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What does your website really say about you?

What does your website really say about you?

Does your website say more than you actually realise about your company?

Do you always judge a company by its website?

If branding represents a company and its culture, is the neglect of the website and marketing, in general, a good representation of how the company is feeling and operating?

Is a good and constantly updated online presence an indicator of the profitability, confidence and health of a business?

 

These are all valid questions to which I’m not sure I have all the answers but I’d love to hear what you think!

In working my way through these musings and on my continued quest to find the question Google can’t answer, I’ve put together five business characteristics that I often come across.  If there’s a faint inkling that one of these scenarios below may represent your company behind the scenes, then only you will know – but consider this, are you subconsciously sending out the wrong message to your current or potential customers? If you do recognise yourself how are you going to resolve the perceived issues?

The excuse of no time or budget is just that, an excuse.  Is now the moment to have a really good look at your digital budget and re-evaluate what you consider important? What extraneous things are you spending your time and money on and what are you inadvertently saying online that could negatively impact your business? 

Start Up Business

You asked a friend, or mate of a friend, to set up your website because they were cheap.  However, the attention to detail isn’t there – perhaps there are different colours in odd areas or strange-sized fonts and there’s no cohesion. The photos aren’t optimised (which makes the site slow) or they’re not uniform in look or shape (some in colour, some in black and white).

What else could you be saying with a site like this?  We’re a start-up that assigned the overseeing of the website to someone whose skills lie elsewhere.  The “designer” just added the content provided and as the person in charge of this wasn’t experienced in marketing it just ended up as a “death by PowerPoint” experience but on the website.  Even worse, everyone involved in the start-up then decided to get involved and with all their differing opinions it’s become a website designed by committee consensus which is never good.   You may not see this from within the business but it is there in the overall impression it gives to those outside the business.

The "No Budget" Business

Are funds so low in the company that you can’t afford to update your site? Is it starting to look like a dusty old shopfront and you just can’t understand why it’s not working as well for you now?  What is this really saying about the state of your business?

Management Mindset

Those in charge can’t see the value in digital and therefore don’t see it as a priority.  The website is starting to look old-fashioned which isn’t a great look. They think that once the site is up and running, then that’s a job to be ticked off the list and forgotten.  They assigned the social media marketing to the junior intern (because naturally, they’re a digital native) rather than an experienced Social Media Manager and then when they don’t get great results, they say social media isn’t working and it’s overrated (exasperating!).

We don't need help, we're just enthusiastic

This site is filled with lots of stock photos (more often than not having nothing to do with their target market),  crazy graphics just because, the navigation is all over the place, the information you’re looking for is difficult to find and there are no calls to action.  They haven’t given much thought to their target market but they’re here and they have boundless energy and enthusiasm so they’ll just give it an optimistic go!

It's all about me

Your website should show potential customers how you can help them and solve their problems but many websites just scream – look at what we do, look at what we do.  If a visitor to the site can be bothered to dig through how marvellous you are they may find the answers to their questions or they may just move on to a site that resonates more with them.

Can you predict how successful a business really is by their website?

So how can you fix any of the above?  Firstly, take a deep breath and put a chunk of time aside in your diary to have a really honest look at your site from your customers’ point of view – what’s the experience like for them as they move through your site?  Can they find what they’re looking for – do you know what they’re looking for?  It’s difficult when you live within the nuts and bolts of your business but give yourself the space to change your perspective and have a good honest look at what potential customers are seeing. When was the last time you looked at your Google Analytics to see how visitors are using your site?  Should you be having a regular catch-up with your website designer and see what ideas they have?

Then evaluate how much time and money you are actually spending on your digital presence and ask yourself how much you actually value it?  Could your website be doing more to drive more business? Do you now need to start building an email list?  Do you need to really get your social media up and running and how do you go about this?  Have you asked your staff what they think about your website and social media?

There’s always lots to think about but one of the things I have learned about websites over the years is that technology and styles move on and what worked and looked great in say, 2012, doesn’t now!  Keep moving onwards …

 

What digital questions would you like to ask?

If you’d like to dicuss anything further, then why not get in touch and we can have a chat.

Why do some businesses not update their websites regularly?

