Web Processing Series – Part Three: Launch, Optimization, & Training

Web Processing Series - Part 3: Launch, Optimization, & Training

Pre-Launch SEO


  • Hosting
  • Training

30-day optimization

Support and Hosting

  • Maintenance
    • Updates
    • Fixes

Ongoing partnership opportunities

Launching Your Website

Once your site is launched, CMG will continue to apply enhancements to meet any business changes and improve your website. Your CMG representative will continue to communicate with you regarding ongoing strategy and optimization. Within the 30-day optimization window post-launch, CMG provides detailed support when needed, and uses that time to further optimize your site. Any questions you might have will quickly be attended to by your representative.

A new website design is a strong investment for your business and your story. CMG proudly partners with businesses in many industries, and we look forward to interviewing with you to take your online presence to the next level and beyond. Contact us today to get started!

Web Processing Series – Part Two: Design & Development

Web Processing Blog Series - Part 2: Design & Development

Content Creation

  • SEO strategy
  • Sitemap
  • Website design strategy
  • Framework


  • Creative direction
  • Branding (if applicable)
  • Moodboards
  • Website page design (either mockups or in development)


  • Code
  • CMS
  • Content added

Website Design Kick-Off

Now that we’re underway with the assets and website expectations, a CMG internal kick-off meeting provides our team with the huddle needed to launch into the content creation, design, and development phases. What’s so invaluable about this part of the design process is for the meeting of the minds and known variables to come together, as well as any additional brainstorming that could spark.

CMG carefully selects each team for a web design project, so when it comes to kick-off, the project already feels well into production, and the seamless transition from one phase to the next naturally occurs. In each kick-off team, you can expect us to discuss design direction and inspiration, sitemaps and calls to action, internal and client expectations, and timelines.

Discussion of market competition, successful metrics, and more also are discussed at kick-off. We’re not in the business to destroy others, but we succeed in the business because we create a product that achieves greater results.

Content Creation

Web content strategy is just as important to the website design as the design process itself. At this point, your CMG content strategist will have been immersed in your brand and business marketing strategy and will be able to craft a message designed toward leads and conversions. Website content is a vehicle created to promote your brand and entice users to act, whether that be to purchase a product on your e-commerce site (conversion) or to call or fill out a contact form (conversion and/or lead).

While written content doesn’t always dictate the overall design of your website, it has a heavy influence on the design direction. You’ve probably heard that content is king, which rings true in SEO, so we work hard to achieve your brand’s reach in the market. We do this by telling your story and answering any question your potential customers might have. That way, you’ve provided them with informed decisions, and they come knocking, digitally or physically.

Here’s a boring list of the amazing things that go into content creation:

  • Competitor research
  • Content review and research
  • Keywords and phrases research
  • User and market research
  • Sitemap creation
  • Editing existing content to maximize its potential
  • Website outline
  • Writing new content based on analytics and goals
  • Content writing for calls to action and conversions

It’s okay to admit the weaknesses of your existing website. It’s also great to know the strengths. We’ll be there guiding and assisting you in every step, so any weaknesses can be turned into strengths. Let’s find what can be done better, and we’ll work that into your site’s design.

Website Design

As you can tell by now, it takes a lot more than just signing a contract and getting a site built in a couple of days. At CMG, we want your design to do the talking for you when you’re unavailable to sell. And when your site is operating as your storefront or point of contact, we aim to maximize those opportunities using the strategy and energy needed to reach your ideal customers. Our expertise is applied and communicated to you in every step of the process.

When it comes to the design phase of the website design project, our web designer takes the content written by our content strategists, the design assets provided as well as the branding, the design direction discussed, and the goals of the project, and works to build a strategic website design in congruence with the team’s research and strategy up until this point. Because the magic happened way back in the discovery phase and with your business marketing goals, our designer has been well-equipped to hit that ball out of the park.

Design Direction

Creative direction is not only given to our web designer, but is also expected of our web designer. CMG has been building a team for you before they even were part of CMG, because our confidence in our team is second to none. We’re so confident in that because of our dedication to communication with you all along the way.

Your Website's Design: Getting the Goodies

The first set of deliverables you can expect to see in your website design can be either flat mockups or actual interactive designs (preview site), depending on the scope and size of the project. These visual design drafts represent the user interface (UI) of your website, and you can expect your CMG web team to demo the site to you upon delivery (in person or via video conferencing).

