Top 10 Questions to Consider for any Website Project…

top101. What is the goal of the site? In other words, when it’s working great, what specific outcomes will occur? Will customer calls increase? Will current/past customers visit the website to purchase new items? Will we attract new customers online and showcase sample products, to entice them into a storefront or to make a purchase? Will your client base find answers to their questions on their own without needing to contact you? Will your website generate leads by using an online inquiry form?

2. Who is your primary target audience? This is a question that warrants doing your homework and sometimes involves completing a true dissection of your market. A lot of website projects tends to go awry here because our natural instinct is too try to please everyone, or tell someone everything we know or have to offer. Dissection of your business plan and marketing objectives will help you to hone in on how to cater to the right audience. The right audience from business to business varies greatly depending on your marketing objectives. While some business owners just want to expand the sale of their most profitable items others may want to build up a sluggish product line. A one size fits all approach doesn’t work well for most business types.

Your website design should display imagery and content that caters to your primary target audience’s taste first. Identifying the demographics regarding your target audience may be helpful in deciding layout, style, imagery, features and accessibility.

3. What is your budget? First, let’s not forget that EVERYTHING is probably not a reasonable option or a smart business choice…even if you have mounds of discretionary capital available. Comparing quotes and understanding what each offer includes should be paramount. Plan on investing some time if you don’t already know the difference between a static site , a content management system, a domain name, responsive design (mobile-friendly versions of websites are expected as commonplace) and a hosting account. It will definitely make your decision easier having this basic knowledge available to help you in comparing proposals. Thinking beyond the initial design and development project, what about ongoing maintenance and upkeep? Who will do the ongoing work? How much time will need to be invested to keep things current with your business offerings? If you don’t have time or the desire to do-it-yourself, how much will it cost to pay for this service? What kind of return do I expect to get for this investment?

4. Should you stay in tune with your historic business media? This is a good question and the answer depends on several factors. What is our past or present business image? Do we desire a change in public perception or do we want to continue to add-on to our existing image? What do people already know about our business? What words, symbols or colors do people identify with our business? Generally speaking, a business with a long history likely has a lot of historic media that should be considered when designing a new or upgraded public presence.

5. Do I need a copywriter? Your copy/content is meant to persuade someone to buy a product or influence their beliefs. You might want to hire/engage a copywriter for this purpose. Copywriting can be a critical aspect in determining a website’s success or failure. Again, depending on your website goals content should be written with several considerations in mind.

Impatience- Today’s web surfers are impatient, so your content should be brief enough to capture their attention and answer their need quickly. This means writing a dissertation is in order, not a data dump. Web copy should be simple and easy to read. There is usually little need to impress your audience with sophisticated language or lengthy explanations. Introductory text should be just that, an introduction. Lengthy details and explanations should be reserved for links to more information if their interest exceeds the introductory text.

Search Considerations – Content should naturally include keyword rich data that your audience might use to find your business website, products, services or to get answers to their questions.

6. Does SEO (Search Engine Optimization) really matter? Unless you are only catering to a very specific group of people that you are already connected to, yes! The best looking website with coolest functions and featured will do your business little good if no one finds it. SEO and SEM refer to techniques for getting your website listed and ranking within the major search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and others.

SEO – Organic, or “unpaid”, search engine optimization basically equates to using a smart, common-sense approach to get your web pages to rank well in online search results by employing a series of development techniques which include: the use of generic, or keyword rich domain names, using informative page titles, installing tools for granular SEO options to site administrators, making the site mobile-friendly, encouraging clear, concise and informative website copy/content, using alt tags on images, and a variety of other free SEO considerations such as utilizing press releases, social media accounts and free online listing services.

SEM – Search Engine Marketing usually involves a combination of organic SEO combined with paid placement or online advertising.

There are a myriad of factors that can affect your online search results. Ask your developer what they do to help in getting the maximum benefits of unpaid, organic SEO results and what they recommend for SEM services.

