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  #1  
Old 12-08-2011
terry terry is offline
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Default How to Make TI Web Site Insanely Great!

I just sent the following message to TI coaches worldwide, soliciting their input on the question above. Then I realized I'm a damn fool if I fail to also solicit input from a much larger group - the singular community of discerning, thoughtful and passionately curious folk on our Forum. Comments from all are welcome. If you're a web--or graphic--design professional, please let me know, by private message if you prefer. Here's the message I sent our coaches:

>>Yesterday I finished reading Walter Isaacson's entertaining and insightful bio of Steve Jobs, Amazon's top-selling book of 2011,though it was published less than two months ago. (I read it on my ipad by the way). See Malcolm Gladwell's NewYorker review here.

As the book makes clear, Jobs was a massively complicated person, who was often utterly insensitive--and sometimes willfully cruel--to others. And yet of all business and cultural figures of the late 20th/early 21st Century, I think he is most likely to still have iconic status 100 years from now. And to still be influencing how people live their lives in 2111.

I'll mention just one takeaway here--how completely binary he was in his reactions to things: Either they SUCKED, or they were INSANELY GREAT. Seldom anything in between.

Sometimes the latter reaction followed the former by a few days or a week. Most of the time when he said something sucked, it really did. Other times he simply hadn't warmed to the idea yet. (When he did, it often became HIS idea.)

The more I read, the more I found myself agreeing that if something could be Insanely Great and falls short--because of lack of commitment, focus, or passion--then it really does Suck.

Which brings me to today's topic - web sites, specifically the TI site. I took a hard look at ours last night and concluded it Sucks - certainly the home page and other parts small-s suck. We will make improving it a top priority. But I'm not a web designer or conceptualizer. I know what I like and what I don't, but--even after reviewing the home pages of a dozen non-TI sites last night, I have only a general idea of the changes I'd like to see.

So I'll start the redesign process by soliciting input, criticisms and suggestions from you. What's good, what's ineffective and what sucks? How would you make it better if you had the power? What sites should we look to for examples of great design or info-presentation?>>

PLEASE be unsparing in your criticisms.
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Terry Laughlin
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May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story
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  #2  
Old 12-08-2011
AWP AWP is offline
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Sounds exciting. Aesthetics will be key to draw, 'pages' (mini 'sites') within, Focus of the Month/ Week with stills or vid or or ... much to think about ...
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  #3  
Old 12-08-2011
andyinnorway andyinnorway is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terry View Post

The more I read, the more I found myself agreeing that if something could be Insanely Great and falls short--because of lack of commitment, focus, or passion--then it really does Suck.
I think its alright to miss out on being insanely great at something if it isn't a priority.

e.g. I may have been the world's best oil prospector but didn't want to spend 9 months a year away from my family, that doesn't suck.

I would rephrase his words.

If something you are committed to could be insanely great and falls short because of lack of focus or passion -- then it really does suck.
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  #4  
Old 12-08-2011
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Terry, countless times in teh recent past I've suggested to people that the purchase adn watch the 10 Lesson series...rather than scour youtube for bad examples of great things. And I get the question, "Where can I learn more about this?"

This should raise a wow on 2 levels. Level #1: Why doens't this person know where it is? It takes up 80% of the real estate of the home page...yet people don't know what it is or where to find it?


Level #2: Wow, this website SUCKS. Even our most loyal visitors and followers, the ones creating content for us by posting on the forums...don't even know what our most current video release is or where to find it.

ALso, I've sent all of this before in emails to you and Keith AND in the TI Coach summit from over a year ago...you laid out a front page design that I"ve been waiting for...simplified front page, a few bold graphic images taht lead the visitor to GREAT ADVICE on swimming.

The best information in the world is here int he forums, but I don't feel confident referring a student, or a prospect here because there is nowhere that easily defines what TI is about (yes it's buried in lots of posts).

In the past there were a handful of very short video clips available in the header of the page...i referred to these constantly and even though I went for several years without spending a penny, it was a constant message for me and look at where I am years later...I've spent lots of money on TI by now. But those quick short video snippets are no longer here. Instead people must rely on searching youtube for the information that is MOST VITAL for your message...why rely on chance? It needs to be here on the site, easy to find.

Coach blogs should be more promiment and easier to find instead of a tiny 8pt font in the lower left corner below the fold, and "Find a Coach" should be very promiment. As I look at the header now while typing this, it's not abundantly clear how I would find a coach.

Total Swim E-zine is dead, get rid of the link because it's a navigational mess. The content was great, but it needs to be resorted & reorganized so that it can be browsed & searched by author, by topic, etc...just like a 100% free wordpress blog is automatically organized when installed by a 14 year old kid.

BOy this is fun....

YOUR blogs, Terry should also be more prominent. TI is a reflection of your wisdom and insights people shouldn't have to go to a different website (swimwellblog.com) to read them. yes, I know they are posted here as well, but even your most recent posts don't show up on the fron tpage of the website.

The font page should be "newsworthy", with aesthetically pleasing, new information. As in many of your facebook posts...you don't have to write this...there is great content here. But don't rely on people to dig through the forum to find it.

Look at the front page of BT (beginner triathlete). Some of your favorite writers on swimming (sarcasm intended) have "articles" on the front page of hte site that give them authority because they are posted, with a bio pic thumbnail, as a featured article that lingers on the front page for awhile (and not in 8 pt font).

