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Is your small business website becoming a DINOSAUR?

The internet is getting older (29 years old now!) and accordingly, some of the sites online are starting to show their age.

As I have blogged in previous posts, the look of your site (and how it works) can often determine whether a site visitor converts into a customer. It’s time to take a good hard at your site and determine whether it needs a makeover!

Can you maintain your own site?

Fresh content on your site is still the king when it comes to engaging your customers if not attracting the attention of Google (not quite as important as it used to be). To allow easy updating and contributions to your site, do you have a CMS (content management system) installed? Joomla and WordPress are two of the most popular options at the moment allowing site managers to add information and expand their sites without involving a web designer/programmer. If you can’t do this to your own site, maybe it is time for an upgrade.

Does Your Site Still Work?

Some site owners may not even know the answer to this question because their websites have been neglected for so long. Jump online, load up your site on your favourite browser and pretend to be a customer for a while. Do all the navigation links still function? Is the site content relevant to today’s target market? Can you purchase items successfully via your online store? Haven’t been getting much business via your site? This might be the reason!

Do You Have a Frankensite?

If a site has been online for several years and you (and your employees) have continued to add content/imagery/pages to it, the site may have become what is known a Frankensite. A Frankensite is a website that has lost its direction and now looks like a freakshow of links, scattered text, and irrelevant images. The pages have plenty of information to sift through but no real goal or call to action. Site visitors may even get a little lost in there. It’s time to sort out the garbage with an online purge or maybe a full re-design.

Got a Flash website?

Are parts of your old site utilising Flash? You have probably already noticed this but chances are your site is no longer visible on many people’s smart phones. Apple and Android do not natively support Flash (Apple never did) and, as a result, if your site is written is coded in Flash, visitors won’t see a thing. If only small components of the site are, those won’t appear either. With the advent of CSS3, PHP and HTML3, Flash is a dinosaur that is fast becoming extinct.

Is Your Site Social?

No need to explain the benefits of Social Media here but if your site does not incorporate feeds from your Social Media channels (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc), then you are not utilising your site to its maximum benefit. With modern day CMS’, you can quite easily add the platforms into your website and drag customers through that online door. In addition to attracting potential customers, every time you update your Social Media with a post or tweet, your site will automatically display that as fresh content.

If you own or manage a site, take the time to divert from your day-to-day business and log onto your website. Considering the points above, check what you have online and see if work needs to be done to enable your website to become the effective marketing tool it should be.

How to Revive your Website – with a formula used by Gordon Ramsey!

In the television show “Kitchen Nightmares”, celebrity chef and businessman, Gordon Ramsey, visits a different struggling restaurant each episode and spends a week there trying to turn their fortunes around. Always very clever in his methods and very VOCAL in his actions, Ramsey seems to have the magic “formula” that can take even the direst restaurant and turn it around in a number of days.

That formula can be easily adapted to any kind of industry, not just into hospitality. If you are willing to apply honesty and commitment to the process, the “Ramsey Formula” can also be used to revive an underperforming website and turn it into the customer conversion machine that it needs to be.

After watching (too) many episodes of “Kitchen Nightmares”, here’s the formula for reviving a website as I see it:

Get PASSIONATE about your Website

The commitment and passion that you (hopefully) feel for your actual business needs to be reflected on the pages of your website. After all, it is the online extension of your business.

Your website can be so much more to your customers than just an online brochure – but only if you COMMIT to making it so. The site’s appearance and its content should reflect the passion that got you into your business in the first place. It should also reflect your personality – you are a real person and need to come across as such. Customers will respond better.

Who are your CUSTOMERS and what do they WANT?

There’s no point examining your current website and its strengths and weakness unless you have a clear snapshot of who you target audience is. Anyone who has undertaken a Facebook Ad will have used the “wizard” for determining your target audience according to age, gender, location, etc.

Tailor-make all of the content so it is directed straight at your desired audience. If you can identify who they are, it makes the process easier to identify what they are looking for and give it to them.

