I just finished my latest website facelift. This is the fourth iteration of megvox.com, since embarking on voiceover. Only after I finish, do I come across this useful post by another VO, regarding the nuts and bolts of a good VO site. All iterations of my site were made by me using the following criteria:
My budget (yes to domains/emails, no to outsourced web design at this point, though a good pro-made Wordpress site is my longterm goal)
My aesthetic. I do really like dark themed pages, and I know a lot of others don't.
Tips I've picked up from those who have trod the path before me (Hi Tim Tippetts, Hi Marc Scott! Hi Lisa Biggs!)
Feedback from other VOs for whom I have posted my site on Facebook groups for market research purposes, and asked their feedback - the good, the bad and the ugly. It often helps to have a fresh pair of eyes, and a fresh outlook, and it's a great way to keep your ego in check and eat a slice of humble pie. After staring at your own site-in-progress for 5 days, you'll begin to think you and your site are pretty darned special, and well...... yeah.
So let's check out Joe's recent experience with website overhauls, shall we? Go see. I'll wait....
In short, his research yielded the following (let's see how well I measure up!)
1. One page is best - people are lazy and don't click the others. (FAIL)
Forgive me for overriding science with personal experience, but that hasn't been the case for me. I have a 'controversial' About Me page that many VOs have condemned as unprofessional and uncompetitive because it has all kinds of pictures of my dogs on it, and lets my dog lady freak flag fly quite blatantly. On the flipside, others have thought it was charming and funny, and made them feel emotionally connected to me after reading it. This is good!
Why did I do it?
I thought it would be nice to have ONE page that was a little fun.
I don't have current professional headshots, otherwise that would be there instead.
My dogs are infinitely better looking than I am, being fancy ex-showdogs and all that stuff. Lassie's a looker, everyone knows that. I, on the other hand, definitely have a face for voiceover, and could benefit from re-evaluating my attitudes on cardio vs. Pizza Hut.
... and finally, this story. It's not as though this has happened frequently, but when I did my very first email marketing campaign, I got my very first lead. An owner of an e-learning company responded to my email, not with comments on my website or praising my demo, but with a photo of her own collie, who came from the same rescue I had been affiliated with when I first got into the breed. She had been on that About Page and checked me out a bit, in addition to the demo page. We talked collie-shop back and forth a few times. INSTANT RELATIONSHIP AND PERSONAL CONNECTION. They hired me because of that connection and because I am local and live in their town. Even though they've never seen me in person, they felt community through that. They're still a great client today, and I love working with them.
2. Demos front and center on your page. (PASS)
I did this, but I DID NOT include my video demo front and center on top of the audio demo. Why? I plan on updating my demos in the near future so the old video demo will become redundant at that time. It's down with the rest of the videos for now. The demos are playable on all devices I tested and downloadable easily. So that's good.
3. Put your contact information all over the place. (FAIL)
Because I failed point one, I now have a lot of places to put my contacts. However, if I consider my main landing page as the meat and potatoes, and all the rest of the pages as the gravy that only a few bored souls will venture into, I could improve on my landing page's design by putting my email address link at the TOP of the page (under the demos) and not way on the bottom where it currently is. Noted.
4. Need for Speed. (IN UNIVERSITY, THEY CALLED IT AN 'INCOMPLETE CREDIT'... SO SNOWFLAKE FAIL?)
I haven't even considered the loading speed of my site because I have been testing everything on 30Mbps internet and it seems ok to me. I did wonder in passing while testing my mobile version, if it really needed the large, high res graphic for the background, or if I should downscale it to make it faster-loading for mobile and more considerate of people's data plans. Of course, I didn't, because I was being lazy, but other things I did take into consideration are: download sizes (the demos are MP3, not wav) AND video compression (I used a slider showcase to a Youtube playlist, because Youtube does a lovely job of scaling down playback resolution for the user's internet speed). My weakness? I NEVER scale down photos. Joe included some links to some tools for diagnosing your website's need for speed, which is very helpful! I will use them!
5. SEO (BIG FAIL)
I use Wix, and from what I had heard, it's SEO features are mediocre compared to Wordpress. However, if we're being honest here, my SEO features are also mediocre. I am currently taking an online course facilitated by Tim Tippetts in the ways of understanding and harnessing SEO. Until I am educated, I am leaving it be, because I will probably be wasting my time until I know at least a little bit about what I am doing. There is also the possibility this might be one of those things I farm out to someone smarter about these things.
I will definitely get to work on some of the easier actionables like contact information and learning the basics of SEO. Thanks for the great blog post, Joe! I love reading about other's people's journeys in this wonderful industry, and I appreciate your heart for helping others along on your climb.