Custom WordPress Themes Are a Bad Idea…
It’s been our experience that custom themes for WordPress are expensive…at best. Most of the time they end up being problematic maintenance nightmares, wasting time and money for the duration of their existence. This is not to say that websites should be templates or even that customization isn’t worthwhile, just that it’s what and where you spend your time customizing that matters most.
We prefer to start with a premium framework like Genesis or Thesis and customize from there. Doing this allows us to focus our customization time on things like SEO, content, images and graphics (we are not fans of stock photos), as well as layout and functionality. All of the security, maintenance, and updating is expertly handled by the teams of developers at the theme framework companies; software engineers that focus exclusively on writing excellent code. This delegation of the core functionality means we can focus on the stuff that leads to more sales; things like creating content that makes your phone ring with new orders.
A full custom, built from scratch website is fine too, just know it’ll come with a few idiosyncrasies…kind of like owning a vintage British sportscar.
Contact us if you want to discuss how we use websites, social media, and our business perspective to grow your business.
How To Add Google Plus To Your Marketing Plan
In our last post we shared how Google+ quietly (subversively) became an essential piece of the smart business’s marketing tool box. Here we’ll give you 3 quick and easy ways to incorporate it into your social media plan and give you a few resources for learning more.
Get Credit for what you write. The first step toward incorporating Google+ into your marketing plan is to make sure you are getting credit for the content you publish. To do this you have to create a Google+ profile. Details on how and some additional convincing from Copyblogger here.
Link your blog. Some WordPress frameworks like Thesis integrate Google+ authorship into their theme, but if yours doesn’t, Automattic (the company behind WordPress) just released an update to their popular JetPack plugin that makes it easy. If you are not using WordPress, try this from Google.
Use it. After you are all set up on Google+ you need to use it. Interact with people in your Circles, post and comment, host a Hangout. Heck you might even find that there is a whole lot more to Google+ than you realized. Did you know you can have an online meeting and share your screen too? More on that from Google here.
Google+ is important, ignore it at your peril. There are lots of things that can be done to improve your search rankings, this is both easy and free.
When we expanded our company six months ago, we weren’t sure how we would end up positioning ourselves in the market when all was said and done. The truth is, we had two companies coming together: One of them known for web design and development, the other known as a production house with a couple big web sites under its belt. One thing became clear.
Neither identity was where we saw ourselves.
So how does a company who specializes in helping other companies position themselves in their own respective markets do that for their own business? We suddenly had in-house large- and- small- format printing capabilities, full-service video production, more than one designer and administrative staff. How would we communicate this to our current clients and also let the public know about this new super-powered agency in their midst?
First of all, it’s always much harder designing for oneself than it is designing for others. One becomes too close to the project to remain objective and analytical. Add to that, we suddenly had six new people who we wanted to have a say in the direction of the new company.
Suddenly, many questions began to surface.
Do we keep one name over the other? Combine them? A new name altogether? What about the logo? The colors? The fonts? The copy? Don’t we need a web site? Let’s face it, we had our work cut out for us and then some. There were people in Camp A, who wanted to remain Workshed Media and keep the old logo and tagline. Then there was Camp B, who wanted to reinvent everything, logo and all. And then there was Camp C—who were stuck in the middle. We had, on our hands, a proverbial branding midlife crisis.
Not to fear: remember, this is what we do for a living. It’s just, um, a little different when doing it for ourselves. After calming down, stepping back, and remembering our process, we enlisted a little help from our friends and clients. We were able to get back on track doing what we do best—reinventing our brand. After a series of interviews, meetings and documents being shuffled back and forth, we were able to hone in on how we want to be perceived, how our clients perceived us and how our clients actually wanted to see us. With this information, we were on our way to the next step—putting a pretty face on it all.
Once we had the basic premise of how to position ourselves in the market, we had to start adding the face and the voice to it all. This meant getting the team together to brainstorm taglines and promotional campaigns, as well as having our designers brainstorm on logo concepts. We knew we wanted to be positioned as a full-service, small town creative agency. Making things look friendly, hand-made and giving it all a craftsman-like design that was accessible and showed creativity were all key directives.
After some great concepts from the design team and a few reviews, we finally had the logo settled. It turned out bold and strong, with a hint of vintage sign design and an instantly recognizable mark. It clearly shows how we have moved up to the next level and gave us the fuel we needed to push to the next tasks at hand.
Learning Our Voice
Next up was figuring out what we wanted to say and how we wanted to say it. It seemed as though our main selling points were our small-town hospitality, our one-stop-shop structure and our ability to listen to our clients. From this, the “What if your creative agency really listened to what you had to say?” teaser campaign was born. The copy tone was friendly, down-to-earth and helped to differentiate us from our larger, more metropolitan competition, who oftentimes don’t give their clients any credit for having great ideas. The campaign was so successful that an attendee to our First Friday open house—who happened to be a marketing exec at a ginormous local high-tech company—approached me and said, “I wish my agency would listen to what I have to say.”
While the teaser campaign has served us well, we felt that the forthcoming launch of our new web site and marketing materials warranted an updated campaingn which will be revealed with the launch of the web site.
Bringing It All Together
Now that we’ve had a few months to live with our logo and establish our brand, we are working hard to launch our new web site, which is scheduled to go live on Christmas day. We’re offering a sneak peek here, but the gist of it is that it is going to have a hand-crafted feel, invoking craftsmanship, creativity and a true sense of the quality and style of work we do every day. So, please, do come back on Christmas Day, 2007 to see what we have to reveal. We look forward to a new year full of adventure and great new work, and we welcome you to become a part of the extended Workshed family.