Thank you for visiting #HorseChat on Twitter! Tonight we discussed Graphic & Website Design and its importance in the Equine Industry. We also discussed Social Media marketing on #HorseSoMe at 10PM EST immediately after #HorseChat. If you missed the chat you can read some of the important topics and tips below. If you were a participant and would like to add anything that I may have left out, please feel free to comment below! And don’t forget to check #HorseChat out every Monday evening 9PM EST.
The topic we discussed was Web & Graphic Design for the Equine Industry. To learn a little more about me, please visit the Cowgirl Up page. I’ve been designing websites and working online since the mid 90’s and have owned horses just as long. I have an associates degree in Graphic Design and have attended various web and marketing conferences. I have a natural interest in design especially in the equine/western industries. I’m fascinated by rustic and retro designs and try to bring that and a very tactile feel into my designs. I enjoy attending big horse shows like AQHA Quarter Horse Congress and Equine Affaire each year to keep up on the trends. I also visit several design blogs and try to keep the latest technologies at hand. So to say the least, I’m a little versed in this topic. I’d like to thank Mandee Widrick of Horse & Family Magazine for including me on tonight’s chat!
Here were some of the great tips mentioned and discussed tonight:
- Having a website is a very economical way to advertise your business, farm, ranch, rodeo association or equine related service. In fact, even with many high-quality designers, it’s less than running an ad in the Yellow Pages for a year. Not to mention that once you get your ad printed in the Yellow Pages, you’re bound to that design, text, and layout for the next 12 months. No changes, no redo’s, no passing Go or collecting $200! Don’t be an advertising #FAIL.
- It’s important to have similar graphics across your entire marketing platform, from your main website to your Facebook and Twitter accounts, to keep a unified look. Finding the right Designer who can assist you in creating cross-platform graphics is important. If you only sign on with one company at a time, you run the risk of having different design styles for each site or app, which can sometimes create a distracting and confusing appearance, and that is the last thing you want for your business.
- CMS (Content Management Systems) are a popular way to keep your site updated. Programs such as WordPress.org, which is the self-hosted version of WordPress.com, can be installed and a custom theme designed specifically for use by a Client. Keeping your site up to date is as simple as pie. Cowgirl Expressions offers complete custom websites based on WordPress, including setup, installation, custom theme, plugin management and development, domain name registration and web hosting. A complete all-in-one inclusive package for the busy equine professional who wants a great looking website that is easy to manage.
- Site Structure is another important factor to consider when building a website or having one built. It helps your designer if you have a pre-determined Website Architecture. One mistake I often see when re-designing a website for a client is inflated menu structure. Have you ever seen a site where it says “Click here to visit Page 2”? What’s on page 2? Page 11? Maybe I, the website user, only want to visit your contact info (which should be in the footer of every page anyway). Are you going to force me to click through 17 pages of links first? Correct Architecture for your website is just as important as Architecture for your house. You need to have a well thought out blueprint ahead of the game. Think about what pages can be grouped together and what pages require their own separate link. Visit some other websites and ask yourself if you’re happy with their layout and keep it in mind for yours!
- Another very very important thing to remember when working with anyone is to get a contract! You might be on friendly terms with someone but simply know that a contract protects all involved in any business transaction. It makes spelling out the project details very easy and concise and prevents any confusion if there is ever a situation that warrants.
- Social media is here to stay! Learn it. Love it. Embrace it. It’s very important to have several Social Media profiles. Don’t take my word for it, watch the video!
- And finally, one other major point to note: NO MORE BLINKING PURPLE GLITTER TEXT! You’ve researched a great designer, you love the work they do, you’ve signed a contract and you’re on your way to having a great presence on the web. When your designer sends you a preview or rough draft of your layout, please DO NOT tell them that it looks great but would look better if they added some blinking purple glitter text! Your designer is a designer for a reason. They’ve studied the trends, know the software, have the talent. I’m sure you wouldn’t send your horse off to a professional trainer, pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars a month, and then hover over them telling them when to apply leg pressure or what bit to use.
There were also several other great points that only got touched upon briefly: Flash based websites are bloated, clunky, hard to edit, and are often very bad for search engine ranking. You should market for your audience first and sales second. A website “dot com” is a lot easier to remember than a 10-digit phone number. When you only have seconds to present your memorable info, would you rather quickly ramble off “Check out MySite.com” or hope the potential prospect can remember “209-555-4823”?
As an incentive to everyone participating in #HorseChat, Cowgirl Expressions offered a 10% discount for any one purchase. If you missed out on the offer, we will run it for a few more weeks. Just remember to mention you participated in #HorseChat when you contact us for work. Thanks again for your participation and don’t forget to check it out next week. #HorseChat every Monday evening 9PM EST.