Gini Dietrich

Future of Websites

By: Gini Dietrich | November 11, 2010 | 
61

The future of websites causes big debate. Where should I build a web presence? Do I have to have a corporate website? Can I build my corporate site on Facebook or a blog?

To that effect, the Arment Dietrich Facebook question of the week comes from Ann Manion. She congratulates us on reaching 1,000 fans (thank you…and a photo contest ensues) and she asks, “Is the classic website losing relevancy? What do you think the future holds for websites in an increasingly blog loving world?”

(If you can’t view the video in your RSS reader you’re just DYING to see it, you can click here and it’ll magically appear.)

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

  • Make sure that your website is built on an easy to use content management system that gives you flexibility, SEO capabilities and integration with social media. Being able to change and add things on the fly to keep your site fresh every day without IT intervention is a beautiful thing my friends.

    Love the dog bark in the background, Gini!

  • Make sure that your website is built on an easy to use content management system that gives you flexibility, SEO capabilities and integration with social media. Being able to change and add things on the fly to keep your site fresh every day without IT intervention is a beautiful thing my friends.

    Love the dog bark in the background, Gini!

  • ginidietrich

    @abarcelos YES!!! And funny, huh? I was like, “Well, there’s Jack.”

  • ginidietrich

    @abarcelos YES!!! And funny, huh? I was like, “Well, there’s Jack.”

  • HowieSPM

    This is really good advice. As per my comment yesterday it’s really important to own your content and your main sales channels, but always look to integrate other ways of reaching your customers. Your Vitamin water case is great. Today just over 1 in 6 US consumers will log into Facebook, and only 1 in 12 will actually do an activity on Facebook (like comment, Like, update status etc). Huge pool, but not EVERYONE. But most I bet 5 in 6 go online and watch TV.

    Your web presence needs is dictated by two main factors. Your business type and your monetary resources. Boeing can definitely have a neat Facebook page showcasing planes to consumers with interior views etc. But they need a massive website to handle all the specification data, engineering drawings etc so a customer who might spend $200mil on a plane and is comparing them to Airbus can get what they need. Vitamin Water doesn’t need much of a Website. And they probably feel it’s ok if in 3 years Facebook is an also ran like MySpace and just migrate. Depends on the level of interaction and data you want with/from your customers.

    And I agree 100% if possible funnel everyone to the web presence you own. But if you can work out ways to integrate all you do seamlessly even better! I will end with the most important lesson I have ever been taught and it captures everything you just said Gini: Impermanence. Everything you do, be prepared to adapt in the future.

    There is only one thing in life that is guaranteed in life, change. – The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

  • HowieSPM

    This is really good advice. As per my comment yesterday it’s really important to own your content and your main sales channels, but always look to integrate other ways of reaching your customers. Your Vitamin water case is great. Today just over 1 in 6 US consumers will log into Facebook, and only 1 in 12 will actually do an activity on Facebook (like comment, Like, update status etc). Huge pool, but not EVERYONE. But most I bet 5 in 6 go online and watch TV.

    Your web presence needs is dictated by two main factors. Your business type and your monetary resources. Boeing can definitely have a neat Facebook page showcasing planes to consumers with interior views etc. But they need a massive website to handle all the specification data, engineering drawings etc so a customer who might spend $200mil on a plane and is comparing them to Airbus can get what they need. Vitamin Water doesn’t need much of a Website. And they probably feel it’s ok if in 3 years Facebook is an also ran like MySpace and just migrate. Depends on the level of interaction and data you want with/from your customers.

    And I agree 100% if possible funnel everyone to the web presence you own. But if you can work out ways to integrate all you do seamlessly even better! I will end with the most important lesson I have ever been taught and it captures everything you just said Gini: Impermanence. Everything you do, be prepared to adapt in the future.

    There is only one thing in life that is guaranteed in life, change. – The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

  • consultantlaunc

    Gini..I think there is a niche for static websites — consultants who don’t feel they have the time, expertise, or money to maintain a more active content-driven strategy. These are the people who don’t want (or don’t think they are capable of sustaining) a blog and really just want a presence. They recognize that they need a presence of some kind b/c every prospect’s first question tends to be “what’s your website” and they understand that presence gives them “credibility.”

