Don’t undervalue the power of good hosting!
Most clients do not understand the relationship of web hosting to the web site. Lets break it down!
The website is coding and a database that has to reside at a web host. The web host supports the whole website and gives it power.
So if we equate the website to a shiny new car. Everyone wants a great car right? But…. if that beautiful new car has a teeny tiny engine it wont run well and be underpowered. In some cases the car won’t move and will be very slow or even break down.
So what does that mean for you?
Each car has a specific engine built for it. Just like a website, we have certain technical specs required for each website we build. Most times the theme will come with specific technical specs that should be required for it to run at it’s best. Or you may run e-commerce with all kinds of added plugins for required functionality, they will need more “resources” thus a bigger engine.
So when a web designer suggests the web host is not good and should be changed, Yes, ask questions, but understand that there is no point spending money on a brand new website if it does not function up to standards. The hosting packages we recommend are optimized for the sites we build and we have experience with that.
If you ask us to build your new or refreshed website on a slow or outdated server. We will tell you. If you choose to ignore the recommendation that is your prerogative however in the long run you will probably pay more to get it moved later, lose customers to a slow site, achieve poor page speed tests and have possible security issues.
Liz Skorski has been a web designer in Canada for 19 years and has owned an operated an independent hosting company from 2006 to 2021 with several servers.
Your website speed it imperative to user experience as well as your SEO. Speed is critical to the success of your site because people don’t like waiting around for web pages to load. Google recommends that the page load time be under 2 seconds. Users are expecting the site to interactive in that time frame. You can check your stats at Gtmetrics. There are many factors that cause a slow site and we can explore just a few here.
Common Causes of a Slow Website
Image size – should be properly resized and resolution adjusted before uploading to website. Many hosts provide options for CDN which speeds up image delivery. Also there are several optimization plugins allowing for image conversion to webp format (the format is capable of reducing image file size up to 34% smaller than JPEG and PNG images while retaining high-quality.)
Too many embedded videos on one page – Embedded videos allow the video to stream from Vimeo or Youtube, however too many on one page causes a delay in Time to Interactive.
Cheap or Overloaded Hosting – Often people will purchase hosting that is cheap (we all want to save some money) however, in most instances the hosting is shared with other sites and can be overloaded or the package does not provide any dedicated resources. Think of hosting as part of the engine, you can’t expect a 2 cylinder engine to run like a Porsche. When the website has more functionality, the hosting must be tailored to the website to make sure the “engine” is powerful enough to run the site.
No Caching – It is beneficial to use a cache plugin. (Caching is the process of storing frequently-accessed data temporarily in a cache.) We love Siteground Optimizer plugin for WordPress- There are many utilities we can set up to speed up the site.
Old coding– If the website is more than 3 years old, it is good to get a professional to audit the site and make sure it is secure and coding is up to date. This may sound like a money grab to people not in the industry but if you think about it, your phone and computer are always upgrading/changing and lets talk about your apps. Constantly changing right? Wwll the same for your website. I can’t be static. The average lifespan of a website is 3 years however you can get more time out of a maintained and upgraded website with proper security plugins and a good host.
Outdated server software – Some hosting companies require you to manually change things like PHP and MySQL versions. These outdated versions can cause compatibility issues on websites and present security risks.
Hacked site – If a website is hacked, the code has been compromised, it may cause the server to be busy doing background functions we do not desire. This slows the site down. Run a security scan from multiple sources.
These are just a few common causes. Technically we run tests on website load times that help pinpoint where improvements can be made. This can examine time to interactive, full load, site structure and resource issues.
If you have a slow site, contact us to take a look.
Is it necessary? YES! It is a must
This is a question we get all the time. It is like this car analogy; If you buy a car its great, shiny and new but it needs an oil change every 5000km to keep it running smoothly. The car is not defective, it is just understood that a car needs maintenance. It needs fluid changes and little tweaks.
The same can be said for a WordPress website. The website needs maintenance to keep it in tip top shape. The WordPress team keeps the software up to date with functionality changes, security issues and generally improving the software. Plugins and themes also change and update based on security and coding changes. These are little general maintenance tasks that keep the website working properly and more secure.
WordPress routinely receives new updates, typically multiple new release updates each month, which improve the security and performance of the platform. In order to make sure that your WordPress website remains secure, your website needs consistent maintenance of the core code as well as any plugins and the theme that may be in use.
