5 Exciting things about Social Web Video

LeanIn social web video playerHaving video on your website is a great way to engage users and increase your traffic. But what if there was a way to use video to create even more interaction with your audience? A company in Toronto, Canada has done just that by creating the first “social web video player”.

The LeanIn video player is the first of its kind to allow viewers to respond to what they’re watching by adding comments and creating notches on the video’s timeline. This allows new visitors to quickly see the most talked-about parts of the web video without wasting time trying to find the good stuff.

LeanIn has some features that I think will enhance your web video as well as encourage interaction on your website. Here are 5 things that are exciting about this new social web video concept:

1. Social Data

Find out which parts of your web videos work, and which parts don’t. You’ll be able to get refined statistics by analyzing comments, notches, and “likes”. The LeanIn Dashboard also provides more in-depth information so you can really to get to know your viewers.

2. Brand Your Video Player

LeanIn lets you embed videos from external video sites, like YouTube, while allowing you to customize and brand the player. This helps keep your identity consistent all over the internet.

3. Promote Social Media Interaction

Just because you have lots of “likes” on your company’s Facebook page doesn’t mean those people are actually coming to your website. By allowing video comments to be shared with LeanIn on Facebook and Twitter you have the opportunity to reach an entirely new audience.

4. In-stream Advertising

The LeanIn video player shows comments and activity from your friends on a real-time ticker while you watch your video. You can like their comments, see what they’re saying on other videos, and more, without leaving the player.

5. Get More Views

Since the LeanIn player gives a bird’s-eye view of video content, viewers can quickly find things that interest them and discover more of your web videos in less time. This will also give them more satisfaction since they are only watching things they find appealing.


If you haven’t already, head over to LeanIn and take a look. This is just one of the exciting new social media products that will create unique, enjoyable social web video experiences for your internet users.

http://www.reelseo.com/leanin-social-video-player/

How long does it take to make a website?

Everyone wants their brand new website as soon as possible–usually yesterday. But each website is unique, so the time it takes to create can vary greatly. In order to get the best results in efficiency and ease, consider this…

Relationships take time. It depends on you.

How long does it take to make a website?It’s important for the website design company to get to know the business or organization they’ll be working with and make a product that will meet their needs. It’s a process, and the client (that’s you) will be asked to participate in that process. The web company isn’t an expert in your field. We have to get to know you and your business and then take the things we learn and translate them into something that will work on the web.

So much of the web design process depends on the client. As web designers and developers, we are asking you to engage in the process with us. There’s much to consider in regard to your message and the content you provide to potential customers on your site. We don’t take this lightly and neither should you.

Of all the variables and factors that impact the development timeline for websites, it’s the relationship with the client (e.g., reviews, approvals, etc.) that has the greatest impact. For example, we’ve had almost exactly the same type of site take significantly different amounts of time to produce. Let’s call them websites A and B. With website A, there were problems with content and approvals and it took over six months from the initial meeting to launch. With website B, the client was participatory and the process went smoothly in regard to content and approvals. Website B took a little over a month from beginning to end.

Knowledge is power and leads to speed.

The technology industry (including web design and development) is an ever-changing business. Every day new things emerge that help make things better, faster, and easier. There are many options and ways of doing things. Having a solid understanding of all the available options is critical for success in the web design and development business. With this knowledge comes the flexibility to create websites with greater efficiency. For example, before the invention of WordPress, Joomla!, Expression Engine, etc., web designers and developers needed to design content management systems (or CMS’s) from the ground up. These open-source platforms can help make database-driven website development faster and less expensive. It keeps us from reinventing the wheel and allows for focus in other areas of production.

The type of website matters.

The type of website being developed can have an enormous bearing on the project time frame. A website can range in time from a few hours to a few months, to even a year or more. It depends on the project. It’s probably best to think of a website as a publication. Before you go into the process, think about all the things you want to communicate. Think of things you’ve written, or the things you need to write in order to successfully inform your audience and tell your story. How long will it take to write or develop all that content and the tailor it for web purposes? In many cases, it takes a considerable amount of time.