    I have a few clients like this and you can talk about refreshing content to boost search results until you’re blue in the face, but the reality is that they’re primarily interested in a reactive presence (prospects who type in their address). Shortsighted? Yes. Misguided? Probably. But this is a group that wants to select their customers and focus on one-on-one relationship building.

    I think the best you hope for at this point is to give them a clean, simple presence that’s easily updatable; encourage them to post some free, searchable (and downloadable) content and hope that at some point they’ll be willing to try a blog. The additional reality is that some people can live quite nicely without Facebook and Twitter and confine their “marketing” to a static site and their LinkedIn presence.

    Best wishes. Get some sleep.

    Peter

  • consultantlaunc

    Gini..I think there is a niche for static websites — consultants who don’t feel they have the time, expertise, or money to maintain a more active content-driven strategy. These are the people who don’t want (or don’t think they are capable of sustaining) a blog and really just want a presence. They recognize that they need a presence of some kind b/c every prospect’s first question tends to be “what’s your website” and they understand that presence gives them “credibility.”

    I have a few clients like this and you can talk about refreshing content to boost search results until you’re blue in the face, but the reality is that they’re primarily interested in a reactive presence (prospects who type in their address). Shortsighted? Yes. Misguided? Probably. But this is a group that wants to select their customers and focus on one-on-one relationship building.

    I think the best you hope for at this point is to give them a clean, simple presence that’s easily updatable; encourage them to post some free, searchable (and downloadable) content and hope that at some point they’ll be willing to try a blog. The additional reality is that some people can live quite nicely without Facebook and Twitter and confine their “marketing” to a static site and their LinkedIn presence.

    Best wishes. Get some sleep.

    Peter

  • HowieSPM

    @consultantlaunc I agree. As I mentioned type of business and monetary resources drive everything. I have a really really cool flash based template for my website that is static because I could not afford to start out with the full package, nor afford to integegrate a blog yet. And the person who does my web work has a one page site until she also has the money to upgrade. We all have to start somewhere.

  • HowieSPM

    @consultantlaunc I agree. As I mentioned type of business and monetary resources drive everything. I have a really really cool flash based template for my website that is static because I could not afford to start out with the full package, nor afford to integegrate a blog yet. And the person who does my web work has a one page site until she also has the money to upgrade. We all have to start somewhere.

  • This is brilliant, Gini, and I totally agree. I see Peter’s comment below and I know what he is saying but I think you have to really think on every point you made in the video. I know my content is being found. You know as a prolific blogger with great content that you drive traffic here. I appreciate that. We have to be willing to realize that change is inevitable and embrace change.

    If you can’t find a website because it is impossible to Google, you still have no reason to have a presence. Moving + Great content = visibility. I can tell you it works for me!

  • This is brilliant, Gini, and I totally agree. I see Peter’s comment below and I know what he is saying but I think you have to really think on every point you made in the video. I know my content is being found. You know as a prolific blogger with great content that you drive traffic here. I appreciate that. We have to be willing to realize that change is inevitable and embrace change.

    If you can’t find a website because it is impossible to Google, you still have no reason to have a presence. Moving + Great content = visibility. I can tell you it works for me!

  • consultantlaunc

    And that’s great for you, Julie. But a lot of people don’t want or need that. They don’t spend the time on Twitter and blogging (and I presume other platforms) that you do — and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s all about your SM strategy and being true to that. You want — and perhaps need — the visibility for your type of business; others don’t because they’re less transactional. If you have the URL and just want to create your real estate presence, Google doesn’t matter. If you work in a relative closed market (e.g., niche consulting, private-equity), Google may not matter. As HowieSPM notes below, I can set up a site using a WordPress theme that will get you found, add some cool bells and whistles as widgets that will give your site the feel that you want, and have a perfectly content client who’ll return when he or she is ready to go to the next step, which might be some geotargeting (site profiles on either location-based platforms or professional sites), a blog, comments on targeted blogs, or downloadable content that further establishes your status as an industry expert.