Why do some businesses not update their websites regularly?

Many businesses have been up and running for a while now but one question that often crosses my mind is “Why don’t businesses update their websites regularly?  Why does their website feel ignored and forgotten?”  I am frequently reminded of this when faced with old, outdated sites that are filled with out-of-date content and broken links or are not mobile-friendly.

So putting pen to paper, I wrote a long list of reasons why I considered people may hate updating their sites (and by default neglecting the rest of their online presence).  I have gathered together what I hope are some interesting thoughts to give you a bit of a nudge in the right (or even different) direction if you know you are procrastinating on this very subject.

All businesses are having to make changes at the moment so this is absolutely the right time for you to have a look at your online presence and see what it says about your company.  This is also a perfect opportunity to review your general digital admin and ensure that all essential information is kept in one place.

Why do businesses not regularly update their websites? What are the Solutions?

Problem: No one in the business looks after the website – no one is interested, it’s not one person’s responsibility, it’s an addon to a job description, not integral.  No one has the inclination or technical know-how to update it. Out of sight, out of mind?

Solution: Is it time to nominate someone and make it their responsibility?  If you are a small business and, by default, this person is you, why not block out a regular period in their diary to review everything?

Problem: In a small business you are trying to do it all and the website updates get pushed to the bottom of the pile.  If you ignore it, you hope that it might go away.

Solution: Could this be outsourced or could you co-ordinate regularly with your designer?

Problem: Businesses don’t think of a website as an ongoing cost.  They think that once they’ve paid to create it, that’s it. They have not allowed an expense contingency in their budgeting to update the site regularly and they find it difficult to reconcile the value of doing this. They can’t see the harm an outdated site is doing to their business and how it makes them look.

Solution: Time to add a website update and maintenance to your company’s budgeting?

Problem: Not seeing the value in updating their website.  All that a business sees is an invoice, not the fact that their website content is current and reflects their business.  As they don’t regularly update their site, they don’t see the value of a good website and then don’t see the damage of a bad website.

Solution: Time to change their mindset and also spend some time studying Google Analytics?

Problem: Not looking at the longer-term picture. Why not? Because updating your website costs money and it’s easy to take the short-term gains and kick the website updates down the road even if this will affect business later on.  Time to rethink priorities?

Solution: Are you as a business focussing on short-term income rather than long-term investment?

Website Check List - Is your Information Up to Date?

To start your review, I’d first of all check the following:

Domain Name – who owns your domain name and where is it registered?  What are the login details and password? When is it renewed and how is it paid for?

Hosting Company – this is where your website is hosted (on their servers). What are the login details and who has access to this?

SSL – Does your website have an SSL certificate?  If you haven’t looked at your site for a while, it may be that you haven’t added one.  You can tell if you do have one by looking at your domain name in your browser and if there’s a locked padlock icon next to it, you do.  If you don’t it says “not secure”.  This is very prominent when someone is looking at your website on a mobile – probably not the message you want to send!

User-Experience – take some time to have a look at your website through the eyes of a new customer.  Can you find easily what you’re looking for and can you find the answers to those frequently asked questions?  Is your site too wordy, are there too many boring stock photos that haven’t been optimised ie, they are slowing the site down?

Up to Date – Is your site mobile-friendly as well?  Is the content up to date or is it starting to look like a forgotten, dusty old showroom?

A New Way of Working with your Website Designer?

Problem: When they designed the original site the Designer didn’t try to understand the business and this made it a painful process.  The resultant website didn’t then reflect the business and wasn’t fit for purpose.  The business is reluctant to spend further money and repeat this process.

Solution: It’s going to take a leap of faith to try again but before you engage a new designer, try and really get to know them – do they “get” your business, where you’re going and what you’re trying to achieve?  Are you on the same wavelength? Do they listen to you patiently and explain without jargon?

Problem: In website design, there can sometimes be too much jargon, it’s not easy to understand and can sometimes be difficult to make updates to the website which is why this is ignored.

Solution: Could you ask your designer for a couple of hours of tuition or some short Loom videos to explain how things work?

Problem: Sometimes designers finish the project and then “disappear”. 

Solution: You never know if this is going to happen but good practice is to get all the login and relevant information at the end of the project.

