It’s lunchtime, and you’re hungry! You head to the fridge and pull out all the makings of your favorite sandwich. Did you pick lettuce or tomatoes, deli meat or chicken salad, mayo or mustard? It doesn’t matter, because making the perfect sandwich is an art, carefully crafted to meet your tastes.
Although one sandwich is almost always different from the next, there’s one thing they all have in common: you start with the bread and build the layers to meet your needs.
And while some people enjoy a more simplistic sandwich (Hold the mayo, please!), that doesn’t necessarily take away from meal’s quality. It just means they made the one that suits them best.
A website, like a sandwich, is also developed in different layers, adding the content and information needed to properly feed its viewers.
White, Wheat or Rye?
Regardless of how much you put on the inside, you need something substantial to hold your site together and ensure it doesn’t fall apart. (Ever try eating a soggy sandwich?)
Developing a solid structure from the onset is critical. Ask yourself:
- Should your blog be housed within the main site or external (don’t have a blog, read here…)
- Will you need ecommerce functionality?
- What type of log in and registration system do you need?
- How intuitive does your content management system need to be?
- Who will handle content updates? Design changes? Software updates?
With different web development platforms and functionalities available, choose the one that meets your short term goals, but has the ability to grow along with your needs, adding functionality as you expand your online offering.
Fixin’s From the Deli
Not all businesses have the time or the resources to develop a full-fledge website with all the fixin’s. And there are also those companies that just value simplicity, based on their business model.
Either way, even when developing a more basic website, there are a few staples businesses should consider:
- Make it clear exactly who you are and what your product or service is on your homepage
- Keep your design clear and easy to navigate
- Know what your visitors are looking for and have it readily available
- Establish credibility by having critical content, such as thorough contact information, brand and team biographies and case studies, readily accessible
- Put social media links on your contact page or they’ll distract viewers from your message
Some businesses need to add a bit more flavor to their websites. Additional layers will enhance an already decent website and optimize the user’s experience:
- Place testimonials abundant throughout your website
- Use visuals and infographics to highlight critical information and be descriptive in your captions
- Downloads and information libraries add depth to higher level page content
- Make your site responsive, so no matter the viewing screen, users have a good experience
A Well-balanced Meal
Regardless of the complexity of your viewers’ tastes, it’s easy to develop a decent website. Some will be more simplistic than others, but the way your information is presented will be what makes your website more appetizing than those of your competitors.
I remember early on in my career being afraid of editors. Actually…terrified. I pictured these wicked creatures, hunched over a keyboard, feverishly typing away, drinking black coffee, smoking cigarettes, trying to make deadline, while demanding answers to questions that I was so afraid I wouldn’t know.
Having to call them or even worse…having them call me…sent visions of being led to the executioner by the grim reaper. This was long before email and texting, the internet and Google. So the only information that you knew about an editor was through word of mouth, what was written in that infamous Bacon’s book and your own first-hand experiences.
No matter what industry you are in, having to speak with an editor at times can be downright un-nerving. Throw you off balance a bit. But what you need to remember is, they need information and you are there to supply it to the best of your ability. That’s your job.
And generally, unless you are in a crisis situation, having an editor contact you is what you want. You want them interested in your company and what it has to say.
So, when an editor calls, sends an email or leaves a voicemail, remember:
1. Cooler heads prevail: In other words, take your time, calm down and think about it. Think about the question they are asking you and take your time answering. Even if they call you directly and you are the one to answer, let them know that you will need to get back to them. Then take a little time to prepare your answer (do research if needed) and get back to them…within 24 hours, though.
2. Have a plan in place: Know your company’s message (a sound bite of a mission statement) and what it is they want the media to know. This alone should help you start the lines of communication when an editor calls. If you are not the right person to comment, ask the editor for more information and let them know you will forward their message along to the correct person.
3. Be positive: Always have a positive and enthusiastic attitude. You may be in the middle of something when the phone call comes in, but always be polite, thank them for their interest in your company. Be approachable; it’s your company they came to as the expert. Don’t give the impression that you don’t want to be bothered. If you do, chances are they won’t call again or consider you a ‘go to’ in the industry.
4. Be helpful: Whatever it is that the editor needs, get it to them in a timely manner. This is what your job is all about. Remember, it’s ok to say ‘I don’t know, but I will be happy to get that information for you’. And if it looks like you may not be able to make their deadline, let them know as soon as possible. Don’t leave them holding the bag.
5. Formulate answers before returning calls or emails and practice: We all know that practice makes perfect, right? If you are getting back to an editor make sure you know what you are going to say and practice it. If you are answering an email, craft one, read it over and make sure it says everything you want it to say. Be sure to proofread!!!!
6. Remember nothing is “off the record”: No matter what you think, nothing is ever off the record. Anything you say is fair game and can be used. Think before you speak. If you don’t want to see it in print, don’t say it.
You should also have a list of your own questions to help keep things on track.
By arming yourself with these helpful tips, you’ll provide a good interview and…slay the imaginary dragon concocted in your head!