Upon review of the initial website design, you’ll take note of how our designer crafted your vision, message, and goals into the visual user experience (UX). The following are common parts of a website’s design:

  • Visual branding and brand colors
  • Complementary typography
  • Easily accessible navigation
  • Phone number and address
  • Calls to action
    • Buttons
    • Content for lead gens
    • Various hyperlinks
  • Contact forms
  • Whitespace
  • Images (large images are common)
  • Headlines
  • Mobile menu options
  • Responsive layouts

User Experience (UX)

The UX represents a user’s overall experience of your website. When you receive the first draft of the website, you’ll want to give it a thorough critique, from your perspective and the perspective of your users. How did the designer capture your story? Where do you see your users taking action? How does the flow of the visual experience on each page sell your brand? Was there anything missed that can be added to enhance the user experience?

A good design will lead users naturally from start to finish, from page to page, etc. CMG’s expertise in UX design speaks for itself, but that doesn’t mean we will always deliver exactly your vision for your users, so it’s crucial that we collaborate from the first draft through to launch day.

Design Approval

CMG website design most likely takes multiple rounds to reach the final draft, but it’s always possible that you reach design approval early in the design process. Design approval simply means that you agree that you approve of the designs created for your website. For large scale websites, design approval can occur before all content is placed within the framework of your preview site, as it’s expected that some pages of the site will follow a template created within the design rounds.

Per the design phases and our contract with you, there is room for revisions and changes between each round. You can expect to see these changes at the start of each round, which you can then review and provide additional feedback. Once you’ve approved of your website’s design, it moves into development, which is exciting in its own way!

Your Website Design and the Development Phase

The last person to perform magic on your website design is our web developer. The web developer’s job is to make the web design user experience functional and enjoyable, so users can fully interact with the various working parts of your website. Our web developer will set up the content management system (CMS — most often WordPress), work in the code, and build the site per the design.

In the end, you’ll have a site made up of HTML, CSS, PHP, JS, blah, blah, and it’ll be splendid! At CMG, we regularly maintain our sites for best practices, up-to-date software, performance, and more. If we’ve agreed on ongoing partnership, our development team will continue to provide support and maintenance to ensure your online presence stays strong.

Web Processing Series- Part One: Contract & Preparation

Web Processing Blog Series - Part 1: Contract & Preparation


  • Site goals
  • Educating the client, educated by the client
  • Defining scope
  • Providing website timelines and phases
  • Gathering and creating

Discovery Phase

  • Assets (photos, logos, etc.)
  • Sitemap
  • Content received


  • Internal meeting
  • Design approach
  • Client and internal expectations
  • Timelines

Creating a Successful Website Design

In order to create a successful website design, Columbia Marketing Group focuses on the following core elements:

  • Aesthetics
  • Client goals
  • Usability
  • Conversion opportunities
  • Partnership

CMG believes that, in order to achieve success, a respectful partnership with you is not desired, but required. Without our ongoing collaboration and understanding, your website design will look beautiful and propel your business, but it might not meet your goals or performance standards. We don’t sign a contract with you so we can take over your business’s website design; instead, we sign a contract to help you grow your business.

Preparing for a Successful Website Design

Prior to designing your business website, CMG learns your story. What does your product or service deliver to your customers and clients? How does your business benefit the community? How does the community benefit your business? What are your short and long term marketing goals? Tell us about your customers. Provide information about customers and clients you want calling you and entering your doors. Tell us about you and your team.

Through telling your story and entrusting CMG with your goals, we discover the areas your brand can have its greatest impact, which will maximize your market reach and potential. Our greatest partnerships in website design and development come from ongoing, authentic relationships.

Prior to Contract

Are we the right fit for you? Are you the right fit for us? Let’s discuss!

The following list describes our sales process needs and expectations prior to signing a contract with you to create your website:

  • Your website’s goals
  • We learn from you, and you learn from us (more on that later)
  • Explanation of our approach and what you can expect from us
  • Definition of project scope
  • Budgets
  • Website timeline estimates and phases
  • Gathering any pertinent information and discussion of content strategy
  • Confirming what your needs are regarding the new website
  • What to expect post-launch

Signing a Website Design Contract and The Discovery Phase

CMG provides all of our clients with a thorough, detailed contract, with both CMG and client expectations laid out ahead of project kickoff. We take communication and collaboration very seriously because the greatest website success comes from engaged parties on both sides. We want you to achieve success, and because you are passionate about your business and growth, we know signing that contract is a way to share your enthusiasm. Let’s get excited!