  • consultantlaunc

    And that’s great for you, Julie. But a lot of people don’t want or need that. They don’t spend the time on Twitter and blogging (and I presume other platforms) that you do — and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s all about your SM strategy and being true to that. You want — and perhaps need — the visibility for your type of business; others don’t because they’re less transactional. If you have the URL and just want to create your real estate presence, Google doesn’t matter. If you work in a relative closed market (e.g., niche consulting, private-equity), Google may not matter. As HowieSPM notes below, I can set up a site using a WordPress theme that will get you found, add some cool bells and whistles as widgets that will give your site the feel that you want, and have a perfectly content client who’ll return when he or she is ready to go to the next step, which might be some geotargeting (site profiles on either location-based platforms or professional sites), a blog, comments on targeted blogs, or downloadable content that further establishes your status as an industry expert.

  • I believe that blogs and social media will not be the death of the traditional corporate website. Instead, these sites will serve as a grounding mechinism for both social and traditional marketing. I understand the excitement behind the emerging customer-centric impression marketing movement, but customers can only supply so much feedback. Where will you get drivers, manuals, and a single address for someone to contact the company’s sales reps?

    So, no, I don’t see blogs doing in websites. I do, however, see a future without browser based websites. As desktops transition more to home entertainment systems, I can see the phone evolving into our connection point and mobile apps becoming the new hub for companies.

    consultantlaunc brings up a good point too…about the value of time. There are still some companies that don’t even have websites because they are old school or in markets that are not as technologically savvy.

    These are exciting times and I’m doing my best to adapt…but I’m not taking anything off the table. Every customer and market is different.

  • I believe that blogs and social media will not be the death of the traditional corporate website. Instead, these sites will serve as a grounding mechinism for both social and traditional marketing. I understand the excitement behind the emerging customer-centric impression marketing movement, but customers can only supply so much feedback. Where will you get drivers, manuals, and a single address for someone to contact the company’s sales reps?

    So, no, I don’t see blogs doing in websites. I do, however, see a future without browser based websites. As desktops transition more to home entertainment systems, I can see the phone evolving into our connection point and mobile apps becoming the new hub for companies.

    consultantlaunc brings up a good point too…about the value of time. There are still some companies that don’t even have websites because they are old school or in markets that are not as technologically savvy.

    These are exciting times and I’m doing my best to adapt…but I’m not taking anything off the table. Every customer and market is different.

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  • The website isn’t dead. No matter how much you put into a Facebook or Twitter page, those are still subject to Facebook and Twitter’s terms of service so they could be removed or services cut at any time, and where does that leave you? There are so many things that are difficult to convey through a Facebook page due to its nature of communicating short messages, a longer-form page such a traditional website is often necessary for those pages.

  • The website isn’t dead. No matter how much you put into a Facebook or Twitter page, those are still subject to Facebook and Twitter’s terms of service so they could be removed or services cut at any time, and where does that leave you? There are so many things that are difficult to convey through a Facebook page due to its nature of communicating short messages, a longer-form page such a traditional website is often necessary for those pages.

  • @Sushi Did you play the video? the word “traditional” is in question but Gini clearly says “owning” your own space is critical. Blog/sites (like this one) are rapidly replacing the “traditional” static website.

  • @Sushi Did you play the video? the word “traditional” is in question but Gini clearly says “owning” your own space is critical. Blog/sites (like this one) are rapidly replacing the “traditional” static website.

  • @consultantlaunc You know I love your work, Peter, we met when you started helping people with their LI profiles on Jason Alba’s blog but I strongly believe we need to re-educate. Re-eduation is necessary in all areas… you are already doing it by moving people to infuse value into their LI presence. I don’t write the same resume as I did 10 years ago or sugges the same job search strategies. I never type in URLs and I would guess that many people don’t either. I type in what I want and let Google do the work for me. My point was blog/site – even an infrequent blogger will pull more traffic than the typical static website.