As with any communication piece, the content is just the beginning. (But keep in mind that the content needs to be great! The best websites have the best content.) Once that’s established, it’s important to organize and prioritize that information in a way that will lead to success through the website. Careful planning is key here. Once the content is developed and organized, the design and development process kicks in, which includes things like visual design, programming, usability testing, accessibility, and more. As we mentioned, it’s a process, and not usually a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all solution.

How long does it take to make a website? Here are some keys to success:

Stellar content
Planning, management, and organization
Relationship and communication
Great design and development

Ultimately, a professional website design company will be able to produce a website for you that will work well. However, you must realize that when you initiate a website design project with a professional company, you are in essence becoming part of the team. It’s important to contribute to the process and be a good team player.

Ideally, a standard website will take about a month to produce, but there are many variables to consider. A conversation with a professional website design and development company can help you get a better idea of your realistic time frame.

Have a website project in mind? Contact us to get started with a free evaluation.

How much does a website cost?

“They don’t hire me to design a website for the sake of designing a website. They hire me to design a website that’s going to help them grow their business.”

— Breaking the Time Barrier, Mike McDerment

A professionally designed website is the most valuable tool and the most important investment you can make in your business or organization. There’s no disputing that a strong web, and mobile presence is the central focus for any successful marketing campaign.

Websites are valuable.

In the past, companies spent considerable amounts of money on media buying in efforts to increase business. With new marketing techniques, the focus has shifted to investing in a strong online presence which includes websites, apps, and more. Websites should be created for the sole purpose of increasing business leads, generating revenue, and encouraging participation in your business or organization. Done right, the ROI can be dramatic. That’s not the case for many of the things on which we spend money.

website costWebsite cost factors

Value

As important as time, materials, expertise, and effort are to the web development process, the best way of viewing pricing — when it comes to websites and other interactive products and services such as apps — is value. As creative professionals, our job is to make things that add value and have an impact on your business. We want you to be successful. We want the creative things we make to help you sell products online, increase donations, build business leads, and traffic. That’s our job. Making a website is simply part of the equation. We should be thinking bigger picture throughout that entire process and really focus on how we can make you successful.

In most cases, the value professional design services will add is the best way to determine price. This can manifest itself in form of long-term, or short-term, agreements where both parties analyze the business side of things and decide what works best. For example, we help one of our clients sell products online. We take a percentage of the online sales as our fee. The more products they sell, the more money everyone makes. It’s a great way to utilize creativity and ideas to grow business.

Perhaps it’s best to think of in terms how much you will gain as opposed to how much you’re going to spend. Determining fees based on value requires a conversation to determine requirements, etc.

Time

In some cases, the value method isn’t the best fit and everything comes down to time.

Many people use the example of buying a car as a comparison for pricing a website and other forms of creative products and services. This analogy holds pretty well for web design and development. For example, if you look at the base price (or starting price) for a car, you will be looking at a number that will likely change by the time you actually make the purchase. As soon as you start adding the navigation system and other items, the price starts going up. In the same way, the price of a website can increase. The more features you add, the more expensive it is.

I think the car analogy is an okay illustration, but may be too “product-oriented” for an accurate depiction of website pricing. Cars are priced based on mass production. They are inherently cookie-cutter. Go ask someone to make a unique and custom car for you and I’d be willing to the bet the price will be pretty high. Websites can’t be priced like commercial cars because they are unique. They are one-of-a-kind and must be tailored to be effective. Making a website is more of a process than a product. If used properly. it’s a tool that never stops working for you.

So, I’ve often used the analogy of building a home to that of building a website. In many ways the process is the same: you plan/estimate (blueprints), conceptualize (renderings), build (construction). It is based on time and materials and the estimate is just that – an estimate. The numbers may need to be adjusted along the way to compensate for things that occur during the building process. The builder manages the process and works hard to come in under the original estimate.

Ballpark prices based on time

It’s also important to mention that, once a website is launched, it doesn’t stop there. It’s like a baby that never grows up or leaves the home. Again, a website is a tool that you have to use in order to grow your business. It takes effort. This is one reason why it’s important to build a strong foundation and do it right the first time.

