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Chapter Eight

The U in URL

Quick! Let’s do an assessment.

Instagram: Rapid fire images of art inspiration and dogs. Really, what’s with all the dogs?

Facebook: A scrapbook timeline connecting you with people you don’t want to meet.

Dribbble: A once beautiful community now bloated with portfolios and shape-tool logos.

Twitter: Any of you kids wanna see a dead body?

Wait. Weren’t we supposed to be using these platforms to promote our business? Where does my business fit into all of these now endless, grotesque echo-chambers?

Nowhere.

Everything Was Magic

The past decade in digital design has been nothing short of a Golden Age for our industry. We’ve rode the rise of incredible software developments that quickly positioned us as self appointed digital pioneers to become our own freelance agents and help create what the everyday business needs to make money in our all-things-connected world. That’s right socially misaligned introverts, we were crowned the new kings.

Oh that’s not enough? Ok, we were also gifted free social networking platforms that could quickly promote anything we chose and connected us with any local or remote business that enjoyed our work and needed our help within seconds. Everything was magical. Well, for a little while.

The Story

In 2017 we almost went belly-up. 2017 was also our most profitable year as a company. Fucked up right? Let me explain.

Back in 2015 we built a small temp site to display our work. Nothing fancy, just a small grid displaying our best and brightest. Not the most engaging site but who cared? It was supposed to be up for a paltry 6 months while we built a better version that would level us up to the next stage of our agency. It was up for 2 years. At the time we were swamped by the amount of work we were getting through our social channels and the next thing you know our new site was shelved and the temporary became permanent. Big deal right? Strike while the iron’s hot! Bad move.

Things were going strong until one day the leads just stopped. The social playing field was getting overcrowded and fully remote design teams were becoming less exotic as they once were. So let’s do some math. Floods of new competition + normalized remote agencies = Status Quo. Riding the social high had bottomed out and in turn came with a hellish detox. Something drastic had to be done if we wanted to land bigger leads and get our work flow healthy again. It was time to head home and regain full control of our brand experience. It was time to resurrect our URL.

And this is the thing that no one tells you. Social media is great for your business but a great business doesn’t need it.

In 2017 we devised a plan to drive all of our creative focus back into our website. It took months but when we finally launched in Summer the drought was instantly over. New work started flowing in because we obsessively curated exactly what we want you to see. Exactly what we want you to read. In the format that we decide because this is our home. We curated our own colorful experience so we could break free from the sterile, temporary safety social media offers. And this is the thing that no one tells you. Social media is great for your business but a great business doesn’t need it.

Cool Has a Shelf Life

If your business is promoting solely through social channels without a proper web experience to fall back on you’re heading for a crash and burn. All of these platforms will have their moment in the sun but they also have an expiration date approaching. That’s because everything ‘cool’ has a shelf life. Look at Twitter, it’s flatlining right now as I type this. We haven’t posted a tweet in months and not a single follower has said a word. So long Twitter.

All of this begs the question. Who’s next? Well that’s painfully obvious, every platform is next. Don’t we all know how cyclical this is by now? The internet, much like nature has no kindness or ill-will. It just is.

So maybe it’s time for us all to head back to our websites. Where we dictate what’s cool — Being ourselves through methodical curation and standing on our own feet untethered to the shaky ground of status quo.

#AuthorPunisherGod

Every year I read more nonsensical drivel on how websites are inching towards extinction. It really used to bother me. Hilariously this fear mongering is always posted to…you guessed it…FUCKING WEBSITES!

Look, the personal URL isn’t going anywhere. For years everyone was convinced apps would crush this kingdom but here we are. I even argue they just drove the need for home base URLs higher and why wouldn’t they? Your personal website is the freest form of our internet, for you to publish exactly what you choose draped in your own unique voice. You can be an author, a punisher, or a self proclaimed God even. I can’t think of anything more liberating. Why are we ignoring our websites and portfolios? Let’s go back and rebuild them but this time for us as individuals who provide a service uniquely to us.

Using social media for your business is a fine luxury but take it from me, almost losing everything to it’s ease of use and lead generating comfort showed me how frivolous it all can be when your time is up. It’s time to stop leaning on it so heavily. To really reach people and make an impact you’re going to have to go deeper and create a more personal experience on your own turf.

Be prepared. Be yourself.

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