Problem:  As a designer is often freelance, they are often not viewed as integral to or part of the business.  Once the site has been designed and signed off, that is the end of the relationship. Why’s this and how can this be resolved in the future?  Has the time come to review how you work with your web designer? 

Solution: Would you have a better online presence if your web designer had more of a collaborative presence within your business?  How about both of you keeping in touch, regularly meeting (by Zoom at the moment) to update them on what’s happening?  You can discuss together how this can be reflected online and they can, for example, show you insights into how visitors are using your site which may differ from how you think people are viewing it!

Online & Digital Platforms - What Should You Know?

Whilst we are on the subject of updating your website, I though it would be a good idea to expand to your other digital platforms – it’s definitely worth doing an admin audit of them too!

Logins – Now is a good time to audit who has login access to your social media accounts, Facebook Business Manager and Google Ads Account.  How many ex-employees are still on that list or more alarmingly do you only have one person able to login to your various social media platforms and digital advertising? What would happen if you were logged out and do you have accessible recovery emails on your accounts?

Online Platforms – which social media platforms are you on?  Do you need to be on all of them or should you concentrate on the one where the majority of your customers are (and manage that one really well) and deactivate the others?

Google My Business – is this up to date.  Are your opening times correct?  Who has access to this? How often do they check it’s accurate and do they reply to reviews that you receive?

Biographies and Company Information –  are these current on your social media platforms?

Opening Times – are these correct on your social media and Google My Business?

And Finally ... A Photographic Review - Have an honest look!

Images – why not have a review of the images you’re posted and those on your website.  Are they in focus, straight and cropped nicely? Are they all the same size and shape?

Social Media Feeds – still photograph related …  are images or graphics being repeated on your grid or feed. Are they the correct size/ratio? What does your Instagram grid look like?  Try and aim to post something different each time otherwise it can quickly look spammy and messy.

Graphics – if you have some time, why not try out something like Canva.  They offer a basic free version so you can have a go making something more interesting for your social media feeds.

Linkedin – how’s your header image looking like on your LinkedIn profile.  If you’re still using the generic one and don’t know how to add a new header, then drop me a line and I can create something simple for you to add to your page!

Phone Camera – now’s the time to really try out the phone on your camera and see just how creative you can be.  Trying editing, cropping and filtering your photos and see how you can grow your portfolio.  Go and take photos and enjoy what you usually rush by!

Why do some businesses ignore their outdated websites?

Is there anything digital you'd like to ask about?

If you’d like to dicuss anything further, then why not get in touch and we can have a chat.

Glossary of Terms – Cutting Through the Jargon

Glossary of Terms – Cutting Through the Jargon

If you come across people who like to speak in acronyms or jargon, then you probably won’t find that very helpful when you are just starting out or establishing the digital side of your business.
In this month’s Take Five, we’re having a look at a few small but select digital terms that you may well come across when setting up your business and we hope that you won’t now have to ask what someone’s on about!

Websites

Domain Name – this is the address where visitors can access your website eg www.designandbesocial.com. 

Hosting Company – this is where your website lives (on their servers).

SSL -this should be added to your website when it goes live (a padlock will appear next to your domain name).  If it’s not there,  you then see “not secure” next to a domain name in a browser. SSL is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server (at the hosting company) and someone’s browser (eg Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Internet Explorer).

HTML & CSS – HTML is code that a basic website is written in and CCS stands for Cascading Style Sheet which means that if you alter the styling of something in CSS ie colour for your links – it changes everything throughout the site.

UX – User-Experience – so important and sometimes overlooked in preference for an over-designed look and flashy widgets.  A good UX means a site is designed with your customer in mind and ensures they can easily find what they are looking for (important!).

Social Media Marketing

Hashtags (#) – a # is a way of connecting your social media posts to other social media posts on the same subject eg an event or location.  You can also search for a specific hashtag which is relevant to your business by using a # search. This is more useful on Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn rather than Facebook.

@ Tagging –  tagging someone in a social media post or photo notifies that person (or page) that they have been mentioned or included in your update or photo.  It can help them/you join in with the social conversion or alert them/you to something interesting that they/you might like to share.  On your Facebook Busines Page, if you don’t have an @name underneath your Company Name, you can’t be tagged.

