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Five Simple Tips to help manage your Small Business Website

It was once optional for a small business to have a website. Nowadays, having an 24/7 online presence is mandatory to remain competitive in a global marketplace.

But keeping a website current and up-to-date is often hard for a small business. Your employees often have little “spare” time for tasks such as site updates and, as a result, websites can easily be forgotten – left on the “do it tomorrow” pile. Without this required attention, a stagnant site will soon start to repel potential business customers, rather than attract.

Luckily, with a little planning during the development stage (and a regular dedication of time), these problems can be easily avoided and your website can become a strong marketing hub for your small business that doesn’t drain your resources.

Five Simple Tips to help manage your Small Business WebsiteIntegrate a Content Management System (CMS) from Day One

A user-friendly Content Management System allows site owners and managers the ability to update and create new content directly on their websites. By integrating a CMS as the framework for a new website, you are instantly putting yourself into the driver’s seat to control what goes on your site and how “fresh” it stays.

Learning a CMS is not hard either. The basics of WordPress CMS can be learnt in a matter of minutes, as the editing functions are styled like that of a Word Processor. As I often say to new clients – “If you can create a document in Word, then you can update your own website!”

Use a Content Calendar (and stick to it)

A content calendar (also known as an editorial calendar) helps to plan out new content for your website or social media feed and details when it will be created. This weekly, monthly or yearly calendar should be an integral part of your business’ overall marketing strategy.

By planning content in advance, you (or whoever manages your website) can commit to producing site-worthy information that is suitable for your target audience. By putting a due date on it and ensuring that date is adhered to, working on your site becomes part of your everyday business schedule.

Automate Site Updates and Customer Interaction

If it is possible to time aside for working on your site’s content, take advantage of tools such as the content scheduling that is built into WordPress. Create five blog posts or page updates at one time then use the schedule to program the dates that you want the content to be released onto your website.

Here’s the secret: this blog post you are reading was one of five that I wrote over a recent weekend. I have set the schedule in WordPress to release one every two weeks. Blog Posts for next 10 weeks – done!

Schedule a Post

Allow an Employee to take ownership of website management

Although small businesses don’t have employees to “spare”, it would be ideal to assign the maintenance and upkeep of the website to one person – a web-savvy employ who could take care of both website and social media posts.

Giving ownership of the site to an employee (with guidance of course) ensures that the site will be monitored and “fed” new content to keep your online customers, and Google, happy.

Five Simple Tips to help manage your Small Business WebsiteGet your Web Developer to care of updates for you

If all else fails and managing your website is just not possible in-house, look to a professional. Many web development companies offer a monthly plan which includes website content updates. Caution though, if you are taking this option, compare the plan price against the everyday (hourly) rate of the company to ensure that you are getting a decent offer.

You will still to need to provide content via email but a professional will get it online, make it look pretty and ensure that it gets the right sort of attention.

As discussed in a previous blog post, an out-of-date website that is uncared for will cost you business. Prospects visiting the site will get a poor first impression and Google won’t care for your site either. With the tips above, your site remains “fresh” and acting as a positive reflection of the small business that it portrays.

How Domain Hijacking can cripple your website

Recently a client of Rusty Mango Design went through the unfortunate experience of having their .com.au domain name “stolen” from underneath their feet. Whilst the domain hijacking was done through legitimate means, the registrant who acquired it had no right to the name itself and it caused disruption as my client’s customers could not access their website for many weeks.

Domain Hijacking sounds like a criminal activity but the actual definition can go both ways.

Wikipedia describes Domain Hijacking as “the act of changing the registration of a domain name without the permission of its original registrant, or by abuse of privileges on domain hosting and registrar software systems, a cybercrime.”

In the case of our client, their domain name had simply lapsed in payment. In Australia, lack of payment doesn’t mean that the name is immediately available for anyone to buy. Even after the due payment for renewal has passed, the business still has 14 days to “pay up” and reacquire their .com.au domain name.

During this 14-day period though, the domain name will appear on the Australian Domain Authority’s (AudA) website as pending expiry and this is where those dubious businesses can swoop it and attempt a hijack. They can set up a domain backorder account through legit means such as GoDaddy and CrazyDomains.  If the payment isn’t forthcoming from the original registrant, the backorder will immediately purchase the domain as soon as it becomes available.

What can you do?