7. What is our regional market? Website strategies vary greatly depending on if you are completing locally, regionally, nationally or globally as well as how saturated the business industry already is. Selecting a targeted region and measuring your results will help you determine if you’ve hit the mark or if additional work needs to be done.

8. How do I communicate what I want to my web designer? After communicating your site goals, target audiences, regional market, and custom features to your designer, a good way to communicate what you want your site to look like is to prepare a list of three websites that you either really like or really dislike. Providing a short bullet list of 3 – 5 things that you like or dislike about each will go a long way in helping to get a design back that meets your design objectives within the first round. Providing sample sites will help the designer to identify the desired style, fonts, color, layouts, use of movement, and other elements. Since design is subjective and beauty is in the eye of the beholder, when in doubt, try to remember that design elements should cater more to the audiences (meeting your objectives) versus individual tastes.

9. How often do I need to update my website? A website, like any other business tool needs to keep up with industry standards and remain current to be most successful. There are really a couple of considerations here. First the website software and supporting functions and second, the site’s content. Depending on your business type and industry, changes needed to your website’s content can vary greatly. For instance, an e-commerce website may need daily changes to reflect new product offerings or promotions while an informative website may only need to be updated monthly with industry news, or internal operations changes. However, all websites regardless of type or industry should be kept up-to-date with technology. Having outdated software supporting the website can open the door for hackers and cause site functions to no longer work. We suggest that websites should be evaluated at least every two to three years to identify and avoid any potential issues and that a budget for upgrade work should be established.

10. How do I measure the success of my website? This should be fairly easy if you take the time to identify the goals of the website, but keep in mind that each website for individual businesses are different. Some of tools commonly used include evaluating your website statistics, everything from how many hits did we get to how long did they stay on our website? Website statistics can help you identify areas that work really well or need to be improved. Knowing where your visitors are coming from, how long they stayed, and what keywords they are typing into search engines can provide a good indication of what’s working or what’s not.

Other terms used in measuring performance include conversion rates, visitor engagement, bounce rates and many more. What is important is to remember to look at your website stats and use the valuable information they provide to your business advantage. Try Google Analytics – It’s free, fairly easy and intuitive and can even be set up to automatically email your web stats periodically!

Submitted by: Brenda Tarmey, Business Manager of  T.H. Creations, Inc.

YPLAA Seminar: Avoid Home-buying Nightmares

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Don’t let buying a home stress you out. On Wednesday, January 21st at the Androscoggin Chamber of Commerce Conference Room, Join YPLAA for an informational panel discussion with some of L/A’s most experienced home-buying professionals Learn everything you need to know about the process including where to begin, how to pick a lender and agent, financing options, the closing process, your responsibilities, and what to watch out for.

Y- Not

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What is Y Not?
Y-Not is a civic engagement and grass roots economic development program designed to educate, motivate, and recruit the next generation of community leaders.

Working in randomly selected teams over a two week period, participants will increase their knowledge of local government, businesses, and nonprofit organizations. They will become more critical readers of newspapers, more informed contributors to public policy debates, and positive community ambassadors. They will expand their personal and professional networks and help bridge the gap between established community leaders and the next generation.

Y-Not participants will generate a positive image of Lewiston/Auburn, Maine, demonstrating to the community and to outsiders that this is a unique and opportune place to live, work, and play.

Our goals are simple, but ambitious. More young people need to take pride in their community. More young people need to volunteer to serve on civic boards and run for public office. They need to understand and care about the daily challenges of our democracy. They must understand that when they say “there’s nothing to do here,” that they have the power and the responsibility to change that misperception. But it is not just about convincing young folks to do more. More established members of the community need to see that there is a passionate and dedicated group of young people from every walk of life who care about the future of this community and who are already working hard, sometimes quietly and often in their own way, to build a stronger community.

At the conclusion of this program, we issue a personal challenge to every participant and community partner to make a commitment to do something for their community this year that will advance the vision that participant has for the future of Lewiston/Auburn. Every participant must answer for him or herself – why not act? Why not run for city council or school board? Why not start that business you dream about? Why not compete in a 5k? Why not volunteer with a nonprofit? Why not raise your family here? Why not come home? Why not?

