We were excited to be on Shalom Klein’s radio show, Get Down to Business, yesterday. We talked about good website design, what makes a website great and why our clients like to work with us. Many thanks to Shalom for the shoutouts. And yes, we’d love to come on your show again!
At least once a month, we get a frantic query from someone with a website they can’t update. Their web designer or developer is AWOL They don’t know how…. can’t remember…never learned how to manage their site. So it’s basically useless.
Can we help?
Unfortunately, the answer is almost always no. We can’t do anything with a proprietary program. All we can do is offer to build a new site on an open source platform (like WordPress) so they don’t ever have this issue again.
There are plugins for every functionality your website requires — content management, link checkers, SEO, blogs, calendars, memberships, forms, image compression, spam, and security…to name a few. Lots are free; others are very inexpensive.
That alone might be reason enough for us to be huge WordPress fans. But there’s more.
Robust. Secure. Powerful.
We love that WordPress is an industry-standard, powerful open source platform that offers frequent feature-rich updates and expandability. And that it’s robust and secure in a hack-and-spam-crazy world. And that it’s supported by a huge and active developer community that help one another troubleshoot issues. So if you have a problem with something special you’re trying to do, there are plenty of people to help you solve it.
But the A Number 1 reason?
WordPress meets a huge criteria of ours – usability. Quite simply, WordPress makes our clients’ lives easier.
Not Just A Website
Almost all the websites we build are on the WordPress platform. Because we’re not just building a website for your business — we’re developing what is probably the most important tool in your marketing toolbox. The face of your business. Open to the world round-the-clock. Accessible to anyone looking for the type of products or services you offer.
When you’re busy running a business, keeping your website current may not be high on your list of “must do’s”. But it might be the difference between making a sale or losing out to a competitor whose website is fresh and compelling.
No Techie – No Problem
With WordPress, you don’t need to be a techie to make updates and add new content. Got a hot new product you need to feature on a new page? Simple. Need to add some sweet testimonials to drive new business? Couple of minutes.
WordPress offers an intuitive CMS (content management system) with a short, sweet learning curve. Unabashed sales pitch: training is always included as part of our website development packages.
Generally, an hour of one-on-one is all that’s needed to get you up and running. It’s THAT user-friendly. But we stick around to help you out if you need a little extra support.
There’s a big difference between done and done right.
You’re starting a new business and you’re on a limited budget. Your head is spinning with all that needs to be done, and most of it is being done by you. But you’ve never built a website and you don’t really have time to learn how now.
What to do? Maybe you’ll hire the cheapest person you can find just to get a site up. That way, at least you’ll have something to show for marketing.
Your website is the face of your business, the representation of your brand. The worst way to start a business is to skimp on your brand. Would your skimp on your product? Not likely.
Just because there are build-your-own-website-in-an-hour sites doesn’t mean that’s a good idea for your new business. Think about it.
Suppose your new company will sell customized products online. You need e-commerce and a secure shopping cart. Do you know which one is best for customized products? What about online customer service? How will you handle queries?
Then there are hosting concerns. Who should you use to host your site? Whoever you select better offer SSL or Chrome will label your site “not secure”. Not all webhosts provide SSL certification. Do you have time to research the best vendors for your tech needs?
Speaking of tech…..what about tech support, maintenance and backup? Your site needs to be monitored for dead links and security issues. Updates need to be installed as they come out. (We’re WordPress people — updates, including plugins, come out regularly). Odds are your bargain site builder will not handle that for you. So you’ll need to get up to speed on backend issues. Because you can’t afford for your site to crash or be down for any length of time.
Of course, your site will need to be responsive so that it looks the same and loads fast on all devices…..and various browsers. Do you know how to do that?
Behind the scene is only part of the game. There’s also the front end – how your website looks — your business’s face to the world. Are you versed in UX (user experience)? If a visitor to your site has a bad one, odds are she won’t become a customer.
You need to understand navigation so that visitors to your site find it easy to get around and find what they want. You need some design knowledge so your site is visually compelling. You need to understand SEO (search engine optimization) so that visitors find you in the first place. If you’re not a good writer, it’s hard to write engaging copy. Even if you are a decent writer, do you know how to write for the Internet where patience is not a commodity?
