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Website Shape, Sound, And Scent

Brian Austin
Brian Austin Branding

Did you know that your website smells? Maybe it even stinks! The key point is our websites give off more than we might at first think. Sure, your site certainly has some words; maybe a few sounds; perhaps even video content too. Yet, it's also a recipe. There's more going on "under the hood". Furthermore, not only does your website have a particular scent, it also has a Specific shape and sound.

Here, in this context, I'm not referring to a website as a 3D model (shape), or an audible noise (sound), rather, I'm thinking about how each website gives off what can best be described as a kind of online scent, or impression within the mind of a visitor; what we may often also describe as "vibes".

How to Avoid "Any-site-Land" With M.E.G.

So just how do we humans pick up online "vibes" Answer: by what we see and hear, we form an impression - sometimes sooner, sometimes later. More importantly, once that first impression imprints on a human mind, changing how we "see" a website is difficult, if not impossible. Why: always in the back of our minds is the "picture" of that first impression. That's why, when considering "first contact", think of M.E.G:

  • Meaningful.
  • Effective.
  • Gorgeous (and therefore, memorable) ...

... or we're doomed to join the millions of other websites that occupy that growing misty, hazy, swampy, forgettable area of the web we'll call "any-site-land". The last place you want to be on the web today is "any-site-land"; few go there and even fewer notice that you exist.

Key point: someties M.E.G. can be achieved with a "simple" website. Complexity and sophistication don't necessarily make a website "better".

Let's refer to these in the more tangible descriptions such as: "any-shape", "any-smell", "any-site". Are you starting to get the picture? Those websites that soar are definitely not part of the "any- ..." crowd.

Tip: some websites, even those that are particularly well structured, can make the fatal mistake of appearing like most of their competitors. Maybe there's comfort in blending in; being part of something; keeping a steady course made up of nothing too exciting. Yet those who bank the big notes rarely blend in. Rather, they run separately, contrarily, think differently, and certainly march to a different drum. Better: understand and reveal your hidden talents to unleash who you really are.

Let's delve further into the theme of "any-ness" and explore some ways that a website can avoid the "any-ness" affliction that if left unchecked, almost certainly results in terminal online decline.

Key point: when we first visit a new website, humans are incredibly good at picking up on the "scent" a site gives off, or of detecting the "vibes" a website purrs. Why: perhaps we've all been scammed, lied to, deceived, so often and so much that we simply become accomplished at spotting nonsense quickly. Or perhaps not.

Though, I'm willing to bet, most of us can't easily make sense of the often more subtle clues in direct ways. We may just let our built-in intuition dictate a feeling we may have about this or that website, whether that be good, bad, or average.

Yet here's some wonderful news: right now, all around the world, there are people on the web, credit cards in hand, check books (cheque books) open, ready to buy, subscribe or order - if they can but find that elusive website that, to them, has the right "shape", "sound" and "scent".

Your incredibly challenging mission, therefore, dear website publisher, should you choose to accept the challenge, is to mold or re-mold your website to match the shape, sound and smell that your visitors are looking for. Before we do that, let's step back and take a brief look at big brands, their benefits and drawbacks.

Why Big Brands Really Sell and Why You Should Care

For the large well known, well-established brand holders like Amazon, Google, Yahoo, Wall-Mart, and so on, we already know their smell, shape and sound, and for the most part, accept them for who they are.

Tip: acceptance is the key to trust. When we accept something, we begin to trust whatever we accept. Acceptance is another reason why large, successful companies and organizations often spend millions every year building, supporting and re-enforcing their brand. Their goal: to have us simply accept them, without question or hesitation. We smaller publishers can also learn and apply that knowledge in better ways when creating personal brands.

We may not agree with a brand that have come to know, but if we accept them, most communication barriers magically start to disappear. Where acceptance occurs, trust begins, a torrent of communication is unleashed creating the kind of dialog that allows serious marketing to manufacture desired results. Although small- and medium-sized organizations don't have the big marketing budgets and strategic know-how of larger organizations, we have two far more valuable advantages:

  • If large companies can master the art of acceptance, so can we using the same methods modified for our arena, and ...
  • Being small means we can react fast, adapt quickly to changing conditions. Large, often monolithic organizations with complex hierarchies and multilayered management structures are often like awkward dinosaurs: lots of power, yet little ability to move swiftly or notice subtle nuances, altered realities or changes that can realize massive benefits.

Tip: "Faceless corporateness" is often the Achilles heel; the crack in the dam; the unrecognized weakness (until too late) of many large organizations that for some strange reason are usually significantly more noticeable just before their downfall.

A Practical Blueprint to Create a Stunning New Website With the Right "Shape" and "Sound"

In the context of this article, shape and sound have special, important and specific meanings. Many components can contribute to creating an individual "recipe" that works. However, let's focus on what are the most important points to consider.

Why Choosing a Suitable Web Content Management System (CMS) is so Important for Today's Smart Web Publishers?

Unless you're already familiar with web design and web site optimization for search engines, without doubt, I recommend that you use an existing web design created for one of the many web Content Management Systems available - and there are many.