The following outline will help give you an idea of how much you can expect to pay for a website. These numbers are based on actual projects and the time/materials pricing model:

Standard corporate websites, that may or may not include content management (the ability to edit your site), can range in price from $2,500 to $15,000.

Websites that include content management and more advanced features go from $15,000 to $25,000.

Websites that include all the bells and whistles like content management, eCommerce, and other types of online tools such as custom finance calculators, etc. can start at $25,000 and go as far as $60,000 and beyond. It really depends on the project requirements and the level of commitment and labor that will be needed to produce the website.

Ultimately, you get what you pay for

Everyone has experienced “you get what you pay for” on some level; the cheap weed-eater that doesn’t quite cut the weeds, the generic tires that had to be replaced a year later, the refrigerator that died right after the factory warranty expired, and the laptop that… well, don’t get me started. You know how it goes, buying things and deciding to make big investments is stressful. We’re afraid we’ll get burned and we’ve experienced that, in most cases, we get what we pay for. Websites are no different. You get what you pay for.

I think most folks would be surprised at the amount of expertise and labor hours that go into making an effective website. Web technology is ever-changing and web designers and developers are constantly having to educate, train, and keep up with what’s going on. It takes effort and commitment to stay relevant. Still, the per-conceived notion is that websites are somehow automated, cookie-cutter, or easy-to-make because the “computer does most of the work.” The truth is that is takes time to establish an effective message, gather and create effective content (which is critical), evaluate a target audience, produce an interface that’s usable and effective, and develop something that really works. The website itself is part of a process.

Professionally done, a website project is not like changing a tire. The process is unique and depends upon client needs. Also, there are many variables, which requires participation and collaboration from the client. It’s a partnership that includes getting to know the business, determining goals and priorities, developing an appropriate solution, and providing support throughout the process… and beyond.

The companies out there offering special deals such as a $200 website, or the “tech-savvy” brother-in-law that will do it for cheap, the do-it-yourself website building methods, and so on will not likely get the results you are looking for in the constantly-changing and competitive digital marketing world. You need something you can really use and a site that is built to last. It’s also important that you are engaging, memorable, and credible. This is achieved only through creative professional design and great content. Have I mentioned that content is very important? Well it is, and it’s typically one of the most challenging aspects of web and interactive development.

Again, making a website is a unique process for each client. It is a custom project and should be thought of as a partnership between the web development company and the client. An initial discussion is needed to help determine requirements and the price of any professionally produced website.

Do you have a website project in mind? If so, contact us for a free evaluation and estimate.

Print • Creative Business Cards Still Matter

So you do think business cards are a dying trend? You may be thinking everything is moving to electronics and Vcards’ but what if something happens to your electronics? Do you really want to spell out your email to potential clients in a meeting? Tell them you’re on twitter, facebook and then have to spell out screen names? So what has changed and why do people assume business cards aren’t important anymore? The information people are including on their card is what is changing. More and more I am seeing business cards that omit an old-fashioned mailing address and replace it with a website address, skype address, twitter account, and the like. So with more and more screen names and social media addresses to keep track of, the business card is more essential than ever.

To me, these modest pieces of paper still carry a lot of value. A business card creates a physical connection and bond between you or your business and your clients/customers. Just like a website, business cards can become great interactive elements, but with the added ability to have real textures, different materials and shapes.They are not only useful communication tools but essential in marketing yourself in a unique way to others. A well designed business card lets your prospects get interested in you and your offerings.

There are actually lots of ways to be creative in your business cards, for example:

  1. Shape. As much as possible, it is important to choose a shape that best represents you and your business.
  2. Material. Think outside the box. For example, plastics, metal, cloth, rubber, cardboard, wood – the possibilities are endless.
  3. Be Environment Friendly. Use recycled materials and soy based inks.
  4. Letter Technique. Styles such as embossing, engraving, foil stamping, etching, letterpress are ways to grab attention quickly.
  5. Be Interactive. Your card can have more function than just contact info. Things like pop-ups, folds, pockets, cases, tags, scents, envelopes, ornaments, ribbons, rubber bands, reflection, and maps are all examples of how your business card can become more of an experience rather than a card.