Ramsey demonstrates this in one episode where he visits an old English pub and finds them cooking fancy al-la-carte meals. He quickly identifies this as one of the business’ problem and switches them back to what the pub-going public want – pub food!

Time to get BRUTAL

Chef Ramsey is good at this bit – he calls it “finding your bollocks”…

Stand back. Take a good look at your current online offering from the eyes of your target audience. Can they get exactly what they are looking for? Is it easy to access? Can they make a purchase quickly and simply? Is there fresh content that helps them do what they want to do? And most importantly, can they engage with the business through the site?

And remember, be honest. You might be in love with your site but is your customer?

Once you have identified the site’s “failings”, it might be time to trim the fat.

Whatever you have to do – embrace the change and make it work!

Is your site good at ANYTHING?

On “Kitchen Nightmares”, Chef Ramsey encourages restaurant owners to find a niche and use it as the drawcard to the business.
As the business owner, get in contact with your customers and use their feedback to identify the key item that your website does very well. This item (depending on what it is) could become the main drawcard of your website and draw potential customers into the site. Once they’re “hooked”, use your marketing skills to on-sell the other products and services that you offer.

Just remember to not offer so much that you can’t deliver (another lesson from Chef Ramsey).

I’m sure I’m not the only fan of the abrasive but clever Gordon Ramsay and his methods – so please leave a comment below on how you have used a “Ramsey” method in your own business. My comment area looks a little sad and neglected at the moment (one area I intend to work on), so I’d love to hear from you.

Five rules for effective use of fonts on your website.

One of the key features of a visually engaging website is the typeface – the fonts used to present the text information of a page.

Not restricted to the screen, fonts are used everywhere we look – advertisements, newspapers and magazines to name a few – and if they aren’t used correctly, textual information may be overlooked or an entire site could dismissed as visually uninteresting and deemed not worth viewing.

To avoid this, it is vitally important to understand the five key rules below for using fonts on your website.

Rule #1: Choose your fonts wisely.

Don’t select fonts to use on your site at random. Examine what you are already using in your business – on your business cards, stationery, advertising and even in the actual business logo. A typeface can say a lot about a business so choose those fonts that reflect the professionalism or general “feel” of your company. For example, if you are a solicitor, don’t use a font which would be more suited to a day care centre.

Rule #2: Pay close attention to font size.

Font sizes on a webpage should generally be limited to the three main areas where you will use them – in the main heading, subheadings and in the body text.

Choose the three sizes for these areas and stick to them, making sure that your web developer uses sizes that are responsive to screen size (i.e. mobile, tablets and desktops).

Rule #3: Don’t use a wide variety of fonts on one page.

As with the rule above, there are only three main areas where you should use a different font – main heading, subheadings, and body text. Even on these three, you may choose to use one font for headings (of any type) and a plain style font for body text.

Try to stick to a maximum of three fonts. You will also need to ensure that these fonts complement each other like colours do on a colour wheel. No need to be an expert in typology – your eyes will tell you which font’s work with each other.

Rule #4: Spacing is key to font legibility.

This rule has nothing to do with the fonts themselves but more about how those fonts are spaced. White space is essential on a website to ensure that the content does feel cluttered to the viewer and all content is legible and easy to read.

Allow larger spacers above/below headings and ensure that your body text has a line height of at least 1.5 (similar to what would be used in a Word document). Once again, check all versions of your website for spacing on desktop, mobile and tablets.

Rule #5: Colours can kill a font.

In the early days of the internet, webpages were mostly text on a dark background. To emphasise various elements, web designers used a variety of colours to grab attention and the results were horrendous.

In the modern of the ‘net, we have a variety of tools at our disposal to grab attention so try to limit the use of multiple text colours in your website. My advice would be to stick to your brand colours for headings and use a plain colour for body text.

Final note: When choosing fonts to use on your website, be sure to check the copyright usage of each. Some fonts are free to use across the internet and others need to be purchased. Some fonts are licensed for desktop use only and are not permitted for use on websites. If you are not sure about a font you are using, search the name of the font on Google to avoid any potential copyright issues you might have.

