I’m in the midst of overhauling my consulting company’s very basic website, and now turn to you, dear readers, for your thoughts and suggestions.
The context: I launched the site three years ago as a basic thing, a quick WordPress semi-brochure to get the word out. It wasn’t too different from a blog. Ever since I’ve been meaning to revamp it, but, honestly, business has been good and kept me too busy. I’ve been devoting time to higher priorities – i.e., meeting with clients, conducting research, publishing, etc. Plus my blog and Twitter have done the lion’s share of communicating my thoughts and questions.
As it stands now, the site offers short texts introducing the business and its services (speaking, futuring). For samplers of this work there are interviews with me and blurbs, along with links to FTTE and this very blog. And there’s contact information.
The desired audience for the new site is potential clients. That means higher education leaders and interested parties, not just in the United States, but worldwide: provosts, deans, presidents, CIOs, library heads, faculty, boards, politicians. That also includes non-post-secondary cultural heritage institutions that I’ve worked with, namely libraries and museums, both public and academic.
The purpose of the site: to share information about my consulting work, with the aim of attracting new clients.
What’s already on deck to add to a new site: I have assembled materials for a clients page, with links, permissions, and logos. I’ve started two case studies. There are also new and archived media items, including a good number of photos and videos. These materials came about because Facebook friends offered me design suggestions last year, which drove the creation and selection of these items (thank you, friends!). I haven’t picked a WordPress theme, or considered another CMS, or made a “welcome to the site” video, or run a focus group, or figured out the best color scheme representing my brand, nor consulted with a professional web designer.
I have looked at other websites for higher education consultants, and drawn some conclusions.
- They rarely lead with images of their staff. Instead they start with images of their real or ideal clients, featuring both people (students, staff) and physical sites (lovely campuses and buildings).
- They often showcase a specific, named, and sometimes proprietary methodology or product (for example).
- Client lists and case studies are available.
- Publications are available, such as white papers and articles.
- Specific services and topical foci are named right away.
- Most pages are crammed with content, often in multiple columns, in sharp contrast with today’s post-mobile simplicity mode. For example,
Reduced greatly from its full-screen width.
Here’s one exception.
- “Contact us” info is prominently displayed, from social media widgets to phone numbers to login and “click here for X” buttons.
- Some have a calendar of upcoming events.
While I was looking for inspiration from my peers, I also explored another set of colleagues. Professional futurists‘ websites are a bit different. They are much more personal, with futurists’ names and faces foregrounded. Like non-futurist consultant sites, these feature information about clients and case studies. Their overall design is more exciting, with a larger number of graphics, images, and animation, plus a general flair for energy. Linguistically, some write in the first person, others in the third.
Interestingly, I don’t see too much in the way of future-oriented design in futures sites. They feel like websites from circa 2000-2010. There isn’t much in the way of (say) video, or animation, or infographics, 3d models, slideshows, “hero images”, carousels, hamburger menus, endless scrolls, material design, or cards. They don’t feature giant slabs of images or video. There aren’t many locations for interaction. None seem to be mobile-first designs.
My work sits in both domains, futurism and consulting, yet is different in some ways. I foreground everything in social media, which is unusual for consultants, and not always done among futurists. I also try to be as open about the consulting work as possible, which is rare. I point to Vermont in my work, not so much for professional reasons (only a few clients are here, and it’s not a very futures-oriented state, so far) but because my family’s homesteading is both interesting and a differentiator. I rarely see anyone else celebrating their living in New Jersey, or wherever. In short, while I learn web redesign from futurists and consultants, I’m not sure how to express those differences – parts of my brand – in this new site.
So I ask: what would you like to see? Should I imitate the consultants or the futurists? How much media should I pile on? Is there a color scheme and/or font inherent in what you know of my work? Is the best site simple or content-packed? Would you like an upcoming events or recent publications scroll? Would a popup asking you to join FTTE drive you screaming from the site, or appear as logical marketing?
I’m grateful for any advice you can offer.