There is a constant stream of advertisements for “create your own website” for free, after 30 days pay only $7.99/month or simple sounding ads like “Design your website in minutes.”
It’s sounds so easy and the price sounds unbeatable. In the early days of the internet this might have been just the tool for many businesses. As a web designer who codes these templates are cumbersome to use. For the novice they require a lot of time and frustration to learn the software. You will still need your content: photos and page copy. Your photos need to be optimized to download quickly, so you need some photo editing skills and learn how to choose what compression is best. You need to spend time learning at least some basic search engine optimization (SEO) and learn about meta data to compete for organic results. All of the above are the nuts and bolts of using a template website.
Websites need “call-to-actions” which are eye appealing and well placed. Navigation needs to be simple – easy to figure out so customers can quickly find what they are looking for. Frustrated visitors won’t become your client.
Beyond all the code and functionality, yes, design matters. A welcoming website sets a tone for your business, the same as a showroom displays your products. The layout and design bring all the elements together. The bottom line is people will judge your business based on the looks of your website. Statistics reveal over 90% of people said they trusted or mistrusted a website based on design alone, less than 10% said it was content.
It’s much like packaging of food. Yes the generic brand is cheaper, but the jar/box isn’t nearly as creative as the name brands, who give great thought and expense to their brand.
While it doesn’t have to be award winning you want your design to send a message of trust, professionalism and quality. You know your business, hiring a professional to create your website is a good investment.
Do I need a mobile website? It started out as a trend. We know retail sites are seeing incredibly high traffic increase. But what about the service industry? If your business garners emergency or urgent services, you risk losing business, already. All service businesses should not ignore mobile because use is on the rise across all industries. As mobile use rises continually a mobile ready website needs to be in your plan.
Statistics tell us mobile phone web users are “task oriented”. Their searching is more likely to convert to action. Mobile use varies on preference and also their bandwidth phone service plan. Mobile websites are highly optimized for download speed, using far less bandwidth than your full website. If a user’s preference is a mobile site, they likely will bounce off your full website in search of a lean mobile site. Having a mobile presence is about improving the customer experience. Don’t give a visitor a reason to leave once they have found you.
I have found the best course of action gives the control to the user. Your mobile website is triggered when a visitor lands on your full website via a mobile device. A link to view your full website is prominently displayed, and also a link to your mobile website is on your full website, should they choose to go back and forth.
While staying on the cutting edge and following every new device can be very expensive (thousands, tens of thousands) to maintain there are several other approaches far less costly, especially for website owners with small websites (20 pages and less). It’s time.
The object of a mobile website is to be very lean. It reminds me of the days of dial up internet connections when web designers squeezed every pixel in an image as small as possible. Mobile means lean — and not only shrinking images, but only using when necessary. Once you have a banner – you’re left with little precious real estate for graphics.
So, what to do with a photographer’s mobile website, when his business is visual? We decided on one image per page, with a main gallery page listing/linking to each photographic category (business photos, portraits, real estate, etc.) gallery page. This gave the visitor a heads-up to know clicking through they would be viewing/downloading images. Being respectful is important in creating a mobile website. This offered the limited-bandwidth user a chance to opt out – or bookmark to view on their desktop.
Each gallery page has a maximum 6 images, and these were highly optimized. It gives the user an idea of the photographer’s style and feel without a big bandwidth use.
Both the desktop site and mobile site easily let the user switch back and forth if bandwidth is not an issue.
Newly launched is the Montague Vounteer Fire Dept. serving Montague Township in New Jersey. I love getting to know my clients’ businesses. This fire department has an enormous amount of equipment and training for their firefighters, and all as volunteers! With a history dating back to the 1950′s they were fortunate to discover images of the original fire truck at the fire department’s beginnings! The dedication from these volunteers is inspiring.
Red and black are “the” colors for fire department websites. It was fun to create and great people to work with!
Business owners deal with spam. Our inboxes bulge, our email addresses are spoofed by spammers and sold on mailing lists tagging us as legitimate email, so we get even more spam.
Many website owners use an email for their domain (firstname.lastname@example.org) and have it forwarded to a different email account from any of these: Outlook.com, Gmail, Verizon, EarthLink, Yahoo and more. The advantage is one less email to maintain each day.
Until lately it has been an easy configuration. Enter spammers. Spamming uses web hostings’ servers, thus affecting all website owners as spammers maliciously use bandwidth. Recently WordPress blogss were under attack to such extremes there was an urgency plea to update WordPress software and change your user name and password to something other than “admin” and “password”. This particular combination seems to have been so rampant spammers trolled blogs finding those with easy combinations and began to wreak havoc.
With so much spamming going on some webmail clients began to block anything being forwarded from a domain into their webmail, i.e. Yahoo and Verizon in the forefront. These two are smaller players in webmail compared to Gmail and Hotmail/Outlook.com, each which have enormous resources behind them, which seemed to equate to being less stringent in blocking any forwards, thus their action.
The first word from Yahoo was they would begin to allow the emails through, but no exact time table. I began seeing the email pour in five days later; then stopped, again and finally I gave up on Yahoo. With Hotmail/Outlook and Gmail happily reconnecting me with all forwarded email it was an easy choice.
