So You’ve Got a Website – Now What?
Perhaps my biggest task as a Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) San Diego/Imperial Counties board member this year is revamping the organization website. Now, I said revamping, not completely redoing. This is a refresh. What can we do better? What’s the feedback from members? Outsiders? What would make you want to visit it more often?
PRSA SD/IC Chapter Manager Rene Carmichael and I sat down with Elevator Marketing Store’s Frank Cowell in a crowded Starbucks recently (with two toddlers who refused to give us the big comfy chairs until their mothers pulled them away) to review the ideas we had for the website.
Our ideas were solid, including adding more visual elements to the homepage, creating a “Signature Events” tab and deleting unused/rarely used pages. However, Cowell helped remind us of a few things that can often be forgotten:
1) Location, Location, Location: Yes, everyone uses this title, but that’s because it holds true in a lot of scenarios. In this case, I’m talking about where you put the most important information on your website. Can I find a link to purchase your product no matter what page I’m on? How ‘bout a button to take me back to where I started from?
Oftentimes, we focus so much attention on the homepage, we forget that a lot of the time people do not enter websites through the homepage – instead they clicked on a link on Twitter to a blog post you loved (ahem) or someone found your president’s bio through a Google search.
Anything that you want everyone to see who comes to any page on your site should be available on every page. Generally, this means that the important link/tab is part of the header, footer or on a static sidebar that reappears no matter what page I click on.
2) Call-to-action: Another favorite PR buzzword, calls-to-action are exceptionally important. It’s nice that you know how to make knitted jewelry, but what do you want me to do about it? Buy it? Attend a class? Tell my friends to “like” your Facebook page?
It should be immediately evident on every page of your site what you want me to do with this information and what the purpose of your organization is. Note that this call-to-action can and probably should change. Even if you always want people to make reservations for dinner, the call-to-action can include details about an amazing new appetizer or a special for those who book before 6 p.m.
3) The Regular Refresh: Social media seems to be all-important nowadays, at least to many. This includes adding links/icons to your social media pages on your website – to not do so is to waste existing marketing real estate, in my opinion. Many people have also placed Twitter and Facebook feeds to their website. This can be a great way to continuously provide fresh content to the website; HOWEVER, this should not be the only thing that regularly changes on the site.
For example, for this larger PRSA SD/IC website refresh, we are making some major structural changes, especially to the homepage, and adding numerous new pages and tabs, but a regular refresh is something we do on a weekly, if not even more frequent, basis. This includes news items, upcoming events, new job listings, etc.
Whether you use a content management system (which I highly recommend and may be a topic for a future post) or have a company/internal person that inserts the HTML codes for you, please don’t have the exact same things on your site for the entire year. Even a new paragraph or photo can revitalize a website and give someone reason to visit again.
In PR, we know that it usually takes multiple brand exposures for a person to even consider action, and a website is not any different. Why would I go back to your site if it’s exactly the same as the last time I visited?
P.S. Check out what we’ve got now: www.prsasdic.org, and I’ll post a link to the refresh when it’s launched.