Fear factors

February 2, 2013 at 7:48 am | Posted in social media | 19 Comments
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Fear of the unknown … AND the known!

A few years ago I commissioned a $2500 scorched-earth rebuild of my entire website.

While it all turned out right in the end, I thought it might amuse you to know how I felt at the time.

I expected a faint pang of apprehension at this point; now that it’s here, I’m downright scared.

I’ve written dozens of sites for clients, but this is different. It’s my site, my brand, my business and my money, um … line of credit, actually.

In short, it’s my arse online. I’m literally trembling as I type. Will I triumph, or come a cropper?

Let’s play the fortunately/unfortunately game to see:

Fortunately  I have a good man in my corner. He’s been my IT Guy for a couple of years and his service is second to none. He’s fast and smart and reasonably priced. He’s got offsite backup thingys coming out of his serial port, so that’s got to be good.

Unfortunately  my years of experience with web projects have taught me that they’re longer and stringier than the longest, stringiest bits of string. What starts as a five-page walk in the park can turn into a 15-volume Grimm’s fairy tale. Overnight.

Fortunately  I did things by the book. I wrote an explicit, four-page plan of what I wanted in terms of content, structure and functionality. I also wrote a creative brief, complete with sample images, to give the designer a clear sense of my vision. I even gave the URL of the site I wish to emulate – a site, ironically, whose content I edited with supreme confidence!

Unfortunately  until you see everything on screen, you don’t know how (if?) it’s going to work. And even if it’s all done right and I love it, my clients may not. They range from sole traders to corporate juggernauts; what pleases some may repel others. It all comes down to my professional judgment which, though unerring to date, feels strangely frail today.

Fortunately  I have a small circle of gifted, trusted, objective advisors. To these generous people I will send the site mock-ups that precede the main event.

Unfortunately  until we go live, I won’t know for sure whether all this time, money and effort will pay off.

Fortunately  the Empire is soon to be mentioned in a major magazine and featured on MYOB. It’s possible that hordes of new visitors will give me the feedback I crave.

Unfortunately  the site may not be ready in time for this exposure, and these rich, new prospects may hit (and flee) my tired, old site which is so in need of a makeover.

Fortunately  if the whole thing collapses in a screaming heap, I’ll at least get some amusing blog posts out of it.

All this goes to show that when you’re reinvesting your own hard-earned cash, even decades of expertise offer scant comfort.

Do you trust yourself?

Whence comes your confidence?

Your advice, warnings and hilarious anecdotes are invited at this point.

Wish me luck!


Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

17 Blog improvement ideas

January 9, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Posted in social media | Leave a comment
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Small changes can make a BIG difference. Photo by rwpeary.

A while ago I was asked to critique a blog. While many of my suggestions were client specific, there were some I thought you might find useful.

This list shows the sort of feedback I can give on your blog.

  1. Changing/rotating banner pics are a nice touch. A small explanatory caption for each would be even better. Especially for first-time visitors.
  2. Once you delve into older posts, it can take time to get back to the start. It’d be nice if clicking the banner pic returned readers to the home page.
  3. Captions on post images would satisfy scanning readers, intrigue deeper readers and generally draw more people into each post.
  4. An avatar (profile) pic of unusual dimensions makes it hard to use in other social media applications (which will crop it).
  5. Clicking your avatar should lead to your bio.
  6. Inconsistent capitalisation may distract some readers from your message.
  7. Responding swiftly to comments can elicit others and build readership and community.
  8. Clicking the post photos makes them much bigger than expected (or needed). This could disadvantage readers with slower internet connections.
  9. Given this blog’s many components, a three-column design like this could work better than a two-column design.
  10. ‘Rollover’ comments (which appear when you put your cursor over a link – see my blogroll on the right of this page) let you know what you’re getting into before clicking through. Some people prefer this.
  11. Are you on Twitter? I couldn’t find a way to follow you. How do you announce new posts to the world?
  12. One post had two hyperlinks. One was embedded, the other wasn’t. The former is neater and should be used consistently.
  13. One photo acknowledgement took two lines, where one would suffice.
  14. Abbreviations (it’s, we’re, don’t) would make the tone friendlier (and the writing shorter and easier to read).
  15. Many of the photos are so beautiful, it’s a shame to have them so small. Putting them above the text would solve this problem.
  16. Some posts contain many passive constructions. The active voice is shorter and more ‘up’.
  17. Bullets are great. If you can left align them, they’ll remain distinct without looking cramped or consuming too much white space.

Was any of that useful? You can probably see I’m bringing my copywriting expertise to bear on the content.

And why not? Blogs are just another vehicle for interesting, relevant messages expressed in perfect English.

Did you want anything explained more fully? Just leave a comment; I’d love to hear from you! 🙂

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