Bio – short summary of your business on your Facebook or Instagram page with important information and relevant links. Important – not to be neglected.

Scheduling – by planning and scheduling your posts using something like Buffer or Planoly you can save yourself the panic and rush of trying to post on the go.

KPIs – these are used to measure the success of Social Media and Advertising campaigns. Your KPIs can be any type of analytic you choose eg, engagement,  follower number growth, click-through rate or bounce rate.  This should be agreed on at the beginning of a campaign but regularly reviewed.

Facebook Advertising

Boosting a Post – boosted Facebook posts are less complex than Facebook Ads.  However, a boosted post is simply a regular Facebook post that you put money behind to reach a wider audience. An Ad offers more advanced solutions.

CTR and CPC – Click Through Rate and Cost Per Click – two metrics you should consider when looking at the data for your Facebook Ads.  The CTR (expressed as %) is the number of clicks on your advert divided by the number of impressions (the times it is seen).  The CPC is the price you pay for each click on your Facebook ad. 

Business Manager – this is where all your adverts should be run from.  You should set up your own Business Manager and then let others have access to your BM (not the other way round).  It also means you retain your own data and control of your page, audiences and previous ads, etc.

Audiences – these are created in your Facebook Business Manager and can be interest-based, location-based, visitors to your website, lookalikes of your audiences – the list goes on … This is who you show your ads to.

Facebook Pixel – this piece of code, created in your Business Manager, needs to be added to your website so that you can track and target visitors to your site.  If you’re running ads without a pixel (and there are even a couple of very large corporations who do this!) then you’re just wasting your money as you can’t utilise any data to create an ongoing strategy.

Images

Pixel Size – the actual size of your image.  An original image may be up to 6000 px in width but if it is being used on a website the image should be reduced considerably so as not to cause slow-loading of your site.

Pixellating – this is what happens to an image that is, say 200 px wide, and is increased to 500 px in width. The image becomes blurry.  If this happens you need to find the original image file and resize it correctly.

Cropping – this means removing unwanted areas from an image. This basic process is carried out in order to remove unwanted detail from a photo or to improve the overall composition.

Saturate – this means to increase the intensity of colour in a photograph.

Filters – by using specific software or an app, you can change the appearance of an image by altering its shade and colour.  Filters can be used to increase brightness and contrast as well as adding a  wide variety of tones, textures or special effects.

Digital Acronyms

B2B or B2C – Business to Business or Business to Customer – used in an advertising context.

CTA – This button used to grab your customers’ attention – to make them click, purchase or provide their email address. A CTA can be used on your website, in your email campaigns or in your social media advertisements.  It should be obvious.

ATC – Add to Cart – on an eCommerce store.

PPC – Pay Per Click – in relation to advertising.

ROAS – Return on Ad Spend – a metric used to show how effectively your money is being spent on digital advertising.

What do you actually mean?

Is there anything digital you'd like to talk about?

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Google Analytics – I’m confused. Where do I Start?

Google Analytics – I’m confused. Where do I Start?

Data – one of my favourite subjects (but not loved by all)!  I know many people shy away from data analysis but as I keep reiterating, there’s no point creating lots of amazing content and fantastic blogs if you don’t know if anyone is looking at them, what’s working, what’s not working and which are the popular pages on your site..
There is so much information in a Google Analytics account so I have picked five basic metrics to start which over time will provide an interesting overview of your website (and e-commerce business).  When you login to your account, the first thing to do is to decide the time period you’d like to cover and adjust that accordingly (top right hand side of the screen). If you are more confident in Google Analytics, then how about creating a customised dashboard to keep all the regular data streams that are important to you in one spot?  This can be shared with others so they are kept fully informed and up to date.  If you just want to keep it simple then choose the metrics that are important to your business and keep a simple spreadsheet regularly updated.

Desktop, Tablet or Mobile?

How are the majority of visitors to your website viewing it?  If many are looking via a mobile then what does your website look like on that platform?  Is it mobile-friendly and are the images optimised so they are not slowing the site speed by taking ages to download?  If you have an e-commerce business and the majority of your customers are trying to buy via mobile or tablet – what’s their user experience like?

