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The Best Recipe for a Successful Website Redesign

Kristen Lindsey - Wednesday, August 31, 2016

As a business owner, successfully designing or revamping your website can be a daunting task.

Why is it so tough?

Outsourcing it can be overwhelming, with options ranging from moonlighting college students to huge national agencies; prices range from one thousand to tens of thousands of dollars. And, even if you have the skills, doing it yourself may not be the best use of your time. It’s enough to give you indigestion.

Good news! We have the perfect recipe for a successful website design project that will leave you satisfied and content (and get results!).

Ingredient #1: Strong Client Vision


I know, I know. You were expecting me to share everything a web agency should do for you, but guess what: you have complete control over one of the most important ingredients -- your vision for the site!

Taking time before starting a redesign project to map out a) your organizational goals, and b) how your web presence will support those goals is THE foundation of the entire project. Plus, if you are working with a good web company they are going to ask for this anyways.

Other important things to think through:

  • Who are your primary audiences?
  • What calls-to-action should be on the site?
  • What is your desired look and feel?
  • What content needs do you have?
  • Where will you obtain photos?
  • What other websites you like or dislike and why?

By answering these questions you can gain a clear vision of how your site will differentiate you from your competitors. It will also be easy to communicate this vision quickly to potential web partners. (We actually have a nifty project questionnaire with all these questions we give to prospective clients - you can view it here)

Ingredient #2: Strong Agency Strategic Input

You are responsible for the vision ingredient. But a good web agency should be able to interpret that vision and provide strategic input, apply current technology and use clear processes to offer “right-sized” technology recommendations. If you meet with an agency that pushes latest technology trends or makes recommendations that don’t seem in alignment with your business goals or target audiences, steer clear. Find a company that offers web solutions in a way you can understand and feel confident about, as well as ones that reflect your company brand and focus on the needs of your potential customers. a

Ingredient #3: Communication

Our web project recipe calls for a double portion of the “communication” ingredient. Even more than technical skills, good communication at every step of your project is critical to its success. If a web agency provides a scope of work that doesn’t clearly define the project goals and deliverables, they have failed to deliver this ingredient. Technical knowledge is not required to read a proposal and determine if it will deliver the site you need at a price reflective of its value.

Getting internal stakeholder buy-in is another example of the importance of good communication. If you are a one-person company and can make all the decisions, great! But most of us need input from co-workers or higher ups to make sure the new website will work for all departments. Getting internal participation and feedback, then clearly communicating that to your web agency will help the process go smoothly.

Some other examples of how both an agency and a client can contribute the communication ingredient:

An agency should:

  • Provide a clear, simple to understand proposal without jargon
  • Speak and write in layman’s terms 
  • Provide tools that help the client communicate their needs
  • Provide a simple, clear process for the project -- make it easy!
A client should:

  • Provide the agency with clear vision and direction
  • If you don’t understand something -- ask!
  • Use tools made available to you by the agency -- they’ve done this a lot

Ingredient #4: Client Leadership

Sorry, we’re back to you again. You thought you could outsource all of this, didn’t you? Well, at each stage your leadership is necessary to keep the website project on track. How can you lead? Some examples:

  • Make sure you understand the scope of the project right from the start
  • Give feedback on the agency’s approach -- is it supporting your vision?
  • Use the skills of your design partner -- they are technical professionals; it’s what you’re paying them for.
  • Expect timeliness, clear communication and solid solutions from your agency. If you don’t get these, speak up right away.

Ingredient #5: Digital Agency Skills

Yup, finally. Something the agency needs to contribute. Maybe you initially thought this was the only ingredient. But these technical skills, while extremely important, are pretty useless without all the other ingredients.

Your agency has very specific skills such as strategic thinking, graphic design, programming and coding, search engine optimization, user experience design, effective project management and more. These skills combined with all the other critical ingredients above are truly the best recipe for a successful website.

I hope this will help you feel a little more empowered and in control when starting a new company website. Pairing your vision and leadership with the right, results-driven agency will result in a powerful program that will grow your business.



Apokrisis is Now Thrively Digital!

Kristen Lindsey - Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Introducing Thrively Digital! Tah Dah!

Every business should self-evaluate and determine if their customer proposition, brand values and core mission are in line with public perception and outward presence of the company. Am I right?

Well, after 13 years, our partners did just that. And while our core services and mission were strong, we realized our business name and perceived brand promise were no longer in alignment. So after careful thought and invaluable assistance from our community, we are proud to announce we are changing our name to Thrively Digital.


Our new name and logo better reflect our services and the transformational business growth we strive to provide. They also embody unique benefits we offer as a boutique, digital-only marketing agency providing right-sized business solutions that empower clients to make strong business decisions.

