Beantin

James Royal-Lawson

Web management

Keep your web presence fluid

There’s an announcement. Twitter is alive with tweets proclaiming this wonderful new feature. It’s going to be massive. The next big thing. Bloggers have already implemented it on their WordPress sites. The social media sites have too. Few days later an iPhone app appears. It gets thousands of downloads from the app store.

The depressing truth

You have a meeting and talk about how wonderful it would be to do the same. You all agree. You get the responsibility to investigate the possibility further. A week later you’ve gathered enough background information to make a decent presentation to use in your work to get internal buy-in from key stakeholders. two months later, after 8 meetings with the stakeholders plus a telephone conference with the IT department and their preferred supplier, you get the go-ahead to produce a specification.

This year’s budget has already been blown by the marketing department on a flash-based campaign that received no visitors, so when the quote comes back from your IT department’s preferred supplier telling you how much this new feature is going to cost to implement in your WCMS, you realise that it’s going to have to wait until January.

January comes, the proposal gets accepted, work gets underway. Of course the work run over budget and behind schedule. This means that you missed that month’s maintenance slot. The next available slot when IT can fit it in is the next-but-one maintenance window as the activities planned for the next one are critical ones that IT say can’t be mixed with other, “non-essential”, work.

Finally!

10 months later the feature has finally made the light of day. Of course by this point, the bloggers and various other social media news sites are on their third iteraton, and have implemented a whole load of other features and adjustments that enhance their visitor’s experience.

True or false?

A tall story? or does your neck ache from nodding in agreement?

Take the launch of Google Buzz. Within a matter of days, Mashable had implemented a Buzz Button of their own. They’re a company of 30 or so employees, and a have a website that gets over 20 million page views a month. Yet they have kept their web presence fluid enough so they can react and adapt their tactics at a pace that fits today’s real-time web.

Keep it fluid

Your organisation needs to leave the website redesign cycle behind it and adopt a solid web strategy that then gives you the opportunity to measure, and then adjust your tactics. Your web presence doesn’t stop and wait for you to go through a full website redesign and rebuild. Don’t let yourself get stuck – but It’s not a Las Vegas casino you can knock-down and start again from scratch. It’s closer to a living person. You need to be its personal coach, doctor & surgeon.

Close your corporate website and move to Facebook?

Earlier this week the Swedish arm of international advertising agency Grey decided to shut down their corporate website (and blog) and move their site over to a Facebook page. Idiot move or genius?

Maintaining a website: Boring and awkward?

According to David Schweiler, Digital director at Grey in an article on Resumé, the big advantage of moving to Facebook is that “[you] don’t have to update your regular website anymore, which is both boring and awkward”.

On their website there is a screenshot of a Facebook status update saying that they have moved to Facebook because “We want be where people already are.” and then say that 2.5 million Swedes are already there.

Screenshot of the new look grey.se

Not recommended…

Generally if you have an existing website, then I wouldn’t recommend that you delete it overnight and switch over almost entirely to Facebook. There’s a number of reasons why that’s a silly thing to do – one of which is that it rips the heart out of your search engine profile, leaving customers searching and finding nothing, or at best a page not found.

…But nothing much to lose

In Grey Stockholm’s case, they really didn’t have much to lose. Their old regular site was totally built in flash. It was almost certainly difficult for them to maintain and update. Probably also difficult to measure and assess the success of the site in fulfilling its goals.

Screenshot of the old flash-based grey.se

As a result of being a (poorly constructed) flash-based site, their entire profile in Google consists of 7 pages, most of which is scrap that shouldn’t really be indexed, but has been picked up and included by Google.

From one walled-garden to another

GreyStockholm on Facebook

So by moving their website to Facebook they have effectively moved from one walled garden (Flash) to another walled garden (Facebook). Yes, it’s going to be easier for them to publish updates. Yes, potentially they are going to bring themselves closer to their customers than the site did – but that’s more of a reflection on their (old) site rather than websites at large.