  • @consultantlaunc You know I love your work, Peter, we met when you started helping people with their LI profiles on Jason Alba’s blog but I strongly believe we need to re-educate. Re-eduation is necessary in all areas… you are already doing it by moving people to infuse value into their LI presence. I don’t write the same resume as I did 10 years ago or sugges the same job search strategies. I never type in URLs and I would guess that many people don’t either. I type in what I want and let Google do the work for me. My point was blog/site – even an infrequent blogger will pull more traffic than the typical static website.

  • @JulieWalraven Flash and my machine don’t get along very well, so I couldn’t for practical reasons. I’m just bringing up the point of owning your own webspace as opposed to hosting a site elsewhere.

  • @JulieWalraven Flash and my machine don’t get along very well, so I couldn’t for practical reasons. I’m just bringing up the point of owning your own webspace as opposed to hosting a site elsewhere.

  • I’m working on my presentation for WordPress WordCamp right now, and it’s along the same lines. Basically, the perspective I’m pushing is that a dynamic website should be a reflection of your overall strategyfor using all hte tools forsocial media out there – and facebook is just one of them. It can be your most important tool, but I don’t think it should be your strategy in itself. A dynamic page made in WordPress (or any other system) should be the center of your community in the online world.

  • I’m working on my presentation for WordPress WordCamp right now, and it’s along the same lines. Basically, the perspective I’m pushing is that a dynamic website should be a reflection of your overall strategyfor using all hte tools forsocial media out there – and facebook is just one of them. It can be your most important tool, but I don’t think it should be your strategy in itself. A dynamic page made in WordPress (or any other system) should be the center of your community in the online world.

  • @Sushi I get it – Gini’s point is really made in the video and she totally agrees with owning your own space in the video.

  • @Sushi I get it – Gini’s point is really made in the video and she totally agrees with owning your own space in the video.

  • @Sushi I agree with you. I’d also suggest that blogs can become cluttered, unorganized and website helps the company lay a foundation for the blogs to build upon. Each of these resources (Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Website) have their own personality…it would be hard for a company to rely on just one of them…but if they had to…the website is probably still the best at this point because of its stability and widest acceptance.

  • @Sushi I agree with you. I’d also suggest that blogs can become cluttered, unorganized and website helps the company lay a foundation for the blogs to build upon. Each of these resources (Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Website) have their own personality…it would be hard for a company to rely on just one of them…but if they had to…the website is probably still the best at this point because of its stability and widest acceptance.

  • Natural introvert? I DON’T BELIEVE THAT! If you’re an introvert, you should write a book about coming out of your shell, because I NEVER would have guessed that and it would likely sell millions, billions even.

    Websites, the generic idea of personal/brand information on a hosted page , will be around for a very long time, which I think you sort of hinted at by saying you’ll always need a place for people/customers to come back to.

    But it seems that, and correct me if I’m wrong, you’re saying your traditional web efforts of offering a website and a website alone (no Facebook, Twitter, etc. integration) is dead. I would completely agree. If you have a website with zero social connections, then you’re essentially on an island all by itself.

  • Natural introvert? I DON’T BELIEVE THAT! If you’re an introvert, you should write a book about coming out of your shell, because I NEVER would have guessed that and it would likely sell millions, billions even.

    Websites, the generic idea of personal/brand information on a hosted page , will be around for a very long time, which I think you sort of hinted at by saying you’ll always need a place for people/customers to come back to.

    But it seems that, and correct me if I’m wrong, you’re saying your traditional web efforts of offering a website and a website alone (no Facebook, Twitter, etc. integration) is dead. I would completely agree. If you have a website with zero social connections, then you’re essentially on an island all by itself.

  • @hannush @Sushi The hybrid is Blog/site = website and blog all in one. I know I am a sole proprietor and big corporates have different needs but small businesses can easily live on a blog / site, using it for sales, direction, blogging, and more. I also just realized that when I connected through LiveWyre, I used only the FB connect. I just updated my profile. You can find me easily and get to my site just with Google with my name or Design Resumes. I believe blogs can be as organized as you want them to be (or as disorganized). Depends on what level of product you are using to blog with and how well you understand marketing.