Most business cards are boring and tend to be forgotten, but the ones that are strategic and thought out can really add meaning to you and relevance to your business.

For example, take a few minutes to visit this link. These examples of highly creative cards will really get you thinking: http://www.webdesignerdepot.com

Take the opportunity to be creative with your business cards and I guarantee you will stand out and make a lasting impression long after you first give your card out.

Business cards correspond and also can be used in correlation with a great leave behind piece.  For more information on leave behinds, read my previous blog post. http://www.pikewoodcreative.com/what-will-you-leave-behind/

Custom Logo Design & Helping Those in Need

Last year, Pikewood Creative moved across town into a new office in the United Center where we’d be sharing a floor with a practice called Morgantown Plastic Surgery Associates. We didn’t realize then the global effect our next-door neighbors were having, or how lucky we’d be to join them in even the smallest way.

A surgeon from MPSA, Tom McClellan, came over one afternoon to tell us about an organization he’s involved with called InterplastWV, and to see if we could help with a custom logo design for t-shirts, and things of that nature. He told us how InterplastWV is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide free reconstructive surgery to those in need in third world countries. Typical surgeries include cleft lip/palate, burns, and hand reconstruction.

InterplastWV was founded by a fellow surgeon and Morgantownian, David Fogarty. Dr. Fogarty trained at Stanford under Dr. Donald Laub, who, in 1969, founded Interplast (now called ReSurge International) with the mission of transforming lives through the art of plastic and reconstructive surgery. Dr. Laub became the first academic to develop and lead multidisciplinary teams on humanitarian surgical trips to developing countries, and has both inspired and helped thousands. Being a true non-conformist, Dr. Fogarty formed his own group that was locally formed, funded, and managed in Morgantown. At this point, Dr. Fogarty’s total number of trips abroad is something like 98 or 99—a truly astounding commitment to his passion. He has been to Vietnam, Afghanistan, Nepal, and all over Africa, and has an amazing group of friends and benefactors who make all of this happen.

Pikewood Creative was more than eager to jump on board and help in any way we could. It’s our hope that the custom logo design we created will help this great organization establish and strong identity which will serve them for years to come. We look forward to many future projects with InterplastWV, and encourage you to contact Dr. Tom McClellan at Morgantown Plastic Surgery Associates if you would like to give toward their cause.

Video Marketing: YouTube and Beyond

YouTubeIn a classic episode of “The Office,” Dunder-Mifflin boss Michael Scott says of a noteworthy event, “I’ve got to make sure YouTube comes down to tape this.”

What a relief not to have to rely on corporate media outlets any longer to get the word out about your company or product. Through advancements in the Internet, power has been put back into the hands of every day people—people like you who are passionate, eager, and though you may not know it, completely capable of taking advantage of the brilliance of video marketing. Producing a web video (a video specifically designed for use on the web) is a great place to start.

Technology is constantly evolving to make video easier and more accessible for the average person to utilize. And because it’s becoming so popular, it’s something customers look for when deciding on a product. In other words, everyone’s doing it—and everyone expects it.

Among the other great reasons for using video marketing, it really works, too. Studies show that people would rather watch than read, making video email campaigns and video in search engine results statistically more appealing.

There are numerous ways to join in the video marketing craze. Contact a professional web video production company to find out more about your video options. Even if you just begin with YouTube, it’s a start. Remember what Michael Scott said: “When I discovered YouTube, I didn’t work for five days. I did nothing. I watched Cookie Monster sing Chocolate Rain about a thousand times.”

Good luck, and happy videoing.

Professional Web Video Production for More Revenue

Web Video ProductionProfessional Web Video Production: Communication

A professionally produced web video will communicate that you take your business seriously and that you are willing to invest the time and effort to communicate in a clear and concise manner. It communicates that your business is efficient, professional, and has a story worth telling. Establishing these qualities with customers or clients at the beginning of a business relationship can greatly improve the overall business relationship. Web video can also drive people to your site and draw them in as customers/clients. WebVideography.com says that with web video “you get your message and your link out there to draw people to your website” and that leads to more revenue.