I'm not saying that you or anyone should stop posting in the forum....this is a vital part of the lifeblood of the site. But lately, anyone stopping by the site is not getting a good representation fo what TI is. Newcomers are trying to re-invent what TI is by trying to interpret what they see on the randomish you tube videos they have found.

Here's an idea....front page has 3 areas only, plus a menu. Those areas are:

balance
Streamline
Propulsion

I know you have thought about dividing the site up into different categories of swimmers, but we all know thre is overlap, and in the most recent intro of your new book you sent out, you basically discarded triathletes whom you considered 1% of the group you were trying to reach. (You suggested this in a follow up email to me). With 3 main headers such as balance, streamline & propulsion....the triathletse we've already been reaching are going to naturally gravitate towards 1 & 2. The others, the ones who take one look at the you tube videos and say that TI is for beginners, or "not for racing" , or whataver...those people will naturally click on "Propulsion". And even though we want the other 2 qualities to come first...don't you still want people to learn propulsion the TI way, and not the Hall or McClarty way?


ALso... email capture on the FRONT PAGE. If I want to join the email list, it's not obvious how to do it. it should be prominent and enticing (give away your first chapter of your new book free with an email signup).

Here is a site that I find aesthetically pleasing...not suggesting it's the format for a new TI site, but take a quick look at how simple, yet indepth it is :

asianefficiency.com

That's all for now. :)
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Suzanne Atkinson, MD
Level 3 USAT Coach
USA Paralympic Triathlon Coach
Coach of 5 time USA Triathlon Triathlete of the Year, Kirsten Sass
Steel City Endurance, LTD
Fresh Freestyle

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  #5  
Old 12-08-2011
terry terry is offline
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Suzanne's reply confirms I'm not a damnfool. Giving myself undue credit, I was thinking many of the same thoughts while browsing last night, but hadn't catalogued them with Suzanne's thoroughness. More like musing.

I'm excited about the dialogue we've begun.
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Terry Laughlin
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May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story

Last edited by terry : 12-08-2011 at 02:21 PM.
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  #6  
Old 12-08-2011
bx bx is offline
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1. Start with the end in mind: Show visitors the (possible) end result on the homepage - the famous Shinji freestyle clip. Now you've got their attention.

2. Use some of the other precious home page "real estate" to write the absolute best piece of text about TI. A sort of elevator pitch. But don't try and sell anything yet. Include your credentials, but don't make it the first thing people have to read.

3. Now show people how they can get started doing some TI drills, today, for free. That could be a separate video with say, superman glide up to skating. Or direct them to the TIswim youtube channel. Again, don't try and sell anything yet. Don't befuddle them by directing them to the forums, youtube, the blogs, the archives all at once.

4. If they are still interested after trying some drills, they will return and click on the "Store" link of their own volition. And after using a DVD / digital download, they will get involved in the forums etc.


I haven't mentioned aesthetic design. If the logic of a website is right, people are very forgiving of design. In fact, a slightly old-fashioned look can even appear more honest. I tend to be suspicious of sites that are overly slick.

Ant

£0.02 / $0.021
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  #7  
Old 12-08-2011
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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IMO, the biggest competitor to TI in terms if "stealing" prospects based on website impact alone is swimsmooth. Everything there is fairly well written, easy to find, nicely hyperlinked leading the reader from one idea to the next. I'm confident that a new swimmer going to Swimsmooth would immediately find actionable content.

One other thought, but this isn't directly related to hte website...

You have a quite a number of youtube videos that demonstrate your swimming, and a number of you lecturing...but none of you teaching. If you check many competing swim comanpies you tube channels, (munatones, KPN, Hall, etc), you'll find short 2-3 minute videos of them actually teaching swimming with bodies in the water. I think this would be a great addition to the material already available on youtube....update misconceptions by demonstrating you teaching and interacting with a camera & swimmer, rather than through lecture. Yet another way to clarify TI.
__________________
Suzanne Atkinson, MD
Level 3 USAT Coach
USA Paralympic Triathlon Coach
Coach of 5 time USA Triathlon Triathlete of the Year, Kirsten Sass
Steel City Endurance, LTD
Fresh Freestyle

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  #8  
Old 12-08-2011
terry terry is offline
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Default Asian Efficiency - hey doesn't that describe TI Form?

http://www.asianefficiency.com/
Great site. Already got several good ideas from it.
Offer free podcast on home page, as incentive to register. Easy to create.
This bit of text describes a key distinction between TI and traditional "Our school systems place a large emphasis on content and the 'what' of learning and professional skills, but rarely tell us 'how' to go about it."

The system of organizing information into four sequential levels
Foundation
Beginner
Intermediate
Advanced

With Foundation essentially being the argument for their way of thinking -- and therefore should be freely available and prominently placed.

I have a ton of stuff I've already written for that level and can quickly organize for that purpose.

Thanks for that reference. I've bookmarked it as a Fave.
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Terry Laughlin
Head Coach & Chief Executive Optimist

May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story

Last edited by terry : 12-08-2011 at 02:35 PM.
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  #9  
Old 12-08-2011
terry terry is offline
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Absolutely agree on swimsmooth. I think we unequivocally and massively outshine them in depth, detail and quality of thinking and methodology.

And are just as unequivocally and massively outshone in web presence.
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Terry Laughlin
Head Coach & Chief Executive Optimist

May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story
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  #10  
Old 12-08-2011
terry terry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bx View Post
£0.02 / $0.021
HA. The wittiest way ever to say "just my two cents." Love it. And thanks for spot-on suggestions.
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Terry Laughlin
Head Coach & Chief Executive Optimist

May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story
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