And let’s be honest -- we know it was really difficult to pronounce Apokrisis! As partner Monica Whitt said so well at the onset of this endeavor, “How can we deliver on our promise of results, approachability and good communication when it’s so hard to say our name?”

The rebrand transcends a new logo and name. Extensive research with colleagues and clients honed our brand values and vocalized our approach to solving clients’ digital marketing challenges. And we plan to better “live” these at every level of our business:

  • Approachable
  • Proactive 
  •  Productive
  •  Respectful
  •  Communicative
  •  Professional
  •  Transparent
  •  Nimble
  •  Experts
  •  Knowledgeable

Why Thrively?

We sought a name that would embody client success. Extensive customer interviews and testing pointed to a simple yet key outcome we provide for our client base -- we help them thrive.

About the Logo

We are grateful that MadDog Graphx leveraged their talent to express our new Thrively Digital brand identity. They did a phenomenal job creating a visual expression of our values and purpose.

"Thrively came to us looking for a mark for their new name which would reflect the services they offer and enforce brand values. Thrively applies their core values of approachability, warmth and responsiveness in addition to the professionalism and tech-savvy required in the constantly evolving digital field. Their mission is to provide digital solutions that will grow their client’s results—and from that, the Thrively mark started to take shape.

The icon combines the ideas of growth and communication, while the wordmark supports approachability through the soft edges, spacing and lowercase letter forms of “thrively,” paired with with clean professionalism and data-driven results in “DIGITAL.” The icon was designed to be used in a variety of different spaces, including the square icon prevalent in social media and online presence." - Aurora Hablett, MadDog Graphx Art Director




About the Brand

We were very lucky to have Ruth Rosewarne Kimerer, a hugely valuable member of our team, in her RK Consulting persona assist us in bringing the Thrively brand to life. While many brand components had been floating out there for years in our communications, Ruth really drilled it down to a core essence and provided us with the tools to consistently live our brand moving forward. Her branding process is exceptional and we highly recommend it.

Finally, we hope you, a valued partner in our success, will interpret this rebrand as a strong statement of Thrively’s confidence in Alaska’s businesses and people. Regardless of the economic climate, we are here for the long haul and committed to helping you not just survive, but thrive.

Last but not least, we would be remiss if we send a huge shoutout to everyone who was involved in this project. Thank you! We are deeply indebted to you and appreciate all your time and feedback.



MozCon 2013: Reflections and Takeaways

Scott Thomas - Friday, July 12, 2013

For the second year in a row, Apokrisis has sent me to MozCon, an annual conference focusing on SEO and Inbound Marketing in Seattle. Over the three days of sessions and networking opportunities, I was exposed to a huge volume of excellent information. I will not attempt to completely summarize every day, but pick out some my personal highlights. Overall, I felt that over 80% of the presentations ranged from Great to Awesome (paraphrasing the categories from post-conference survey here).

Day 1

The day started with Rand Fishkin providing an excellent review of current situation and the top five trends to watch for in SEO and marketing in the coming year. Richard Baxter demonstrated a method to target top influencers in a field, and Avinash Kaushik wowed the crowd with an entertaining and energetic presentation on how to Simplify Complexity for Higher ROI. Afterwards, I was lucky enough to thank him for the presentation and for my experience with his Market Motive Analytics course last year (yes the class is absolutely awesome and you should take the class if you work with web analytics). Among my personal highlights and takeaways from the afternoon sessions included actionable tactics for link building, the imperative to make everything mobile friendly, and a summary of the Moz SEO Ranking Factors 2013 survey and correlation study.

Day 2

Day 2 started off with an excellent presentation by Phil Nottingham on Video Marketing Strategies – Phil provided everything one needs to get started on utilizing video in online marketing strategies. Joanna Lord’s presentation on Customer/Brand Loyalty followed up on the importance of building your brand, which I felt was one of the overall themes & takeaways from the conference. Other excellent presentations covered eCommerce SEO, relationship building, optimization and testing, dealing with the loss of keyword KPIs, local search, and the future of user experience. 

Day 3

Rand Fishkin: MozCon 2013

For day three, there were many excellent presentations, but I will focus only on three that felt the most critical to me. Dr. Pete Meyers presentation on the future of rankings was a startling wake up call that if all you know is where you rank, you don’t really know anything. Eyeballs and attention are being kept on Google whenever possible (many answers often provide directly or in the Knowledge Graph). Of the 10,000 SERPs that they track for the

MozCast, only 15% have no rich information. Said another way, only 15% in this sample are in the generic “10 Blue Links” format.