Fortunately, in Australia, our .com.au domains are protected to a certain degree. To register a particular domain, it must have a clear or exact link to the business who is registering it. For example, Rusty Mango Design, who specialise in website design, cannot register a domain name for deckfurniture.com.au – it has nothing to do with our business and, if picked up by the AuDA, we would receive a rap over the knuckles and lose the name with no refund.

It’s important to note that this does not apply to regular .com domain names – that is why it is so important to register the Australian .com.au domains.

Domain HijackIn the case of my client, the domain name was taken and used by a business not related to anything in the domain name itself. At my suggestion, my client quickly contacted the AuDA about the hijacking issue, a brief investigation was undertaken and the domain was released for re-purchase. Rusty Mango Design purchased the domain back on behalf of our client and we were back in business.

The downside was that their business website was out of action for over a month – a long time, especially if you are an online retailer.

To prevent your domain name being taken, be sure that you have automatic payment renewal set up through your domain register and credit card details are current and not likely to expire soon. Your domain register will email you in advance when renewal is upcoming so also check that your registered email address is correct.

Rusty Mango Design registers domain names on behalf of our clients and take care of any automated payments ensuring that domains remain in the hands of their rightful owners.

Domain Hijacking is not the end of the world. If you do have a legitimate claim to the domain name – get in touch with the AuDa and they will investigate the issue on your behalf.

But as always, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

 

Top Five Things Every Small Business Website Needs

Top Five Things Every Small Business Website NeedsCreating a small business website is a daunting task for anyone who has very little or no online experience. Even the smallest bit of research will unleash a whole range of techno-jargon and online marketing advice from all angles – enough to make anyone’s head spin.

To avoid this overload of information, a new site should be treated like a V8 Supercar heading out to the track for the first time. It must be built on a solid framework but will be constantly tweaked throughout its life span into an efficient, customer-converting machine.

To provide this solid framework, there are five essential items that must be taken into consideration from day one:

#1 An Easy-to-Use Navigation Menu

The menu system of the site must be easy to find on the page, simple to understand and uncluttered in appearance. Refine the main options (those visible straight away) down to the bare necessities and “drop-down” menus should be used to display any extras that need to be accessed during a visitor’s time on the website.

#2 An “About Us” Page

Top Five Things Every Small Business Website NeedsIt’s been found that today’s online consumer likes to “connect” with businesses before they purchase products or engage services.  A good “About Us” page should be jargon-free and clearly display who you are, where your business has evolved from and why it exists now. Once again, keep to the essentials but at the same time, don’t leave any important information out.

Be sure to also include a “Contact Us” page on the site with a contact form that sends directly to the site manager’s email.

#3 Helpful, free content

Another way to create a connection with your customers to provide helpful content that will improve the way they interact with your products and services. This can be achieved through a variety of ways including FAQ pages, videos, customer forums and downloadable PDFs. By adding high-quality free content to your site, visitors are more likely to return in the future to what else you have to offer them.

#4 Customer Testimonial Page

Whilst writing your own content will go a long way towards selling your products and services to site visitors, nothing works better than testimonials from your current customers.

Select a few satisfied clients that you have worked with and send them a friendly email requesting a short description of their experiences with your business. You may be surprised how quickly you will receive a response from them – most people love to reward good service.

#5 A Clear Call-To-Action

Top Five Things Every Small Business Website NeedsEverything above counts for nothing if you don’t provide a quick, easy to find Call-To-Action (CTA) somewhere prominent on your site. The CTA is the method by which a site visitor chooses to become a customer. For example, on a motel’s website, a “Make a Booking” button provides as the Call-To-Action. On an eCommerce site, you’ll find a shopping trolley icon marked “Checkout”.

The CTA may be different for each business but the rules for displaying them are the same – it must be eye-catching, clearly defined and be designed in such a way to encourage interaction.

Without a Call-To-Action, a website quickly becomes an online brochure.

Conclusion

There are loads of other elements that help make a successful website that converts visitors to customers. These five items will allow you to create a solid framework from which to build the remainder of your site.

In future blog posts, we will cover some of the extras that will add even further value to your site and help to build your business in both brand and bottom line.

For help getting your small business website off the ground, get in touch with Rusty Mango Design. We’ve been working with small business since 2007.

Is your Web Designer legit?

Is your Web Designer legit?When it comes to the WWW and the sites that live upon it, some small business owners are a little naive about how it all works. This is excusable as there are so many aspects to take into account – domain names, hosting, email accounts, analytics, SEO and social media are just a few of the items that need to be taken into consideration when getting a business online.