A website launch is only the beginning…

One of the biggest mistakes that a new website owner can make is to assume that once the launch of their site has taken place, the hard work is over.

Yes – their business now has an online presence, but without further attention and work on their site, the full benefits of being online will not be achieved.

There still several tasks that need undertaking to make the world pay attention to the site and several more that will require ongoing work to keep the site healthy and functional.

Task 1: Get Google to pay attention

It should come as no surprise that Google does not automatically add websites to their search results. They first need to be notified that a site actually exists before they will send a “Googlebot” to check it out.

There are several ways to make this happen smoothly:

  • Add your site to your “Google My Business” account. It’s a best way to get noticed fast.
  • Make sure your site is Search Engine Optimised (SEO) by using a plugin, like YOAST or All-In-One to guide you through the process of SEO setup. These ensure that the search engine “crawlers” find what they need to.
  • Share your new website link around with other businesses and organisations that are already established online. Be sure to link back to them in turn – Google loves inbound and outbound links.

It is important to remember that Google is in control of this process, not you. Their software technicians are always tweaking the search algorithm so what may have worked last week for SEO, may not work this week.

Task 2: Track your site statistics

It is vital to measure and monitor the statistics for your website. By keeping an eye on visitor numbers, popular pages, bounce rates and functioning keywords, you will be able to adjust your site and its contents to achieve the results you want.

The best solution is to sign up for Google Analytics, integrate this with the Dashboard of your website and monitor your search results regularly. If your search ranking starts to decline or you are having a high bounce rate, the statistics will tell you that you need to take action.

https://analytics.google.com/analytics/web/

Task 3: Creating fresh content

Not only is fresh content on your website good for impressing site visitors and helping customers, it is also very good for the website itself. Google’s search ranking algorithm has a special fondness for sites with updated, relevant content, and promotes these sites higher on search results.

Once initially indexed by Google, the “Googlebot” re-visits your site every few weeks and checks the content it finds against the content from its last visit. If it finds the same old information every time, you may be penalised in search results and potentially end up lower than your competitors.

A new article in your blog every couple of weeks, a client gallery or testimonials from your customers are very easy to add and can make Google happier with your website.

Task 4: Implement site security

Benjamin Franklin wisely once said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. This has never been so true than with a website. There are several vital security components that need to be enacted on your site to discourage Spammers and Hackers from breaching your emails, forms and online files.

# 1 – Get a Security Certificate for your site.

A security (SSL) certificate creates a secure link between a website and a visitor’s browser by confirming the site’s legitimacy and encrypting data between the two parties. This extra certificate is shown in your browser as the https:// prefix at the beginning of a domain name and a padlock in the address bar.

# 2 – Enforce SPAM Controls

Make sure that your online forms are all guarded by Google’s new ReCaptcha protocol – it is now invisible (no more typing in codes) but very effective. Your web server also needs has effective SPAM filters at its core level and most server providers include this in their storage packages.

#3 – Update your plugins regularly

Hackers continually look for ways into vulnerable servers and will use any weakness to break their way into your site. An out of date plugin (or WordPress version) on your site could be the weak link that they are looking for.

#4 – Use the latest version of PHP on your server

PHP is a programming language used in the development of many modern websites. It is vitally important for security reasons to keep the PHP version up to date (usually via your web server’s Control Panel).

#5 – Install WordFence on your WordPress site

Wordfence provides a range of features and options for site owners that help protect their sites from hacking. On top of this, Wordfence provides monitoring of the other components in a site and notifies, via email, when action needs to be taken.

None of the tasks above are “set and forget” – site owners need to adjust SEO triggers, regularly check statistics, add content and enforce security measures to make sure that their sites are fully functional and performing their purposes. Nothing above needs to be overly time consuming but, in the rush of a busy workplace, small tasks can be easily forgotten.

The best way to stay on top of these tasks is to schedule them into your working week, just like any other task. By doing so, you will give your site the best chance of success.

Tropical Coast Web Design