In the discovery phase, you can expect a heavy amount of asset and content gathering. The more you have, the more we have about you. Tell us your favorite success stories — it’s even better if you have testimonials from your customers. Send us your logo and its variations. Any favorite photos, fonts, and content you have to share? Let’s see it all. Remember, this is your story; we’re wanting to tell it authentically and in a thorough, engaging way.

Brownie Points for Analytics!

If you have an existing website, and you’ve had analytics tracking installed on your site, we’d love to chat! It’s kind of a cheat sheet to your users’ preferences on your current site, and it can provide us with an idea of how they have been navigating through the content of your site prior to the redesign. It might not provide us with the direction of your website redesign, but it will most certainly give us confidence in driving toward your online goals.

Consistent Communication is Key

You’ll hear us say this a lot, but that’s only because we know how important it is to have consistent communication throughout the website design process. It ensures that, as a team, we meet and maintain expectations. You’re the main visionary, and while CMG prides ourselves on execution, we know that your presence in it leads to your success and growth.

If there are any changes to the goals initially set, we will append the initial plan for you and gain your approval prior to launching into the new success-driven direction.

The point of all the communication stuff is simple: we’re genuinely interested in you and your business, and your success is our goal. It gets us all tingly!

To Boost or Not To Boost on Facebook

How to get results from boosting your company’s Facebook posts.

A boosted Facebook post can gain more interactions, such as comments, reactions, and shares, with your organic content already on your page. Boosting your content will reach potential customers that don’t already follow your business with content that they would see daily from your page.

Advantages of Boosting on Facebook

  • Simplicity: Facebook makes boosting posts as easy as it is to create them. You’ll simply go to a post on your page and click the “Boost Post” button. After a couple of questions, your post will be in front of hundreds of potential new customers. With boosting, you don’t have to create more content for Facebook  advertisements — you use what already works with your original audience. 
  • Customizable: When boosting your post, Facebook will have you define your targeted audience and location. If you want more engagements on your posts, you could set your audience as just the people that like your page. If you want to increase your brand awareness, you could set your audience to a custom demographic in your specified location. If your company wants a mix of more engagement and brand awareness, you could choose to have your post boosted to people that like your page and their friends. 
  • Pay as much as you’d like: Any budget works with boosted posts. Facebook will let you choose how long you would like your page boosted for as well as how large or specific the audience for the post will be. The more specific your audience, and the longer your post will be up, the more expensive the ad will be.

Disadvantages of Boosting on Facebook

  • Too customizable: Facebook allows you to boost your post for as long as you would like, as well as creating any audience you like — whether that’s a wide range or a super-specific one. However, your boosted post won’t be successful just because it’s boosted for a long time or if the audience you picked isn’t right for your content. 
  • It won’t fix a bad post:  If you’re seeing less engagement than usual on one of your posts, the solution may not be to boost it. Dramatically less engagement could mean that your content may not be meeting the needs of your audience. Putting this content in front of more eyes wouldn’t be the solution.
  • It only gains engagement on Facebook: If your goal isn’t to increase your company’s social media presence and engagement, you shouldn’t be boosting. Boosting your posts on Facebook can get you more reactions, shares, comments, and follows, but it doesn’t guarantee link clicks or conversions. If social media interactions aren’t your goal, consider a different form of marketing.

The Bottom Line of Boosting on Facebook

When choosing to boost posts on Facebook, know what goals you are trying to achieve before you decide to promote. Whether you are trying to increase brand awareness with potential new customers, or increase engagements with existing customers, use what already works well with your original audience. At the end of the day, remember to always be true to your brand.

Logo Development

Creating A Strong Logo

A strong logo is one of the most important design elements you can have for your business. It’s what your prospects see first. It shows your identity, distinguishes your business from your competition, and you can put it anywhere from water-bottles to letterhead. So, how do you develop a strong logo for your business? Here’s the process our talented artists use for designing logos.

