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Category Archives: Website

create a website-that converts

Creating a website that converts visitors into customers may often times feel like a complex puzzle. What worked 20, 10, or even five years ago may no longer work today. So what’s the secret to transforming your website into a modern marketing tool that converts visitors into customers? Here are five ideas that are sure to help.

Make it mobile-friendly

These days, more and more of us are surfing the web on the go – via smartphones, tablets and laptops. And if you want a piece of this traffic, you need to make your design responsive to all mobile devices.

To give your visitors an enjoyable mobile experience, make sure your design adjusts to fit the screen of any device. Additionally, all elements of your website – pages, resources, actions, and so on – should be easily accessible. If they’re not, visitors will quickly become frustrated and click away to a competitor. And really, who can blame them? You’d probably do the same.

Make it easy for customers to contact you

That means displaying your phone number in the upper-right corner of every page, and providing a simple, easy-to-find contact form. While some people prefer not to list an email address for fear it will be picked off by spam robots, it can serve as another contact option for those who hate web forms. Whatever you choose, the two main ideas are options and ease. Give your visitors a choice, make it easy, and they will come.

Keep it simple

Have you started to notice a theme here? If you haven’t, it can be summed up in one word: easy. In today’s fast-paced world, people are busy. They don’t have time to navigate a complicated website, dig through dozens of pages to find a contact number, or try and figure out what it is that you’re selling because your mobile site doesn’t display content properly.

So when it comes to design, simplicity just makes sense. To produce the content of a simple website, every page, word, and image you create must have a singular purpose: to get visitors to contact you. Don’t waste time distracting them with excessive information, stupid games, or flashy animations. Instead, have a nice clean layout so they can understand what you’re offering quickly and can contact you with a click.

Include personal photos whenever possible

Say you have to choose between services offered by two different websites. They both sell the exact same thing, and the sites look virtually the same. The key difference is that one uses real photos of the owner and his or her staff, while the other uses generic stock images of business people. Assuming images from both sites are of the same quality, which one are you more likely to choose? Undoubtedly, you chose the real people.

So next time you have to choose between stock images and shooting real photos of you and your staff, invest some time and money in quality pictures taken at a studio – it’ll be worth every penny.

Move social media icons to the bottom of the page

Everyone loves throwing social media icons on their websites, and it’s not a bad idea to show your credibility. However, if you put these at the top of the page, your visitor is more likely to click on them immediately. Sounds cool, right? Wrong. When this happens, you just created an exit for them to leave your site and never return – we all know how easy it is to get distracted on social media. Instead, place your social media icons at the bottom of the page in the footer. Remember the goal of your website is to convert. If your visitor leaves before they get a chance to explore your services, content and offering, you’ve lost them before you ever even had them.

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This entry was posted in Cloud – Web Trends, General Articles C and tagged Convert, easy, mobile device,  simplicity, Social Media, Website. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

Find your website ’s most important pages

164-A_Biz-IntelFind your website ’s most important pages

For businesses that want to track how much traffic their website is receiving, a Google Analytics account is a no-brainer. However, while it’s easy to use this powerful application to measure traffic, how do you know if those visitors are engaged with your website content or just bouncing the second they hit your homepage? Engagement is as important as traffic – follow the four steps below to learn how to track this metric.

How do you measure engagement?

Just because a page receives a large amount of traffic, doesn’t mean it has quality content on it that visitors value. Half of the visitors to your most trafficked blog post or service page can easily bounce within seconds. So to figure out which pages your customers like, you need to measure engagement. And the easiest way to do that is by looking at the amount of time a visitor spends on a page.

Generally speaking, if a visitor is on a page for five minutes or more, they’re likely reading, watching or listening to some form of content you posted. Of course there’s the off chance that maybe he or she took an extended bathroom break after landing on your page or forgot to close it and continued surfing the web in another window. But if a consistent number of visitors are spending several minutes on a given page, you can feel confident that most of them are engaging with the content.

Why does engagement matter?

Simple. The more your visitors engage with your content, the more likely they’ll visit your website again or – even better – become a loyal customer.

You can measure engagement by following these four steps in Google Analytics:

1. Track engagement over a long period of time

We’re not just talking a month or two, but more like years. This will show you which pages are performing best in the long run. To do this, open Google Analytics. Then in the top right corner of the screen, input your date range and then click Apply.

