2019-09-12-website-coding-blog

‘WordPress Is Crap!’ And Here Is Why I Use It.

There has been a long-running, heated debate among website creators about whether WordPress is a crappy choice for websites. There are distinctly two sides to this argument: those that use WordPress (or any other Content Management System) and those that build custom websites.
 
The arguments are—from the custom side—that anyone who uses WordPress to create a site is a basement dweller who wants to charge thousands of dollars for a site that takes a few hours to build. I’m sad to say there are actually freelancers out there that do this, but just as in any business there will always be the bad apples that spoil it for the rest of us.
 

Custom website builders have a few reasons to hate WordPress:

They have to work harder to sell clients on custom websites.

A custom site costs significantly more to build so they have to work to justify those costs. I should point out I don’t disagree that they should charge for the value of the work involved; we all should. However, it depends on the client’s needs and budget as to whether a custom site is viable for their business.

They will argue that WordPress is hackable and your website will crash and burn and your hair will start on fire.

While this is true that WordPress is hackable, so is every other site despite what custom builders may claim. Nothing on the Internet is 100% safe, just ask NASA, Equifax, or Capital One. It all banks on whether you are working with an experienced professional who has the skills and knowledge to choose the right server to host your site, and that the plugins you use in your site are trustworthy and built by other experienced professionals. And most importantly, work with a website designer that understands how to keep your website as safe and secure as humanly possible.

I could go on; they have dozens of arguments. All of which can be addressed by someone who is as invested in WordPress as they are in their own programming language.

Here is why I use WordPress for my clients’ websites:

I don’t believe in locking my clients into a tool that will constantly cost them money moving forward.

WordPress is easy to use, and anyone in a business can be trained to use it. This means you don’t need to hire a website designer to make every little change to your site. Need to change your hours? You can do that yourself. 

You won’t be locked into having only one company that can work on your website.

Because WordPress is the most-used Content Management System on the Internet, there are millions of developers that can work with this system. If you are unhappy with my work*, you can easily hire another company to handle your website.

*I fully believe in the relationships I build with my clients. The last thing I want to do is trap you into working with me because your website can’t be transfered to anyone else.

I would rather spend my time helping you grow your business over custom coding every website.

I am not interested in spending day after day coding custom websites for my clients. Your website is only one tool in a collection of other tools your business needs to succeed. I have other services I provide that help your website—and your business—succeed.

I started my business as a website developer, so I understand the code.

One of the biggest complaints custom website developers have is that freelancers building sites on WordPress are just “copy-and-pasters”. They don’t know how to actually build a website, and therefore cannot understand how to ensure your site is optimized for load speeds, Search Engine Optimization, etc.

I am a coder at heart. I’ve coded websites from scratch since 1995 so I’ve been in the trenches. I’ve used WordPress since its inception in 2003, and I’ve seen its endless iterations and evolution. I understand this product and how it benefits many businesses that don’t have $40,000 for a custom website.

Using WordPress, you can have a website crafted for your business within a budget you can afford.

This one is the most important piece for me. I, too, am a small business, and although I fully comprehend the benefits of a custom website, I wouldn’t be able to afford it. So rather than operating my business without a website, or worse using Facebook as my website, I choose to use a robust tool such as WordPress.

I relate to most of my clientele in this aspect, and that’s why I have built so many websites over the years using this platform.

2019-07-09-what-to-do-about-bad-reviews

What to do about Bad Reviews

Bad reviews can unfortunately be a sad reality of doing business today. Consumer expectations have become elevated due to social media and the immediate ability to share and collect information about customer experiences. Although you do a tremendous job of caring for your customers, sometimes a customer will feel their experience wasn’t what they expected. Inevitably, they will take their experience public.

Companies have a bad habit of blaming the customer in most instances, which only makes the situation worse. Consider that many consumers today take to searching online reviews about a company before they even decide to interact with you, and you’ll quickly realize the importance of managing your reputation online.

