10 Reasons Your Site Should Be HTTPS

If you have a website that is still HTTP, you should seriously consider upgrading to HTTPS. While it’s true that historically HTTPS websites were limited to e-commerce websites, HTTPS is now the standard. This post will explain what HTTPS is and give you 10 reasons to make sure that you upgrade to HTTPS as soon as possible.

What is HTTPS?

HTTPS is a way to encrypt information that is sent between a browser and a web server. This protects users of your website from man in the middle attacks, where someone steals information that is being sent to a website, like credit card information or logins.

What is an SSL Certificate?

An SSL Certificate is a set of data files that you add to your server to secure an encrypted connection between a browser and your server. When installed, a green padlock will display in when users visit your site to indicate that the site is secure.

Are SSL and HTTPS the same thing?

These terms are two sides of the same process of creating an encrypted website. An SSL certificate is the product that is needed and HTTPS is the result of having that certificate on your server. You cannot have one without the other.

If your website isn’t secure yet, it definitely should be. 

Reasons why you should upgrade to HTTPS immediately:

  1. Improved Google Rankings
  2. HTTPS alerts by Google Search Console
  3. Browsers Increasing Alerts for Non-secure Sites
  4. Better Security
  5. Visible Security Signals for Visitors
  6. Increased Conversions
  7. Increase in Average Transaction Value
  8. Boost in Customer Confidence
  9. Required for any type of e-commerce transaction
  10. There Is No Reason Not To Have One

Improved Google Rankings/strong>

Google wants to ensure that its customers have the best online user experience. Understandably, Google doesn’t want browsers to search insecure websites. Because of that, Google’s ranking algorithm now favors HTTPS sites. If your website isn’t secure, it could be getting outranked by your competitors that are secure.

HTTPS alerts by Google Search Console

Google has been sending notices to webmasters via the Google Search Console if a login page or any page collecting any password is not secured over HTTPS. Anything in Google Search Console should be considered important in the eyes of Google and their algorithms.

Browsers Increasing Alerts for Non-secure Sites

Since January 2017, Google provides security warnings in Google Chrome for users if there is no valid SSL certificate on a web page. Google marks these sites as non-secure. Other browsers are following Google Chrome’s lead on this.

Better Security

This is an obvious benefit for everyone. HTTPS protects user information from potential hackers. Better security is a better experience for all.

Visible Security Signals for Visitors

Security is one of the biggest concerns visitors have, preventing many of them from shopping or providing their information online. One of the key benefits of having an SSL certificate is the sign that you can display on your website indicating it is secure.

Increased Conversions

This is another relatively straightforward benefit of having a secure website. The more secure your site is, the more people will feel comfortable interacting with the site. Those interactions may be filling out contact forms, registering for events, signing up to be notified about something in the future, becoming a member, or buying something online.

Increase in Average Transaction Value

There is often also an increase in the average transaction value on an ecommerce site once a site is more secure. With online purchases, part of the concern that users have with security has to do with the impact on the amount being paid. The higher the transaction amount, the greater the fear of being scammed.

Boost in Customer Confidence

A secure connection gives website visitors peace of mind that your website can be trusted and their information is safe. This is particularly important in fields where trust is paramount – lawyers, doctors, financial services, insurance, real estate.

Required for Any Type of E-Commerce Transaction

If you sell anything online, you have to have HTTPS. Most credit card processors won’t even let you sell anything online without it. But if you own a website and you sell anything online, and you don’t have HTTPS, make sure you upgrade immediately.

There Is No Reason Not To Have One

The only issues experienced with SSL certificates occur when they expire or when implementation is incorrect. To that end, be sure to keep your subscriptions active and be sure to update the primary domain for your website to force the https version. That is, whether www or non-www (pick your preference), all other versions should both 301-redirect to and point to the https version with any canonical tags.

How Do You Switch Your Site To HTTPS?

If you’re reading this article and your website is hosted by Connect4 Consulting, contact us and we can easily fix this for you.

 

Important Pages Every Business Website Should Have

If you are designing or redesigning your business website, you may be wondering what are the most important pages, aside from the home page.

About Page

This is a must-have for nearly every website. This can be named “About Us” or “About”. You can use this page to tell visitors about the people behind the website. This is where your purpose, vision, mission, values should be. The About Page helps build trust and convey that there are real people behind the scenes. You could also use this as an opportunity to showcase popular content or testimonials.

About Us page from Connect4 Consulting website

Contact Page

The Contact Page is another must-have page for any business website. The contact page allows visitors to quickly and easily send you a message or learn how to connect with you via phone or email. Your site should have a contact form, email address, location map, and social media profiles.

contact page example from Connect4 Consulting website

Disclaimer Page

If you make money online from your website, then you must have a disclaimer page. The disclaimer page lets users know how you make money from your website. For example, if you display banner ads or promote affiliate products, then you can inform visitors that this is how your content is monetized.

Privacy Policy Page

The privacy policy page is increasingly important. This page informs users about the data you collect and the way you use it. Even if you are not collecting any user data, third-party tools on your website like Google Analytics can still set cookies.

