behan
John La Grou
Joe Raasch
Jim Kukral
Jessica Hagy
Janet Green
Jamey Shiels
Dr. Graham Hill
Gia Facchini
Geert Desager
Gaurav Mishra
Gary Schoeniger
Gareth Kay
Faris Yakob
Emily Clasper
Ed Cotton
Dustin Jacobsen
Tom Clifford
David Polinchock
David Koopmans
David Brazeal
David Berkowitz
Carolyn Manning
Craig Wilson
Cord Silverstein
Connie Reece
Colin McKay
Chris Newlan
Chris Corrigan
Cedric Giorgi
Brian Reich
Becky Carroll
Arun Rajagopal
Andy Nulman
Amy Jussel
AJ James
Kim Klaver
Sandy Renshaw
Susan Bird
Ryan Barrett
Troy Worman
CB Whittemore
S. Neil Vineberg

The topics are as remarkable as the authors.  These authors are going to tackle everything from community to religion, job seeking to design, sharing to television.  And just about everything in between.

In less than 1 week, we exceeded our 100 author goal and we’re off to an incredible book.&nbs p; Thanks to all of you who have decided to write a chapter, to all of you who promoted the author request and to all of you who I know will continue to help us spread the word.

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I dare you not to love this

April 19, 2007

Picture_4 Picture this.  You dial your mobile phone.  You speak for half a minute.  Those sentences get e-mailed to your e-mail address. 

Or your client. Or your employee.   Or an intact team.  Or your spouse. 

It’s like instant dictation.  But not only does it get typed, it gets delivered. 

Brilliant.  I predict is going to be the breakout of 2007.  Here’s how I’m going to use it:

  • Dictate notes from meetings and send them to myself for a record.  Jott it.
  • I’m pulling out of a client’s parking lot and send a note to our Project Manager about opening a new job.  Jott him.
  • Forget milk?  Never again.  Jott me.
  • Have a breakthrough idea while waiting to board a plane — jott my entire staff before I forget said idea.  Jott the team.
  • Want to remind my daughter to do XYZ but she’s  going to get home before I do. Jott her.
  • See someone across the way at Panera and want to remember to call them in a week or so. Jott me.
  • Have forgotten to grab a book from the office 3 times. Jott me.
  • All the stuff that I try to write down before I forget it. Jott me.  Jott me. Jott me.

Ah yes…and on every e-mail there’s a link so I (or whoever gets jotted) can listen to the audio file.

You can’t tell me this wouldn’t be helpful to you too. Come on, admit it. You’re going to Jott.

I will give the geniuses at Jott the last word.


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What’s next? Pink planes?

April 17, 2007


As you  may have read in this weekend’s US Today, American Airlines has launched a gender-specific are of its website, aimed at women.

Here’s what they say on the home page of this female-focused site.  " Welcome to American Airlines – the airline industry’s first web page dedicated to women who travel. This web page is about you – our valued customer. We’ve listened to women and recognized the need to provide additional information tailored to your business and pleasure travel needs and lifestyle. We also invite you to share insights, travel tips and stories by submitting them to"

I don’t get it.  Of the 18 hot links on the home page, only 2 of them seem women-specific.  One is girlfriend getaways and the other is the safety tab.  Couldn’t both of those have existed on the core page?

I guess this remind me of my pink tools post.  I am let wondering why and as a man, wondering if women aren’t insulted by being segregated out when really travel is a humbling equalizer for all of us.

What do you think?  Good idea or bad?  If you were in charge of this web presence — how would you actually make it valuable to women?

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MySpace becomes first primary of the presidental election

April 4, 2007

Election MySpace announced that it will hold a "presidential primary" on Jan. 1-2 next year, before the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary.

The virtual election will be open to all members of MySpace in the United States.

In March, MySpace launched the Impact Channel, a site designed to connect politicians, non profits and civic organizations with users worldwide.

The channel currently houses pages for 12 major-party presidential candidates. In May, My Space will launch a series of monthly straw polls to gauge where candidates stand.

What do you think?  Will this get teenagers and twenty-somethings interested in the election?  Will their primary results impact the election?

How do you envision candidates reacting to this news?

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Microsoft takes on Apple’s iPhone with ZenZui

March 27, 2007

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

Image by  via CrunchBase

 Maybe this is why Apple and Steve Jobs announced the iPhone when they did….

Yesterday, Microsoft Corp. announced the launch of ZenZui, an independent company with the mission of transforming the way people engage, consume and interact with Web content through a revolutionary mobile user experience and information ecosystem. 

With ZenZui, your phone screen is a portal into your own customized Zoomspace, an information landscape of personalized, cached content that we call Tiles because they reflect your lifestyle. Using a single thumb, you fly in and out of your Zoomspace — two simple taps gets you directly to any Tile.

Read the official press release over at Virtual Generations.

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Want to author a business book?

March 22, 2007

Knowledge@Wharton  is announcing a novel initiative in book publishing.

The project, tentatively called We Are Smarter Than Me is an experiment to see whether a large community of business people can jointly author a book of the same name. Pearson will publish the book later this year.

The book focuses on ways in which companies are learning to leverage social networks and the power of communities to improve their performance by allowing customers or others to take over functions typically performed by experts.

Every contributor will be credited as an author, and will help direct royalties to charity. While several readers have already signed on, they’re  looking for more participants.

I’m going to jump on board — how about you?

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