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Web Site Performance

The lead calls out the name of the next song, and drummer starts the back beat, and the rest of the band comes in. The piece is underway, the crowd recognizes it, and the singer starts singing. It’s a performance. Everyone has practiced the bit, mastered the steps, knows the routine. They’re pros, and they look like they love being up there on stage.

At the best live performance, everyone involved with the production flows along with the jive, the mood, the flow…and plays to the responsive audience. It’s not canned, not pre-recorded, not the same as the studio track. It’s a little different from the last time, and a little different from the next time. These guys are really on tonight, they’re really good.

Most of us fans can tell when a musician is part of show or just supporting it. Most of us know in our hearts what makes the band – whether it is the rock star or the compositions, the lyrics or the visuals, or the unique blend of personalities acting as one. Sometimes it defies modern convention – like when the Grateful Dead brought folk and bluegrass to the rock and roll party and everyone just called it “eclectic”. That run lasted like 50 years (so far). Other times, well, let’s just say the term “cookie cutter” is aptly assigned to a lot of musical entities brought out by record companies these days.

Web design and SEO are just like that. The production of a successful web site is a performance. We — the SEOs, strategists, producers, designers, webdevs, copywriters — are the band. Maybe there’s a rock star lead, maybe not. Maybe there’s a groove, a jive, a flow achieved, which brings together a talented and skilled group of professionals, and maybe the audience engages. Or maybe not. Maybe it’s a cookie-cutter website. Maybe it doesn’t really fit, maybe it isn’t really so special, and maybe this web site looks just like the last, and the next. Maybe the players in the band are merely skilled, supporting professionals, and the bulk of the band could be replaced with just about any other competent professionals without impacting the performance.

When the guys are on, really together, they create something bigger than the individuals themselves. That’s magic, just like a priceless live performance. Can you do that?

From early stage SEO and market research, through client meetings where the client’s eyes are opened to the real online marketplace and customer actions, to design comps, moods, and functional IA meetings, we’re all composing, writing, choreographing and playing our instruments. We are creating.

We bring our skills and talents, and focus on the mission/mood/concept, in preparation of performing before a live audience of Internet users actively engaging with our content.  We may not be “live” when the audience enjoys our live performance, but we’re live during planning and production. It’s a little twisted – the audience is live, the performers are not. Isn’t that the future interactive recorded performance so many performing artists have dreamt of? In fact, won’t their ultimate achievements in that direction be web-based, using the same technologies we are all extending, perfecting, and “playing” as we build successful web sites? Yes, we are the artists leading the way, putting on the performances that will ultimately guide and influence those follow-on performers when they engage audiences via the web (when they finally get past the “we need a Flash artists” syndrome).

My project lead calls and says – “we’ve got a new project starting – in consumer products, starting with a tooth paste”. It’s like when Johnny Cash calls out  “Walk the Line” and in the band everyone’s eyes scan everyone’s eyes to synchronize the start up of what they’ve practiced so well.

I immediately start playing TheGoogle in the toothpaste space, looking at keywords, user generated content character, forming a symphony in my head of all of the channels of Universal Search and consumer engagement. Our designer visualizes the first mood board, hitting Bing for image searches, cutting out red/white/green striped tubes of toothpaste and 8 year old kids with bright white smiles. Creative/Interactive spits out early ideas like “we could do a B-move take on TheBlob, but it’s in color and the blob is made of toothpaste.. mwhahhahaha“. I laugh out loud… gotta love those creatives. Unafraid to start out on any new idea, to get the creative juices flowing.

We’re jamming… and it’s fun. All unique, all skilled and talented, and all fine with the fact that alone, we might be great but we’re probably unable to truly hit it and make nearly the impact we can make together, especially when we’re “on”. We’re a team, and for the next few sessions we be jammin’,  to see what comes out of it, backed by our seo-provided common vision of toothpaste, product claims, and knowledge of the SERPs.

It’s all good.  I hope you enjoy the performance.


  1. Martypants wrote:

    I like this one John. As a musician myself, I’ll jump on in, if I am not being too bold.
    But you hit on the fact that being with the other musicians creates something greater than any of the individual parts. I completely agree – but I’d add to that, that an individual is going to have to keep on practicing, mostly alone, with only fleeting, occasional glimpses of the groove available most often. It is a lot of chords and theory, or strokes and rudiments, and then a willingness to jump in and try something without going too far. Taste in time, comes from the combination of being able to do fancy things, but usually choosing not to.
    You need to understand the groove initimately on your own, and how you relate to it before you have anything worth sharing – or something that others can effectively share with you.
    But in time, with practice and a slow dedication, it becomes an amazingly powerful way to communicate and commingle with others…the groove becomes more intrinsic and natural, and expression can at that point, turn more seriously to art and unique interpretation. Though it may be fun all along the way, there are definitely many many hours of “boring” before it clicks. And many hours after that to make sure the groove never gets too far away.
    Thanks for this –

    Monday, October 25, 2010 at 8:10 am | Permalink
  2. john andrews wrote:

    Thanks for the comment @Martypants. You folowed up exactly where my heart was… that as an individual member of the group, I do a TON of work (“practice”) before joining the group. In SEO consulting this is a real issue. Most other team members practice much less than good SEO people, and it is often difficult to get paid enough to justify the work required to “learn the piece well enough to perform”.

    Monday, October 25, 2010 at 10:18 am | Permalink