Professional or Do it Yourself?

Recently there has been much conversation about free or do it yourself vs. hiring an website professional to develop your site. It can be so confusing.

If you are a very small business, just starting out, you need to analyse your start up costs with the $ of sales. Do not overbuy your first website, in that case it may be prudent to do it yourself or have a one pager for credibility until you have enough sales to support your marketing. Often in a start up, the website we create first is not what you will need in 12 months.

The definition of a website professional is being morphed and changed by the “new people” on the scene. We recently ran across a company that is specializing in “Wix” sites and calling themselves a web designer. Same with Shopify, WordPress.com, square… While excellent platforms, they do have limitations and you are completely tied to their platform. You will not have the ability to develop custom functions or add programming if required.Often people are frustrated with the level of customization available these platforms.

If you are looking for a new website, redesign or developer, it is harder than ever to compare pricing and skill sets.

Professional Web Design for Small business

Here are 10 tips;

  1. There is a large difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org
    When developing a corporate site, you will be quite limited on wordpress.com because you can not add custom coding, there is no sftp protocal and it is a multisite environment. There is no option to add your own premium theme and custom plugins.
  2. A business web site should be done in a quality hosting environment using http2, php 7.2 + and an ssl certificate.
  3. Your web designer should be familiar with inbound marketing, content creation, e – newsletters, lead pages, Google Analytics and search console.
  4. Graphics are extremely important and a well rounded web designer will be experienced with graphics, photo editing and resizing. The designer will develop a colour pallet using your logo and /or industry and carry the branding forward into the website.
  5. SEO is one of the most important considerations and the web site should be developed with this in mind. We always develop using WordPress.org on a independant hosting space using a top level domain. Keyword and competition research is critical.
  6. Your designer should include a back up protocol and security software. These days we are even recommending Securi for monitoring, malware scanning, firewall and uptime.
  7. Talk to your web designer about the marketing approach, they should be very familiar with content layout, marketing language, user experience and conversion techniques.
  8. Each web designer has a toolbox of skills and that should be extensive. The more experience the better. If an agency, ask who the developer actually is, if outsourced, it could be an issue later when you need changes.
  9. Interview the web designer, you need to develop a relationship, as your site will be around for 2-3 years and then you probably need to change it up. The website will need regular maintenance and you can be trained on the content management
  10. In case of site crash, what is the response time. Do they know how to fix it? Technical ability is important as we know, anything can be hacked.
    Proactive is always better.

Why should you blog?

Imagine going to a website and the latest post is April 2013, does this make the company look relevant?  Does it enhance the perception of the company?

No, In fact it hurts the company brand.

We often hear people say they don’t have time to blog and that’s true, people are busy, especially small business owners. Here’s a hint, blog while you’re driving. How you ask ? Download a speech-to-text app on your phone using your Bluetooth dictate your blog. When you’re finished driving read over your blog post correct any spelling mistakes, source a photo and upload to your WordPress website.
Once you get started with this method you will find you can complete several blog articles on a longer drive or commute.

Here are the top reasons to blog:

  • Add more industry-related content for your website
  • Enhances SEO and can help increase website search position
  • Adds original and timely content to the site to engage viewer
  • Positions your business as an expert in your industry
  • Informs and educates potential customers of news, products or services
  • Helps increase frequency of search engine reindexing

why should you blogThe process of blogging adds fresh content to your website. Search engines like Google look for new original content on a consistent basis. This new content indicates that the website is up to date, fresh and relevant.

In a WordPress website the blog component allows you to add virtually unlimited posts that are categorized and can be displayed in interesting ways. The data is searchable and yields a search engine friendly permalink for each post which can be used in Social Media.

Blogging on a regular basis provides a forum to answer customer questions, discuss advantages of products, display case studies and show expertise in your industry.

There are many creative ways to use the blog function in WordPress. Often the blog will be used as a new section and your web designer can pull posts into your front page to give greater visibility. Corresponding photographs make the post interesting and chunked text makes it readable. Use of proper headlines containing key phrases increases SEO on each page.

Plugins like Yoast SEO can be used on individual blog posts to target keyword phrases your website more visibility on the search engines.

By categorizing your posts they are easy to find.

Blogging on a regular basis key to having search engines revisit your site and index new articles. Whether you blog weekly bi-weekly or monthly it’s important to be consistent.

Many people ask what to blog about. The answer varies depending what industry you’re in. Oftentimes think of the most common questions that clients /contacts have and answer them in your blog articles. Don’t be afraid to have a personality in your blog,  people don’t like reading things that are dry, so inject some humor.

The best thing is that original content does not go away, it helps organic SEO and gives your website staying power on the web.

Important reasons to hire a web designer

A website is a marketing tool that works in conjunction with your other marketing.  It is not just a pretty picture on the web.  A website needs to be functional to work.  Show the viewer you are a vibrant, growing business.
 
A professional web designer/ developer will help you by:
 
Making your website Search Engine friendly – Implementing SEO best practices while building the website. Technical SEO can be done as the site is built, suggestions are made on content to optimize titles, url’s, alt tags and more
 
Increase conversion rates– Including contact forms, lead magnets and call to action are essential to creating conversions.
 
