Improve Marketing Performance By Rethinking Redesigns Part 3

The final installment in this series, which in turn was inspired by an article from Louis Rosenfeld @ smashingmagazine.com, will walk you through the diagnosis process using the criteria outlined in Part 2 as well as review your options for turning the results into positive action.

DETERMINING YOUR STARTING POINT

The first step in the process is easy, all you need to do is answer a series of yes/no questions to help determine a frame of reference for your current web health.

Frontend Control

Part 2 mentioned that although this is where most managers are used to interacting with their website, it shouldn’t be where they focus during the diagnosis process and here, you’ll get to experience firsthand why this is the case. In particular, compare the questions here to those in the subsequent section on Backend Control; which ones get you thinking and set of more light bulbs?

Need a reminder about Frontend items?

  • Graphic Design: colors, fonts, styles, images, etc.
  • Navigation: in addition to the main navigation elements, this can include sliders, footer navigation elements, [sws_css_tooltip position=”left” colorscheme=”rosewood” width=”450″ url=”javascript:void(0);” trigger=”breadcrumbs” fontSize=”14″]A navigation aid that typically appear horizontally across the top of a web page, often below title bars or headers [/sws_css_tooltip], and action elements such as buttons, links, etc.
  • Performance: site speed, page loading, optimization, etc.

Answer Yes or No to the following questions:

  1. Do you think the graphic design projects an image commensurate with your orchestra’s status and mission?
  2. If your site uses sliders, is there a way for users to move forward and back or jump from one slide to another?
  3. Is it easy to move between pages in different sections without having to go back to the homepage?
  4. Does the navigation menu indicate when child or grandchild menu items are present?
  5. Do pages load quickly (no more than five seconds)?

Backend Control

Content creation and site management is the most crucial aspect to an effective website and they will make or break your capability to implement the sort of ongoing small changes purported in Rosenfeld’s article. Simply put, if you don’t have the ability to quickly and easily perform the following tasks, you’re limiting how much you can implement improvements.

Need a reminder about Backend items?

  • Content Management Interface: user interface controls for creating and editing page content (copy, images, multimedia, and hyperlinks) as well as uploading and managing media.
  • Event Management: user interface controls for creating and editing event content (copy, images, multimedia, and hyperlinks) creating event index pages, and incorporating respective box office and ticket purchase info (click-throughs, etc.).
  • Site Design Controls: ability to create and edit navigation menus, widgetized content, page layouts, graphic design elements, typography, slider styles, etc.

Answer Yes or No to the following questions:

  1. Do you have the ability to create and edit static page content (copy, images, videos, links, etc.)…
    1. …without going through a website manager?
    2. …without needing to know or use HTML?
  2. Do you have the ability to create and edit event pages…
    1. …without going through a website manager?
    2. …without needing to know or use HTML?
  3. Do you have the ability to create and edit event index pages and calendars that will automatically pull relevant details from the event pages…
    1. …without going through a website manager?
    2. …without needing to know or use HTML?
  4. Do you have the ability to determine component layout on a page by page basis (i.e. whether or not to show sidebars, toggle page titles on/off, etc.)…
    1. …without going through a website manager?
    2. …without needing to know or use HTML?
  5. Do you have the ability to upload and manage media used throughout all elements of the website (images, videos, files, etc.)…
    1. …without going through a website manager?
    2. …without needing to know or use HTML?
  6. Do you have direct control over typography [sws_css_tooltip position=”left” colorscheme=”rosewood” width=”450″ url=”javascript:void(0);” trigger=”settings” fontSize=”14″]Colors, font families, font sizes, and weights (bold, italic, etc.) [/sws_css_tooltip]  for body copy, headlines, links, etc…
    1. …without going through a website manager?
    2. …without needing to know or use HTML?
  7. Do you have direct control over creating slider content (images, text, and action buttons)…
    1. …without going through a website manager?
    2. …without needing to know or use HTML?
  8. Do you have the ability to edit your slider style and user interface options (rotation speeds, transition styles, navigation controls, etc.)…
    1. …without going through a website manager?
    2. …without needing to know or use HTML?
  9. Do you have direct control over creating and editing navigation menus…
    1. …without going through a website manager?
    2. …without needing to know or use HTML?
  10. Do you have direct control over media based design settings such as header images, logos, background colors and images, etc…
    1. …without going through a website manager?
    2. …without needing to know or use HTML?

