Over the last year or so, I have had many people ask me about what it takes to make your website attract more consumers. In my personal experience, this is not something that you can obtain over night. There is no 'secret" formula that makes it all work.
With that said, what does make it work is rolling up your sleeves and getting dirty. Finding the right platform for you is the first and foremost key to this venture. Even though FREE sounds great, it might not work for what your needs are and that is definitely something to consider.
If you have not read Rich's article, you need to check it out. If you want to comment about it, then head to his blog as I have blocked out comments here.
Last week there was a blog (that was subsequently re-blogged) that I read which I felt both hit the nail on the head and also completely missed the mark to the point of misinformation. I will not out of simple respect name the person who wrote the post nor the person who re-blogged it. What I would like to do is give kudos for what I see as the high point of that post while also pointing out the bad information that it incorrectly relayed as fact.
First the good information regards the role of someone who not only designs websites/blogsites as a living but their role as an educator in the use and maintenance of the designed site. In my opinion it is the role of the designer to work with their client to achieve a finished product that satisfies their wishes as far as appearance and functionality. The second part of the designer's role is to educate their client on how the site works, both front end and backend. This would definitely include explaining and educating the client on how to use and maintain the site on their own if that is what they wish. There are of course instances where a client, for whatever reason, does not wish to learn nor be responsible for their site's maintenance and functionality. This is of course the decision of the client. This is the part of that original blog that I whole heartedly agree with.
That original blog and the perpetuating re-blog goes further than this positive explanation of the role of a web designer. I take issue with what I believe to be the bad information in that post. The original post went on to lambast web designers who the author felt were selling a type of snake oil in the guise of known ways to optimize websites/blogsites. In its attack on those web designers who actually take the time to educate themselves on the "magic recipe" it made overreaching generalizations and assertions that were passed off as indisputable fact. I can only surmise that the real information this blog was referring to were the generally proprietary algorithms that are in constant use on the world wide web.
If you consider that at its basic core, everything on the internet is a series of 1 and 0 then the arrangement of them form the basic binary code that governs everything on the internet. The point behind that statement is that this binary code allows for the use of algorithms to govern everything from granting a Google page rank to the popularity of an article in a particular social media. An example of an algorithm and how it can materially affect your website/blogsite can be seen with Reddit.com. Between 2 and 4 weeks ago, Reddit.com made a small but significant change to its algorithm. Previously you did not have to even go into a particular post in order to "upvote" or endorse it. You could basically endorse and article, which helps to increase it popularity and searchability, from the article's title alone. This meant that many of the articles that were becoming popular had never even been read, and Reddit.com ran the risk of being marginalized as a popularity site rather than a content site. Reddit.com recognized this and changed its algorithm. Those wanting to upvote an article now have to go into the article and then back out of it in order to upvote it; an upvote from the title itself now results in the opposite effect, a downvote. This particular change became apparent to regular users of Reddit.com within a matter of days and regular users made the adjustment.
My point in bringing up this change to this particular system is that there are changes such as this one that responsible web designers take the time and make the effort to learn and understand as they do affect web optimization. There is more to optimizing a website than creating a pretty layout and learning the basics about keywords. In the spirit of full disclosure, I do want to let it be know that I co-own and operate R & D Art, a design, hosting, and support service for the way the world communicates today. The real information is the magic recipe that one can only learn from time, effort, and hard work.