2. Measure all pages

You need to look at time spent on all your pages to see what’s performing best. In the navigation bar to the left of your screen, click on the following in the order below:

  1. Behavior
  2. Site Content
  3. All Pages

3. Compare the average time visitors spend on a page

Under the main graph that displays visitor numbers to your site, you’ll see a search box with the word “advanced” next to it. To the right of that, you’ll see five buttons. Click on the second button from the right – the Comparison button. To be sure you’re clicking on the correct one, hover your mouse over it and the word “comparison” will pop up.

Slightly below the comparison button and to the left, choose Average time on page as your secondary metric.

4. Mind the Green bars

After you’ve followed the above steps, green bars will appear to the right of some of the pages displayed. The higher the bar, the greater amount of time a visitor is spending on a page.

With this data at your disposal, now you can understand what content your customers find valuable – and then focus on creating more of it.

Want to know more about how to gain valuable insights from your business data? Give us a call today.

This entry was posted in Business Intelligence, General Articles and tagged customer, Engagement, Google Analytics, metric,page, website traffic. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

20 Common Web design terms

BusinessValue_Apr07_CPretty much every profession has its own language or set of terms that those working in that field quickly master and use on an everyday level with colleagues. However, this can pose problems for those people not involved directly with a specific industry. For example, it can be a challenge for business owners to effectively communicate with Web designers and developers. To make things easier, it can be useful to know some of the more common Web design terms.

Here are 20 of the most used Web design terms that could help you communicate effectively with designers and developers about what you want from your website:

  • Alignment – The position of the various elements on your page. Alignment can be focused on the borders of the page, or positioning of elements based on other elements – e.g., aligning all images to the left side of the page, and making sure the text is aligned to the right of each image.
  • Banner – A form of advertising that is usually at the top of a page and goes from one side to the other. On many sites, the banner also contains links that can be clicked through to reach other pages.
  • Below the fold – The point on the page where viewers will begin to scroll after the page has loaded. Generally you put the most important information above the fold (what the visitor sees first) and supplement information below it.
  • Color wheel – A circle of colors that allows designers to easily pick out primary, secondary, and tertiary colors, as well as complimentary and contrasting colors – e.g., on most wheels red is opposite green because they complement one another.
  • CSS – Cascading Style Sheets allows designers to dictate the look and feel of a page. These are usually codes that dictate the font, color, and layout of a Web page.
  • DPI – Dots Per Inch is the resolution of an image or monitor. The higher the DPI, the higher the resolution or quality of the image.
  • Entry and Exit pages – This indicates where a viewer enters your page from an external source, and where a viewer will usually exit your site from. The vast majority of entry pages are the homepage, so these should be designed to capture and maintain interest. Exit pages can be the homepage, or perhaps a signup form.
  • GIF – Pronounced Jif, is an image format that is best suited for small images with few colors. These can also be animated.
  • Header – This is the absolute top of any page.
  • HTML – Hyper Text Markup Language, is the main language used to write webpages. For example, the bullet points in this article would be written as < ol><li>HTML – Hyper Text …</li></ol>. Browsers read this code and translate the directions given.
  • JPEG – An image format best suited to pictures and images with a large number of colors. The vast majority of images on the Internet and websites are uploaded in the JPEG format.
  • Lorem Ipsum – Placeholder text is used by developers when creating mockups of pages or layout so they can see how the text will look when the page is finished. This can be any form of text and is usually nonsensical, like ‘Lorem Ipsum Dolor’.
  • Orphan – A word or short sentence that appears by itself, below the text on a page. Generally these should be avoided, and can be easily ‘adopted’ by adjusting spacing between letters and words, or editing content.
  • Parent/Child elements – With HTML and other Web languages there is a relationship between elements (parts of code). Parents dictate elements that will be inherited by other codes (children) that are within the main parent group. For example, if you assign a headline a certain style this style becomes the parent. Any other elements like a bolded word within the headline will be a child. The child will take the same style as the headline and have the added bold format as well.
  • Pixel – The smallest element of any image and your monitor. It is essentially one dot of color. The resolution of images and monitors (how clear the image is) is often displayed in pixels. The higher the number of pixels, the higher the resolution and quality.
  • PNG – An image format that is most commonly used for images that have large amounts of uniform color or transparent backgrounds.
  • Script – A small bit of code that enables browsers to do more than just displaying text. If you’ve ever watched a video while on a website or downloaded something directly from a page, you have interacted with a script.
  • Watermark – A mark of ownership which is usually applied to the background of images or content. This is used to highlight ownership and deter theft of visual content. If you plan to post images on your site that you create, you might want to consider adding a watermark as protection.
  • White space – Space that surrounds text, images or other parts of the page. It is generally believed that the more white space there is, the easier it is to read content and draw attention to important aspects of a page.
  • Wireframe – A visual representation of a website’s layout with directions for visuals, location of content, and style for each page. This is usually constructed before the site is built and is more or less a road map for developers.

