Platform design is more than just your website. It is cohesive, branded integration of web presence across as many channels as make sense for your business.
Some clients need and want as wide of an online presence as possible, i.e. to be everywhere, while others find that selectively focusing on just a few of the potential channels works better for them to engage with their client audience… Some clients just need a simple yet well-crafted website.
We always strive to encourage business owners to craft their web presence around what works for them. There are many choices, channels, and pathways you can take to accomplish the same goals.
Our FREE 45-Minute Consultation is the best place to start.
Whether your project resources are limited or extensive, they need to be carefully allocated to create the most value and long-term return on investment. Let us guide you in creating a solid plan that fits your needs, goals, and budget.
A solid intake assessment accounts for all of the information available about a project.
For completely new projects the assessment focuses on exploring project direction, target viability, goals, and any creative assets that are intended for the project. Most of this can be covered in our Free 45-Minute Consultation, during which we can usually proceed to the design intake process in Level 2 below.
For existing sites, the older or larger they are, the more thorough assessment is usually required. Moving forward without knowing you are on solid ground can jeopardize an entire project. Proper assessment usually involves investigating the following:
- page structures
- onsite and offsite broken links
- proper use of HTML headings and meta tags
- page load speed tests
- correcting missing or inaccurate redirects
- optimizing link structures
- plugin bloat reduction
- image optimization needs
- auditing any integrated analytics accounts
- auditing content, titles, and descriptions for duplicate content
- removal or reorganization of thin content
- assessing inbound links and anchor text distribution
- running ranking reports to establish current positions for targeted keywords
- and more, depending upon the project scope
We only design responsive WordPress websites and only work on sites hosted on recommended hosting. We always use child themes as a best practice when changing page files, functions, and CSS so your customizations are never lost during an automated theme update.
- If the project is for an existing site that is not built on WordPress, a scope of project retainer for the full website conversion will be required to bring your project completely in-house.
- If the project is for an existing site that is built on WordPress and you want us to work on the project as webmasters, then the installation will need to be migrated to the hosting platform we require (if it is not already installed there).
When you have a web design intake session, we discuss design preferences, explore current and future goals, and go over options based on objectives and project budget. Laying a solid design foundation with a fully responsive layout is a solid long-term investment in your online web presence. We want you to have a great design that reflects your brand and helps you achieve your goals.
Note: We will still do SEO consulting, local SEO management, and perform other services we provide even if your site is not on WordPress or on our preferred hosting. We will give guidance and input about recommended changes for optimizing your site, but we will not often work directly in the backend of the website itself as the webmaster.
This level can comprise many things that are not absolutely required just to have a nice responsive website, but for fully leveraging your online presence with built-in efficiencies they are vital to scalability, site speed, and higher organic search rankings.
Best Practices for All Websites
These steps lay a solid foundation that enables you to get the optimal leverage for the page content on your website itself.
- Sitewide SEO Settings
- Analytics Integration
- Webmaster Tools Accounts
- XML Sitemap Submissions
- Image Optimization
- Open Graph Optimization
- MX Records Setup
For Websites with Blogs
Blogging is one of the best ways to efficiently grow your business through a demonstration of expertise. By publishing and syndicating practical, useful content to your target market and client base, you continually reinforce your up-to-date, expert knowledge of your market. Blogging done well can significantly extend your reach to wider readership that forges new relationships and often brings new referral business.
Not all clients want to blog, for a variety of reasons, but for those that do, these items need to be handled properly to get the maximum leverage that fresh, unique content deserves.
- Mobile-Friendly Post Sharing
- Discussion/Commenting System
- RSS Blog Feed
- Post Syndication Management
- Podcast-Only RSS Feed
If you have a locally-based business, setting up your business for proper local SEO is imperative. An already large and constantly increasing percentage of local business starts with online local search.
- Google Local Listing Management
- Turn-Key Local SEO Listing Management
WooCommerce powers about 12% of all e-commerce websites in the world, and though the base plugin itself is free, with many other free extensions, there are also premium extensions that give owners à la carte options that tailor their needs to their website without having to pay for extra unwanted functionality and limitations often inherent in bundled e-commerce alternatives.
- General Sitewide Settings
- Premium Extensions
List Building Systems
Once Levels 2 and 3 are completed according to each project’s needs, we proceed to setting up the systems to harness long-term value from your site by building your first major asset: Your mailing list!
Your mailing list is an asset. It has value that will repay dividends far beyond any other marketing channel, if it is properly structured and thoughtfully utilized.
While many people only focus on social media and tout list building as an antiquated practice, the truth is they do not own their social media accounts. The social platforms themselves own ALL of the accounts and the information within them. At any point in time, without any notice given, social platforms can change how they work, as they have repeatedly demonstrated. They also have the right to summarily close any account for any reason with no notice. Though this is not commonplace, it is there in the fine print for those who choose to read it.
