Five Web Design Strategies to be Thankful for on Thanksgiving

turkey.jpgThere’s no shortage of things to be thankful for, which seems especially apparent in a year when the world has gone mad. In the professional realm this year, five things make for a sustainable difference, for which I am thankful.

1. Search Demonstrates Value in Every Sense of the Word

Many of our clients are private businesses that cater to the B2B market. More are perceiving the value of Search and understand the concept that analytics can inform their content and: 

more businesses are committing to a long-term Search program, which is needed to see trends and patterns upon which educated marketing decisions are made.

At RainCastle, a relationship business, the result of the Search program we’ve maintained consistently for several years, is that in 2015, more than 50% of our new business began as web leads from companies with whom we have had no past relationship.

This year new clients came to us from Italy, Toronto and California in addition to from local businesses, all from Search!

This wellspring of additional opportunities and relationships afforded by our disciplined Search program is something for which I am thankful.

2. Marketers Are Using Real Photography

As the world has become more mobile, the importance of great imagery has grown. Pictures are in fact replacing thousands of words. Good pictures tell stories. Good pictures are poised to make a big return.

The decline in the use of commercial photography coincided with the rise of the internet and fast, easy use of royalty-free stock photography. 

I am seeing a cautious return of clients making the investment in custom photography — to provide imagery for their websites, trade show booths and collateral — that tells a more compelling and accurate brand story and differentiates from the finger pointing at screen, millennials in open cubicle space, handshake banality to which we have become accustomed.

The merging of digital technology and photography offers fantastic possibilities to clients that was available only at great cost a few years ago. I directed a photo shoot last week for a medical device client in which we had to capture images in a special hospital operating suite. With the dim lighting, reflective surfaces between products and clinicians required for the images, it was next to impossible to include everything in the photos, let alone have them be well lit.

Our photographer, Jeff Coolidge, was able to separately expose several areas of the room, move a wall “in-camera” and composite the different exposures in real time, which blew me away! The images looked perfect and nobody would ever know the technology sleight-of-hand that made it possible.

Images matter again, certainly something I am grateful for and I think clients will be too.

3. Celebrate Clients That Place Their Trust

Relationships are like seasons; a cold, unpleasant winter makes the spring and summer that much sweeter. Lesser relationships make me appreciate the good ones even more.

I’ve reflected on what makes a good business relationship good and it’s a lot of things: shared goals, collaboration, mutual respect, good chemistry, responsiveness, sense of humor and so on. Underlying it all is the building of trust.

When you work with somebody for a while and they come to rely on you and trust your judgments, you will go to the ends of the earth not to disappoint them.

4. Blog for Health, Wealth and Knowledge

Blogging is like walking my dog in the winter. I love my dog but I don’t always enjoy her ponderous walks, sniffing every blade of grass, patch of dirt or tree trunk. It is especially tedious on a windswept, 20-degree day. But then I feel guilty if I deprive her. NOT blogging instills the same guilt.

Our subscription base increased this year and several new clients identified that reading our blog was a positive decision factor in their choice to work with us.

Blogging has made me smarter and more well-informed, which is good for our clients, our bottom line and my understanding of the digital, marketing and branding worlds, all of which I am thankful for…but still occasionally lazy.

5. Meditate to Maintain Focus

In the digital world, things only got faster this year. Already blurred, the lines between work and home life continued to merge. With stepping up our social media presence at RainCastle, I found myself reading and tweeting at odd hours and failing to resist answering those ubiquitous after-hours emails from business colleagues and clients. And then there was the list-making before work, that got buried beneath the needs of employees and colleagues, that greeted me when I arrived at my office.

I am thankful that I could and often did fall back on my meditation to focus my mind and drown out the noise that threatens productivity and creates anxiety every day.

Meditation is to the mind what  (some of you may remember) “de-fragging” was to early computers.

Just as bits and bytes fragment and disperse within your hard drive causing your machine to become painfully slow and perform poorly, your mind becomes equally cacophonous and dysfunctional until you take a few minutes to “defrag” it through meditation. I’m thankful I do it and believe it has made a difference not only to me but also to my colleagues and family.

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!

Paul Regensburg
President/Creative Director

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