Grey.se as seen in Google's index

What this series of events in the development of their web presence shows is the agency’s lack of understanding of how the web actually works. A lack of understanding of search engines. A lack of understanding of task-based surfing behaviour. A lack of understanding of some basic web standards and techniques. Sadly this is all too common for traditional advertising agencies.

Facebook is no substitute

Grey may be saying that they’ve moved their site to Facebook, but there are certainly numerous tasks and situations where a well thought through and effective “regular” website would be perfect. Situations where a Facebook page is no substitute.

In the hours since Resume published their article they have doubled their number of Facebook fans from 77 to 154. So, perhaps one goal has been reached.


A Swedish take on Grey’s move to Facebook by Magnus Nilsson can be read here: Flytta från webben till sociala medier och blotta ditt nederlag and another one here by Thord Daniel Hedengren: Reklambyrå stänger sin sajt och flyttar till Facebook.

Update: 20110328

Grey Stockholm recently merged with Ogilvy Stockholm to form a new agency called Ingo. In connection with this merger Grey renamed their Facebook page from greystockholm to ingo.

7 Articles worth reading… (Spotted: Week 35-36, 2010)

Finding the Balance: Users’ Needs Vs. Clients’ Wants

A another look at the classic user v client dilemma. One of the key things to finding a good balance is stakeholder buy-in and inclusion.

Surprise, surprise! Having no secure icon on a page increased conversions by 400%

An split testing case where removing a green “secure” icon from the page made a vast improvement – their conclusion: “Make each page designed to get the user to do one thing, and try to focus all of their attention on that one thing”.

Putting people at the centre: social staff directories

Alex Manchester in this article from Step Two explores the potential of people search and staff profiles and their role as the very heart of intranet. He also gives examples of people-related concepts in use within organisations today.

Facebook As A Company Intranet Is A Nightmare Waiting To Happen

Building your entire intranet using Facebook would be an utter nightmare! But let’s not forget the relevance of Facebook as part of internal communication and collaboration. Colleagues who are friends with each other will almost certainly use it to communicate in some way at some point – even if it’s just a “running late for 9am meeting” or “working from home today”. Organisations should consider ways to take advantage of that.

New guidelines for (Swedish) public bodies and companies who want to be present on Facebook

Swedish guidelines published by The Swedish Data Inspection Board recommending how you should deal with communication channels with user generated content, such as Twitter, Facebook, Youtube in order to be compliant with Swedish law.

WordPress Fat-Loss Diet to Speed Up & Ease Load

If you are using wordpress for a business site you might want to consider some of the following tweaks – or bring someone in to do them for you.

Google Instant – a Reminder that Google is not equal to SEO

reality check from Jesper. Yes Google is really important, but it’s not the whole picture. YouTube, Facebook, Intranets, on-site search – Search is a lot more than Google, but it’s all about serving up what people want when they want it.

Introducing: The Beantin Beta Blog

As part of my work as a web consultant most days I end up investigating, testing, playing, learnng or reminding myself about some web related thing or another. On many occasion I’ve wanted to let you in on those little journeys and even though I do, 140 characters isn’t always enough, and a detailed beantin.se blog post is overkill.

Screenshot of The Beantin Beta Blog

I needed somewhere a little less formal, more tips, and less opinion – so the Beantin Beta Blog was born.

Your own, personal, webmaster

My hope is that this additional blog will be the blog of the webmaster who is sitting by your side. The beta blog is going to be raw, possibly even wrong at times, but useful. It will hopefully have a similar mix of technical and non-techncial as this blog, although i’m not promising anything. So those of you who are a little less technical, hold tight just in case.

Beantin Manifesto

It will also help me keep the promise of my (soon to be published) Beantin manifesto – Increase openness, share knowledge, and help horizontally link the numerous skills needed to do web stuff and to do it well.

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