That’s why business owners like to hand over all those aspects to their website developer and say “please take care of this for me!”

There is a lot of trust being placed in that last statement – websites are not exactly cheap and, as a small business owner, you need to be able to rely upon your website “guys” to do the right thing. But, as in many industries, there are people who will take advantage of this.

If you are about to embark on the process of getting a web designer, or your current designer just doesn’t “feel right”, follow the three tips below to guide you to a reputable website design business.

#1 – Ask Around

Your business is not the first one ever to go online so take a look at your competitors and your industry in general. Ask them some key questions if you can:

  • Who designed their site?
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your business colleagues who they would recommend and why? (You may have a bit of trouble getting the same information out of your competitors).
  • Is the site generating the business that they need?
  • Is the site difficult to update?
  • What was the design process like when working with the web developer?

Positive testimonials work for all industries including web design so find out who would do the best job for your particular business.

#2 – Check out the web designer’s current portfolios.

All reputable designers will display their work on their own websites so check them out. Make sure that they can deliver styles that are current (not from the late 90’s) and relevant to your business.

One very important aspect that needs to be checked to ensure that you don’t get ripped off – make sure that you are not going to be paying for a template unless it has been made very clear that is exactly what you are paying for. These templates are not created just for your business and working with anyone that uses them can be dangerous as the “designer” may not have the skills to create / modify / reprogram the design to your specific needs.

A quick way to check:

  • Go to one of the sites they have “built” and copy the URL from the address bar at the top of your web browser.
  • Go to http://whatwpthemeisthat.com/ and paste the URL into the box provided.

This site quickly looks through the code and will tell you if the site is designed with the WordPress CMS (which is fine) and what theme the site is created with. If the theme is commercially available, this site will also tell you where you can buy it.

Too many times, I have seen so-called “Web Designers” that charge their customers exorbitant amounts of money for “designing” a site which can be purchased elsewhere for a little as $30!  All the “designer” does is change the imagery and add some text.

Note: If you run the website for Rusty Mango Design (http://www.rustymangodesign.com.au) through the theme finder above, you will see my framework theme “Rusty Mango Responsive”. This is a bare bones framework (which I personally created, not purchased) from which I then build all my sites.

It starts out looking like this:

Rusty Mango Responsive

But, by the time I am finished designing the site, it can look like this:

A Smarter Solution

That is real web design!

#3           Take a look at some of their imagery.

A little known tool called TinEye can help identify images that have been used elsewhere on the internet. You can find it at https://www.tineye.com/

TinEyeUsing TinEye is easy:

  • Save an image from anywhere on the net to your hard drive or right-click on it and “Copy Image Location”.
  • Use the box on TinEye to upload the image or simply paste in the image location (Ctrl-V on your keyboard).

TinEye will quickly scour the internet with your image information and come back with any close matches.

Obviously this would be no use on items such as stock photography which will appear everywhere but it can be very useful when checking out “personalised” items such as logos. I recently saw a logo that looked familiar – I had definitely seen it somewhere else.  So I ran it through TinEye and found 107 other logos that looked exactly the same!

Doesn’t say much for a designer if they resort to using stock images to create logos. That to me is not designing as it lacks any creativity and I strongly warn against using any design business that does this.

 

Agreed, the steps above will take some time and effort on the part of the small business owner however a website should be seen as exactly the same as any other investment in your business. You would research any new equipment or plant that you are purchasing for your business, so why not research who is going to build your website – the marketing tool that can drive business straight your door.

Without an effective website, built by someone who cares specifically about your business, you may be leaving a lot of money on the table and digging a hole in your bank account.

Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com

If your brand image needs to be consistent, why doesn’t your website?

Be ConsistentAll business owners would (or should be) be aware of brand consistency – the practice by which the logos, colours and style of a company are shown in the same manner anywhere the business is seen. McDonalds restaurants are the kings of this consistency – wherever a McDonalds in located throughout the world, there is absolutely no doubting which brand is in operation. This is done through a stringent company manifesto that steadfastly lays out the strict guidelines that must be adhered to. Even companies such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter – who allow others to use their logos in various applications – have these guidelines to protect their public image.

The process of consistent branding is so important to building a recognisable business.

A sense of consistency is important in many facets of business – processes, system, employment, discipline and even the layout of offices. So why do many businesses neglect consistency within their websites?