Integration Control

Need a reminder about Integration Control items?

  • Box Office Solutions: this includes transaction processing which can be limited to ticket purchases or as robust as to handle all payment based transactions (subscriptions, donations, merchandise, etc.).
  • Customer Relationship Management Tools: these platforms typically focus on integrating fundraising and marketing efforts between departments from a single, shared patron database.
  • Email Marketing Tools: it is increasingly common for orchestras to use third party providers such as Vertical Response, MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, etc.

Answer Yes or No to the following questions:

  1. Do you have the ability to make your box office and shopping cart pages look and feel like the rest of your website…
    1. …without going through a website manager?
    2. …without needing to know or use HTML?
  2. If you make changes to your website design, do those changes automatically carry through to your box office and shopping cart pages…
    1. …without going through a website manager?
    2. …without needing to know or use HTML?
  3. Can you insert email and/or newsletter opt-in forms anywhere in your website…
    1. …without going through a website manager?
    2. …without needing to know or use HTML?
  4. Can you create and insert surveys and questionnaires anywhere in your website that integrate with your customer databases…
    1. …without going through a website manager?
    2. …without needing to know or use HTML?

UNDERSTANDING THE RESULTS

In short, the more “No” responses to each question the less likely you are to reap the benefits from the approach prescribed in Rosenfeld’s article and the more likely you’ll get caught up in the big and expensive redesign insanity trap.

What’s important to remember here is Rosenfeld’s advice on how to approach ongoing enhanced marketing performance.

And the best news? Small simple fixes can accomplish far more than expensive redesigns. The reason? People just care about some stuff more than they care about other stuff. A lot more.

A smarter alternative is to consider migrating all of your existing content to platforms that change as many “No” replies to “Yes” for the Backend questions (aim for at least 8/10). If you can garner some additional “Yes” replies for the Frontend and/or Integration Control questions in the same process, then that’s just gravy.

But in order to make this a viable option, you need to set firm budget parameters and perform a thorough cost benefit analysis.

ONE FINAL BEAR TRAP TO AVOID

Even if you migrate to a platform that will provide the “Yes” oriented access you need to implement Rosenberg’s ongoing “small fixes” approach, it’s all for naught if you don’t know how to use the system.

What we’re talking about here is support and training and it’s the element where most groups tend to underestimate minimum needs and they don’t ask enough questions when exploring options. In short, making small changes can become a big hassle if it takes several hours (or worse, days) to get a response to a typical how-to query.

Here’s what you should ask when doing your due diligence:

  1. What sort of support is offered (ticket based, email, telephone, remote access, etc.)?
  2. Is support included in standard fees/licensing?
  3. Are there any charges for support after the new system is launched?
  4. Are there any charges for accelerated or emergency support?
  5. What sort of initial training is involved?
  6. What sort of ongoing training is provided?
  7. Is there ample documentation and tutorials available online and accessible 24/7?
  8. What incentives are offered to help motivate team members to expand their skills?

Ideally, you should find solutions that provide a substantial amount of hand holding support and unlimited training in their standard fee structure for as many of your team members as [sws_css_tooltip position=”left” colorscheme=”rosewood” width=”450″ url=”javascript:void(0);” trigger=”possible” fontSize=”14″]Don’t forget about turnover. [/sws_css_tooltip]. Even if you have employees with a great deal of web experience, you’re going to need an ample support structure.

improveOnce you have the pieces in place for “Yes” oriented platforms and support, you’re going to be on track for improved marketing performance. Moreover, you’ll finally break out of the insane redesign circle that does nothing more than replace one costly short term solution with another.

As Rosenfeld writes at the conclusion of his article, it’s all about migrating from project to process then payoff.

These fixes are typically and wonderfully small and concrete…rather than tackling the project of getting your website “right” — which is impossible — you can now focus on tweaking and tuning it from here on out.

I couldn’t agree more.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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