Did you know? Most hacks come from websites running outdated or insecure software?
So the short answer if you want to protect the longevity of your website which you worked hard to create or paid to have created for you. You must maintain it.
- Have your web designer do it. There is a cost but then you don’t need to worry about it. Web designers charge in different ways: a contractual monthly maintenance package can range from $45/month and up OR non-contractual where its updated and you are charged by time
- Do It Yourself – Your web designer should show you this if you ask but if not here is the basic procedure;
- With a good back up plugin like Updraft Plus you should be able to update the site yourself.
- Create a full back up of the core database, plugins, theme and uploads folder
- Once complete, go to dashboard > updates and select update for each item listed one at a time (never select multiple updates at once) Sometimes updates can take a few moments. ( If you are on a slow server, you may get a Maintenance screen, don’t panic! This will time out in about 10 min. If it gets stuck, call your host or designer and they can remove the .maintenance file.)
- Wait for each one to finish and then move on to the next until all updates are complete. Check the front end of your site to make sure it looks good.
- If something goes wrong, again, don’t panic- we have a backup up! Try to remember what plugin you were on when it failed. Call your web designer Or go to updrafts backups, and restore the plugin you were updating when it failed.
So whether you are inclined to spend money on maintenance or not, it is your responsibility to see that your website is maintained. Let’s do this!
Liz Skorski provides small business web design and marketing services across Canada. Based in Ontario.
With the pandemic comes the mad scramble for businesses to sell online. There have been many incentive grants like the Digital Mainstream Grant in Ontario and the Shop Here eCommerce development programs however once the website is built, now what? Canadians are a little less likely to shop online with new stores than in the US. Business owners are always looking for ways to draw attention on social, get site visitors and convert them to sales.
A coupon is a great way to do that. Its psychology. People love value. Using coupons makes people happy according to a Claremont Graduate University study. But, couponing is not always about lower price, we can’t keep discounting! There is a real cost of doing business and small businesses especially can not compete with Amazon and shops from out of country. But what you can do, is create a coupon that allows a special product bundle, a free gift, free shipping or allow a discount only when a threshold is reached.
In ecommerce, a $5.00 online sale is not making you any money. With shipping costs, credit card fees and your time.
Try couponing to increase the cart total! What how do you do that?
Example; Buy two save 20% instead of buy one and save 20% this way the cart total is higher.or Spend $250 and save 20% with coupon. People with strive to spend the 250 just to get the $20% off.
Make it a bundle. This is a great way to clear old stock or Point of sale items items and offer a bundle of complementary products. The customer feels they are getting a deal and you get a higher total sale. Curated bundles are great. A coupon can be applied to a bundle and since they are receiving 5 items and a discount, it seams like a good deal.
Example: AJ’s “Quilting Essentials” Kit – 5 must have items in your sewing room for one price.
Add Ons– in a shopping cart you can have add ons that are additional or complimentary products that go with the original product, that increase cart totals. The coupon can discount the add on.
Example: Buy 2 metres of fabric, you can add on matching thread for $3 (save $2 with coupon)
Spend a minimum and get a free gift with purchase. This is a great coupon strategy, people strive to hit the dollar spend to get a Free item. Now the free item does cost you money so buy bulk promo items or select some point of sale items kicking around to use as a free gift.
Free shipping coupons– Now this is a big and somewhat controversial issue. Shipping is a real cost, especially with smaller online eCommerce stores. There is time, cost of shipping material and actual shipping cost from the provider. How to take care of this? You are going to have to up-charge your prices for products to cover the shipping. But if you do that, you must advertise the heck out of FREE shipping.
Also you may need a free shipping minimum spend. You don’t want to be stuck shipping a $5.00 item for free.
Example: Free shipping over $250 with coupon or not.
Always know your costs before applying any coupons. It idea is to make money and move product not break even.
If you have a “one of a kind” or “maker” website, couponing is not as prevalent unless you have high stock volumes sitting around or if your product has an expiration date. One of a Kind items tend to sell based on the uniqueness, quality and reputation of the seller. You certainly can apply coupons for in stock items but I do not recommend discounting custom items.
Hope you found some use in these couponing techniques for eCommerce.
