Meet Andy Hayes

92d21a572172b3ff5eae8a3cf37b4a79Andy Hayes is a creative web producer based right here in sunny Portland, Oregon. While his background is in IT, he’s owned a hospitality company, published two books, and has bought & sold a variety of travel and tourism websites. He joins us this year to talk through some website critiques, what works, and what doesn’t.

What’s the best way for me to come prepared for the session?
I can’t critique everyone’s website in this session, so regardless, I encourage you to come to this session knowing two things: what parts of your site you think are the best, or most popular, and what parts of your site you think could be better. You’ll find this useful info as we go through the critiques.

If I wanted to hire someone to make a website for me, what should I look for? How do I judge someone to see if they’ll produce what I want?
Web design involves a lot of personal preferences – it’s like interior design, if you don’t like pink, it’s not because pink is bad or wrong, you just don’t like it. So while it’s important to look at a web designer’s portfolio and ask for relevant examples & testimonials, the most important thing to look for in a web designer is communication skills. You want someone that understands your comfort level with technology and is able to communicate with you in a style that works for you – some of us are phone people; some of us are email people. Maybe you like using drawings and pictures, or maybe you only work via smoke signal. If you have a designer that you can communicate with effectively, all things can be conquered.

What work managing my website should I take on myself, and what should I hire out for?
For tasks and activities core to the business and change regularly – for example, updating your restaurant menu or posting a weekly sales special – I think business owners should be empowered to be able to make these changes; whether you choose to do them or choose to outsource them is a business decision, but you need to be able to get by if your contractor goes out of business. For bigger projects and technical work, if you aren’t a web designer, you shouldn’t be doing that work – bring in help to do the heavy lifting.

How should I consider my business’ web presence when running the business is a full-time job in itself?
In today’s marketplace, this question is like asking “how should I consider managing my voicemail and phone calls when running the business is a full-time job.” It’s non-negotiable – if you want to be competitive and relevant, you need a website. Having said that, you need to get clarity on what’s important for your customers, provide that, and everything else is a bonus. The magic is finding out that sweet spot, which is different for every business. For example, you have a restaurant? You need hours and location, reservations info, and specials/menus. That’s what potential and current customers expect. However, a motivational speaker will be more focused on videos of his/her previous work, testimonials, and pricing guidelines. The customers have totally different expectations. What are your customers’ expectations?