Why does this happen? Since the forwarded email is passed straight through your domain on a forward it bypasses any spam filtering your web host may have, despite whether you enable it or not. When the clogging begins Yahoo “throttles” email – like stacking airplanes in sky, within no timetable on hand. These blocks (aka blacklisted emails) can be lifted eventually, but Verizon may take up to 3 months to sort it out. For business owners a few days is acceptable, but indefinite is not.
What to do? You can enable the spam-filter on your host which is dependent upon a “score”. The problem is some spam email will still get through, and some legitimate email will tagged as spam, not be sent. The tradeoff is no matter what you set the spam threshold to all you can really specify is whether you want to receive less legitimate email or more spam email. Under this solution, either your forwarded email would be missing valid email, or you’d be so permissive that the forward would eventually be blocked again.
There’s no question it’s time to embrace mobile devices. If your website is 10 pages a simple custom mobile website hosted alongside your full website is a great choice. Brand the design based on your full website. The mobile website will be very lean. This makes surfing your mobile site easy for bandwidth download. Still many people have limited bandwidth. Think of it as a courtesy to potential clients.
It’s time to make something small work for you! Mobile website – more info.
Your website has become the cornerstone of your business. All roads of marketing point to your domain.
Thinking about blogging? A blog is a huge asset to driving your website. You know your business, who better to write short articles and post periodically? Sites adding new relevant content are seen as reliable and this, in turn, improves your rankings. A blog on your website is an easy way to add regular content while expanding your web presence. Give me a call if you have any questions. ph 909.595.0610
Your mobile website needs to feature the most important aspects of your desktop website in the most user friendly way with quick download time. Equally important is giving the user a quick way to view your full website and avoid a frustrated user experience.
Give me a call if you have any questions. ph 909.595.0610
You may get negative reviews, but you can turn this into a positive, by addressing any issues. The fact your business has responded to a negative review often is the tipping point for a potential customer. It’s an opportunity to build customer confidence in you and your company.
Monitoring your online reputation is very important for businesses. Ignoring online reviews sends a message to prospective clients, even if you are new online and didn’t realize all this existed, the message of silence gets interpreted by the reader…any way they choose.
When my clients receive a negative review we gather the facts, and address each one – turning it into a positive message. While you can’t expect to change a reviewer’s mind the bigger opportunity is to reach the potential reader who is researching your business. Reviewers often are emotional, and it’s important not to respond with like emotion, but keep to the facts.
One client had a reviewer say a subsequent car repair (different from the one fixed by the repair shop) was going to cost 10 times what he paid for the initial repair, and he was quite unhappy. Turned out the customer brought in his own part, and was charged $45.00 for the repair. Without the details a reader would’ve been left wondering how high the bill could go – when in fact, he’d gotten a very good value for this first repair. This creates a positive: the business owner was willing to let you bring in your part, thus saving you money and at an extremely reasonable rate when most auto repair shops charge about $90.00/hour.
My clients are frustrated by not being able to remove incorrect/negative reviews. Recently a business owner sued a Yelp reviewer in Virginia and won the case. Accused of theft he said the review was wrong and caused him loss of business. The bad news: the decision was overturned in Virginia’s Supreme Court as “free speech” until such time as a trial can prove the business owner’s claim. You can read more about this.
It stings when your business is unfairly attacked, but if you can look to pull the positive out of it – get your message through – you’ll make good use of these negative reviews!
Business owners are questioning the need for a mobile website.
Easy to say every website can benefit from a mobile website, but if you have a large site, or limited budget you will be weighing the “if” and “when”. While there are many solutions selling “free” mobile websites – businesses need to control and maintain their internet presence. “Free” still means something is out of your control. Know the tradeoff, before using free products and confusing your target visitors with websites you may abandon in time.
These websites (below) each created a simple mobile website mirroring their existing site. A simple solution and cost effective. For my auto repair shops a mobile website is a must. People stranded roadside need to get to your contact info quickly. You can encourage them to bookmark your website – no more hunting directions at the last minute, everything is at hand.
Animal hospitals’ clients emotions run high when in need of their vet, or a new vet. Having the website be mobile friendly, means one less bounce if the full site takes too long to load. Think about what your business needs. If you have a large website – begin to plan to be sure to be mobile friendly. Your existing website will probably need some changes in order to use styling sheets which can create the mobile website output, without maintaining a separate mobile site. You want to engage all visitors on the platform of their choice.
With the release of the iPhone5, once again, mobile websites are spotlighted. The huge sales of mobile phones remind us of another opportunity for business advertisement.
The beauty of many Smartphones and iPhones is the way you can view most full websites. But when your mobile phone plans don’t allow unlimited data use the user will be glad to have the option of viewing a mobile website. My own mobile website is a brief touchstone.
A mobile website is designed to keep everything small – no large graphics; but more importantly to get your contact information immediately in front of the visitor with phone numbers clickable, maps directly linked to Google. Using the tools to help the client to connect with your business easily.
If your business has emergency issues – auto related, medical, dental, etc. – a mobile website can reach yet more people on their phones quicker.
As your business grows online a mobile website is another piece of the plan.