The Power of not having a Website

RainmakerThe following article written by Tim Klabunde was published in the September edition A/E Rainmaker, a PSMJ Resources publication.

I received a message the other day from a friend telling me that I needed to visit Skittles.com. It wasn’t that Skittles had an incredible website and they were not giving away free candy samples, instead it was that the Skittles website isn’t a website!

I have been enjoying watching the evolution of the web for years, so you can only imagine then that a message about a non-website was well worth a trip to the world-wide-web. Here is what I found:

Skittles.com home page is a Twitter page with a little box in the corner of your browser window that has links to each of their other “pages.” If you click on “Products” you will be taken to Wikipedia to learn more about each of the different types of Skittles. If you want to see videos or pictures, you are directed to YouTube and flickr. If you want to know what people think about Skittles, you’ll end up at Twitter. Actually, the only time you end up on a Skittles webpage is when you click “contact.”

Web 3.0

Could it be that a candy company was the first to Web 3.0, where customers create content rather than owners? Skittles has captured something incredible by creating a non-website: they have shifted the focal point of the content to the customer! We often focus on creating fresh and new websites that provide great information, yet to often the content of a website is designed more to make an owner feel good than to benefit the customer. Skittles turned the tables by reaching to their customers and giving them a voice. In doing so they turned over the ownership of the Skittles website to the people the site was created to reach in the first place.

Your non-webpage

What would a potential customer learn about you and your company if your corporate website was suddenly down for a day? Are others writing good things about your service and your capabilities? Do you have a blog, a Wikipedia page, a LinkedIn group, or a twitter group that gives an active voice to your company? Take a couple of minutes today to Google yourself and your company, and take special note of the information on page two and three of your search. Is your web presence painting a picture of your company that you want to see?

The future of the web

We truly don’t know what will happen next on the World Wide Web, but one thing is certain: it is the people that are searching for information that will dictate the future of the web, not the website owners.

The Best Unknown Websites – PART 2

It was great to have several thousand people stop by the other week to check out the first part of this series, The Best Unknown Websites. As I noted in the previous post, it seems that every week I am telling someone else about one of my favorite little known websites, so this week I wanted to add to my list and share a few more of my favorites.

As a reminder, you are always welcome to sign-up to receive these weekly posts via e-mail using Google FeedBurner. I hope that you find a website that you will use for the next several years in this list: my favorite websites that not everyone knows about.

Part 2 has been combined with the original post The Best Unknown Websites:

http://www.cofebuz.com/2009/06/15/the-best-unknown-websites/

The Best Unknown Websites

It seems that every week I am telling someone else about one of my favorite little known websites, so this week I wanted to help make them well-known websites (ok, so one or two of these are fairly well known, but I always find someone that has never heard of them). I hope that you find a website that you will use for the next several years in this list: my favorite websites that not everyone knows about.

Google Alerts – Know immediately when someone writes something about you or your company online. A friend turned me onto Google Alerts when I started blogging several years ago. It is a very simple tool that e-mails you whenever a Googlebot finds something new written about you on the web.

Website Grader – Take the guesswork out of SEO (search engine optimization). Website Grader evaluates your website, gives you a grade compared to other websites, and then tells you how to improve your score. Of course it isn’t perfect, but it certainly provides a great big picture perspective for free in 60 seconds, and they don’t even try to sell you something.

Elance – Outsource websites, logos, marketing, programming, etc.. to others in the US, India, China, Pakistan, etc.. without worrying about getting what you paid for. Special thanks to Mark Buckshon for telling me about this great website where designers from round the world compete for your business. I have personally seen incredible websites designed in other countries by English writing consultants for less than $200.

LogMeIn – Forget expensive hosting software, server, and VPN to access your work computer at home or your home computer at work. LogMeIn is free software that gives you easy access to your computer when you are away. Better yet, after you login your computer will look and act as if you were sitting at the other computer!

Yudu – Read and publish online for free. Many of you are members of the Design and Construction Network and have seen the incredible Design and Construction Report. Yudu is the online reading software that was used to publish the report. Don’t worry, your publication doesn’t have to be as intensive as the report; if you just want an amazing brochure or newsletter check out Yudu.

Eventbrite – Eventbrite is one of my favorite websites on this list (and yes, I regularly use every website on this list). Eventbrite is a website for event management and promotion similar to evite.com, only for professional events. I am always skeptical when a website makes a statement about selling out events, but I have seen several events managed by Eventbrite do just that!

Dropbox
– Dropbox solves the problem of keeping track of your files on multiple computers once and for all by enabling selected folders to sync online and across multiple computers for free (up to 2gb). It is great for files that you want to use both at home and in the office, or for sharing files with other people. One extra amazing feature of Dropbox is that you can un-delete files and retrieve older versions of a file.

CCB Buzz – Everything else you wish you knew about the web. John Sedivy and Amy Stevens Adams have revamped CCB Buzz and continue to be a great resource on a variety of topics. That said, some of my favorite posts can be found in there archives from around January 2009 when they were peeling back the tools of viral SEO.

iStockPhoto – Never worry about photo copyright again. We use iStockPhoto for almost all of our graphics at work because it is inexpensive (almost every image is available in low resolution for $1) and gives professional and amateur photographers around the world the opportunity to make money from of their photos.

Google Local – Help customers find you on Google for free. Here is one website that you need to take action on immediately. Google Local manages data about your company for Google search, Google Maps, etc… If you want to be easy to find take 10 minutes to update your company profile using the link above.

Pandora – Free customizable radio stations from a company whose single mission is to “play only music you will love.”