Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Does Your Website Speak Your Voice?

As a designer, I find it fun and inspirational to work on my clients' websites.  I get excited by the possibilities, sometimes to the point of scaring them into hiding their coffee pots and other things that might add to my already high energy level.

The Internet is  a  wonderful medium for a person  like me, who not  only appreciates the creative side, but also the business side.  The global opportunities - the ability to communicate and reach out to people all over - simply by being present.  The Internet is the great equalizer.  You can have a presence right next to business giants like and - and pay the same amount of money for your domain, have access to some of the same software and build and design to your  heart's content.

Currently, I am working on my own website for  I try to do this about once every 18 months.  Everytime, the design is a showcase of the times we are living in - what new software can I test?  What new toys can I play with?  Everytime, I learn something new about myself and my business.

This time I am playing with some of the free softwares we offer on our servers.  Most of our sites are hard-coded and do not utilize free software, but times-are-a-changin'.  Our times are calling for everyone to be able to be more self-sufficient.  We still  want the same things, we just have to be more conscientious about how we get it and go about doing it.

We built Women on the Verge entirely on free software.  It was a little buggy, but the site is up, fun and growing and I am learning a lot on the way.  We utilized Dolphin, a community software, typically used for dating sites.  We customized it to meet our own needs, got some help from our own programming staff and are making it work, riding through the little bumps  along the way.

For the new Co-Op Web site, we are utilizing some of the same thoughts and energy.  Offer as much as we can for free, and show people some of the things that have taken us over a decade to learn.  It's a great feeling to share like that and I am enjoying this site more than I have any previous re-build. 

I think the most important lesson is this - Make your website speak for you.  Make sure your voice rings true in it's design, concept and capabilities. If you enjoy giving to your community - showcase that!  Let people know who you are and what you believe in, by your web presence.  You don't even have to bang people over the head with your ideas.  If you appreciate beauty - make your site beautiful. 

Sometimes it's easiest to brainstorm with a professional in how to best communicate who you are (that's my favorite part of my business) and sometimes you can best do  it on your own - just by listening to yourself. Regardless of how you get the message out, just make sure that you are staying true to who you are and what the business would like to communicate - beyond the business of business.

New and Valuable information we will be offering on the Co-Op  Web site. (please visit us when we're done!):

1. Do-it-Yourself section - Yes you can! And we give you the tools in which to do so.

2. The most common question I get is,"How much will it cost?" This will have a form that must now be filled out by all new/potential clients.

3. Free matters -  see how you can best utilize the Internet via free applications and software. We have a growing and monthly updated list.

4. Community – The Internet is global and I believe the best way to be found is by participating in community. Please check out our newest community, Women on the Verge, to see how wonderful it truly is
6. WordPress – While we have worked on WordPress for many of our clients, I decided to try it out for ourselves, too, with our own site  The software is offered on the servers that we host on and it’s free!

The new Co-Op Web site is nearly finished.  I will announce when it's ready for prime-time and ready for your feedback.

Thank you,
Ana Lewis
CEO of Co-Op Web, Inc.
Master Project Manager
Project Manager E-Business

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