Browsing the web in the past week for inspiration, I came across sites that clearly had been updated with absolutely no thought to maintaining a consistent look throughout the pages. One business in particular was so glaringly bad at this, its website inspired me to write this post.

It wasn’t the design of the site that was bad – it actually was quite attractive. The site was ruined by the fact that it had been handed over to the client and they had no idea about how to keep “the look” of the design flowing throughout the pages. On the front page itself, it was very clear to see where the professional designer had finished and the website owner/administrator had taken over. It made the company look unprofessional.

The sad part is that this problem is so easy to avoid. Here’s five tips to keep your site consistent with your original “vision”:

Tip #1: Fonts

Use the same fonts throughout your site. Resist the urge to try out every new font that you discover on your website’s Content Management System. Novels and magazines don’t generally change fonts half way through and neither should your website. This applies to both main text segments and the titling through the site.

Tip #2: Alignment

Centre Alignment has its place however it isn’t in a large portion of text. By centring text on a web page, you are forcing your viewers to re-adjust their eyes for every new line beginning. Think of other texts that you may read during your day, such as newspapers, and you will realise why left alignment is used on all of them.

Tip #3: Colour and Font Weight

As in tip #1, don’t experiment with colours and font weights throughout your pages. Sure colour can grab attention when required however try not to make your website look like a technicolour rainbow. Font weighting should be consistent too – use BOLD text in the same place each time, for example, on the subtitles within your content.

Tip #4: Image Presentation

If you insist on using borders and shadows around your images, make sure they are used consistently. Don’t apply styles to some and neglect it on others.

TinyMCE AdvancedTip #5: Use a Format tool

Luckily, for those of us who use WordPress as a CMS framework for our pages, we have some great plugins that will make the above tips really easy to implement.

The plugin TinyMCE Advanced has a formatting option. A dropdown menu (called FORMAT) can be quickly coded by your web developer to include all the styles that you need for your site. All you have to do is highlight or select the text/image for the style to be applied to and then select the style from the menu. You don’t need to search for font types, colours, weights or anything.

 

I have to admit that page inconsistency has happened on some sites that I have created – mostly after their handover. A warning: potential customers of Rusty Mango Design beware, I will ring you up and let you know if your styles are out of whack – nicely of course. I will also offer our full support to help you present your information in a consistent style. After all, it’s my job to help you look your best – a cohesive and constant appearance is vitally important to the overall success of your website.

If you would like the plugin TinyMCE Advanced installed and coded for your WordPress site, please get in touch with Rusty Mango Design.

Website Imagery – More important than ever!

Imagery can make or break your siteWeb design has come a long way since 1991 when a man called Tim Berners-Lee created the first text-only pages of the World Wide Web. In those days, web pages were drab and boring as the technology and slow download speeds didn’t allow for anything else.

There is no such excuse in 2015. A majority of the world has access to high-speed broadband and with that, multimedia websites with video, images and sound are common place. Browsing the web has become a total sensory experience in many ways and text is taking a back seat. The imagery that we see on a website can often determines the success or failure of our interactions with that site. “A picture is worth a 1000 words” has never been a truer statement.

Why are images so powerful for a website?

  • Hot spot analysis shows that images are the very first thing a visitor sees on a website. Text is a distant second!
  • One solitary image can determine the emotion and tone of the website, even before the visitor reads a single word.
  • Visitors like to click on image links more than simple text links. For example, a user will more likely click on a product image to make a purchase rather than the words underneath.
  • Visitors like to share what they find on the web with their friends and it is much more likely that they will LIKE an image to share on Facebook or PIN onto Pinterest.

Pointing with images drives attention to the textUsing images has distinct benefit to a website:

  • Site analysis has shown that images increase the average number of pages visited within a site, reducing bounce time and keep visitors longer.
  • 60% of consumers are more willing to consider local businesses that include images on their websites.
  • ALT tags (the labels that pop-up when you float your mouse over an image) help to improve the general SEO on your site. Google scans these each time it visits your website.
  • Online store products with effective imagery have a much improved chance of product sale than those without.

Message: Don’t Skimp on the Imagery

It’s always evident when a business skimps on images for its website. Even if the text content is compelling and the “call to action” actually works, the whole site can be let down by poor quality imagery. Conveying an emotion is one of the most important parts of a business web design – you want the site visitor to “feel” something towards your brand. You may want to generate excitement through action shots, warmth through family images or compassion for emotional situations around the world.

