What Being on the Show “How I Met Your Mother” Taught Me About Web Design

by Michael Szapkiw | Follow Him on Twitter

HIMYM-6

Pictured from left to right: Allison Hannigan, ME! (Michael Szapkiw), Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Segel, my lovely wife (Amanda), Cobie Smulders, and Josh Radnor.

The Story

Kids, I’m excited to tell you the story of how I met, “How I Met Your Mother” actors and actresses, directors and crew from the show.

It’s true.

My lovely wife and I were on the CBS sitcom, How I Met Your Mother. And it was… wait for it… wait for it a little longer… LEGENDARY (as Barney, Neil Patrick Harris, always says in the show).

Before you think I’m best buds with all these folks, know that I’m definitely NOT. Sad but also true.

I did, however, have a completely and utterly amazing time on set with them for a day as they shot the 7th episode of season 8 with my wife and I playing bar patrons. (Open bar, but no REAL alcohol, so don’t get too excited. Ha, ha!)

You see, there was a contest where fans of the show could submit a one-minute video explaining how they met their significant other. The contest was called “How I Met My OTHER”… clever right? Okay, not too clever, but it worked as a title. Well, we submitted a funny video of me explaining our how-we-met story, and, well… for those of you who don’t already know or haven’t gathered from the gratuitous photography in this article… WE WON!

What I learned about Web Design

Michael-and-Amanda-on-HIMYM-550

So what does all this have to do with Web design? Good question. I’m glad you asked!

A clear, focused, and professional Web design can make the difference between winning (whether it’s a contest, a job, a business, etc.) or going home empty handed.

When I created the video for this contest, I knew I needed to do more than just submit the video to CBS and hope for the best. I wanted to have a “headquarters,” so to speak, for all things involving the contest. I wanted to be able to easily direct people to one location to learn more about Amanda and me, to know exactly what we needed them to do (watch and vote), and to have a place to return for updates. And I couldn’t have done that without building a website.

And what, you ask, was the website? I decided to buy a domain with the name of the contest in it: HowIMetMyOther.net.

I’ve seen others use a website for contests before and they were very effective. One such website similar to ours actually won A LOT of money for a completely different contest.

If you give people a reason to be excited about you or your biz that is clear and relevant, they will be!ย <– CLICK TO TWEET THIS

Here are three things that make an effective website:

  1. Clear purpose. The How I Met My Other contest website had a simple layout. Was it award-winning? Certainly not. But it was clear what the site was about, and what we were trying to accomplish. User-interface design and layout design in general are always important. Even if you create a plain, black and white website, a clear structure goes a loooong way.
  2. Relevant message.ย Even if not everyone was a fan of the show How I Met Your Mother, the site was still relevant to the people that knew us (ie. family, friends, colleagues). And for people that found the website that didn’t know us, they came from communities that were interested in the show or TV “stuff” in general. At the very least, there was still a humorous video involved, so while we don’t typically consider a funny video being “relevant” or “irrelevant,” a video you enjoy for humor’s sake could still arguably be relevant.
  3. Call to action (the thing you want your visitors to do). This is where so many people and businesses really fail. Don’t be one of those people. ๐Ÿ™‚ Once you’ve given your audience a clear purpose and a relevant message, what do you want them to do? Do you just want your visitors to laugh? Make sure they can find the video! Do you want them to share something on Facebook or buy a product? Tell them to share it on Facebook and Buy Now! Do you want someone to vote for your legendary contest video so you can be flown to Los Angeles to stay at a 5-star hotel 1 minute away from Fox Studios to be in a sitcom with 5 TV and Movie Stars which gives you a fun story (and video/photographic evidence) you can share for the rest of your life? Then ask them to go vote for your video! I think you get the idea. ๐Ÿ™‚

One more important thing

Always say, “Thank you” in whatever ways you can… especially when your loyal audience does the thing you’d hoped for. Gratitude goes a long way, and it’s amazing how easy it is to deliver it.

That being said, thank you for stopping by to read this. I greatly appreciate you. Yeah, you know who you are…

Listening to my own advice, here’s my call to action for you.

If you liked this post, check out the Building a Website Pro podcast in iTunes. I would love your rating and review in iTunes so check it out!

Are YOU a fan of How I met Your Mother?
What do you want to promote on YOUR website?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

All the best in your Web success,

Michael

 

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