Usually, the best option is to choose a web Content Management System that is open to all, well proven and well established. Those three requirements should narrow the list down considerably. Through ideas shared below, you can start to appreciate how openness is a form of strength.

Visitors who access materials from InternetTIPS.com regularly, will know that here, we have opted to use the Joomla Web Content management System, both for our own websites and for most websites now being developed clients. There are many sound strategic client-centered justifications for the move to Joomla as a preferred web design platform, however, to be brief, Joomla is:

  • Open source: from a user perspective, open source essentially means that the software is free to use for commercial and non-commercial projects.
  • Unfettered: that means clients are not locked into (often expensive and restrictive) proprietary solutions. Customers always have access to thousands of alternative suppliers, so the chosen supplier can choose to provide value to stay competitive.
  • Powerful: you can construct a website made up of a few pages or one that has 50,000 pages or more - the software can cope and the web hosting can be expanded or reduced to fit the website size.
  • Flexible: Joomla-based websites can be used straight out of the box or modified further to meet different goals. Further modification is a better option that allows you to create your own unique website "voice". You can discover how to create your own online voice at unusual websites like www.InternetTIPS.com.
  • Adaptable: a fantastic variety of web designs can be applied to work with the Joomla web Content Management system. Look and feel is naturally the most visible aspect of a website. Some of today's Joomla-based designs are visually stunning and beautifully coded.
  • Template-based: templates save time and can help prevent reinvention of the same things over and over again. Lots of pre-designed web templates are available now. That means, most of the coding and design work can already be done for you. Furthermore, after you choose a web design template, you can have it adapted for you in hours or days rather than waiting weeks or months.
  • Extendable and extensible: thousands of superb add-ons or "plug-in" components are available to instantly meet additional specific requirements.

Why Use Modern CSS-Based Web Design Templates?

To provide an effective, credible, search engine optimized website today, you don't need to know the details of HTML, XHTML, CSS and so on. Don't worry if these terms don't mean much to you. The important sentence is that CSS is short for Cascading Style Sheets. If you do nothing else, insist on CSS-based web design for your website. Here's why.

A modern site designed using CSS techniques will most likely load quicker than older designs that don't use CSS. What's more, since your CSS-driven website places less load on a search engine's resources, they're able to scan your website more easily and quickly. Therefore, don't be too surprised if your rankings improve as a result.

In addition, if you choose a website template that is created using responsive website design, your finished result will not only be CSS-driven, but automatically suited to most modern web access devices: PCs, Apple Macs, tablet computers, smart phones, etc.

A template saves you time. The right kind of template is the solid foundation a successful web business requires.

So whenever possible, use a responsive web design template rather than create a custom design from scratch.

Tip: although you can contract a web designer to design a completely new website, arguably, that's much like having someone design a wheel: why would you do that if the basic idea of a wheel already exists?

Better: just choose an existing "wheel", then make yours better! That's how web templating works. Talented designers and coders work together to create a design, you buy a license to use the website design, then either further adapt that design yourself or ask another web designer to modify the existing design to match your requirements (while making sure you still follow the license conditions). Result: a stunning web presentation created in one tenth of the time that might otherwise be required. Even better: quicker production usually means lower cost.

What's more, the core web designs we use here at www.InternetTIPS.com are modern, state-of-the-art creations, crafted to engage, enthrall, entertain and persuade visitors, subscribers and members. The big benefit: therefore is that we can focus on adapting, optimizing for search engines, improving and personalizing a fully working website in record time - sometimes, reaching all of those goals at the same time is impossible, but we still try.

Manage the Time You Allocate to Each Task or Risk Drowning in a Sea of Despair

Time of course is the one resource that is always limited. Whether we do something or don't do anything, time passes anyway. The best way to beat the time bandits is to:

  • Get into the habit of actively making plans. There is nothing more powerful than paper and pencil when creating to-do lists. To-do lists work if we work them.
  • Allocate time to each stage. Don't let time slip away unused. Aim for the target: you may not always reach the bull, but you'll be closer than if you hadn't earnestly aimed in the first place. Be determined yet be gentle with yourself too.
  • Don't get too attached to one or more particular aspects. Being fluid and flexible means you can bend and twist to meet unexpected situations.

Whether you're seeking to create a commercial or non-commercial website or web business, I recommend that you don't get excessively caught up in the often overly precise look and feel vision that can sometimes dominate our minds, when our sole focus is to desire a website created from scratch.

Better: adapt an existing template to fit your needs. Why: that way, most of the work has already been done for you, and adapting an existing design is easier, quicker and massively cheaper than insisting on a totally unique design.

What's more, by freeing yourself to create authoritative decisions, you can more easily manage the time you have available to ensure that you can get those essential tasks completed on time and on budget.

The Link Between Designers, Programmers, Visitors, Content Creation and the Shape, Sound and Online "Scent" That Results

An often sobering reality is that after the rush that comes when we first visit a website, I doubt that few prospective visitors would waste more than minutes of their precious life force caring about the nuances of any particular website design choices. Essentially:

  • Designers are concerned about design because that's what designers do.
  • Web programmers are often convinced that program logic is essential because that's their main focus.
  • For visitors however, what really matters is what your website can do for them, pure and simple. That means, your real challenge is to provide valuable, useful, usable and actionable content, products and services that closely meet your visitors' original search requirements.