Of course, these are just a few of the terms designers and developers use on a regular basis. If you want to understand how to get the best out of your website and technology then we’re here to help.

6 website design mistakes

BusinessValue_Mar31_CA business website is arguably the most important marketing and branding tool today. It is often the first level of interaction customers have with your company and many visitors will decide whether to work with you based solely on how your website is designed. Therefore, you need a website that is designed to engage and meet your visitors’ needs. One of the best ways to achieve this is to learn about common mistakes other businesses have made when designing their websites to avoid making the same errors.

The business value of a business website is that it creates a solid online presence and boosts your brand image and market reach. Even if your business is not Internet based, a website can be used to create a certain impression and ultimately contribute to your bottom line. The key is to make sure you create the best impression. Here are six of the most common mistakes businesses make with website design:

Mistake 1: Building for the sake of building

Websites are important and some businesses believe that they should have a website, so they go ahead and simply build one. You should first take steps to define your target market – who is it that you want and expect to visit your website.

Once you have a defined target market you can then take time to build your site for your market. For example, if the majority of your target market uses mobile devices to browse the Web you should take steps to design your site so that it is viewable on mobile devices.

You should also determine what you want visitors to do on your site. Some companies want them to click through to another site, while others want them to sign up. By defining how you want your visitors to interact you can then develop your content and design around this.

Mistake 2: Designing a website that is too busy

It can be tempting to put all of your information on one page or even have a ton of images and videos. The truth is, this can be distracting largely because once someone lands on your page, they won’t know how to get around, find the information they want, or even to know what they should do next.

Busy or flashy websites with lots of animations or large amounts of text also usually don’t scale all that well. So, when someone looks at your site on a mobile device they will likely find it too hard to navigate and leave, which is counter to what you are trying to achieve.

Instead, aim for a website that is simple and clean. Important information should be quick to find and read and it should be clear who you are, what you have to say, and what you want the visitor to do.

Mistake 3: Lacking call to actions

Most business related websites have a goal as to what they want visitors to do. Maybe it’s download an app, call the company, or even sign make a purchase online. It is essential that you lead visitors toward what you want them to do in the most clear and concise way. The best way to do this is through a call to action. These are usually buttons at the bottom of sections or pages that motivate the user to click and follow the instructions on what to do next, be that sign up to something or get in touch.

The best calls to action stand out from the content, drawing the reader’s eye and hopefully inspiring them to click. They should also be clearly written, simple, and direct. e.g., ‘Call us today!’ or ‘Download now!’

Mistake 4: Misguided content

It may seem worthwhile to write in-depth content about your products or services but this isn’t always the case. People skim read the basics on the Web and it’s different than other mediums.

What you should do is condense down your content so that it only states the most important information. Tell the reader what your product or service does and provide a few of the most important benefits. What you are looking to do is develop enough interest so that visitors to your site will click on the call to action and connect with you.

If you have the time and profits, creating a more visual site where you showcase the products or show how you can help in a short video may lead to higher engagement and possibly higher customer conversions. Take a look at the popular software and service sites like Dropbox, Microsoft, and Google. The content is highly visible and simple, yet provides just enough information so the user knows what the service is and what they are expected to do.

Mistake 5: Static content

It can be tempting to invest the time to write a great website, get the content online then just leave it sitting there. The Internet changes and what might have been regarded as great website design and content a couple of years ago may not be seen in the same light today.

It is advisable to periodically update your site’s design and content to reflect current trends; making it more modern. Another related aspect of your content is that you need to ensure that your content is up-to-date. If you are hosting a contest and put the information on your site, you should make sure to take it off of your site, or update it when the date passes. It looks a little unprofessional to have content that is still talking about 2012 or even 2013.

Mistake 6: Doing it yourself

The vast majority of small business owners and managers don’t have in-depth Web design skills, yet are determined to build their company’s website themselves. This can lead to unexpected problems or a website that doesn’t meet your needs. We strongly recommend that you work with a qualified designer who can help ensure that your website is designed and built to high standards.

