The 6 Speeches Web Professionals Make

March 09, 2010

Posted in Design, Marketing, Technology, and Web Industry.

The web profession is a client-driven one, even when we don’t technically have clients. We’re always teaching, educating the various stakeholders as to best practices, how to use new technologies, and why they shouldn’t waste their time on the flashy buzzword-du-jour.

If you’ve been doing this long enough, these conversations will all be familiar to you. If you’re new to this business or haven’t been in a client-facing role, you’ll do well to familiarize yourself with them.

1. Strategy Before Tactics

Chess with champagne by

Are you sure you even need a new website? What do you mean you heard you needed a Facebook page? Let’s start from the beginning. Let’s start with your audience. Who are you trying to reach? What do you want them to do? If you can’t answer these basic questions, you might as well just start burning money. We’re not just pixel-pushers and code monkeys – we can help you make smarter decisions about what to do.

2. Measurement and Analytics

What gets measured gets improved. This isn’t 1995 – a hit counter isn’t going to cut it. There’s no excuse not to have at least Google Analytics (or something) tracking and providing information. What to look at? Let’s see – top content, pages with high bounce rates, referring sites, search keywords… the list goes on. Oh, and remember: reporting is not the same as analysis. So let’s figure out what we really need to measure (let’s call them KPIs) and set some goals.

3. Search Engines 101

Search engines are a major source of traffic. You can’t cheat the system. Search engines rank you based on the text on your site, the number of links pointing at your site, and the quality (or trustworthiness) of sites linking to you. It’s a little bit like dieting – there are tons of people selling shortcuts, and none of them are sustainable. You have to earn your ranking honestly, over time. Start by creating quality content that people want to read and the rest will come naturally.

4. Design Isn’t About You

I know you don’t like the [color | typography | photos | white space], but that’s ok – the site isn’t intended for you. You’re not your target audience. The design isn’t just about looking pretty (that’s a given). It’s actually about helping you achieve your goals. You remember your goals, right? We talked about them way back when we agreed on your strategy and decided what you were measuring. This design does that.

5. How to Write for the Web

NEVER put 'under construction' on your website

Hey, great brochure. Really, it’s beautiful. But let’s cut to the chase: it’s not a website. You can’t just copy and paste that text into your website and expect it to work for you. Web visitors expect instant gratification. Don’t bury the lede. Make your copy scannable. And for goodness sakes, don’t ever put “Under Construction” on a page.

6. Web Isn’t the Same as Print

When you print something, you’re creating something permanent. You spend a lot of time editing, tweaking, proofreading, and painstakingly checking before you give the final go to the printer. Once it’s printed, it’s done – there’s no changing it. But the web isn’t a print piece. Every time a visitor hits our website is a new publication – a new chance to make a change, edit our content, and fix a typo. On the web, unlike print, you can’t let perfection get in the way of publication. The difference between 99% and 100% is a lot of investment and not a lot of return.


  1. chas — March 10, 2010

    Great point about delegation and spreading the work out… especially when “maintain the website” is tacked onto an already overloaded position.

  2. Tod — March 10, 2010


  3. Todd — March 10, 2010

    What Tod said. (misspelled my own name, oh joy)

  4. Nikki Massaro Kauffman — March 10, 2010

    My passion is getting internal knowledge documented. When I speak (teach? rant? preach on a soapbox like the end is near?) on the topic, I touch on 5 and 6 a good bit.

    People who take their print training and documents and transfer them to the Web assume that they will be read sequentially from beginning to end.

    Additionally, they believe they have time to perfect content when it’s hard enough to keep it up-to-date. The best thing to do is to delegate. Many of them want to be keepers (bottlenecks), I recommend they become reviewers and allow more people to author.