Why You Should Listen to Me

Hi, I'm Kronda and I make websites for a living. I'm married to a nurse and when I surf the web, sometimes I sound a lot like my wife, when we're watching Grey's Anatomy. She's always yelling at the screen about everything they're doing wrong–things like “Don't ever shock someone if they're in asystole!”

I don't know what that means, but I have ideas about how to make the web better and it starts with asking the right questions. So this works not just for journalists; it's also a great place to start when you're starting a new web project.

Ask these questions:

  • Who
  • Why
  • What
  • When
  • Where.

Who Is Your Website For?

It's not for you.

It's for your users.  The decisions that you make about how your site works, and how it looks should be based on what's going to make it easiest for your users to do what they need to do and find the information that they need.

Why Do You Need a Website?

  • Do you want people to help share your ideas?
  • Do you want to sell things online?
  • Do you want to get people to your place of business?

The answers to those questions are going to really help you because those are the things that you should make it really easy to do on your site–like, really really easy. 

What Is the First Thing You Need if You Need a Website?

Most people will say a web designer. But if you have a designer create a really pretty design and no content, what good does that do anybody? Your design should be driven by your content. People write books and then they design the book cover, right?

Where Is Your Website Going to Live?

Your site needs a place to live so you need a domain name. It should be kind of easy to remember and give people some clue about your business.

You also need a hosting company that's secure reliable and has great customer service (not GoDaddy).

When Do You Need Your Site Launched?

If you have any sort of hard deadlines such as a conference coming up or some kind of product launch, some websites literally take years to build. Do not wait until the last minute to start planning and implementing your site.

Beware of Perfection Paralysis

Alright, so you have everything together and now a designer is probably going to make a Photoshop design, which is flat, and the developer is going to make that into an actual interactive website. Between those two processes, you should not get hung up on pixels.

So you shouldn't worry about whether your interactive living website matches your flat design perfectly. What you should actually worry about is whether it looks good and works well almost of devices, because people are going to be looking at it on lots of devices. If it's 2013 2018 and you're making a site, and it's not responsive you better have a really good reason, go back and start over.

What does that mean responsive? It means that your layout changes based on the size of the screen and the smaller the screen the more you have to prioritize your information, and that's actually a really good exercise for your site at any screen size.

The Importance of Good User Experience

I spent 10 minutes one time trying to figure out how late my local coffee shop was open.

I was on my phone trying to find the information but I couldn't do it. I gave up, went to the coffee shop found a paper sign on the door saying ‘we're closed early for winter'. That was not a good user experience. Even on a desktop if you can't find what you're looking for and you have to go in two or three clicks to find what you're looking for people will probably just go find your competition and then go there.

On the opposite end, don't try to cram every little thing on the homepage. That's why we have different pages. It's the internet it's infinite. If I see a site that is super busy, I'm probably going to send it to readability to get rid of all that clutter. Or I'm just going to leave and go somewhere else.

No Surprises

Don't surprise your users. Nobody wants to be in their work meeting and then suddenly have to hunt through 20 tabs to find the restaurant that's playing mood music. Let us make that decision. Musicians that means you too! If we want to hear your stuff, we will click play. Just leave the user in control.

Choose Your Channels

Social media is huge right now, but if you're not huge into social media, don't put it on your website. It looks like a graveyard. It's very sad. If that's something that's important to your business and you want to start using it, then hire someone to teach you how to do it or hire someone to do it for you.

Make Your Text Readable

Can someone in the back read this slide for me? No? Yeah, it's kind of small.

Don't go through all the trouble to make a website and then make the text too tiny to read.  That's just going to piss off your users, if they have to do extra work to get to your content. Speaking of usability, there are a lot of great user interface conventions and those work for a reason.

A website that has a good user interface is actually going to be more profitable for you.

Wrap Up

So the bottom line is:

  • Do your homework.
  • Get some referrals.
  • Hire a professional that you trust and then actually listen to them.

There is a reason that they're telling you not to put pink text on a purple background and they can explain it to you if you ask.

Really focus on content. Content is king. If you write a crappy blog post and throw 20 share links under it, guess what?–nobody's going to share it.

If you create something that resonates with people, then nothing's going to stop them from sharing it, and you're going to have a successful site.

Thanks so much. I think we have 12 seconds for questions.

Kronda Adair

Kronda is the CEO of Karvel Digital, a digital marketing agency that helps mission-driven service-based business owners how to use content to sell so they can automate their marketing and scale without burnout. She loves empowering small business owners to not be intimidated by all this tech stuff. She's often covered in cats.