The guys at Luminopolis aren’t clients of ours, but they hosted the WordPressKC meetup last month, allowing all the WPKC crew to give them advice about their website.
Luminopolis is a specialized web firm, building only websites for communities. Your city, neighborhood, gated community, or county can have its own website with a forum and a place to pay that water bill or golf course fee.
Luminopolis bills itself as “not your average municipal web solutions provider,” and I believe them, if only because theirs is the only About Us page I’ve ever seen that used the word “oligopoly.”
They had lots of willing advisers at the meeting, including Josepha from Haden Interactive.
Now Luminopolis has a very attractive website, as you can see from the screenshot above. They have their company name and tagline: “Luminopolis: services for enlightened communities.” At this point, we could be talking about anything from lamps to libraries to lambda symbols, so we move on. There’s a button in the contact area at top right saying, “firstname.lastname@example.org,” which I took to be a cuter version of “info@…” I figured that clicking it would bring up an email message form, but it actually links to the contact page. I like “hello” instead of “info,” but you shouldn’t surprise people with links; it should be obvious where a link is going to take you before you click it.
We next have an enormous rotating banner. An enormous, slow rotating banner. It takes a couple of minutes to watch all the slides, and the average web surfer is going to give you some 12 seconds before deciding whether to leave. That’s not long enough to determine from the slider what this company does.
Now, there are buttons under the rotating gallery that you can push to go to the slide of your choice. Unfortunately, many members of the group didn’t guess what those buttons are for — and this is a web-savvy group, so we can assume that many of Luminopolis’s visitors also aren’t getting it. The buttons look like main navigation. Josepha tried to use them that way and concluded that the links were broken.
Upon hearing these and many similar observations about their site, the guys from Luminopolis assured the group that these things didn’t matter. No one would find them through search, they said, because they worked only with municipal governments. They approached their prospective clients, who printed out the whole site, made multiple copies, and took all that paper to meetings.
Some sensible person in the groups asked, “Then why not just have a brochure?” I can relate to this, though. When my first website at www.RebeccaHaden.com was built, I didn’t expect anyone to find me through search. I learned SEO while working as manager for a company that wanted to do online marketing but couldn’t find a company to hire for help because we didn’t know the terminology well enough to look for one. By the time I learned enough to know where to find an SEO firm, I was already getting such good results that we didn’t need to hire anyone. But I figured, just as the Luminopolis guys do, that I’d have to approach my clients.
I was wrong. There were a couple of things I hadn’t taken into account. The first was that many people, rather than reading my blog and thinking, “Hurray, I can understand this!” instead are thinking, “Hurray, my clients could understand this!” My largest client segment is and always has been IT guys.
My second error was in not foreseeing that plenty of people with zero tech savvy would soon be searching for terms like “SEO’ and “keywords,” whether they know what those words mean or not. I still write for people who know about their business or profession and not about the internet, but they definitely can now find me by searching (Hi, there!).
So I wonder whether the guys at Luminopolis might not be missing some opportunities. They could make their gallery small enough to allow a quick, clear statement of what they offer and how to get it right there where people can see it and search engines can recognize it. If they did, they might find that people searching for “municipal website designers” or “city website builders” would in fact find their site. (Hint: their site is a lot more attractive than the ones that show up at Google when you make those searches.)
Not many people make those searches, it’s true. Still, Luminopolis could probably have top ranking for all those who do.
What assumptions are you making about your potential customers? My initial assumptions were mistaken, or at least incomplete. I figured that out and changed my website. Should you?
Thank you for the thoughtful analysis. We have numerous great ideas now for improving the site once client work slows up enough to focus on it. There’s always room for improvement and your notes will help us to focus on elements that matter most. We launched the site in half the time we originally budgeted to spend on it, then client work got the best of our schedules since then. We have an opening in 2 weeks so your feedback came at a perfect time.
Thank you for allowing me to write about your site. We know what you mean about fast launches, too — we still have a long check list of our own for our new site, too. Our clients always have to come first, though, don’t they?
Hey, lots of work is a good thing.
And as Rebecca said, our clients will always come first!