4 Important Reasons to Manage Your Online Reviews

  • As mentioned above, consumers are searching online reviews before engaging with a company. They’ll judge you by others’ experiences before giving you a chance.
  • Online reviews typically show up when users Google search your company. You want to ensure they properly represent your business.
  • You cannot delete online reviews–you have no choice but to handle them in some way. If you ignore them, you are stoking the potential fire.
  • Likely the most important reason of all: if you respond properly to a negative review, you will not only show that existing customer you care about their experience, but you will show the viewing public how you handle the situation if/when something does go wrong. This builds trust, and trust is imperative to your business’ success.

How to Respond to a Bad Review

  • Start by ensuring you are in a calm state when you type your response. You’ll need to keep all emotion out of it and only state facts.
  • Acknowledge their frustration. Most of the time customers just need to be heard. Don’t judge or shame them for their opinions.
  • Apologize where needed. Being sorry isn’t necessarily an admission of guilt; you can be sorry they didn’t enjoy their experience. That being said, if you are partially or fully to blame, you absolutely need to accept responsibility.
  • Never post personal information online, including details of their experience, unless it is imperative to correcting the issue. As an example, if a customer is upset that your business didn’t complete a task they expected, you can explain your process without using details of their personal situation.
  • Always attempt to diffuse the situation and take it offline. Don’t argue with the customer in your response. Simply offer to discuss further and include your phone number and/or email address. If the customer continues to post or edit their initial review, do not take it any further.
  • If possible or applicable, offer to make it right. Doing this in public is valuable to potential customers to show that you are ultimately interested in ensuring your customers have a good experience. (If you’re worried customers will see this and try to expect the same, it doesn’t actually happen that often.)

Example of a Proper Response

This response is crafted to be relatively neutral. If your situation permits including some details about the situation, by all means go ahead as long as it doesn’t include personal information or potentially offensive information.

Hello, [name]. Thank you for taking the time to post your feedback. I am sorry that your experience wasn’t as you expected. We would like to work with you to correct the issue and improve our process if needed.

I’d like to discuss this matter further with you. If you’re comfortable, please reach out to us at [phone number] or [email address]. We’d love to make this right.

When crafting your response, do your best to be as authentic as possible, catering each response to the review that was left for your business. If you go with a canned response, other potential customers will see this and quickly judge your company as inauthentic and uncaring.

Need help with your online reviews? Give us a shout, we’re happy to help.

2019-07-03-what-is-a-facebook-pixel

What Is a Facebook Pixel and Why Do I Need One?

A Facebook Pixel is a small snippet of code installed on a website, with the purpose to match website visitors with Facebook users. This allows businesses to utilize Facebook advertising to laser target specific audiences to promote its product or service.

So How Does This Work?

With the Facebook pixel installed on your website, you are able to rely on more than just basic demographic audiences for your Facebook advertising. The pixel allows you to build custom audiences that have visited a specific page on a site, added a product to an online cart, or took a specific action you want to track.

Why Would I Want to Do This?

Let’s say you are a dentist looking for new leads. You try out Facebook advertising and send an ad out to a basic demographic audience such as women in your city between the ages of 18-35. This is a pretty broad audience, and you have no idea if the people seeing your ad are in the market for a new dentist. However, you get some clicks to your website but no one contacts you.

Now let’s say you have a Facebook pixel, and you build an audience of people who have visited your website already. They already know who you are, which is a great start. They maybe just hadn’t seen any urgency yet to take action to book a consultation.

You now publish a Facebook ad that targets this new custom audience, and your ad contains a special offer for new patients–let’s say a free teeth whitening with a booked consultation. This ad contains a lead form to inquire about the special offer.

BOOM! You have given the right audience the right offer, and you are far more likely to obtain new leads this way.

Warming Up Leads Even Further

The above example is a simple retargeting tactic that addresses a warm audience, but it won’t appeal to everyone. Facebook advertising is robust, and offers a large variety of ad types, targeting options, and methods of communication.