Your website is a marketing tool and now that the basics are in place, it is important to leverage all that it can do. Review the information on the site and make sure it accurately represents what you do.
Your website is an ongoing representation of your business and as you grow and change, your website should too. Google likes new information. A static site does not attain great search position. We have built your website with a CMS (content management system) so you have the ability to change basic content.
We can provide instruction or if you don’t have time, we can do it for you.
Here are some things you need to know
Google can take 4 days to 4 weeks to index your site. If we have installed Google Analytics and Search console, it will be faster. Organic search traffic is critical for growing your website and business. In fact, it’s the source of over half of all site traffic, on average, as compared to just 5% from social media. We can help with SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Maintain your Website. It is critical to the longevity & security of your website to update themes, plugins, check back ups and security on a very regular basis. We highly recommend that you have a qualified website designer check the site regularly. Maintenance package are available or just shoot us an email.
Indexing is Google’s way of gathering and processing all the data from web pages during its crawl around the web. Frequent indexing improves your search results. Blog once a month. Adding new information to your site in relation to your business industry, product, or service shows expertise and credibility. Regular blogging is key!
Use social media to push people back to your website. Utilize channels that are appropriate for your audience. Not sure? Ask us! Have a clear social media strategy to complement your web strategy. One does not work well without the other. Be prepared to pay for some social media boosts/ads and analyze the results.
Utilize Video in your digital marketing. It can be used on your social media and website to increase engagement. Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video, compared to 10% when reading it in text. 72% of customers would rather learn about a product or service by way of video.
Marketing strategy is critical. Dont just “spray and pray”, it is costly and does not yield results. Determine whether you are focusing on inbound marketing, outbound marketing, or a combination of both. Build a strategy calendar where each channel is identified with topics and goals. Remember to Attract, Engage, Convert,and Delight.
Converting website visitors into customers is the goal of e-commerce, but getting there isn’t always easy. In fact, studies estimate the average e-commerce conversion rate is just 2-3%. Follow this simple checklist to optimize your e-commerce website experience, and turn more of your existing website traffic into sales.
1. Attention-grabbing photos (and video, too)
Photography needs to do the job of making the shopper feel like they can (almost) touch your product. And the more photos, the better. Include multiple angles of the product standing alone, with people using it, and a shot of the packaging. A short video is great for showing how a product moves, works or how it should be installed.
2. Powerful product descriptions
Your product copy should be hard-working. Use a mix of action words and sensory words to paint a clear picture of specific product features and benefits. This is also the place to have a little fun if that fits with your brand voice. And don’t forget to spell check your text.
3. A clear call to action (CTA)
If you don’t ask a customer to buy from you, chances are they won’t. An effective CTA is short and clear, such as Add to Cart or Checkout, and they work best on coloured buttons. Your Checkout button is like a cash register, so don’t make shoppers look for how to give you their money.
4. Reviews and testimonials
Product reviews are powerful persuasion tools. A good review can answer a nagging question in the consumer’s mind and give them the confidence to buy from your business. Testimonials, although more effort to obtain because they require outreach, are worthwhile, detailed accounts of the customer experience with your product or service. If you’re able to get media or industry experts to review your products, these are worth featuring prominently.
5. Free shipping
With free shipping the norm these days, it’s easy to assume that it’s the only way to go. And while free shipping can increase conversion rates on e-commerce websites, it can seriously eat into your profit margin. Shipping carriers can increase their prices, too, further cutting your profits. Many merchants choose to increase product prices to maintain the same margin, but there is another approach. Free shipping minimums are a great compromise that incentivizes customers to increase their order value while offsetting your shipping costs.
6. Sales, deals, promo codes, and coupons
Satisfy the deal hunter in everyone by offering special promotions and discounts. A designated Sale section on your website navigation clearly tells shoppers where to go for the best savings. Ramp up the sense of urgency by using time-limited coupon codes or bundling high-demand products with sellout potential.
7. A straightforward return policy
Offering a reasonable return policy is an important part of your e-commerce business strategy. If your policy is too generous, it may be abused. If it’s not flexible enough, customers may choose to buy elsewhere. Post your policy and clearly outline terms for returns, refunds, and exchanges to give shoppers the confidence to place their trust in your business. Ensure returns are handled professionally, and you’ll continue to build customer loyalty for future purchases.
This was a great article written and published on Yellow Pages for Business by