Creating this emotion is the hardest part. Only well-framed and purposeful imagery has the strength to convey emotion which will affect nearly everything else on the page.

Now to get on my soapbox: Only a professional photographer (or at the very least an experienced amateur) has the experience to capture these images. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that a couple of shots taken on a smart phone will have the same effect. Shots taken by your employees often won’t meet the bill either.

If you have contracted a web designer to build your small business site, than you have made a serious dollar investment that will ultimately benefit your business. Don’t hamper that investment by reverting to using poor quality images on your site. Outlay a few extra dollars (do a little research, it’s often cheaper than you think) and hire a professional photographer to create the emotions that your site needs for its success.

Your site will be better for it!

Google’s “Mobilegeddon”

MobilegeddonSome small business owners may have noticed a change but the majority would not. Maybe the GoogleBot hasn’t swept by your site just yet. Even if it has, and your search ranking have taken a step backwards, it’s not the end of the world.

An unbelievable number of marketing bloggers have been all “doom and gloom” about the changes on April 21st to Google’s search ranking algorithm but it’s not the first time that changes have been made (it most probably won’t be the last either). Why are so many people excited about this one?

Let’s take a look at what is “Mobilegeddon”?

As of April 21st, 2015, Google will start using mobile friendliness as an integral part of their ranking calculations to determine search results. This means, in layman’s terms, that mobile-friendly sites will get a rewarded with a higher position in those results, while sites that aren’t responsive on mobile devices, such as phones and tablets, will “significantly” drop in ranking.

Just how much that drop will be is still up for debate.

Is your website mobile-friendly?

Google, being the very helpful “big brother” that it is, has conveniently created a mobile-friendly test that will quickly determine whether your site makes the cut or not. The test also generates a breakdown of the various mobile elements of your site so that you can see where improvements need to be made. To examine your site for mobile friendliness, click here to visit the Google Mobile-Friendly Test page.

What if your site is not mobile friendly?

First of all – don’t panic. You won’t be removed from results altogether but there are things you need to do.

To be regarded as “mobile-friendly”, Google looks at the following:

  • On a mobile device, is the text readable without zooming?
  • Does the content of the site resize automatically to fit the screen?
  • Does the site use Flash? (Flash is not available on most mobile devices)
  • Can a user click links and buttons with a fingertip or stylus? How do they navigate around the site?

If you answer NO to any of the above questions then you may have a non-responsive site.

What are the options with a non-responsive site?

Achieving the parameters above is quite simple if your site is built on the WordPress framework.

Option #1:

You can download a free plugin called WP-Touch and configure it to display your site as a mobile theme. WP-Touch has a number of built themes that you can select to display your website. With some tweaking, you can achieve a decent variation of your main site.

Downside: Unless you are skilled in PHP and CSS (web coding languages), this option changes the on-screen appearance of your site and it will no longer match your branding from the desktop version.

Option #2:

Enlist the help of a web designer to alter your website at a foundation level to become a fully responsive website. A responsive site automatically detects the size of the screen and changes everything accordingly. A mobile menu appears, text and imagery resize and non-mobile necessary content can be removed to increase page loading speed.

Please note that this should not mean a complete site re-build. There are actions a web designer can take, at grass roots level, to improve the appearance of a site on a mobile screen.

Conclusion

As you can see from the options above, if you have found that your site has taken a tumble with the changes to Google, it is not a serious problem that can’t be rectified. Once action has been taken, you simply need to wait for the GoogleBot to sweep past your site again, detect your changes and you will be back in business.

Some internet marketing commentators are noticing the mobile changes SINCE 21st April are being detected by Google very quickly. You may be back in your desired rankings before you know it.

Your business needs a Website – why not do it yourself?

Your business needs a Website - why not do it yourself? I love YouTube and its intuitive advertisement system – I believe it is a very clever way to target a certain demographic with the correct type of ad. Only problem is that I am always targeted with DIY website builder advertisements and one in particular is driving me crazy atm. It starts with the simple statement (I won’t give away the business name) – “You need a Website – Why not do it yourself?”

Where do I start to answer that question?

These days, there are literally hundreds of online website builders that offer free or supposedly cheap site design for business owners who want to create their online presence. Sign up, choose a template, chuck in some content and imagery and away you go. But as I have said previously, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

There are numerous pitfalls and traps related with using these websites that the casual user may not see. If you have bigger plans than just creating a quick site, such as generating traffic, expanding your business and generating profits – you must stay well away from these quickie sites.