Terms of Service Page

Not all websites need this page but if you are running an online store or offering services through your website, then it is important. The terms of service page should be written by a legal professional. The terms of service page allows you to limit your liability in the case of misuse of information and services provided on your website. It can also be used to inform visitors about their responsibilities regarding copyright and trademark, and how they can use your website.

Custom 404 Page

WordPress automatically displays a 404 error page when it can’t find a specific piece of content. This can happen, for example, if you link to a page and then delete the page and forget to fix the link. Normally, the 404 page is very plain and not user-friendly.

You can replace that plain page with a custom 404 error page and give your visitors more opportunities to discover content and continue browsing.

 

Privacy Policy? Why Your Website Needs a Privacy Policy

If you have a website, blog, or mobile app, you need a privacy policy. Privacy policies explain what data you collect from your users or visitors, how you use that information, and what steps you take to protect that information.

Reasons Why Your Website Needs a Privacy Policy

Federal Law

In the United States, there is no single comprehensive federal law regulating the collection and use of personal data. The U.S. has a patchwork system of federal and state laws and regulations that sometimes overlap and sometimes even contradict each other. In addition, there are also many guidelines or “best practices” created by various agencies and industry groups that are not enforced, but are considered self-regulatory frameworks.

Some of the most prominent federal privacy laws include:

If you collect, store, or share personal data like emails, names, or payment information, you need to explain what you plan to do with your visitors’ and/or customers’ personal data.

State Laws

There are many laws at the state level that regulate the collection and use of personal data. Most states have enacted some form of privacy legislation. California leads the way in the privacy arena, with multiple privacy laws, some of which have national reach.

Build Trust

Privacy policies can build trust. To build trust even faster, make your privacy policy comply with the new EU GDPR requirements. Create a privacy policy that is obvious, transparent, and clearly written.

Provide Peace of Mind

Privacy policies should provide peace of mind because they explain clearly what you plan on doing with their personally identifiable information.

Improve Credibility

Adding a privacy policy link in the footer of every page of your website adds credibility and professionalism. Conversely, NOT having a privacy policy may raise a red flag and chase potential customers away. Now that privacy policies are required by EU’s GDPR, this is more important than ever.

Fulfill Third-Party Requirements

Many third-party programs that are part of websites – Google Analytics, Ad Networks, CRM systems, ECommerce Tools – actually already require users to display a privacy policy. As an example, read section 7. Privacy of Google Analytics Terms of Service.

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The European Union’s new GDPR regulation – in full enforcement on May 25, 2018 – safeguards the personal data of individuals in the EU. What is interesting about this regulation is that even though it’s EU-based, it applies broadly to any online entity that may have, either now or in the future, a visitor from the European Union.

 

What is GDPR?

The GDPR Explained. What is it? Who does it apply to?

GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation. It is the European Union’s new regulation – in full enforcement on May 25, 2018 – that safeguards the personal data of individuals in the EU. What is interesting about this regulation is that even though it’s EU-based, it applies broadly to any online entity that may have, either now or in the future, a visitor from the European Union.

The GDPR defines ‘personal data’ as “any information related to a natural person or ‘Data Subject’, that can be used to directly or indirectly identify the person. It can be anything from a name, a photo, an email address, bank details, posts on social networking websites, medical information, or a computer IP address.

GDPR was created to protect the privacy of EU citizens, provide new digital rights and transparency to consumers, and to create clear consequences for the misuse of sensitive information.

Why is the GDPR Necessary?

The current EU privacy law (pre-GDPR) has been in place for more than 15 years. Technology has changed considerably in that time span and massively impacts our lives. 15 years ago most of us didn’t rely on some part of the internet to achieve everyday tasks. More than 1 billion people actively use social media every day. Banking, renewing drivers licenses, going to school, and even dating is now done online. Think about all the personal data that’s involved. Not a week goes by these days without hearing about a major data breach.

How does the GDPR Affect Individuals?

The implementation of the GDPR will mean that you have more control over your personal data. There will be more transparency when it comes to what businesses do with your information. And you should be able to opt out of services that keep track of your personal information. It’s important to note, however, that opting out might also mean not using the technology that we’ve grown so accustomed to using.

If I have a website in the U.S., do I have to follow the GDPR?

Strictly speaking, the answer is yes. A privacy policy is good business practice. And the GDPR’s penalties are severe. That’s why every major company has recently updated their privacy policy and asked you to provide consent.

A privacy policy is an agreement where you need to specify what personal data you collect from your users. That data can be extremely extensive – like the case of Google, Facebook, Amazon, Whole Foods, etc. – or minor – like the contact form on your website, or content on your site that appears only for repeat visitors.

Creating a privacy policy on your own is challenging – you need to understand the inner workings of your website and your policy needs to change when your website changes. New functionality on your site may necessitate updates to the privacy policy language. And then you need to post that privacy policy so that new visitors to your site see the policy and provide consent.

The good news is that I can help you. Contact me for more information.

How to keep visitors on your website longer

If you’ve ever looked at a Google Analytics report, two of the key factors are time on page and bounce rate. It can be very frustrating to spend hours composing what you believe is a masterful blog post and then discover that most visitors hang around for less than a minute. So that begs the question – How do I keep visitors on my website longer? What can I do to help them stay on the page?

