Monday, May 12, 2008

Our Site Sucks (But There's Nothing I Can Do About It!)

A friend recently shared this criticism of her company's web site with me and I felt her pain, we've all been there. We've worked for companies that operate their Web sites like a black one knows what goes in, goes on, or what the secret code is to unlock it.

I spent years on the 'dark side' managing a web site (that's what I learned the marketing folks called us) and did my best to make the process as transparent as possible to all internal stakeholders, having worked in marketing in my previous life. If you need to influence your company's web strategy and roadmap, take note, there are a few things you can do:

1) Offer Your Ear: This team is typically one of the most overworked and under appreciated groups in the company. (There's a reason for those long faces!) Start with taking the person responsible for the site experience out to lunch - these people desperately needs breaks - and prepare to listen. Let them vent for a while and then find out what their process is for updating the site, planning new releases, and who's on the team to determine future site features and functionality.

2) Snag a Seat: Get a seat at the table with the team that drives the site roadmap (if there's no team, offer to build one but give the site manager a seat at the head of the table so he/she still feels like they're in charge). These teams should meet on a regular basis (pending frequency of site releases) to review and prioritize the project list and tee up new additions to the list.

3) Come Prepared: After running and/or attending these site roadmap meetings at several companies, I can guarantee that only a few people will come armed WITH DATA. So if you're prepared and have data to back up your claims for revamping your site's metadata for SEO purposes, then you stand a good chance for securing a slot on the release schedule.

4) Stay Involved: Don't drop off the face of the earth as soon as your project gets approved. Stay committed to seeing this through to completion and working with the web team to get it done. They'll need your input throughout the project and will want to support your projects in the future if you're seen as a team player.

5) Spread the Word: Once the project is launched, let the company know about the web team's hard work and commitment in completing this assignment. Plus, keep everyone abreast of success metrics: share the news if you've seen improvements in site traffic, conversion rates, or user engagement.

I Know The Answer!

Remember the kid in class who would desperately wave her hand in an attempt to answer every question? Don't hate me....I was sometimes that kid! I still love an audience, and after years of helping friends and colleagues make sense of online marketing and Web best practices, figured it was time to raise my hand.

I've launched my new company,
Red Valise, and this blog in the spirit of helping business owners and managers make sense of the Web and the impact is has on their business. I'll be focusing on helping companies improve their Web experiences so they can do important stuff like generate more revenue (or leads), enhance their brand presence, and improve their ROI on their online marketing efforts.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog. I'll be updating it fairly frequently (aiming for at least once a week) with best practices and ideas I'm noodling on as I develop topics for my newsletter, DIY Site Renovations.

Let me know what topics you'd like to hear about. Some I'm currently exploring are:
- How to ease into Web 2.0
- Rewarding good behavior: How to reward customers for finding your site
- Are site renovations the antidote to a full-scale overhaul in a recession economy?