Here’s the top five reasons why:

1. Building a website is not easy! 

There’s to a site than meets the eye. Not only does a website have to look good, it has to “act” in a certain way in order to drive customers into making a purchase or acquiring your services. That’s after they find you in the first place!

A good website has search engine optimisation, backup facilities, content management system, call to actions and many other components planned individually to suit your particular business and integrated into the design from day one. There is absolutely no way that an online builder knows (or even cares) what your business needs. This is what a real web designer comes in handy!

2. You don’t want the same site as everyone else – you want your own!

Using an online site builder involves using a template design – a pre-designed layout which you customise with your logo and content. If you are lucky, you may even be able to alter the theme colours – to a pre-set range of options, of course.

What this invariably means is there is potential for your site to look exactly the same as dozens of others. Chances are, if you liked a particular template, so did hundreds of small business owners around the globe. You will definitely not have that individual look that should define your site from all the others.

C’mon – your business should be as individual as you are – and so should your website.

3. Your site can disappear at any time!

“Never build your house on someone else’s land.” If you are ever tempted to go with an online site builder (paid subscriber or free), be very aware of the small print in the “Terms and Conditions.” The service provider, whoever that may be, reserves the right to remove any site at their own discretion, even if there is no legal reason for doing so.

That right!

The online site builder can go belly up overnight or just decide they don’t like you and your precious site is history. Add to that, the headquarters may be in Israel and your legal rights don’t have any weight at all there.

4. We actually care about your site and how it works for you.

There is absolutely no connection between your business and the online site builders during any stage of the process. You never speak to anyone and email is the only way to communicate. Even then, you will probably “converse” with a different service centre controller each time.

When you choose an actual web designer, we talk to you throughout the design of your website. We check that our decisions are on the mark and ensure that you are entirely happy with the results. This is essential to create a site that works specifically for your business.

On top of this, we need to ensure that your site is the best it can be because the success of our own business relies on “happy” customers. If you aren’t happy with the end results, you probably won’t refer us onto anyone and you definitely won’t give us a shining testimonial. That’s not good for business.

5. Your site should be your own – not covered with advertisements for other businesses.

If you opt for the free version of most online site builders, you will end up with a big banner ad somewhere on your site stating that “THIS SITE WAS CREATED WITH …. – BUILD YOUR OWN FOR FREE!”

Not exactly that professional look you are aiming for.

As web designers, Rusty Mango puts its name at the bottom of websites that we build because we are proud of what we do. It also tends to help a little built with your site’s SEO. But we don’t put something there to scream out “GET US TO BUILD YOUR WEBSITE!” – That’s just rude.

Taking all of the above into account, the reality is that if you want your website done right, don’t do it yourself. With the precious time that you spend learning the system, creating the site and populating it with content, the end result is still a site that just doesn’t work. That’s time you could be spending more effectively working on your business, making sales and providing service to your customers.

Instead spend a little time finding a web designer that produces the type of work that you want (check their portfolio) and you feel comfortable working with to build and maintain your website. This will prove to be a much better investment in the long run.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Planning your new site for SUCCESS

Planning your new site for SUCCESSI’ve lost count of the number of times that a new business client has contacted me and said “I decided it was about time that I got a website. I mean, everyone else has got one!” That’s it – that one statement sums up their entire thought process about hiring a professional web designer to produce what could be a very lucrative part of the business’s marketing strategy. That’s generally when I, as the web designer, pull up the reigns and say “Steady on – let’s have a better look at this before we dive on in!”

If you are in the market for a new website, there are a few considerations that you must take in to account before even talking to a web designer.

Be clear on what you want to achieve with your website

Some businesses simply want a web presence so that their physical services can be found (who looks in the Yellow Pages anymore?) Others may look to the web as an additional source of sales through the integration of an online store. Some may just want a place to provide service and support to their customers. Maybe you want to achieve all three? Grab a pen and paper and jot down some notes about the whole purpose for your new website existence. Why are you doing this?

A good website cannot be built overnight

Gone are the days where a website was a simple online version of your company brochure. A fully functional site is comprised of many components, some of which include the visual design, the CMS framework, SEO infrastructure, online commerce tools and backup systems. All of these parts take time to build but most importantly, they take to time to test and fine-tune. If your designer promises this overnight, it’s probably best to look for another designer.