Professional Web Video Production: Flexibility

By choosing professional video production for your website, you are investing in a product that will not only increase the overall effectiveness of your website, but can be used in presentations, trade shows, in creative leave behind packages, and many other forms of marketing materials. Web video is a flexible marketing product that can be used in most any situation.

Professional web video also allows you communicate your message in way that no other medium can, and when you consider the capabilities of animation and motion graphics, the possibilities are endless.

Professional Web Video Production: Results

In a recent article, “eMarketer estimates 158.1 million Internet users will watch video online at least monthly in 2011”, and further studies show that retailers are seeing increased sales due to the increased use of web video. When an Internet user can watch a video and see exactly what they are getting, they are much more likely to make the purchase, contact you, or get involved. Web video fosters certainty and helps consumers feel more comfortable. Web video also adds a great deal of convenience to the Internet user by providing the answers for which they are looking without having to read through pages of content. The success of video in the retail world translates to businesses and organizations as well. Seeing is believing and the ultimate call to action. When potential customers can see what you are all about with web video, the result is a healthier business and more revenue. Web video is the key to a more successful online marketing strategy.

Professional Web Video Production: Getting Started

There are many options when investing in professional web video. In some cases, testimonials or interview-based video production is the best approach and, other times, animation and motion graphics are needed to effectively tell a story. Ultimately, a professional web video production company, with the capability and flexibility to evaluate and produce the right story, can help get the best results for any business or organization.

As an example, check out this video for Fairmont State University…

View some of the other web videos we’ve produced…

Or, get a FREE web video consultation today to find out how you can increase your business with web video.

Do you need a new professional website design?

A website may be the most important investment you can make. It is a critical tool that you should be able use to generate more business. If you’ve been considering a website redesign, the following are some questions that can help you decide.

Can you edit your website?

Can you post news or blog articles, upload video, or edit the content on your site quickly and easily? This may be the most important thing to consider because it is very important to update your website on a regular basis. Why? Fresh content will help with search engine rankings, increase the traffic to your site, and keep visitors coming back. There is usually more cost up front for a corporate website with content management, but the benefits of being able to control your online content and use your corporate website as a business tool are priceless.

What are the first impressions?

Does your website look good and well represent your business or organization? This might sound trivial, but you must keep in mind that if your website looks bad and disorganized, it’s a direct reflection upon your company and it could be a costly one. As most folks know, Internet users have short attention spans and will likely turn away from your site quickly if it looks unprofessional. In the digital age, your website is the “face” of your company. It’s the “hub.” The central location around which your communication to the world rotates. First impressions have never been so important.

Does your website have video?

Internet users want to see video when they come to any site. Studies show that the majority of people using the Internet would be much more likely to watch a short video that explains your business, as opposed to reading through your content. Nevertheless, you need to work hard toward producing good content and a complimentary video my be the gateway you need to engage potential customers.

Perform a Google search. Are you there?

The most common method for Internet users to find the content for which they are looking is by searching. The primary method for this is Google. People open a browser window and type into the Google search box and browse the items that appear on the first page. They rarely navigate to page two or three. It can greatly enhance your website traffic to show up on page one in these searches. You can start by visiting google.com and entering a phrase you feel someone would use to find your business, for instance “car dealership in western Pennsylvania.” Try several of these searches out. Is your website coming up in these searches?

There is another check you can perform here. Open a browser and go to your website. Look at the very top of the browser window – all the way above the address bar – the very top of the browser window. What do you read there? Is it something like “Home” or “My Company Name.” If so, your site is probably not optimized for maximum search engine performance.

A third test is to visit your site and find an area with text and try to highlight the text by clicking and dragging across several lines. If you can select the text, then your site may have been created in Flash. This can hinder your search engine performance and my not be the best solution for you.

How does your website work on mobile devices?

Having a website that is accessible on smart phones, iPads, and other mobile devices is becoming more and more important. You need a mobile web interface that translates well to the smaller screens and is well organized so that the mobile user is getting your critical information. Planning, usability, and organization are important in the design of mobile interfaces. The attention spans are even shorter on mobile devices and there are many technical challenges. It is important to tackle the challenges with a formulated plan.

To get a free evaluation of your corporate website or to find out more, contact us…

Print • What will you leave-behind?