Do Your Research

First and foremost, you must know your brand. What is your brand about? What do you want your brand to say about your business? Pick words that resonate with you about your brand. Knowing your brand clearly and concisely will help in creating meaningful designs for the business.

Did I Mention Research?

As with anything in the world of consumerism, know your ideal customer. Do they like sleek and modern designs or fun and playful? Do they resonate with a formal tone or more relational in nature? Knowing your customer can help create designs that will appeal to them.

Curate Inspiration

Once the research is out of the way, we start preparing for the design process. The best way to get started is by creating an inspiration board based off of the information we gathered from your research. We start gathering images, typography, colors, etc. that we feel will embody the branding you want.

Sketch It Out

Now it’s time to start sketching. This is where we will explore different ideas based on the information and inspiration that has been gathered. We challenge ourselves by seeing how many different thumbnails we can create in five to ten minutes. You’ll be amazed at how many we can create in that amount of time.

Ready, Set, Illustrate!

Once we have chosen the design we want to run with, we take it into Illustrator. Here, we will explore different types of fonts that will complement the planned design. Logos are most effective when they are simple, yet striking enough to be memorable.

Add Some Color

Next, we add a little color into the design. For this next step, we will choose and refine a color palette for your brand.

Mock It Up

Last, we create the mockup. Mockups help to understand and get a context for the design. These are created by using examples of where the logo might be found (like the water bottle and letterheads mentioned above).

Show Off The Hard Work

Once we have all of these steps completed, it’s time to present our work and the rationale behind all of our choices. Why did we go with a serif font rather than a sans serif? What is the logo supposed to mean? Here, we will show the mockups and the design by itself.

Edit The Design

After the presentation is complete, we will make changes based off of any suggestions or requests that were made.

Create a Style Guide

We’re almost done. Now, it’s time to make the brand style guide. This will be a guide to show how to and how not to use the logo, typography, colors, etc. so the brand will remain consistent throughout all platforms.

A strong logo can say a lot about a business. Do you need help making your logo up-to-par? Contact us and we’ll get started on a good design for you and your business.

Does Your Logo Work for You? Three Principles of Effective Logos

Nike, McDonald’s, Starbucks. These logos popped into your head instantly, didn’t they? They should; they’re iconic. They can stand alone without the company name or complex advertisements. Your logo is your identity, unique to your brand. Make sure it speaks for itself.

Before you go to the drawing board to give your logo a makeover, here are some guidelines to guarantee your logo is a knockout. The purpose is not just to look pretty. It needs to be practical, too!

Your logo needs to be adaptable.

While this is more of a technical (*ahem* boring) principle, it’s something that is often overlooked in favor of flashy, and ultimately complicated, designs. As branding touchpoints become more accessible than ever, even to small businesses, your logo needs to be able to adapt to a variety of sizes and applications. On any given day, your customers will see your logo in a magazine ad, as the profile picture on your social media account, embroidered on the uniforms your employees wear, on the free pen or tube of chapstick they accumulated from an event, or blown up five feet tall on a billboard going 60 MPH down the highway. Regardless of the format or environment, your logo needs to be recognizable and retain the same qualities that make it effective.

In addition to adapting to scale and application, your logo should also be able to adapt as trends come and go. What looks trendy and current today can look dated and out-of-touch next year. Will your logo still convey what it needs to 10 years from now? (And yes, a logo should last at least 10 years.)

Your logo needs to be distinct.

Seeing a great logo can make designing something memorable seem like a simple task – one of those “Of course! Why didn’t I think of that!” moments. Unfortunately, it’s not always as easy as it seems. Your first idea is likely everyone else’s too. And when you fall back on those first ideas and industry clichés, you’re bound to end up with a generic logo that gets lost in the mix. Think of your logo as your signature. Like a signature, logos serve to identify you, not describe what you do. Apple’s logo isn’t a computer, Starbucks isn’t a cup of coffee, and Ford isn’t a car. So instead of explaining what you provide, think about how you want your brand to make someone feel.

Your logo needs to be relevant.

While a logo should be distinct, it shouldn’t be unique just for the sake of being unique. Your logo and positioning still need to be aligned to your market. Think about the differences between Nike and Dior. They are both fashion brands, but their logos are vastly different because their audiences are vastly different. Nike is a contemporary athletic brand, and their simple and dynamic “swoosh” icon visually represents that energy perfectly. On the other hand, Dior is a luxury fashion house, so a sophisticated and modern logotype helps establish their brand aesthetic. Utilize what sets your business apart from your competition and highlight those factors to differentiate yourself while remaining pertinent.

