Filter The NoiseBlog

We blog about design, technology, internet marketing and business on the web. As the name implies, we aim to "filter the noise" and share only the most relevant information. Feel free to chime in anytime with your thoughts and comments. Established 2004 in Colorado Springs, Colorado by HighTouch Web Design and Internet Marketing.

Website Re-Design: Make sure your Web Designer Sweats the Details

Dave Kolb - Monday, November 08, 2010

Most of our business comes from clients who already have websites and are looking for an upgrade to a modern content management system like Adobe Business Catalyst. That said, I find myself looking at a lot of other web designer's work. What amazes me is the lack of attention to detail in the work.

First, this is not intended to bash other designers and developers. For the most part (and there are definitely exceptions), the code I see is good and the layouts are fine. What's missing is the attention to detail, specifically, the boring stuff!

Details, details, details

Here are some examples of details so-called professional web designers often overlook:

  • Optimizing browser page titles
  • Optimizing page URLs
  • Optimizing H1 tags
  • Using ALT tags for all images
  • Spelling errors (ok, I admit...I'm bad at this one, but I try)
  • Clearly defining "who you are and what you do" IMMEDIATELY on the homepage
  • Linking the logo "back home" (not necessarily a rule, but it's expected by most users)
  • Including COMPLETE contact information (personally, I like to have at least a contact link and phone number on each and every page.
  • Including a tag line near the logo (not required, but helps define "who you are and what you do"
  • Not customizing error pages and messages for when things go wrong. Nothing is more annoying than seeing the "stock" error message.
  • Not having a CLEAR call to action and more importantly, not finishing the job by including a well-written auto-responder (with contact information) and friendly landing page (with possibly some up-sell information). 

I'm sure there are other details I'm forgetting, but these are the obvious ones that should be included in the design and development cycle. I know many designers consider "optimization" as part of SEO, and "usability" as part of strategy...which is just code for additional billable hours down the road.

These details, if addressed during the design and development cycle are much easier to do and should be built into the initial estimate. Cutting corners to force-fit a budget is not worth it in the long run.

Please feel free comment on this, or contact me with questions.

At HighTouch, we sweat the details.

Customer service: the key to your design business success

Kim Kolb - Wednesday, July 14, 2010

This post is by Adam Broadway of Adobe Business Catalyst.  We were asked to be interviewed to give our story on why we use Business Catalyst and what we could offer other Designers in their success. We loved sharing our story.. I hope you like it as well.

Dave and Kim Kolb share experiences in growing their business, Hightouchweb.com – ideas that could help grow your design business.

After meeting at a resort, falling in love and being laid off at the 2000 tech bubble burst, Dave and Kim decided it was time to build their own Web company.

By combining and complementing their strengths in strategy, design and marketing, HighTouchweb.com was born.

MP3 audio interview of Dave and Kim Kolb, has them candidly sharing:

  1. Finding motivation in each other and maintaining a "CAN DO" attitude, to get through the tough times.
  2. Have fun doing it - Love what you do and "whatever you do", do it well.
  3. Taking time to follow up with every client (Kim sends personal welcome cards to every one of their customers).
  4. Dave shares his feelings on building their own CMS and the pain of using lots of 3rd party open source plug-ins, that didn't always work.

In their words:

  • Keep it simple and excel at the basics.
  • Don't be all things to all people, you'll drive yourself crazy.
  • Know who you are and what you do.

A Business Catalyst feature that benefits their clients:

"We view InContextEditing as the strongest sales tool within the tool set that BC offers. You can take a mere mortal and have them updating their website in no time with little or no training. The power this gives the client is priceless. They feel like they are actually participating."

I hope you enjoy hearing some of their story as much as I did.

Adam :)

Click here for the mp3 interview of Dave and Kim Kolb.

Text Message Marketing: A Perfect Storm

Dave Kolb - Friday, August 28, 2009
Given current economic conditions, consumers are looking for some type of discount and businesses are looking for new ways to reach customers. Being able to deliver offers and discounts directly to phones is huge. Especially in a recession, where this market seemed to mature overnight. Granted, we all saw mobile marketing coming, but it has formally arrived now and is stirring up a storm...a perfect storm. With conversion rates as high as 30% in some cases, small business owners are reaping the benefits of this by reaching out to their customers in ways that corporate giants can't.

For example, say you own a small local coffee shop in downtown Denver. It's Saturday afternoon and one of Colorado's infamous thunderstorms is about to roll in. The streets are packed and you know when the rain comes folks will scatter into the restaurants, bars and shops nearby...

You know it's coming. You also know you're going to have to settle for less than your share of foot traffic because Starbucks (a better known national brand) with huge marketing dollars and a better location will get more traffic. Why? Because they have more money, a hip image, great PR, etc, etc, etc.

Time to Turn the Tables

Ten minutes before the storm, you shoot out a text message to your customers and make them an offer they can't refuse: "Get out of the rain and enjoy a $1 cup of fresh-brewed coffee at Great Local Coffee" (be sure to include a link to a map for all of us Smartphone users). Now we all know nobody drinks coffee anymore. They still drink lattes, fancy teas and cappuccinos that you sell at full price...he he, you just had a record day and your competition is still trying to figure out what just happened.

The big boys can't react as fast as you. They need corporate approvals, the right person pulling the trigger and the collective will to do something out of the ordinary. Something risky. Something creative.

Text message marketing doesn't work for everyone, but if you have a good idea, it can be delivered immediately with tremendous ROI. That's pretty cool...not to mention profitable.

Great Design From a Local Restaurant

Dave Kolb - Friday, October 10, 2008
Your phone number is "one tap" away.

I was coming home from work the other day and pulled up a local restaurant's website on my iPhone.  First of all, I was not driving...I'm firmly against the "I'm going to try and drive, have a smoke, tune the radio and reply to my daughter's text before the light turns green" technique. That's another post...

I pulled up the website and the phone number was right there in front of me (as expected).  Not only was it there, but it was hyperlinked and when I tapped it, my iPhone swiftly dialed the number and I was immediately connected to the restaurant. 

Wow, talk about the Internet doing exactly what it's supposed to do! I was so impressed by this simple feat of great web design that I started searching the web for other brilliant designers. Not many others get it.  In fact, there seems to be a conspiracy to "hide" the phone number and replace it with a web form that my fat fingers will never fill out on a phone.  But, one tap to get a human?  It doesn't get any better than that! Best of all...it's easy to do.

If you are going to rush off and get your contact info on the homepage, here' s some advise.  If possible:

  1. Put it above the fold
  2. Do NOT make it an image (phones can transform .jpgs or .gifs into numbers)
  3. If you can, get a unique phone number from your phone provider so you can track the ROI on this simple, low cost investment. Only use this number on your website and measure away.

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