Saving you time – Hiring a professional gives you the benefit of hiring an expert who knows successful, efficient ways to create a web site quickly. We can suggest new interesting ways to display information.
 
Cross device testing– A professional will test a site on different devices, run speed test and make sure the site works on multiple platforms.
 
Professional Graphics– Adding a custom graphics, colours and images that fit the project are a great addition to making a custom website.
 
Customization and enhancement– A professional will be able to add custom functionality to a website and customize themes with css and plugins as required.
 
Technical Know How – Whether it is purchasing a domain, setting nameservers, specific DNS settings like ; A records or MX records, we have the know how. Security and back up redundancy advice and implementation are key considerations.
 
You may think you are creating a pretty website yourself but there are many shortcomings to some do it yourself platforms.
 

 

What is a CMS System?

A content management system (CMS) is a software application or set of related programs that are used to create and manage digital content. We use WordPress as the CMS for your website.

This means the website owner can add and change content on the website.  We build the structure that will be technically sound, esthetically pleasing and give you instruction to add and change content to reflect what is happening in your business.

The biggest thing to remember is that a website should be a real representation of your business, not one that is 3 years old. A CMS system allows you to keep your website up to date with what is happening in your business, successes, innovations, photos and news.  More current and up to date information represents a vibrant business. Gone are the days where a website is put online and then left for 5 years.

Google, as the major search engine looks at content and post frequency to help determine the validity of a website for a specific search term.

A CMS system is not meant to allow you to change the look, feel and organization of your website. We can do that if a redesign is required.

 

 

Choosing the right professionals to market your business?

Who to hire and what are they good at?

As a small business owner it can be confusing to know who to hire to help market you business.   There are people jumping up right and left saying they do “marketing” but what does that mean? What do they actually do?  Business coaches are acting as marketing experts when they don’t have any hands on experience.  Making the wrong decision can be very costly. If at all possible, hire the company that does the work in house.

Please choose wisely!

There are may disciplines to marketing : research, concepts and planning, Outbound ( print, radio, TV, PPC, Adwords ) Inbound ( e- newsletters, social, video, web, blogs).  The list goes on and it can get really confusing.  It is doubtful one person can be an expert in all these disciplines. Don’t hire the web person for Radio ads and don’t hire the business coach for web design.  Hire good professionals in the proper disciplines.

First isolate your demographics:

  • Who buys what you do?
  • Ideal client
  • age
  • gender
  • location
  • industry

Then research, research, research.

Come up with a marketing strategy or hire someone to help you.  A website is usually a part of this marketing strategy. It is a tool that can be used as the hub of your marketing that will help convert the viewer to a potential client.  The website will house all the information about your business and contain interactive elements to help call the viewer into action.  

A website is by no means the only marketing tool to use.

An experienced website professional can help with digital marketing strategy, online marketing research, design and branding concepts, website development and maintenance , technical experience and website promotion: SEO , inbound marketing, newsletters,  and social media strategy. 

Stay away from the people claiming I will get you to the top of Google.  There is no quick and easy,  but there is professional knowledge and experience to build a website properly and an online strategy with longevity and quality. 

Always ask for an outline of experience and portfolio of work.

Here is a outline of what we do.

Website Services

Avoid These 10 WordPress Mistakes

We often hear from clients that they tried to create a website themselves which is great for startups and companies on a strict budget.  Here are some mistakes people often make when trying to create their own website in WordPress.  These are just some of the standard best practices that are used when you purchase a professional website.

1. Not Changing Default Username For Admin– Admin used to be the standard username with each new WordPress install, this is a huge security compromise. Usernames and passwords must be complex.

2. Forgetting Optimization For Images – you must add descriptive alt text for each image

3. Mistaking A Self-Hosted WordPress With a Free One – A self hosted WordPress website will use the platform available at wordpress.org. 

4. Forgetting to Create Backups – this is essential to set up automated backups- be familiar with back up retrieval

5. Not Being Careful When Downloading Free WordPress Themes – You must use a reputable, supported theme provider with proper coding. Check for ratings and support history. Make sure coding is current ie. don’t use a theme coded with PHP 5.2 or 5.3 which is deprecated.  Choosing a pretty theme is not the way to decide to use it.

6. Not Installing a Plugin For Caching – Caching will help speed up the site for the viewer

7. Avoiding Comment Moderation– moderation allows you approve the comments that are posted on your website, without it you will find loads of spam posts and junk links.

8. Leaving Out a Contact Form –  A contact form ensures the email gets to you from any device.  Check functionality on a monthly basis with a test message.

9. Not Paying Attention to Security – Security is important for the longevity of the site. Enable: Brute Force Protection, Strong Password Enforcement, 404 Detectionm Malware scanning and more

10. Ignoring Updates From WordPress –  Regular maintenance is essential to keep the functionality of your website. Like a car, you need to change the oil.  Same with your website, you need to do the updates so your website will last.