So, yes, you might be able to get your new website done on the cheap. But odds are it won’t be done right. And that’s a lousy way to start a new business.
The goal of marketing is pretty simple. Attract, inform, engage.
You want to attract new customers. Then let them know how your products or services can help them. With clear, concise content and compelling graphics. Easy, right?
It should be. But too often, people make it far too complicated. Especially on websites. We’ve all seen sites that made us wonder why a company would ever attach their name to them.
Some of the most offensive generally include one or more of the following:
Way too much overblown copy. Overwriting doesn’t attract. It bores. And boring content doesn’t get read. Instead, keep your copy clear and as concise as possible. If you can’t do that, at least break long copy up into digestible chunks. Or use subheads to make it scannable.
Confusing navigation leads to a crummy user experience (crummyUX). It’s frustrating to have to guess where to click to find what you need. So visitors to your site end up leaving. And going to a smarter company’s website.
Why not make it easy for people to find what they’re looking for? Figure out the simplest way for people to move around your site. The fewer clicks to find something, the better. Make finding information easy.
Poor use of graphics
Compelling images can grab our attention. Bold, bright colors. Unusual designs. Wildly clever visuals. But when graphics make copy illegible, your clever marketing messages go unread.
Your business might be the best in the industry. But odds are there are only one or two things that make it really special. Focus on those one or two things as key points of differentiation. Streamline your messaging so it has more of an impact.
Hidden contact info
Make sure your business phone number and email are in an easy-to-find place on your site. If you’ve ever tried to call a restaurant from your cell phone and not been able to find the phone number, you know what I’m talking about.
Five easy fixes. Well worth taking the time to do if you want your website to bring you new business.
It’s tempting. You’re a startup with tight (or no) funds. You don’t want to spend any money unless it’s absolutely necessary. You see all the DIY website promos and figure “how hard can it be?” Looks like a no-brainer. So you opt for WIX or some other development program and build your own website. For free. Over a weekend. An entire weekend!
You launch your website. But no one comes.
Hmmm. What went wrong?
Your first mistake was to assume you could do something on the fly. Web developers and designers are generally highly trained. They’re schooled and skilled in writing code, designing layouts, font and color selection, navigation, and UX. And if you hire a web development team, there’s a copywriter or content creator on board to make you sound as good as you look. And likely an SEO expert so that your website comes up when people search for a keyword or phrase that’s incorporated into your copy.
Oops. You probably didn’t consider that when you opted for DIY.
So before you waste a lot of time and commit to a drag and drop website, ask yourself these 6 quick questions:
Do you have the time to learn how to build an effective website or should you use that time to build your business?
Do you have a solid grasp of marketing and a clear picture of how your potential clients use websites?
Can you write compelling copy and calls-to-action?
Do you understand UX and how people will navigate your website?
Do you know how to use color and custom fonts to build your brand?
What will you do if you waste spend 10-20 hours “building” a site that you can’t use?
If you answered “yes” in 1-5, you might have the skills necessary to build your own site. If not, call someone who builds websites for a living.
Your business needs a website that works. Save money somewhere else.
We’ve always preached that good content is good SEO*, and good SEO gets good SERP**. That’s true, but there’s now a new wrinkle. Google cares whether your website is “mobile ready“. All things being equal, a mobile ready site will be placed above one that’s not on the search results page.
What does mobile ready mean? We’ll talk about that a bit more below. First, get a yes or no answer from Google:
If you’ve ever gone house hunting, you know how important curb appeal is. It’s the “drive by factor. Even if the interior is absolutely smashing, if a house doesn’t look appealing from the outside, few potential buyers will make it inside.
That same visual appeal applies to websites. Those that haven’t been updated are “drive by’s”. One look and the (potential) visitor is gone. No matter that what you’re selling is exactly what that visitor is looking for….they won’t ever see it!
Some people are vigilant about keeping their websites fresh. Generally, they’re web designers, developers or content marketers who do this for clients on a daily basis.