SustainU Clothing DVD print designIt is important to make an impact on clients and leave a lasting impression. One way you can achieve this is through a print piece called a leave-behind. A leave-behind, as the name suggests, is a part or sampling of your portfolio that is left with a potential client(s) after a meeting.  It should be a standout piece that will continue to speak to your potential clients about you/or your company. They can be anything from brochures, self-promotional flyers, creative packages with key portfolio elements, or printed images. Some leave-behinds are more interactive and elaborate, depending on time and budget allowances. For example, a custom designed and packaged CD or DVD or a nicely printed color brochure with pockets for accompanying CDs and business card will keep your potential client engaged longer than a business card can.

For example, we just completed a successful leave-behind for our client, SustainU. (picture of project included) This brochure and DVD package are made of recycled stock and printed with environmental inks to reflect the values of the client. This leave-behind piece was distributed to hundreds of people at a large convention to showcase and, give examples of the capabilities of SustainU.

Some great tips on creating a leave-behind from Zan Jones, founder of SalesJaz:

  • Make it juicy! Think of some great facts about your business and how you approach them. An insurance agent might leave behind an article on “7 Facts that Contribute to Auto Insurance Cost.”
  • Go for functionality. Office supplies or business aids that your client will use on a daily basis will keep your name alive. Mouse pads, pens, or post-it notes with your logo are hard for people to throw away because they are usable.
  • Know who you are. Make sure the leave behind accurately reflects your business and has obvious tie-in to the product or service you provide. For example, a carpet cleaning company might leave a calendar with monthly stain cleaning tips to help maintain a spot free carpet.
  • Let your business card do the work. A car dealer’s business card might have “5 Things to Consider When Buying a Car” facts printed on the back. I worked with someone at Hershey Chocolate who taped a small Hershey bar on the back of her cards. Create a reason for your business card to be saved.
  • Use pictures and market to the pain. Think about the pain your clients might experience without your product or service. An attorney might leave behind a brochure with a photo of a smiling family and list reasons to have a will in place.
  • Wait until you actually leave. That’s the idea of the “leave behind.” You don’t want the client to be checking out your golden nuggets of information while you are still talking to them. It has to be enticing enough for them to look at it, read and save after you have left.

Coming to the table with the proper marketing materials such as a leave-behind will ensure that you remain in your potential client’s mind long after the initial meeting and will help your business rise above the competition. There is great value in this, and goes a lot further than just a business card.  We would love to create a custom leave-behind for you, please contact us for more info.

Using Video Production to Create Awareness in a Post 9/11 World

Pikewood Creative - Fusion Center

One common theme that many of our clients share is that their business or organization isn’t properly understood by their potential customers. That lack of understanding presents challenges and ultimately could determine whether a business succeeds or fails. The same is true for governmental organizations and agencies. While they may not face the risk of bankruptcy, they certainly are less effective when their purpose and mission are improperly communicated.

We recently completed a project for the West Virginia Fusion and Intelligence Center. The fusion center concept is relatively young and it was created following the 9/11 terrorist attacks as a means to gather information in conjunction with the office of Homeland Security.

The West Virginia Fusion and Intelligence Center needed a video that would both educate and inform citizens of its mission. A key ingredient to a successful fusion center is the gathering of intelligence and information from residents. By conducting a series of interviews with key national and regional law enforcement personnel, we explained how the gathering of information could prevent terrorist and criminal activity. We also clearly defined the Eight Signs of Terrorism through the use of customized motion graphics.

The artistic composition of our on-location shooting leaned toward a CSI-type of look and feel to properly communicate the agencies culture of a highly technical state-of the-art information gathering operation.

Our custom designed motion graphics and animation underscored that concept along with bold music tracks and a national voice-talent.

The key components to the video’s credibility are interviews with passionate law enforcement personnel, which detail why fusion centers are needed and how viewers can help.

A quality video production must have texture and density. This project accomplishes that by containing strong artistically composed shots, compelling interviews, engaging music tracks, and custom designed graphics and animation.

Here’s a look at the finished product. Let us know if our team can help you or your organization tell your unique story.