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11 Things to Consider Before Building a New Website

Feeling like your website could use an update? Want to start fresh and build a new site from scratch? Building a new website is part of running a successful business, but before you begin here are some things to consider that will ensure your new website offers value and runs smoothly.

Building a New Website: Hire a Professional vs. DIY

With all of the self-driven website builders available today, many business owners ponder whether it’s necessary to hire a designer to craft a website. It’s entirely up to you, and we will be posting a comparison in a future blog to outline the differences. Either way, there are things you should consider before you start, even if you’re building your own website.

6 Key Questions to Address Prior to Building a New Website:

1. What is the purpose of my website?

It should be more than simply “to spread the word about my products and services online.” You need some idea as to why you actually want a website in the first place – especially before you spend money making it! Perhaps it’s to show your customers and prospects the experience of working with you. It should help your potential customers become customers, and your existing buyers become repeat business.

2. What do I hope that my prospects/customers will get from my website?

You know best what your customers need. How will your website provide for that need? Will you sell your product/service online, or be a go-to resource for solutions to their problems?

3. What can I include on my website that will make my customers’ lives easier?

When a customer comes to your website, what offers, features, and information can you provide that will make their lives (and purchasing from you) easier?

4. What calls-to-action can I use to encourage engagement with my leads/customers?

Just like in a physical store, many customers are looking to engage with you. A call-to-action is a way for you to add value for your prospects and existing customers. Maybe you can offer them an exclusive deal, a premium download of relevant information, or the opportunity to sign up for more information by email.

5. Can I use existing customer testimonials on my website?

Prospects are interested to know about other customers’ experiences with you and your products. As buyers, we can be put at ease (or totally put off) just by knowing that your product or service is going to be what we expect. The best way to show future customers that you are worth investing in is by showing off your happy customers!

6. Where can I get images from? Do I have my own image library to use, or will I need stock images?

In the online world, images are just as important as text! Before you build your website, you need to consider the type of images you’ll need, and where you’ll get the images from. Will they be product images, or just simply brand and lifestyle representation? If you need stock images, your designer will be able to give you some options, but if you have your own photos of products, you’ll need those in the proper screen resolution format.

Make a Needs vs. Wants List

Now that you’ve had some time to think about the purpose of your website using the 6 key questions above, you should sit down and make a Needs vs Wants list for your new online presence. When it comes to web design, any designer worth their salt will warn you against adding something to your site just because it’s cool. Everything on your site should have a legitimate purpose – fancy bells and whistles may look fancy, but they’ll only make the customer experience confusing.

Working With a Website Designer: Items to Discuss

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The questions above will help prepare you to work with a website designer. Your designer will need to know this information to ensure what he/she builds will be the solution your business needs to build relationships and create sales. In addition to the above mentioned questions, you’ll need to discuss these further items to ensure you have everything you need and that you agree on important points.

1. Do I need a new domain name?

Your domain name is an important part of your new website. Your domain name should be somewhat obvious who you are (abbreviations need to be clear if used), and best practice is to use the same handle in your social media profiles as you have for your website. For example, this website domain is rednebulainc.com, and you will find us on Instagram and Facebook at instagram.com/rednebulainc and facebook.com/rednebulainc. This way, it’s easier for prospects to find you on various platforms. You should speak with your designer to determine if you need a new domain name, or if a previous domain will do.

2. Where will my website be hosted?

All websites require a host server, and figuring out who will own the account where your website is hosted is something you need to determine. Where you host your website can affect the loading speed and online security of your website which are factors in Search Engine Optimization, so be sure to discuss this with your designer. Note: self-driven website builders like Wix, Squarespace, and Shopify all come with hosting as part of your account.

3. When will my website be launched?

This is a common question, and it’s one that should be discussed early in the project. Website launch dates can be flexible depending on if the build goes smoothly or not (code can be finnicky), so expect some uncertainty on the anticipated launch date. It’s also a good idea to form a launch date with your designer so that you can plan your pre-launch marketing campaign. You’ll want to create some buzz about the new site before it’s launched.

4. Will my website have traffic tracking codes?

There are a few integral tracking tools that you’ll want to have included from the start during your website design. Google Analytics (in-depth website traffic data), Google Search Console (information on search terms that landed visitors on your site), and Facebook & LinkedIn tracking codes (useful for social media advertising based on custom audiences) are three that you should certainly have included during design. Even if you don’t think you’ll use them now, including tracking codes early will save you time later, and give you a wider data set to use down the line.

5. Is search engine optimization included in the design?

It’s important to discuss in advance how much search engine optimization is included in your website project. Not all website designers offer this service, and some offer it as a separate service not included in a website package. In order to be clear about your search engine rankings post-launch, be sure to discuss this topic with your designer so you know what other services you might need to employ for a smooth launch.

But that’s not all…

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These are just a few things to consider to get you started. If you would like to discuss a more in-depth strategy for your new website, we’d be happy to help. We’ve got the experience and expertise to guide you on building a new website to be a workhorse for your business.

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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.
 
I will argue that in some cases a custom website is necessary, depending on the purpose and intent of the website, as well as a huge number of other factors. But for most of us who run small- to medium-sized companies, a custom website and its related costs just aren’t needed.
 

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 WP is hackable and your website will crash and burn and your hair will start on fire.

While this is true that WP 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 WP as they are in their own programming language.

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

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

WP 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 WP 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 WP, 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.

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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!

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3 Quick Tips to Building/Reviving a Website

Whether you are in the market for a brand new website, or are thinking about reviving an existing one, there?are three quick but potent tips you should keep in mind when working with your designer.

1. Keep it simple. Not only do you have only a few seconds to capture and intrigue your viewers, but your viewers will click on your link with a purpose. They want the information they are seeking, and they want it fast. ? Your navigation should be clear and easy to use, your pages well organized, and your contact information readily available at all times during your viewers’ visits.

2. Keep the content new. The key to maintaining ongoing traffic to your website is to give your viewers reasons to come back. If you change your content on a regular basis, viewers will be more likely to bookmark your website and revisit often. Depending on your business type, this can be accomplished by changing the products or images in an online gallery, keeping a brief blog of current news or events, or even adding a seasonal flair by changing your color scheme. Special offers, if applicable, are also a wonderful way to bring your visitors back again and again.

3. Keep it functional. Ensure your website is easy to use. Adding too much content or having too many pages can confuse viewers and frustrate them into hitting the “back” button right out of your website. Keep it easy to read: no clutter, no overbearing graphics. Should your website contain an online store, ensure it functions properly and smoothly.

There are dozens of aspects to consider when building or redeveloping a website, and these are just a few quick points with which to start. Technology is still evolving rapidly; be prepared to work closely with your designer to utilize solutions that are available and appropriate to your business type.