  • @hannush @Sushi The hybrid is Blog/site = website and blog all in one. I know I am a sole proprietor and big corporates have different needs but small businesses can easily live on a blog / site, using it for sales, direction, blogging, and more. I also just realized that when I connected through LiveWyre, I used only the FB connect. I just updated my profile. You can find me easily and get to my site just with Google with my name or Design Resumes. I believe blogs can be as organized as you want them to be (or as disorganized). Depends on what level of product you are using to blog with and how well you understand marketing.

  • @JMattHicks I understand the isolation comment…but I’d say, in the small retirement community I serve, there are some clients that refuse to “trust” Facebook and their websites are doing fine by themselves because their community also feels the same way. I’m sure this will change over time, but I wouldn’t suggest its dead yet. I think it is market and demographic driven still to a certain extent. This is an excellent topic by the way.

  • @JMattHicks I understand the isolation comment…but I’d say, in the small retirement community I serve, there are some clients that refuse to “trust” Facebook and their websites are doing fine by themselves because their community also feels the same way. I’m sure this will change over time, but I wouldn’t suggest its dead yet. I think it is market and demographic driven still to a certain extent. This is an excellent topic by the way.

  • @hannush You’re right, I would agree with that; the sweeping statement wasn’t best served on my part. But, I do feel like that niche is the very small minority…I can’t think of an organization I’ve come across that is on at LEAST Facebook as well as their own website. Great thoughts, thanks for the insight.

  • @hannush You’re right, I would agree with that; the sweeping statement wasn’t best served on my part. But, I do feel like that niche is the very small minority…I can’t think of an organization I’ve come across that is on at LEAST Facebook as well as their own website. Great thoughts, thanks for the insight.

  • HowieSPM

    @JMattHicks @hannush I told her she is going to be a TV star soon. Just not sure if a lead in a drama like Greys Anatomy or a comedy like 30 Rock. But its going to happen!

  • HowieSPM

    @JMattHicks @hannush I told her she is going to be a TV star soon. Just not sure if a lead in a drama like Greys Anatomy or a comedy like 30 Rock. But its going to happen!

  • @HowieSPM @hannush They have sitcoms about every possible office scenario EXCEPT a PR Firm (that I know of, at least!). When that time comes, I believe we have our woman!

  • @HowieSPM @hannush They have sitcoms about every possible office scenario EXCEPT a PR Firm (that I know of, at least!). When that time comes, I believe we have our woman!

  • @abarcelos I think you touched on an important point. You may not NEED anything but a static website right now, like @consultantlaunc mentioned, but being prepared and able to adapt, make changes, and move the direction your audience demands will result in better interaction and integration with the evolving online community.

  • @JonHearty @consultantlaunc Agree with you there. No matter what type of client, a flexible platform that adapts (whether it needs to or not) is the most sensible thing to do. Static HTML pages, yuck! That’s so 1990’s. Even a hosted WordPress site is better than that, and it’s free. 🙂

  • ginidietrich

    @HowieSPM Great examples of why you would or wouldn’t need a separate presence that you own. I always preach driving people back to something you own, but you make a great point about Vitamin Water not necessarily needing a separate presence because it fits their business strategy.

  • ginidietrich

    @HowieSPM @consultantlaunc I agree there are companies who WON’T change right now, but the change is inevitable. Pretty soon their competitors will have a living, breathing site that makes their static site look like it was created by a first grader. Just like no one wanted to have a website 15 years ago, we’ll get past it. Techonology is so cheap now and, like @abarcelos says, if you have a really good content management system, the changes are not difficult to make.

  • ginidietrich

    @JulieWalraven Great minds! I just told @consultantlaunc change is inevitable and everyone will move their sites from static to living. This is why we’re friends!

  • ginidietrich

    @hannush I agree the corporate site isn’t going away…I just think it changes. Maybe my being overly tired didn’t convey that message very well, but we agree!

  • ginidietrich

    @wabbitoid I have a really simple graphic I use when I speak – it’s a round circle in the middle called “Site I Own.” Then a bunch of other circles around it with a social platform listed in each. Then arrows from each circle pointing to “Site I Own.” It’s an easy way to show you can have a presence while driving people back to you.