  • If your differentiating factor is the quality of your products, your brand should highlight luxury and craftsmanship. Think jewel tones, a high contrast serif logotype, and stylized product photography.
  • If your differentiating factor is the cutting-edge technology you work with, your brand should highlight knowledge and innovation. Think high-contrast colors, a modern and clean font, and lots of negative space.
  • If your differentiating factor is the convenience of your services, your brand should highlight charm and approachability. Think bright colors, a slab-serif font, and hand-drawn illustrations.

Now that you know what separates a good logo from a great one, go look at your own logo and ask yourself, “Is this how I want my company to be identified?” Keep these guiding principles in mind as you review your logo. You may be right on the mark, or it may be time for an update.

You’ve learned. You’ve reviewed. What’s next?

Great, your logo meets all of the above criteria! Let’s take it a step further.

Congrats on having a great logo! But as important as a logo is, it’s just a part of your business’s brand. Let’s work together to develop your brand and marketing strategy!

Oh shoot – I need a logo that works! 

Don’t fret! We offer (effective) logo design services! Contact us and we’ll get started!

Food Swap: Coworker Edition

One of my favorite things to do is spend an evening cooking in my kitchen. I love thinking about recipes and trying new things. I even love grocery shopping (hi, Aldi!).

The (not so) downside of cooking

Cassidy Shearrer - Graphic Designer - Columbia Marketing Group

The only thing that I hate about cooking is when I let food go bad. I hate wasting things so much that I rarely buy greens because I know I’ll never get to the bottom of the bag before they spoil. Such is the dilemma of cooking for one. I don’t always cook for one, but most of my adult life I’ve prepared meals for one or two. If you’ve been in this boat, you know the frustration a whole gallon of milk can bring. And how is one person supposed to eat an entire bag of radishes before they go bad?

I’m becoming an expert in preservation techniques. I only buy vegetables with long shelf lives (thank you, spaghetti squash). I pawn off extra celery on my boyfriend. Sometimes, I just eat the same meal for like five days straight. And by day five, I have lost all desire to eat the amazing New York Times cooking blog recipe I was so excited about.

Co-worker food swap meet

So, when COMO magazine’s editor-in-chief, Emma, said she wanted to eat more vegetables, I got an idea. I knew Emma probably had similar meal frustrations, and I also knew that she brings her lunch to work most days, so I proposed a lunch swap. Maybe I could pawn off some of my extra meals on her! Okay, and maybe bond a little with my coworker ?.

She agreed, and with the not wanting to disappoint, I made an old standard of mine. Rice noodles and zoodles with steamed veggies topped with a peanut tahini sauce and sesame seeds. I made it for dinner the night before, brought in lunch for Emma, and ate it for dinner the next night. And then it was gone! Nothing went bad!

The only issue I hadn’t foreseen with this plan was that food brings out my competitive side. And Emma totally brought her A-game. OMG, some kind of delicious Asian turkey lettuce wrap (I immediately asked for the recipe). Plus, she gave me sides! Grapes, a mandarin orange, and chocolates. I’m feeling the pressure for our next swap. I’m over here fangirling and writing blog posts about it, and she still hasn’t asked for my recipe! We are swapping lunches again next week. I need to go read some food blogs…

Erica’s Recommended Reading List

This is one of my favorite quotes: “You are the same today that you are going to be five years from now except for two things: the people with whom you meet and the books you read.”
― Charles Jones

I often get credit for the culture we have at our company or the way we cultivate the relationships with our clients, but the truth is that I have learned everything I know from a couple of great mentors and the things written in the books I’ve recommended below.

These authors have served as great inspiration for me and given our team direction when we needed to strengthen our foundation. May they serve the same for you.

If you ever want to chat about the concepts represented on this list, feel free to make an appointment with me and we can chat over coffee.

The Benefits of Personality Assessments

I am typically a behind-the-scenes kind of girl. Pretty stereotypical of an editor type. I prefer to interview and photograph those with the story, not be at the center of the story.

And while I can stand in front of a large audience when I have something to say, it also makes me feel anxious and vulnerable.

