In order to gain inspiration, the company looked outside the industry to Apple, Dell and Volkswagen.
, principal at public relations firm RGA-Rick Grant & Associates, said that when he works withcompanies on Web site design, he advises that they duplicate what is already being used in print marketingmaterials in order to maintain branding. For example, similar colors and fonts should be incorporated.However, he warned, a company’s branding and logo are most likely not what site visitors are hoping to find andshould not be overplayed. Instead, content is key.
Smith said that once a design is in place and it is time to build the site, title companies will be faced with theadditional decision of whether to have someone in-house maintain the site or if that function should instead beoutsourced. At Federal Title, Smith pushed for the company to use its own content management system (CMS)so that any attorney within the company could easily access the back-end of the site from the office in order toupdate information or make a quick change.Federal Title operates today on the Joomla! CMS, a platform that Smith worked with previously and preferred.Other common systems include Drupal and Wordpress. “Any of those will do the same things. It’s just a matter of preference. Once we decided which managementsystem we wanted to use, it was a question of contacting a host who would then host the URL for us,” Smith said,adding that she chose a local company in the Washington, D.C., area in order to have the ability to visit inperson if needed.Once the host was in place, Smith was left with building the site through Joomla! by uploading information ontothe server and creating it one piece at a time. By doing it herself, Smith said Federal Title was able to garner asignificant savings, having been quoted by developers anywhere from $2,500 for the creation of a bare-bonessite to $50,000 for a high-end site. “We could have spent $50,000 on a site that wouldn’t have put us any farther ahead than the site we ended upcreating. To me, that was an accomplishment. We saved money and achieved the same goals,” she said, addingthat she instead spent less than $1,000 for outsourced graphics, templates and hosting fees.TitleHub took a different approach by taking the design and layout created by its graphic designer and giving it toa Web development company to create the site. “We knew that this was of a sufficient complexity that we needed a Web designer, the only issue was whether wewent with an all-in-one that did both design and build-out,” Vetstein said. To get what it wanted, TitleHubdecided the right decision was to use the two separate providers.From that point, the site was created with a fair number of tweaks made along the way. “There were a lot of bugs and kinks to work out, like getting the menus right. And, of course, we had to get them all of the contentfor the pages, so we were doing a lot of writing,” he said.
Making it work for your company
Grant said it’s important to build a site with a variety of ways for visitors to gather the information they need. Herecommended that companies take a prospect through the regular flow of business via the Web site, from theagent’s role at first contact to closing. What is presented through that approach, he added, is imperative, sinceoftentimes potential clients are searching the Web for title agents because something went wrong with a providerthey were working with previously. “When something goes wrong, that’s probably the vast majority of times you’re going to find a lender looking forwhat you do. It’s even more important at that point that you have a Web site that clearly explains your valueproposition, that makes it easy to get in touch with the knowledgeable people at your organization,” Grant said. “Make it easy for them to come on, get set up, get the information they need and give them as much as you canteach them before they even pick up the phone.” While this process doesn’t always have an inexpensive price tag, Vetstein said TitleHub had to weigh the benefitsof developing a Web site that fit closely with its own business model and make the investment, which has so farbeen returned by business pulled in through the site. “Our platform in terms of marketing and sales and getting Realtors and lenders to do business with us is soWeb-focused. We’re so high on social media and blogging — it’s part of our business model. We use technologyto make the process better and more efficient for our partners,” he said.Smith advised that a budget be put in place and, if possible, companies should consider having someone in-house
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