Our Company Web Site Is a Web App

Company websites are important.
Marketing Software
A well-designed, dynamic site that captures a company's spirit will generate business.  An ugly, static site that's thin on information will make you wonder about doing business with a company.

With this in mind, I was initially concerned about the redesign of HubSpot.com that we launched last week.

The
redesign moved HubSpot.com from a custom site with a unique look and
feel to a one-size-fits-all template. I was worried that without a polished,
unique design we would make a weak impression on visitors. I thought we
would appear smaller and less successful than we are.

I was
wrong.

As we planned the launch of the new site, I realized
that HubSpot isn't defined by the curved edges or faded colors of a
fancy design. Instead, the essence of HubSpot is in the data we publish
on our site. By moving from a custom design to a standard template
we've made this content easier to publish and more central to our site. (Plus, at the end of the day, I think the template looks pretty good.)

With these changes, our company web site has become a web app.

Just
like on Flickr, Facebook and Twitter, on HubSpot.com we publish content
to a standard template. And just like on Flickr, Facebook and Twitter,
on HubSpot.com our friends care more about the content of our posts than the look
of our profile page.

Many companies feel the need to communicate size and sophistication through a complex, custom-coded website.

I'm happy we've thrown that idea out the window.

We'll let our content, not our design, show people what HubSpot's
about.

(Apologies to Fred Wilson for the title of this post.)

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Why I Speak Up

I published this video hesitantly yesterday.


Paul
and I had a great conversation, but I wasn't thrilled with the
production job I did. It came out too dark, and the framing was poor.

I pushed aside my worries and published it because I've learned that
pleasant surprises — opportunities to connect or to learn — come from
speaking up.

And that's exactly what happened this time.


Mike Weber
, the owner of CMR Studios, a video production company in Tampa, left this comment on the post:

You provide great information and advice with these interviews. But I
would like to suggest a bit of technical advice for your videos to make
them even better.

First lower the camera so it's a face-on view
rather than looking down on your subjects. It will allow for you to
reduce the vacant headroom space. The camera should be like another
person in the room. Someone part of the conversation wouldn' stand,
they'd have a seat to listen in. This perspective also gives more
authority to the speaker. (It's part of the psychology of what viewers
see.) Look at any national TV interview to see what I mean.

Don't
use the on camera microphone. Get wireless microphones or at least a
microphone that you can position closer to the interview. It will get
rid of that hollow sound and background noise distractions.

Set
the white balance on the camera (pull out your instruction manual)
Office lighting is bad for cameras, but you can adjust the camera so
that it isn't yellow or green. Better yet, get three of your own
inexpensive lights to set up and have complete control. (Google "three
point lighting" )

Adding these technical touches will enhance your online image and show viewers that you are as professional as your advice. 

So instead of of worrying about my video production problems on my own, I got an expert to weight in and help me fix them.

That's why I tweet, that's why I blog and that's why I wish I did both more.

Willful Ignorance

Clay Shirky: "By the turn of the century, anyone who didn't understand that the
business model for newspapers was a wasting asset was caught up in
nothing other than willful ignorance, so secure in their faith in the
permanence of their business that they assumed that those glaciers
would politely swerve at the last minute, which minute is looking
increasingly like now."

Your New Neighborhood Newspaper? Soon, a Real Estate Site.

Picture 6
One of these days smart real estate folks are going to start turning their websites into local news sites.

It will help them with their SEO.

And it will help create the kind of community people want to live in.

Paul Roetzer, founder and president of PR 20/20, is headed in this direction with a project he's working on in Cleveland.

It's a downtown development called The Avenue District. Its
website has a blog, videos and lots of updates on the neighborhood and construction.

It's a great start. I hope they do keep going.

They could talk more about what's happening in the neighborhood outside the development. They could talk about local politics, community development, education, small businesses and on and on.

It could become a veritable hyperlocal blog.

If they create a useful, vital neighborhood site — something that people rely on like the Davis Square Live Journal or Baristanet — the site will get
inbound links, and it will rise in the search results. The development and the community will thrive.

Real Estate folks will doubt such a site is worth the investment; newspaper folks will
doubt its quality.

But it makes sense.  Sooner or later, it will happen.
And it will be a good thing.