The Truth About Web Design


You are sitting with the IT Manager of a potential new client, they have been through your portfolio and like what they have seen and recognise that their website needs some professional help. This would appear to be a very good scenario and it is time to go in and close the deal. But wait the IT Manager just asked me what I thought of the corporate logo or the old website design? I had presumed that was why they had called us … because well it is brutal to say the least.

Like a lamb to the slaughter I tell the truth. The design is horrid and needs a complete rework and that is one of  the first places we will start in our brand exercise. There I have said it and I know the client will appreciate my professional honesty, except the look on his face tells me different. I just attacked his work, his baby he was the one that built this, this, what words can describe this brutal attempt at design! There is no place to go, backtracking is a waste of time and the meeting is rapidly coming to a close … but not the deal. No that deal is not going to close, at least with me.

You would think if you have done this once (and I have) you would never do it again! But alas sometimes you get so caught up in the honesty of the moment (and I have) that you forget and blurt out again how bad something is … and again go home without the deal in your pocket. Generally I presume it is not because you want to show the client how bad something is, but rather it is because you are so excited, as you know your team can make a very good impression and build something that works for the client.

Lessons learned in over 14 years in this business? First designers design, sometimes well and sometimes not so well, but for the most part they make very poor software coders. Second software coders write code and again sometimes well and sometimes not so well, but for the most part they make very poor designers. Third, it is probably best not to tell either group that generalisation to their face. It does not go over well.

Lastly and I know this so well from my years in the life insurance sales, a lifetime ago, when you know you have closed a deal and everyone is comfortable and chatting with their guard down … shut up!

Ian Conklin is the President of OTR Web Solutions a web development company since 2000 with offices in Canada, USA, Europe and South America.


Social Media – Luxury or Necessity


Ask yourself this question. Will my business succeed without regular interaction with my customers and employees? I think most business people recognise that they will not be successful if they eliminate or restrict communication with their customers and employees.

What is Social Media? Quoting direct from Wikipedia,  … define social media as “a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content.”[1] Social media is media for social interaction as a super-set beyond social communication. Enabled by ubiquitously accessible and scalable communication techniques, social media has substantially changed the way organizations, communities, and individuals communicate.”

Well that was a mouthful … in simpler terms social media allows people and business to communicate and interact within a public forum. Customers and employees are expecting companies today to listen, engage and respond and that is what Social Media does best.

The ever-present fear from many businesses is that if we implement a Social Media platform for our business, people or employees will say something bad about the company, our services or products. The truth is they are saying it regardless and what a Social Media strategy accomplishes is to allow you to monitor your reputation and deliver your message. The other side of that coin is people are going to say good things about your company, services and products. Social Media interacts with every touch-point within your business from sales to customer service to human resources.

Another aspect of Social Media or what is now often called Social Business is the corporate blog which allows for you to become recognised as an expert in your field. People read what you write and you give them the opportunity to ask questions and you answer … well it doesn’t get much better than that for positive reinforcement of your business. Another benefit of the corporate blog is that it adds regular pages of fresh content to your website and I cannot think of a single search engine that does not like that to take place. People read your blog, “like” your blog on Facebook, share your post or Tweet your post and all that creates links and traffic to your website. So aside from interacting with your customers and employees you are also building traffic to your website!

Again quoting from Wikipedia,  … According to a report by Nielson “In the U.S. alone, total minutes spent on social networking sites has increased 83 percent year-over-year. In fact, total minutes spent on Facebook increased nearly 700 percent year-over-year, growing from 1.7 billion minutes in April 2008 to 13.9 billion in April 2009, making it the No. 1 social networking site for the month.”

The concluding fact is that business cannot ignore Social Media and they must participate and have a Social Media strategy in place. Social Media is not a luxury or even a necessary evil, it is a positive tool for business to hear, communicate and interact with their customers and employees. Without a Social Media platform and strategy in place, you risk being left behind your competition.

What is a blog post without a call to action … if you recognise that your business needs to participate in Social Media, OTR Web has solutions for your company. Visit our website, our Facebook page or contact OTR and we will discuss how we can help work with your business.

Ian Conklin is the President of OTR Web Solutions a web development company since 2000 with offices in Canada, USA, Europe and South America.