Understanding this and leveraging social media to continually build your own list is smart. While there is an increasing price to maintaining an email list as that asset grows, the cost of lost opportunity from not doing it far outweighs the price.
Social Media Pipeline
Leveraging social media to increase the reach of your message has now become a vital component to any substantial online presence. However, social media also requires actual social participation to really connect with people. For those that do it right it can be an awesome way to gain recognition and build social proof.
Using social media the right way can pay off in huge waves of traffic and exposure for business. Because of this, many try to instantly leverage social media for promotion without really understanding how to best incorporate social media into an integrated marketing plan.
Proper use of social media (aside from being a channel for people to build actual relationships with other people), from a business point of view, has more to do with extending your potential reach have when you create content that you want to share (Level 6).
Spending time building genuine connections through social media allows you to get increased exposure when you put out unique content that others are compelled to share. If it will have value for their followers and make them look good for sharing it, it is likely that they will.
Social media sites can be a great way to target prospects and build your list (Level 4), while building a network as part of your online platform within the sites that users prefer (Level 5).
Having your own social media pipeline can be like Archimedes’ lever for those who take the time to create incredibly high quality content.
Content marketing is where you can let your expertise shine! The content that gets the most attention online is focused on the value to the reader, not on the author. If you can create original content that is practical (useful and valuable) to the reader, you can build strong content assets that will drive business for years to come.
Though it is possible to build a real, profitable business without completely unique and stellar content, those that can do so consistently are able to set themselves apart from the crowd and build a more solid brand that surpasses their competitors.
Writing does not come easily to everyone, but establishing relationships with great writers who can convey your content in creative ways that bring value to your target audience can have a dramatic impact on most businesses. Making an investment in quality content, and in building a relationship with a great writer, can yield long-term returns.
If your social media pipeline (Level 5) has been built and your list building systems (Level 4) have been properly setup, then it is time to craft some valuable content. Once that shows signs of traction, some inexpensive targeted advertising (Level 7) can really leverage those content assets into increased, targeted exposure.
Targeted Advertising Testing
There are right ways and a myriad of wrong ways to advertise online, and it can be overwhelming and costly for business owners who make mistakes at this level. However, doing it right keeps the testing investment under control and focuses on testing the most ideal channels first.
Level 7 is about testing targeted advertising to see what works the best for each client, before rolling into any kind of scalability (Level 8).
Though all online businesses have common drivers, there are always unique drivers for each business that can be leveraged once identified through testing.
Which advertising methods and creatives are used for testing will depend upon each client’s goals and resources. Increased resources allocated for testing means being able to more effectively test multiple channels at one time, or in close succession, whereas more limited budgets may allow only testing one or two of the potential channels.
The upside is that the purpose of testing is to find a configuration that works profitably so that scalability (Level 8) works in your favor, and not against it. And, it only takes one configuration with good testing results to gain traction and make profitable progress.
This is the level where all of the work done in the previous levels of creating an integrated platform pays off. Each of the preceding levels builds up to this one; each added a level that is a vital component of a solid online platform.
There are too many variables and potential courses of action for scaling out targeted advertising to list here in any meaningful way. Each project, with its unique targets, objectives, and metrics, has multiple potential trajectories that can be explored systematically. The more metrics and insights gained from each successive increase in scalability, the more total data exists as a pool from which to make subsequent decisions.
Even when things are rolling along smoothly, the results need regular auditing and refining. Some targets may have run their course and achieved saturation, thus no longer giving the required return on investment, and may need to be removed, refined, or further tested. The difference at this point of being scaled out is that there is accurate data to make decisions based upon real data versus the hypotheses we test against in the beginning of the process.
While many have succeeded in creating private communities within the larger social platforms themselves, having enough brand power to create private communities with a sizable userbase outside those social sites requires the wide reach of a very successful online platform, so that the community itself becomes a destination.
Creating a private membership site is not for everyone, but there are some amazing tools that can be utilized to do so for those who want to create this type of community.
Though it is not necessary for a successful platform to have a membership site to continue with leveraging its success, it is necessary for anyone with a goal to have a real, enduring membership site to have put in the work from the previous levels just the same as any other online platform if they want to be successful for the long-term.
Making it all the way to Level 10 is a serious accomplishment, even without a private membership community (Level 9).
Keeping your audience engaged with fresh, valuable (to them) content through a continual outreach program is what will keep your well-established brand in the forefront of their minds.
There are any number of ways to go about this, and each project will lend itself to different methods and strategies, but consistency is the key.