Google Analytics Menu: Audience / Mobile / Overview

Landing & Popular Pages

Have a look to see where your visitors are arriving at your site.  Which products are they really interested in and which blogs are being read. Which are your most popular pages?  Equally, have a look to see what the bounce rate is for each page.  It may be the most viewed page but it may have the highest bounce rate.

Google Analytics Menu: Behaviour / Site Content / Landing Pages

Exit Pages

Whilst looking at the bounce rate, it’s also really worth seeing on which pages your visitors are leaving your site.  Why do you think this is?  Have they found what they were looking for, say contact details, or did they get bored of not finding what they wanted and disappeared off to another site?  Does your navigation menu need amending?  Have you lost sight of why people are visiting your site?

Google Analytics Menu: Behaviour / Site Content / Exit Pages

Where are your Visitors coming from?

Find out how visitors are discovering your business through the source/medium option on the menu. Then, if you scroll down a little bit further under Search Console you can then see which searches are sending visitors to your site.  Do these match your keywords? 

Google Analytics Menu: Aquisition / All Traffic / Source/Medium

Demographics

Where are the people from who are looking at your site?  If many of them live on the other side of the world and you are a very local business then something isn’t’ right. You can even see which city people looking at your site are from – fascinating!

If your business is in a particularly competitive field or you need to expand your brand awareness, then this might be the time to have a think about your SEO, trying Google or Facebook Ads and even updating your Google My Business page to try and stimulate your local, relevant customers.

Google Analytics Menu: Audience / Geo / Location

I’m not sure where to start with my Google Analytics account?

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WordPress Plugins – Essential Ones to Download

WordPress Plugins – Essential Ones to Download

A WordPress website enables you to grow your online presence from a small static site to an online shop or membership site with comparative ease. This is what makes it so popular – it is so versatile.
For those not familiar with WordPress you start off with the very basic version (usually provided by your hosting company) and then add “Plugins” to create functionality for your site.  Many plugins are free and these may be all you need to design your site.  Most will also have a paid option for additional features and these are often worth purchasing as they will add the extra oomph you need.  They also need regular updating so I would highly recommend some sort of website housekeeping reminder in your diary.

 

 

Divi Builder

As well as the Gutenberg WordPress builder, there are other website “builder” systems around such as Elementor and Beaver Builder but my favourite, go-to builder is Divi Builder by Elegant Themes (which is paid for).  Technically this is a theme rather than a plugin now (they’ve just had a major update) but it does provide hugely customisable themes and module settings, meaning your limit is only your imagination! I’ve also added a number of extras to my sites to improve the plugin functionality of some of the various modules ie, testimonials or icons – have a look at here to find out more about this.

Wordfence

Hackers, trolls, bots and many others for some reason seem to have nothing better to do than infiltrate other people’s websites to try and inflict damage to them (sometimes financially).  Whilst your hosting company should have decent security on their servers, you should also think about adding an additional plugin yourself to your own website.  Available in a free and Pro version Wordfence is my plugin of choice.

GDPR

Everyone’s favourite topic!  In order to comply with GDPR regulations, you DO need to ask visitors to your site whether they give you permission use their data if they continue to browse your site (even if it is anonymous) – this information includes data from cookies, the Facebook pixel if you have one and any other data gathering software.  There are a number of well-respected plugins that work really well, all of which can be found via your Dashboard. Check out the individual reviews to see what others have to say.

Yoast SEO

We all know how important SEO is for your site and whilst everyone is fighting for that number one spot on the first page of the search engines, this is your opportunity to increase your chances by using Yoast.  The Yoast plugin helps you fill in various bits and pieces which are important for SEO and ensures that you focus on what your customers may be searching for.  Another option is to also start paying for Google Ads but that’s for another blog!

Google Analytics

I do love data and having a website (or using social media) is so much than just creating an online presence and waiting for the business to roll in.  Yes, you should have a main Google Analytics account and dashboard (and regularly check to how your site is performing) but using a Google Analytics widget on your WordPress dashboard gives you a quick picture on your WordPress dashboard to show what’s happening and this may alert you to an important trend on your site.

Which WordPress plugins should I always consider using?

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