If you’d like, I can read this to you!
I’m going to let you in on the “in-joke” right off the bat.
I am a websmith and my name is Ian. That makes me “Websmith Ian.” Get it?
I’ve been a websmith since the dawn of the internet, but I’ve only been totally dedicated to the craft for a few years now. I often joke that this career will be my last and it probably will be, because I get a lot of joy out of it and can’t imagine doing anything else for the rest of my life — which I hope continues for a couple more decades!
My interest in websmithing was preceded by an initial passion for computers and what they could do for businesses. Way back in 1985, I founded an Edmonton-based company called Aurora Bar Code Technologies Ltd. There was this newfangled “bar code technology” thing emerging that could be used for a myriad of computerized applications and I could foresee thousands of ways of using this technology in everything from inventory control to games.
Over the next 2½ decades I grew the company to over a dozen employees and three offices. Despite being the sole owner of the company and having a lot of managerial responsibilities, most of my day-to-day efforts were conceiving and proposing system solutions using bar code and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technologies.
RFID: Think tapping your credit card for a purchase or starting your car without a key. That’s RFID!
My passion became solving business problems with the creative application of automated identification technologies. I did it for over 26 years and loved it.
When the internet arrived, my company needed a website — and so did my wife’s art business, my church, and a lot of friends’ businesses. So, in what little spare time I had while working in my own business, I designed and built websites. In those days, a website really only had one or two purposes: to promote the business or educate the customer of the potential business, product, or service. Effectively, websites were “online brochures” that were posted and supported a myriad of other advertising and marketing initiatives.
These days, websites that are merely online brochures are destined for failure. Because they’re static (i.e. don’t change), Google repeatedly ranks them lower because they’re not growing and adding content. Worst of all, they leave out the one opportunity that they’re so potentially good at doing — converting a website visitor into a business prospect.
Conceptually, designing and building websites isn’t all that much different for me than it was when I was conceiving systems that used bar code and RFID; I’m still creatively using technology to solve business problems — and it’s still giving me the same kicks it did back in 1985!
My chosen profession gives me the ability to work wherever I have a computer with a high-speed internet connection. This not only allows me to travel when I work but enables my clients to do likewise. And, while many of my clients are within a bicycle ride of my home office, I have some that are thousands of kilometres away. Heck, one of them is in Australia! I like to say that I’m happy to work with anyone in the English-speaking world — because I’m a bit too old to learn a new language! But I’m not too old to learn about and apply the latest tools for designing and building websites.
One of the benefits that being in the latter half of my life and career gives me is the ability to choose my clients. Unlike 35 years ago when I was just starting out in the business world and I needed to do anything for anybody, I now have the luxury of being able to choose working on only the projects where I can be of the most help — and hopefully yours is one of them!
Thanks for reading this far! It shows me that you’re interested in someone you’re potentially going to be giving a lot of responsibility to and I appreciate your thoughtful consideration.
In closing, I’d like to let you in on what I consider my five website priorities. These are listed from the most important to the least and people are often quite shocked at what comes last. That’s because most businesspeople approach their website thinking “beautiful is best.” If we all thought that, then only 10% of the world would ever find a suitable mate!
Websmithian’s Five Website Priorities
- Your website needs to be found. You can’t totally rely on marketing, advertising, and publicity to drive visitors to your website. They need to find you through Google and Bing searches. That requires keyword research and knowing your potential customers and online competitors in order to develop a good SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy. If people can’t find you, then all of the other things on this list don’t matter.
- Your website needs to load fast. The attention span of your potential website visitors shrinks each year and expectations get higher. If your website doesn’t load more quickly than your competitors’, then your prospects will go somewhere else.
- Your website needs to run flawlessly on any screen. Depending on what business you’re in, 25 to 75% of your website’s visitors might be doing so using a smartphone. (The world average is currently a whopping 40%!) But they also could have a tablet computer, or a laptop, or a desktop — and your new website had better look good on all of those different screens!
- Your website needs to give its visitors an exceptional UX. What’s a UX? That’s techspeak for “user experience.” Boiled down, that means that screens and information and menus and buttons and all of the other components of the website need to be intuitive and straightforward. People are in a hurry and if they can’t easily find what they’re looking for they’ll move on.
- Your website needs to look good. Finally! Yes, your new website needs to look fantastic — with correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling, of course. The pictures and graphics all need to “pop” and be totally aligned with your corporate image and branding.
I actually created a short “explainer video” about these five things that you can view. (And I can make one of these quick “explainer videos” for you if you’re so inclined.)
I look optimistically forward to learning more about your business or organization and how Websmithian can make your website needs and dreams a reality!