<%@LANGUAGE="VBSCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Ignite Your Site: April 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

What's in an email address?

This may sound like an odd topic, but I think it's an important one to discuss. Email is one of the most common and most used forms of communication today. So the question that comes up is, why would you not want to show your brand through your email address? Some of you have just read that and probably don't understand what that means. That's what I hope to make clear in this post.

Your email address says a lot about you:
Most of us have seen an email address that really stands out, or one that just doesn't make any sense. We also tend to remember people's email addresses just as we used to remember people's phone numbers (you know before cell phones made that habit die off!!). So why would you not want to make sure your website address is part of your email address?

Here's an example, I can have any email address that I want for this new company that I'm going to work for. The choices I've narrowed down to are myname@aol.com or myname@acmecorp.com. A bit more info before you make your decision. The company name is Acme Corporation, and the website address is www.acmecorp.com. Have you figured out where I'm going with this now?

Why would you ever choose @aol, or @hotmail, or @gmail if you have the option of having something @yourcompanywebsite? Branding is more then just having a logo, a slogan and a website. Branding is carried through everything and although it may seem unimportant, your email address looks a lot more professional and legitimate if it matches the rest of your branding.

Should I never use those other email services?
Absolutely not. Those other services are great for personal use. I have a gmail account, and I love it, but I don't use it for my business email address (I may use it to collect my business email, but my email address for work is myname@ignite-media.com). Keeping your personal emails separate from your work emails is something I strongly believe in, and keeps clients/customers/vendors, etc from having your personal email address and your friends/family from having your work email address.

How do I get an email address that's the same as my website?
As long as you own the domain name (ie: acmecorp.com) you can have email at that domain. So you can create email addresses for anything@acmecorp.com. Your web hosting company should be able to set this up for you, and/or walk you through how you would go about setting it up yourself.

Remember: An email address is more then just an email address, it's another part of your branding strategy!

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Building Your Website - It's Like Building a House!

OK, so you are never going to go out and purchase a truck load of lumber for your website, but you'd be surprised how many similarities there really are. This post is a way of showing how involved, what seems like a simple website, can really be. Too often we hear "oh I could do that", and "if I had the time I'd just build it myself". Although we love to hear this (insert sarcasm here), we want to be sure you fully understand what is involved in building a good website.

The research and planning, that's right we call it that too!
Before you go to your architect to start your blueprints, you usually sit down and think about what you want to build, where and what your budget is. With a website, you also need to start with this stage. This includes, but is not limited to, market research, competitor research, keyword analysis and research, and budgeting.

The blueprint, or as we call it the site map:
That's right a good website has a plan, just like a house. You wouldn't build a house without a plan would you? So why would you consider building a website without a plan? The site map ensures that your website has all the pages, functions, and structure that it needs to be effective. It takes into account the keyword research and budgeting that you worked out in the first phase. There will be revisions, adjustments and compromises made and the final site map will be the guideline for the development of the website.

Building the foundation - setting up the template/CSS files:
To ensure your house is sound and stable you have to be sure to build a foundation that can support the current and possible expansion of your house. A website needs to be built on a foundation the same way. Ensuring that the template and/or CSS file is well structured and allows for easy expansion is important. Chances are your website will grow and you don't want to have to completely rebuild when that time comes.

The framework - the design and pages:
Now that a stable foundation is setup, the rest of the site can now be built. The design and the pages can be constructed atop that foundation. Just like with a house, you can take the cheap, fast and easy way and slap the walls and doors up quickly and without much thought. However, the better choice is to ensure the design and pages are constructed as effectively as possible. Ensuring each page is search engine friendly and user friendly from the beginning will save a lot of hassle down the road.

Finishing Touches:
Making sure you put all the finishing touches on your house will ensure it looks and feels like a complete product. A website may not have hardware to hang, or molding to finish, but reviewing the site to ensure calls to action are in the right place, the copy is optimized and everything works as designed is integral to having an effective website.

Ongoing Maintenance:
Just because you've built it doesn't mean it's done. That's right just like with your house, your website will require ongoing updates, maintenance and enhancements. Keeping your site fresh will ensure that the site is working as hard for you as you did in putting it together.

Remember: You probably can do it yourself, but would you trust the plumber to fix your car?

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