Tip: sure, you need both design input and programming "magic" to create engaging Web 2.0 presentations, just make sure that neither the design nor the web programming components interfere, hamper or restrict the process that your visitors go through to become buyers, subscribers or members. Establish the best design you can that meets the goals of your proposed website in the time you have allocated for that task.

By all means, make a careful decision, but make a choice. Why: so that you can move on to:

  • Website content creation.
  • Forging your utterly unique website message - remember, that's the brand of You at work.
  • Considering how to create a website "voice" made up of written words, spoken text and moving video, that "sounds" exactly like the particular sound your visitor is seeking. Here remember, you're matching a glove to a hand: aim to create a snug fit.
  • Develop multiple marketing strategies designed for different purposes to connect and stay in touch with visitors, subscribers, clients, customers and members. Use email, email newsletters, auto-responders. Why: they're simple, proven, low-cost and work time and time again.
  • Test new ideas and variations on a theme regularly. Surprises here are almost guaranteed.
  • Most important: communicate on a personal level. Why: when someone is reading your web page, email newsletter or auto-responder, it's just you and them, no-one else. For those few precious moments or minutes, you're "talking" one-to-one on a personal level with a stranger you most likely may never meet. That's why, getting personal works - but only after you have gained trust and acceptance. This is almost like the new form of communication for a new online world - and you're in the vanguard. Now you can revel.
  • Develop an overall strategy designed to convert visitors to buyers and / or registered subscribers.
  • For those who choose to buy and / or register, develop strategies to provide added value to support their buying decisions; to stay in touch; and to up-sell additional offerings. Learn about the art of timing during follow-up. Master what too soon means and when too late really is too late.

Why Strive to Discover Your Own Website Voice?

You're unique. Your website should likewise be unique. In uniqueness, your true power is waiting to be tapped - by you. The last three sentences summarize the core essence of this entire article.

Once you have overcome the challenge of discovering, creating and fine-tuning that totally unique voice that your website "speaks", you will find your own "groove".

Seriously, you will!

When you stop cloning other websites, worrying about what others are doing, and instead, start creating, releasing what it is that makes your website so valuable; when you unleash your true self, you'll find acres of gold.

Yes, you will!

You'll realize that you're in that amazing, special oasis of the mind reserved for top performers in every field - no matter what they do - the same place that athletes often describe as "The Zone".

When you find yourself in "The Zone", everything related to doing business on the web gets easier:

  • People seem attracted to you for no clear reason (at least, that's how it seems to you).
  • Sales go up (of course they do).
  • Whatever the state of the economy, business endures, and often gets better. Why: although a strong economy naturally creates opportunities, a weak or damaged economy creates different opportunities. Your solution as a flexible, world-class website publisher is to simply adjust to the opportunities around you.
  • Money flows to you (a condition that appears when individuals decide to make their own luck through steady focused work, careful, considered choices and an unwavering commitment, rather than wishing, hoping or - worst of all - playing the lottery chasing game).
  • Income opportunities seems to appear out of nowhere (yet even that is an illusion. Like the farmer who works hard to plant well in winter or spring, harvest comes when the time is right without any additional work. Because the early work leads to the harvest, without the essential preconditions, no harvest is possible. A web business is no different).

Let's Recap: the Blueprint Snapshot Action Steps Process

So to sum up:

  • Establish time limits for each major step you take.
  • Choose a low-cost "open source" Web Content management System global publishing and communication solution.
  • Find an existing web design template compatible with your chosen CMS that at least meets 2 or 3 of your look-and-feel goals. Definitely resist the natural urge to demand perfection.
  • Adapt or have someone else modify your chosen responsive web design template to your brand or to create "the brand of you".
  • Create your "message" and install your spiel on a home page and landing pages designed to urge visitors to subscribe with your website.
  • Populate your "new" website with unique, useful content regularly.
  • Even though you can engage your visitors with vision, movement, sound and text, remember, the power of words can change your world. Sometimes, there's nothing quite like simple text. A carefully crafted text headline can often be incredibly powerful without any further embellishment.

    For example, if we see headlines like: "At Last: A Universal Cure for Cancer Found!", or "Newsflash: Hacked Files Provide Proof That Aliens Live Among Us", most people would definitely give the associated article or content more than passing attention. When that happens, the goal of the headline is met.

    The author just wanted our attention long enough to read the headline: a result!

    Therefore, craft your headlines especially with uncommon care yet also be sure that the content is equal to the headline. Meaningful, accurate, relevant, with no deception, and no hype. 
  • Consider and devise ways to create opportunities for those with whom you interact.
  • Communicate often. Provide something worth reading, hearing, or watching. Let your content cement and build on your headline pointers to provide substance worthy of the attention your visitor devotes to your website.

Remember, you may have poured your heart and soul into creating your website content, yet in visiting and using your website, your visitors are using some of their life force too. So why not give them the gift of the best that you can be; the best that you have, for you can do no more - except become better and stronger for it!