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Dana on Marketing Messages: 7 Guidelines for Better Websites

May 2013 By Margie Dana

As promised in my last column, this one focuses on your Website. Printers need to accept that your Website is the first place an interested person will visit when hearing or seeing your company's name. When I get to your URL, I expect to find out exactly what you do, what products and services you can offer me, and why I should consider you and not your competitors. All in under 90 seconds.

Although I am starting to see some great printers' sites out there, too many are still dated. They feature pictures of equipment and pressrooms. They lack strong content. They're full of trite promises ("We bend over backwards to deliver!" "We make your print sing!"). They haven't been touched for months, even years. Everything seems dusty. Frankly, they look sad.

So, I'd like to share with you my list of seven significant improvements for a printer's Website. These suggestions will impress your prospects, who have more to gain from your site than existing customers do.

Originally I planned to share a list of do's and don'ts, but why focus on the negatives? Instead, here are my ideas for making your site positively better.

1| Your Website should be organic. At the rate at which information is changing today (by the second), your site must be fluid and constantly updated. Sections of the site might never change—like the page describing the history of your firm. Other than that, the content needs tending like a garden. One easy solution is to incorporate plug-ins that integrate your social media activity with your Website. So, even if you don't touch a single word or image on your Website, your posts on Twitter, for example, can appear on your home page. If you have a blog hosted elsewhere, you can also add a plug-in for that.

2| Your Website should be built with a content management system (CMS). Years ago I gave up having a strictly HTML Website. Why? Simple: I don't know HTML coding. As the site's owner, I want control over content changes, and I need to make changes frequently—sometimes in the evenings. My former site designer used HTML. Every change I wanted had to be sent to him in an e-mail. He'd make the change and send an e-mail for my review. I'd call or e-mail him with corrections. On and on it went. It was frustrating and took forever. Now, my site's built on a Wordpress template. This means that I can make 90 percent of my own site edits. Yes, it took some training, but once I got the hang of it, I loved it. If you're committed to having an organic site, ditch the HTML and find a good CMS.



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