I don’t prefer the spotlight and I would rather listen to you than talk about myself.

Except when it comes to personality assessments.

If you ask me what makes me uniquely me, I’m quick to offer an answer. Not because I’m impressed with myself, but because I strongly believe that being vulnerable with who I am is a gateway to building healthy, meaningful relationships.

I believe the same is true about you and the teams you lead. The more we understand ourselves and strive to understand each other, the stronger bridges we build to connecting with those who are different than us.

So, what about me?

I’m people-structured, and according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, I’m an ENFJ (just barely an E. If in doubt, see above).

By DISC Profile standards, I’m an SC combination.

Prefer Strength Finders? My top five are relator, strategic, maximizer, responsibility, and discipline.

I’m also the color blue on the True Colors Personality Test, and I strive to be playful, engaging, affectionate, loyal, and courageous, the qualities of a counterphobic Enneagram six.

These assessments don’t determine my worth or tell me how to act. They simply describe who I already am. And with that clarity, I can better engage my inner self and the world around me.

But it’s not all about me.

Armed with the same information about my team, I seek to make sure that their roles line up with how they’re instinctively wired. For example, our best sales people are often “I’s” on the DISC, as well as the color orange. Great project managers are usually task-oriented and have some gold in their profile or show up as a “C” on the DISC profile.

The DISC and True Colors Personality Test do a great job of helping people know where they best fit. Does a person’s role fit their natural bent?

The Strength Finder and Enneagram tools are more advanced and lend in-depth information into how people will do their job and what motivates them.

The possibilities are endless, yet the outcome is clear. The more you know, and help your employees explore, the more engaged and productive team you’ll have.

Social Media: How Much is TOO Much?

For many businesses, social media remains intimidating territory. There’s no denying the fact that your target audience is there, but the notion of accumulating content, adhering to your voice, promoting your brand, and controlling your online image can seem like too much to handle. 

At CMG, we operate under the golden rule: consistent content is king. 

Your audience must SEE your brand in order to interact with it, and that only comes from posting consistently.

However, on the flip side of the coin, posting too frequently can lead to your brand becoming more “white noise” than a fun page to interact with. The last thing you want your brand to become associated with is annoying newsfeed clutter. 

So, how much is too much?  As with most things with life, social media moderation is extremely important. 

In general, the answer depends on the size of your following. 

At CMG, we love to contribute to our local community, which means we manage primarily smaller businesses ranging from a few hundred followers to a few thousand. For pages of such sizes, we find that posting three to four times per week hits the sweet spot of providing steady content without annoying users to the point of them hitting the dreaded “hide all content from this page” button. 

Spacing your posts out for a day or two here and there is a great way to offer your audience some breathing room. If that seems a little light for your taste, increase your weekly post count incrementally. Just remember to keep it capped at one post per day! A study by Hubspot recently found that posting any more than that will lead to diminishing returns

Always consider your company’s overall goal when it comes to social media. Are you a relatively new entity? Perhaps brand awareness is the way to go, in which case, posting more frequently would serve you well.

Or maybe your end goal is to drive customers to your brick-and-mortar store? Pace yourself a bit and include sponsored incentives that give your page more evergreen exposure. These are great ways to prompt your online users to leave the comfort of their chairs. 

Whatever the case may be, just remember to remain consistent in churning out content. Then, when the engagement inevitably comes, interact with your audience! The whole draw of establishing an online community is the ability to forge personal connections with your customers in the first place. 

“Yeah, yeah, so what’s the TLDR?” 

When it comes to social media, your company’s needs will be different than your neighbors across the street. Take your overarching goals into consideration and conduct a little trial and error. Strategically increase your post frequency while monitoring your unfollows. Generally speaking, never post more than once per day. Soon enough, you’ll find your own sweet spot. 

Above all else, when your audience bites on your content, make sure you’re logged on and interacting with them!

While “everyone is different” might seem like a cop-out, that’s actually what we find so rewarding about social media management at CMG! Our agency invites every single client into our office to discuss a digital strategy specifically tailored to them. This level of familiarity reaps rewards across the board, especially on your company’s social platforms. 

If you have questions about social media management, or you’re interested in the benefits we can offer your company, contact us! We’d love to meet with you at your favorite coffee shop.