  • ginidietrich

    @JMattHicks It’s true. I’m an introvert. I fight it really hard…but it’s a struggle somedays. Mostly it just means that I need downtime more than an extrovert. I do really well speaking and in networking, but then I need my alone time. Most successful leaders also are introverts. We just learn how to channel it. 🙂

  • ginidietrich

    @JMattHicks @HowieSPM @hannush Wait. Why does it have to be a sitcom? I’m planning to be the next Oprah. She is, after all, leaving Chicago!

  • HowieSPM

    @GiniDietrich @JMattHicks correction. Most successful leaders have an introvert side to them. Though many Political Leaders are introverts surprisingly.Introverts: Eisenhower, Ghandi, Lincoln, Truman, McCain. Powell Extroverts: Washington, Thatcher, Gorbachev, FDR, Alexander the Great

  • ginidietrich

    @HowieSPM I think you post things just to antagonize me! @JMattHicks

  • To answer the question about websites, I think it’s a must. But you also have to have outposts like at Twitter, Facebook, etc. But the important strategy is to understand where your prospects and key stakeholders are going to be. There’s no point setting up outposts all over the place in terms of ROI initially. As you come to understand online marketing and communications you’ll discover more about your audience and where to be.

    The big challenge is making your website stand out from the rest of the crowd. At Jontus Media we’re just about to launch a new sexy website so I’ve been grappling with these issues but it’s not easy – even for an experienced marketer. Bottom line: we’ve gone for mixing call-to-actions with more “get to know us” content (including video and visual). I hate being on camera personally, but like Gini I’m an extrovert introvert trying to grow my business 🙂

    BTW Gini, I LOVE these videos. Just wish they were available as part of the AD iphone app so I could watch on the go!!! (*hint* when is the app coming?)

  • ginidietrich

    @jonbuscall The app is coming! Our designers would have loved to do it this past summer, but I felt like it was really egocentric. But now you’re making me rethink it.

    Also, video was not easy for me at first. Heck, I am so overly tired right now that it wasn’t easy yestserday. But, as you know, the more you do something, the better you are at it.

  • consultantlaunc

    The interesting thing about discussions like this is that you are, to a large degree, preaching to the choir. One would assume that most of the people who read and respond are active users of social media and are trying to decide the degree to which they want to participate (platforms, time, etc.). One wonders whether there’s another way to engage the ones who aren’t engaged. I think our passion intimidates this group; you can see it in their eyes at Chamber and SCORE meetings. They’d like to play — maybe — but they don’t fully understand the cost of admission.

    Blogging is great; so is Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and scores of other platforms, we hear speaker after speaker at PodCamps tell us. Lots of nodding and “hallelujahs.” But what would you expect the reaction to be there? We run the risk of being accused of arrogance for calling static websites “so 1990s” (with no disrespect intended toward Anna). Some of the most successful people I know have static websites (or no websites at all) and to move in a more “current” direction might just be a distraction.

    Perhaps our best approach would be to go to where the 1990’s crowd is and show them how easy it is to dip their toes in the water and realize that like any long-term relationship, it may take a while for them to go cliff-diving.

    Gini makes the point well. She wasn’t comfortable with video but she’s getting there over time. I think the real future growth is with the people we can take by the hand and grow our business with them — with baby steps. Too many people are trying to build outposts before they make sure the home base is safe and secure.

  • @consultantlaunc That’s what I do for a living! Self-proclaimed SM “experts” do not like usually like my work site ‘cuz I do my best to translate all this stuff into something that makes sense to potential clients:
    http://MediaHare.com

    I see little point in preaching to the choir, m’sefl! 🙂

  • @consultantlaunc That Peter, is totally brilliant! You are so right (preaching to the choir) and I love the dip their toes in. We have all seen the glazed over faces when we do share the passion and I know I do it all the time. The polite nodding of the head versus talking to someone who gets it and comes close to jumping up and down in excitement. Great comment, Peter and very insightful!

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