Using a Facebook Pixel, you have the power to create a variety of custom audiences, essentially taking users on a journey to learn more about your business. This allows you to also get to know your audience better and learn what offers work for them and which ones don’t. Imagine being able to know your clients that well before they even buy from you.

Facebook offers a variety of ad types, as seen in the diagram below (taken from Facebook Ads Manager):

2019-07-03-facebook-advertising-types

In each type of ad, audiences are targeted in a different way. In all cases, Facebook’s powerful algorithm determines which users should be delivered the ad based on the objective you select. For example, in Brand Awareness, Facebook will match your ad to the users that are most likely to be interested in your business based on their past activity.

If you choose Reach, your ad will be fed to as many people as possible to maximize your reach.

Cost Effective Marketing Strategy

Facebook advertising is still very affordable, and is a very cost efficient manner to reach your audience. For businesses just starting out, setting aside a monthly Facebook ad budget is a valuable marketing investment and offers great ROI along with a sales strategy.

Video Ad Case Study

As an example, some of you may know I am a painter as well as a marketer. I recently ran a video ad using a $1 a day ad spend for my custom commissioned art. I targeted a specific audience of interior designers and new home builders (for show home art). 

My results over a one-month period are shown below:

2019-07-03-facebook-advertising-video-results

With a total amount spent of nearly $37 (for the whole month) I earned nearly 800 views. Since this was an awareness ad, I didn’t expect any direct sales from this ad.

My next step is to build a custom audience of all the people who have watched this video. I will then deliver an ad to that audience that could A) contain a special offer to solicit direct sales, or B) if I feel I want to warm up this audience even more before asking for a sale, I will offer a free eBook download on how to choose art for your home. If I choose B, I expect to obtain fresh leads from the download.

From these leads I generate, I can now build yet another custom audience on both Facebook as well as an email drip campaign to obtain sales inquiries.

Conclusion

As you can see, the idea is to warm people to your business, ultimately building a relationship in which they will invest in your product or service, and/or refer your business to others. This manner of advertising is both cost effective and a great addition to any existing marketing strategy your business may have in place.

Questions?

I’m happy to answer any questions about Facebook advertising at no charge. Give me a shout today!

2019-07-02-good-graphic-design-business

Why Good Graphic Design Is Important to Your Business

With so many tools available on the web today, it is easy to accept the idea that graphic design can be done by anyone. It is also understandable that not all businesses have the budget to hire a graphic designer, and in many cases take it upon themselves to craft their designs in-house. That being said, not hiring a professional designer for your work is like buying a Ferrari and putting just any old tires on it. In the end, it simply will not function as you expect. Good graphic design is imperative to your business’ success.

The art of graphic design is exactly that–an art. It involves psychology, a strong understanding of user experience, and creativity among many other factors. Good graphic design is more than just putting information on a page, it will drive action. Below are a few reasons why hiring a professional designer will create a better relationship between you and your audience.

Getting the Message Across

Have you ever seen a cluttered poster or advertisement that contained just way too much information? This is the equivalent of listening to multiple songs at the same time. There just isn’t any point because you won’t be able to decipher any of it.

Each design piece should offer a single message to its viewers to ensure the message is unmistakably clear. In addition to this, the use of proper hierarchy in organizing elements on the page leads the viewer to exactly the pieces of information that are most important. When information is organized and displayed in a clean, efficient manner, the viewer also knows exactly what is expected of him/her in order to take action.

In this cluttered website example, one has absolutely no idea where to even begin. And if you’ll notice, it takes quite a lot of effort to find out what this website is even about.

Good Design Creates Trust

If a business is truly conscious of its brand, it will expect every aspect of its exposure in the public will fall in line with that brand. Imagine if McDonald’s one day decided to start using Microsoft Word and Publisher to design all of its marketing and its billboards and television ads suddenly looked different. Would you eat there, or would you wonder if they were on a downward spiral? You may no longer trust their existing reputation as the largest fast food chain in the world.