Your Web Designer should be treated like a professional.

Everyone knows someone who has built their own website but just because your nephew built a site for his school assignment, that does not make him a web designer. With all the skills required to make a functional site with the necessary integrated components, a good web designer has honed their skills over many years. You need to trust them to do their best work for your business – and they (generally) will. After all, the future success of their business is dependent on the success of your site – if they do a rubbishy job for you, who else would want to hire them.

A new site never has guaranteed traffic.

As I have mentioned on a number of blog posts, you cannot expect to simply build a site and it will be automatically successful. It won’t appear on Google for a couple of weeks at best so you will need to put in the initial hard yards and get traffic to the site. You need to fill it with quality content and let those in your industry and target audience be aware of its existence. Even then, it will take time to build a following and you, as the business owner, need to be ready for this lull from the beginning. Plan out what you can do once your web designer hands you the “keys”. If you don’t have the time, elect an employee to do the task of web management, if possible.

Right from the get-go, take the time to plan out where you want to go with your new website and what type of end result will be better for your business. Of course, no one can be expected to have all the answers. Once you have chosen a web designer to build your site, hit them up with the hard questions to help formulate a successful web strategy.

Five easy ways to decrease your site’s bounce rate

Decrease your bounce rateYou have a website – and the statistics look good.

At first glance.

As you delve into the pile of numbers that are part and parcel of any website’s statistics, you may find that although people are coming to your site, they are not staying very long – at all.

If this is the case, your site has a bounce rate problem.

For the novice, the bounce rate is the number (usually a percentage) of your site visitors that leave your site immediately after arriving. Now, there could be any number of reasons for this however none of them are good for your business. The aim of any good website is to retain visitors and make them into loyal customers – they should want to stay on your site but when they do leave, you know that they will come back.

Below are five (fairly) quick fixes to help you get that bounce rate down.

Fix #1 – Reduce the amount of time it takes to load your site

If your site is heavily loaded with content, it can take some time to load on a visitor’s computer/mobile. Add to that all the bangs and whistles that make a site look “pretty” and you risk losing them before they even see the content! A general rule of thumb is that the majority of information on your webpage should be loaded within five seconds (this used to be ten in the “old” days”).

Fix #2 – Make your Navigation Menu user friendly

Websites with only a few pages have this one already sorted – their menus are generally uncluttered and users can find what they want fairly easily. But what if your site has dozens of pages to sift through? Website visitors can easily be put off by a menu system that has too many options.

The solution is quite simple – group your pages into common categories and create a base menu using these. Then, with the help of a pop-out menu, you can then add all the other pages underneath.

If your site does have a lot of pages, be sure to include a site map in your footer because some visitors may head  straight for this.

Fix #3 – Ensure that your Call to Action is highly visible

Your Call to Action (CTA) is all important to your website. If the site doesn’t have a clear CTA, why is it online in the first place? Your visitors need to be able to find this with no trouble at all – if anything, it should be one of the most predominant items on any page – as easy to find as your logo!

If a site visitor can’t find a way to interact with or purchase from you, they’ll go somewhere else and up goes your Bounce Rate!

Fix #4 – Check that your site is mobile responsive

If your site is over five years old, chances are that it may not be mobile responsive. This means that your website appears exactly the same on a mobile or tablet as it does on a full sized computer. In turn, this makes your content too hard to see without zooming in – something that mobile users hate to do when browsing the web.

Never fear, this doesn’t always mean that a whole site rebuild is required. There a number of options available in most cases – just contact your website developer for more information (or Rusty Mango Design).

Fix #5 – Tidy up that old, messy website

Whenever I start a new design for a client, I always take the time and cruise the internet looking at other websites in the same industry – just to see what is out there. Sometimes, I am astounded by the poor quality presented as professional websites. Some sites look like they have been there since the 90’s!

If your website does not convey your business brand as professional and “can do”, then it is unlikely to grab any potential customers, just on its appearance. Upgrade your site design and watch for the difference in response. If you look like you know what you doing, you are halfway to getting that client on-board.

 

Finally, according to statistics, you only have 50 milliseconds (that’s five hundredths of a second) to make a good impression with your website.  And as everyone knows, a good first impression can last a lifetime.

Take look at your site with fresh eyes (better yet – get someone else with fresh eyes) and have a look at the repairs suggested’here.

Does your bounce rate need a bit of a fixer-upper?

Rusty Mango Design

Rusty Mango Design