Caramel apple? Treat.
Snickers bar? Treat.
Blizzard before Halloween? Definitely a trick.
A pre-Halloween storm that dumped as much as 30 inches of snow on some areas of New England and knocked out power to hundreds of thousands was among Mother Nature’s most fearsome pranks. But there are things to learn from this fluke October storm if you’re considering a new or redesigned website for your business (yes, we’ve got Web design on the brain). Here are five things our fickle New Hampshire climate can teach us about Web design:
1. Leave some things to the pros
Does your website say “poor schmo trying to dig two feet of snow off his car with a six-inch scraper from CVS,” or is it more like “I’m going to call their plow guy next storm?”
When your company has a professionally-built site, you look more like the guy with the clean driveway, the generator and a halogen headlamp. Some work just takes training, style and skill. Web design is that kind of work. Investing in a professionally designed website that includes a content and online lead generation strategy can help you weather slow times by gathering leads and attention. A WordPress content management system on your site means you can have a business blog to post original content as often as you like, can do wonders for your SEO ranking.
2. Be ready to change your plan
Before a big storm, you buy groceries, fill your gas tank and stock up on batteries (or at least you know you should). Even if you don’t need these supplies, you’re ready to act if things take a turn for the worse. Independence and flexibility are also advantages of having a Web site built professionally. For one, you’re getting expert input on the organization of your site. Also, with a content management system like WordPress, you can change things yourself quickly. For example, if your store is closed because you have three feet of snow on Oct. 30, anyone from your company can hop online and update customers on your Web site in minutes.
3. Make your needs clear
If you were affected by the storm, you probably heard repeated pleas of power companies to notify them if your power was out, because they have no automatic way to tell if power is down in a specific house or building. They don’t know what you need unless you tell them.
The same goes for your site visitors. Your new website needs to have a clear, user-friendly navigation system, because otherwise your visitors (i.e., potential new clients) don’t know what you want from them. Do you want them to buy something? To fill out a contact form or call you? Make an appointment? Make sure that you’re directing your visitors to the right place so they can take advantage of your services as easily as possible. (And become leads for your sales team.)
4. Be social
No cable. No Internet. Laptop’s dead, phone’s dead…it’s no wonder you learn a lot about people during a blackout. Used well, social media can be the online equivalent of a candlelight game of Monopoly. It’s a great chance to build relationships and learn more about each other. A storm also leads to a lot more people helping each other out–checking on elderly neighbors, sharing supplies, or pitching in with the post-storm clean up. Sites like Twitter and Facebook can be your opportunity to help out in a different way: by answering questions and providing information that is interesting, useful or just plain cool to your customers and prospects. You’ve heard us say over and over that your business needs a social media strategy, and part of that strategy is having visible, easy to use links or widgets for your social media accounts. On-page feeds of your social media accounts are also a great way to give visitors a preview of the kind of content you post before they start following you.
5. Be found
It’s safe to say that nobody was ready for the October blizzard. Snow shovels, winter boots and warm clothes were still packed away. Everyone was scrambling to find their winter gear. And just like your ski coat can’t keep you warm from a dusty corner of the attic, you can’t reach customers from the 15th page of search results. Having a search engine optimization strategy is absolutely key to building a successful online presence. You might have an amazing company with a terrific website, but if no one can find you, that site ain’t gonna get you found. Deciding what you want to be found for, choosing your keywords and optimizing your site for those keywords is the beginning of an SEO strategy that will help your business get found easier and faster. And it just might get you rescued from a blizzard. (Not really, but we had to tie this together.)