Wil Reynolds knocked it out of the park (again!) in his presentation “The Internet Hates Us. Can RCS Change That?” If you are unfamiliar with the RCS term, check out the Real company stuff… It’s a struggle slidedeck from Wil’s presentation at the 2012 Mozcon. My key takeaways from the presentation were: respecting other disciplines, get out of the SEO echo chamber, create things that add value for the long term (build the brand); and most importantly – learn to do these things before other agencies learn how to do SEO and Inbound Marketing better.

Rand Fishkin brought it all together for me with “The Secret Ingredients of Better Marketing.” The key takeaway for me was the value of being transparent, honest, authentic, open & generous. To paraphrase a key point: if all you do is mimic your competitors, then you’ve already lost. 

The other speakers on day 3 were excellent as well, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll end my day 3 summary there. 

My Personal Takeaways for SEO and Inbound Marketing

Scott Thomas with Roger

The shift is on at Google and Bing to entity based search, and those of us in the search marketing industry must pivot accordingly. Building brands and authenticity will be critical to establish visibility across a variety of channels. I was inspired by the strategic emphasis at the conference and I hope to put what I’ve learned to use in the coming year. Thanks again to Moz for putting MozCon together and the shining examples of leadership displayed by the speakers. I cannot wrap this up without mentioning that a huge benefit of the conference is the opportunity to meet so many great people in the industry, from all over the world, no less! 

Spending time in Seattle is another highlight as well - great food, coffee, sightseeing, and culture. A heart-felt thank you to Moz for another great conference. I plan on going back in 2014! 

Other MozCon 2013 Resources




Opportunity for Rural Alaska Tourism Businesses

Kristen Lindsey - Friday, September 19, 2008
Hi All. I wanted to pass on a message to anyone out there who is involved with an rural Alaska tourism business seeking assistance in launching or growing their business. Here is a note sent out by Dru Garson, Tourism Development Specialist with the State of Alaska:

++++++++++++++++

Greetings!
 
The Alaska Department of Commerce, Community & Economic Development, Office of Economic Development is pleased to announce the call for applications for the second round of our tourism mentorship program.

The Tourism Mentorship Assistance Program (TMAP) is an 18 month tourism business development program funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration and partners current successful business owners in Alaska’s visitor industry with potential business owners committed to furthering the development of the visitor industry in Alaska’s rural areas.

TMAP will provide potential entrepreneurs with an opportunity to work with experts in the visitor services industry and assist them in developing their marketing, advertising, management and other skills related to developing a tourism business.
 
Currently, we are recruiting entrepreneurs in rural Alaska (lodging/B&B’s & guiding operations are highly encouraged to apply) and successful tourism business owners throughout the state to serve as mentors. Included in this packet are the application materials and a brochure that includes additional information about the program.

If you know anyone interested in this opportunity, please feel free to forward this information to them. Applications are due October 15th, 2008 and can be submitted by mail, email or fax.  If you have any questions about the program or about our services, please feel free to contact us anytime.  And for more information, check out the TMAP website here.

Sincerely,


Dru Garson
Tourism Development Specialist, Office of Economic Development
(907) 465-2162
[email protected]

Odin Brudie
Tourism Planner, Office of Economic Development
(907) 465-5466
[email protected]




Score One for the Small Businesses: Brand and Social Media

Kristen Lindsey - Friday, September 12, 2008
I just attended an luncheon for my local marketing club, and the speaker was with a multi-national branding agency who talked about brand strategies for some huge, multi-national clients.

The talk was thought-provoking and on many counts had some really excellent points on developing a brand image that resonates with target customers. It also had loads of pretty pictures and logos and fonts to back up the brand that probably cost a gazillion dollars.

It was most interesting, though, to hear the answer to a question about how their branding process was impacted by the proliferation of social media and other Web 2.0 means for people to communicate. Her answer was that it is a place for brands to hear what customers have to say and respond quickly. That was it.

I followed up and asked if they felt that their process for developing a brand responded to consideration of all these new ways people were conversing about brands online, but the answer I got was that their client communication was the thing impacted by Web 2.0 tools, not target custoemr communication.

How can a huge company that helps organizations around the world with brand image not require that their process and thinking be proactively influenced by these new communication styles? How can an agency that is paid humongous gobs of money only be able to see Web 2.0 communication venues to be a place for reactive response for a brand?

I am still trying to grasp this, but my first thought is that this represents a real competitive advantage for smaller businesses who do not have astronomical budgets to afford branding agencies.

Can it not be argued that being brand focused AND proactively reaching out to online communities with a brand message can be more powerful than all the millions of dollars spent on branding and implementation by large companies? I am not saying it is easy, but to me it seems that smaller businesses have the agility and scale to do it more successfully and consistently.

What are your thoughts?