7 questions to ask your webmaster

Web_Mar24_BThere are a wide number of expectations customers have of many companies, but one of the most important is whether the company has an online presence or not. In fact, many customers now base their decision to go with a company almost exclusively on whether they can find information about it on the Internet. Because of this, it’s important that you have an online presence. The only problem is that many business owners don’t have the time or capabilities to manage a website, instead turning to a webmaster.

What is a webmaster?

A webmaster is a person or company responsible for maintaining a website. In many small businesses, the webmaster will also be responsible for pretty much everything to do with the Web for that specific company. This might include ensuring content is written and uploaded, that the website is created and maintained properly, and even looking after SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Webmasters for small businesses are usually in charge of a company’s entire online brand.

Because many small businesses operate on thin budgets, they often can’t afford a full-time webmaster, opting instead to work with a company or consultant who may be looking after other websites as well.

There are a wide variety of companies out there that offer webmaster services specifically aimed at small businesses and if you are looking to pump up, or even establish your Web presence, you will likely turn to these companies for help. The question is, how do you pick the best for your business?

To help answer that question, here are seven questions you should ask any prospective webmaster.

1. Can I see your portfolio?

By asking for a portfolio of the webmaster’s previous work you can quickly gain a good grasp of how technically competent that particular person or company is. The best webmasters should be able to readily share an in-depth portfolio that covers all manner of websites and technical skills.

It can also help to ask the webmaster for a list of their previous clients. If the webmaster is good, they will be more than happy to share a list of clients they have worked with in the past. If you contact these clients they can provide some extra feedback on the work they do.

More importantly, they will provide information on how the webmaster works. This is important as many webmasters don’t work the usual 9-5 hours and may even be in a different timezone which you should be aware of.

2. What technology and platforms will you use to build and maintain my website?

There are so many different tools that you can use to build websites. From simple drag-and-drop tools to custom-made platforms that require months to code and build. Other platforms are easy to use while some require in-depth knowledge of advanced Web technology. Therefore, it is always a good idea to ask the webmaster what platform they will use to build and maintain your website.

The webmaster should first ask what you want to do with your website, and give you options based off of what you want. They should also be able to explain what the platform is and how it is used, and even give you any available options.

In general, the webmaster should suggest a platform that offers modern tools and can be maintained easily, while still meeting your needs. They should also be able to explain in general terms how it works, and how they will update it.

3. What special features can you build into my website?

Before contacting a webmaster you should first consider what you want on your website. You are going to need to go beyond static pages with information and a few pictures – these simply do not work anymore. Maybe you want integrated videos, a shopping cart where customers can buy products directly from your website, a forum, blog or even rotating banners.

Ask if the webmaster can build and maintain these features. More importantly you should ask whether they have done what you need, have experience with the features, and how long they think it will take to integrate them.

4. Who will create the content?

This is an important aspect to know because some webmasters don’t produce written content; leaving it up to the company to develop their own content. Others work with content specialists who create customized content.

You will want a webmaster who can integrate content that you create and possibly someone who offers the services of a content creator.

5. How secure will my site be?

An increasingly important question for many small businesses is about security, largely because small business websites have been increasingly come under attack by hackers. It becomes even more important when you have online stores, forms, or even portals where client information is exchanged.

A webmaster should be able to offer solutions that help keep your site and the information on it secure. Be sure to ask questions like how often they backup your site, where the backups are kept, and how they will keep your site secure from common security threats.

6. Who owns the site?

This is important, especially if you are working with a webmaster who is not an employee of your company. While it may seem like you own the site because you paid for it and are paying someone to run it, you should ensure that you actually do own it. The best thing to do is to ask the webmaster to verify who owns the site and the copyrights related to it.

If they are unsure, ask them to sign a copyright agreement to ensure that you retain ownership over your content and site.

7. How much will it cost and how long will it take?

Finally, this is probably the most important question you should ask. Some webmasters offer their services on an hourly basis, others on a weekly fee, and some on contract, etc. You should have a clear picture of how much you will be charged, and what services are included. This is important because many webmasters actually offer extended services that cost extra.

Beyond that, you should also ask how long the webmaster will take to build the site and how long they need to implement updates, changes, etc. This will help set your expectations so you know roughly how much time to give the webmaster to get their work done.

If you are looking to improve your website, or even establish a strong Web presence, contact us today to see how we can help.