December 2006 Newsletter

Make Your Website a Process, not a Project

Last month's newsletter looked at "Winning Through OODA." While this may have seemed to be a strange newsletter looking at an Air Force topic, I wanted you to start thinking of your website as a process and not a project to be undertaken every 2 or 3 years.

Quoting from about OODA:

Perhaps most importantly, Boyd was instrumental in explaining and disseminating the concept of "cycle time" and "getting inside the adversary's decision cycle." [emphasis added]

Think of this as getting inside your competitor's decision cycle. Every time they react to you, you are working on the next step, getting ready to move the target again - your products, your marketing, your website.

It is essential to shorten your cycle on website updating and improvements - providing more information and better navigation as well as search engine optimization (SEO). This will lead to more and better specifications, and more sales.

I recommend that you move web design and updating in house or at least get closer to your web designer to be able to make changes more frequently. I was pleasantly surprised while talking with advertisers at the USGBC Expo in Denver that several were already doing the website maintenance (or more) in house. I have identified several other IT or marketing people doing the website in house, looking outside for conceptual design help and search engine optimization as needed.

Jill Whalen of High Rankings Advisor suggests that you pull the SEO in house. Many of her thoughts are applicable to moving your web design in house.
[Website no longer available]

One question is which programs to use to maintain your website. I have been a fan of Microsoft's FrontPage since 1997 when I started using FrontPage. It was a major step up from handcoding the pages. About 3 years ago I converted to DreamWeaver when FP choked on 4specs for some undetermined reason. FP 2003 is the last version and Microsoft is going to 2 new programs - SharePoint Designer and Expression Web. Your decision will be partially based on how you do your hosting and what your IT department is comfortable with.

The 4specs website is on a UNIX server using Apache. The new Microsoft programs require a Windows server. I have an evaluation copy of Expression Web and find I would be forced to use Microsoft net.asp technologies to do some simple tasks I currently do with php. This is your choice. I plan to stay on a UNIX server using as the 4specs host for stability and reliability reasons.

While you may want to evaluate which program you use, I see 2 primary directions you can go using a UNIX server.

1. Dreamweaver. You can use a designer and consultant to set up the website format and structure and then your use Contribute to maintain and add new pages.

2. Content Management System. Your designer will set up the website structure and you can maintain the data using their tools. I will make two suggestions:



Colin Gilboy
Publisher - 4specs
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