Although this is an extreme example, the principle is the same for any business. Consumers expect their experience with a business to be consistent across all channels, from social media to website to in-person. If any of those elements are visually disconnected, it creates an element of mistrust.

A good example of this is when the GAP clothing store changed their logo a few years ago. It lasted only a few months before they were forced to retract the change due to major consumer upset. The old logo had created a significant element of trust with its consumers, and they felt connected to the brand. When GAP made the change, the new logo literally looked like someone had created it in Microsoft Word, and consumers were outraged that they no longer felt understood.

Image courtesy of https://www.canny-creative.com/10-rebranding-failures-how-much-they-cost/

It Tells a Story

The way consumers shop today has shifted, and storytelling is very important. Consumers want to know their investment in your product or service fits with their own goals, morals, and beliefs. Your designs need to create an emotional response, as these responses drive action.

In your design, your viewers are your characters, and you are guiding them through an experience with your business. In this Heinz ad, they tell a clear story about how their product is made and what you’ll expect when you use it.

Good Typography is Imperative

The unfortunate reality of DIY graphic design is the lack of understanding of proper typography. Too many times I see businesses choose fonts because they “look cool” without realizing that choice may not properly represent your business.

Additionally, the font chosen may belong to Microsoft products, making it nearly impossible to hire a graphic designer to use that font in any proper design software due to licensing restrictions.

Your business needs visual branding guidelines that are properly researched and analyzed to ensure all elements considered are appropriate to your business. Typography is the baseline of all good design. If your typography is done right, your brand has recognition even without other visual elements.

Here is a fantastic example of what I mean. You know what company represents this word simply by the font used. This is how important typography is to your visual brand:

If you guessed Disney, you were correct!

Conclusion

Graphic design is so much more than putting images and text together. If you want the best for your business, it is worth investing in a professional designer to ensure your marketing is an appropriate player within your brand.


Feature Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

2019-06-26-website-copy-generating-traffic

Is Your Website Copy Generating Traffic?

We no longer live in a website world where we can simply “build it and they will come.” Your site’s design and usability is, of course, extremely important to your user experience, ensuring your visitors can find the information they need quickly. However, your website copy has just as important a role in your website’s success.

The most important function of your website copy is to enrich your visitors’ knowledge. However, if it isn’t written with Search Engine Optimization in mind, you have to work that much harder for those same visitors to find your site in the first place.

We have some simple tips for your website to entice Google to rank your website higher.

Focus each page on ONE keyword/keyphrase.

Choose a keyword/keyphrase most related to your topic that your users are likely to search to find your information. For example, if you run a flower shop and you’re writing a page about roses, consider focusing on the keyphrase, “longest lasting roses.”

When you’re writing your content, ensure that exact phrase shows up no more and no less than three times, and one of those must be present within the first paragraph on the page.

 

Write a minimum of 300 words on each page.

Google likes when there is more content relevant to your preferred topic. They are more likely to rank pages in a Google search higher if it believes your page has more valuable information than others. Ensure your copy is well written in the voice best suited to educate your visitors.

 

Include links both inward and outward of your website.

It is important to ensure your website page contains links to other pages. This includes links to other pages within your own website, as well as links to outside websites. As an example, if your page on roses contains a reference to other long lasting flowers, link to those other pages either in your own site, or to blogs/web pages on another site.

You could also link to a contact page within your website if you have no other content to link to.

 

Content Analysis Tool

There are many other factors to setting your website page for search engine success. A super useful tool for testing your copy is SEO Review Tools content analysis page: https://www.seoreviewtools.com/content-analysis/

This tool is free to use, and you can use it to write your copy. You can set your focus keyword/keyphrase first and as you write, the tips at the bottom update what you need to change for best results.

 

These tips apply to blogs, too.

If you’re writing a blog, these tips should be carried over into each of your blogs as well. Check out a past blog about Search Engine Optimization tips for your blog as well.

 

If you’d like more tips or some one-on-one advice for your website, please feel free to contact me directly for a free consultation. I’d love to help!