April 24th: KICK-OFF Celebration at Museum L/A
April 24 – May 8 : 2-week WORK Phase – Teams will work to complete Y-Not Challenges and submit them to their team mentor.
May 24th: Y-Not Finale Celebration! Prizes, food, entertainment! at Skye Event Center

This program is funded by a generous grant from the Thayer Corporation, as well as a project grant from the Maine Development Foundation.

More sponsorship opportunities are available, for information contact Kelly David, YPLAA Chair at KDavid@cmogroup.org.

*If you wish to register, please email Jenny@androscoggincounty.com to see if there is still space available. Please send her the following info.

First & Last Name:
Organization:
Mailing Address:
City, State, Zip:
Email address:

Candid Candidates 2013

Candid Candidates 2013October 16, 2013
Beginning at 5
Hilton Garden Inn Auburn

An Informal Gathering with Your Candidates running for mayor, city council and school committee.

The event will include Personal Introductions, Targeted Q&A Forum, and an opportunity to talk personally with candidates.

This is n opportunity to learn about your candidates and what they envision for Lewiston/Auburn and to see where they stand on issues affecting Young Professionals and the communities.

Light appetizers and cash bar will be available.

On facebook event, please share any questions that you might like to see answered during the event.

Contact Jenny@androscoggincounty.com for more information.

Y-Not? Get involved—Make a difference—Strengthen your community

What is Y Not?

Y-Not is a civic engagement and grass roots economic development program designed to educate, motivate, and recruit the next generation of community leaders.

Working in teams over a two week period, participants will increase their knowledge of local government, businesses, and nonprofit organizations. They will become more critical readers of newspapers, more informed contributors to public policy debates, and positive community ambassadors. They will expand their personal and professional networks and help bridge the gap between established community leaders and the next generation.

Y-Not participants will generate a positive image of Lewiston/Auburn, Maine, demonstrating to the community and to outsiders that this is a unique and opportune place to live, work, and play.

Our goals are simple, but ambitious. More young people need to take pride in their community. More young people need to volunteer to serve on civic boards and run for public office. They need to understand and care about the daily challenges of our democracy. They must understand that when they say “there’s nothing to do here,” that they have the power and the responsibility to change that misperception.  But it is not just about convincing young folks to do more.  More established members of the community need to see that there is a passionate and dedicated group of young people from every walk of life who care about the future of this community and who are already working hard, sometimes quietly and often in their own way, to build a stronger community.

At the conclusion of this program, we issue a personal challenge to every participant and community partner to make a commitment to do something for their community this year that will advance the vision that participant has for the future of Lewiston/Auburn. Every participant must answer for him or herself – why not act? Why not run for city council or school board? Why not start that business you dream about? Why not compete in a 5k? Why not volunteer with a nonprofit? Why not raise your family here? Why not come home?  Why not?

Registration is now closed, however make sure you join us for the kick off and finale to show your support!

March 28th: KICK-OFF Celebration at Good Shepherd Food Bank

March 28th-April 11th: 2-week WORK Phase – Teams will work to complete Y-Not Challenges and submit them to their team mentor.

May 18th: Y-Not Finale Celebration! Prizes, food, entertainment!

This program is funded by a generous grant from the Thayer Corporation, as well as a project grant from the Maine Development Foundation.


Visit the Y-Not? Program Site

Registration is now closed, however make sure you join us for the kick off and finale to show your support!

Candid Candidates

The Chamber is working with The Young Professionals of the Lewiston Auburn Area (YPLAA) to plan a candidate’s forum – Candid Candidates 2012 – on Wednesday, October 3rd beginning at 5:00pm at the Hilton Garden Inn. The goal is to create an environment for YPLAAers and Chamber members to interact with candidates running for Lewiston/Auburn State House and State Senate seats in a social setting, and to learn more about where they stand on key issues. Light appetizers and a cash bar will be available. Candid Candidates 2012 is designed as an informal evening with tables available for candidates to display personal literature and other information. For attendees not yet registered to vote, registration cards will be available