  • Improve your design so that it’s easy to read your content
  • Stick with a white background
  • Add whitespace around your content so it’s easy on the eyes
  • Increase the font-size and line-height
  • Use a standard font that is easy to read
  • Create better content
  • Look at Google Analytics – maybe there’s a disconnect between what visitors expect to see on the page and what is actually there.
  • Create helpful content
  • Try writing longer blog posts
  • Make sure your headlines are relevant to the page or blog post
  • Add section titles so it’s easy for a reader to scan the content on the page
  • Use visual media on your posts such as videos, images, infographics, slideshows, etc.
  • Link to other related blog posts on your site
  • Open external links in new windows
  • Check for 404 errors – if people search for a page that for some reason no longer exists, create a custom 404 page with some unique content

Keeping visitors on your website and reducing bounce rate is mission critical to your website’s success. Engaged visitors are more likely to sign up for your services, purchase your products, or tell others about the awesome experience they had with you.

25 Best Practices for Nonprofit Websites

At Connect4 Consulting we specialize in websites for nonprofit organizations and small businesses. Nonprofit Websites have substantially different requirements than websites for businesses. Websites for non-profit organizations are essentially e-commerce sites with a single product – the donation box – or a single goal – growing engagement via subscriptions. The nonprofit website needs to clearly and convincingly communicate the problem, impact, and solution.

We look at many nonprofit websites each year and one thing is painfully clear: nonprofits and charitable organizations have a lot of catching up to do in terms of internet presence. For every truly great nonprofit website, there are at least a dozen other examples of what NOT to do. In this post we look at best practices for nonprofit websites.

Top 25 Best Practices for Nonprofit Websites

1. The Donate Button

Almost all nonprofit websites are trying to raise money online. With that goal, the donate button and the donation process is mission-critical. The donate button should be visible on every page of your site. Make it stand out by using a color that contrasts with the rest of your page.

Examples of Great Nonprofit Websites – The Donate Button

example of prominent donation bar in nonprofit websites

2. Problem

Don’t assume visitors already know what your organization is about. Prospective donors will find your site through organic search, referral links, and social media, and they may not be familiar with your nonprofit. You’ll need to clearly communicate the problem that your organization addresses. We recommend featuring a prominent link where visitors can learn more about the organization – including the problem you solve, who you help, and why it matters for visitors to get involved. Help visitors dive deeper into taking action by offering clear calls-to-action related to your organization’s core purpose.

Examples of Great Nonprofit Websites – The Problem

example of great nonprofit websites

3. Solution

What is the solution that your nonprofit organization provides? The solution to the problem must be immediately visible and apparent to the website visitor. And the solution should lead directly to the impact statement.

Examples of Great Nonprofit Websites – The Solution

example of great nonprofit websites - the solution

4. Impact

What is the immediate impact of your organization? As we discussed above, you should follow up the “problem” with your organization’s solution to that problem. Prove the efficacy of your solution by demonstrating impact through eye-catching infographics, statistics and stories.

Examples of Great Nonprofit Websites – The Impact

example of great nonprofit websites - the impact

5. Transparency Is Important

According to a study in The Chronicle of Philanthropy,

1 in 3 Americans lack confidence in charities. In deciding where they will donate, 50% of survey respondents said it was “very important” for them to know that charities spend a low amount on salaries, administration, and fundraising; another 34% said it was “somewhat important.”

Anywhere you can put a number to something your nonprofit organization has done, you can better communicate your impact to a potential donor or sponsor. The more transparent your organization is about this, the more trust you will gain with your visitors.

Examples of Great Nonprofit Websites – Transparency

example of great nonprofit websites - transparency

6. The Blog

Writing about your organization regularly is perfect for demonstrating impact, engaging supporters and sharing the work you’re doing with people new to your organization. Consumers want to be told a story. According to survey conducted by Adobe & research firm Edelman Berland, 73% agreed that brands should tell a unique story.

There are always opportunities to tell stories. It makes content so much more compelling when it is presented in the context of a story. Make sure your organization is taking advantage of the stories behind how your nonprofit began, why your cause matters, and who your organization is helping, and make sure that content is communicated on your website.

Not sure what to blog about? No problem! Here are some nonprofit blogging ideas for you:

• Letters from staff, volunteers or constituents in the field
• Photo essays from events or fieldwork
• Fact roundups on your specific cause or cause-sector
• News updates specific to your cause-sector or the region you’re working in
• Impact stories
• Behind-the-scenes videos or write-ups about your work
• Announcements about partnerships or matching grants
• Celebrate milestones and supporters

Examples of Great Nonprofit Websites – The Blog

example of great nonprofit websites - the blog

7. Subscription Box

The subscription box is related to the blog in the sense that newsletters increase transparency, deepen engagement and keep people up-to-date with how their support is directly impacting your cause.

Encourage supporters to subscribe to your newsletter by including a clear call to action on your homepage. “Join us” seems to be a popular call-to-action.

Examples of Great Nonprofit Websites – The Subscription Box

example of great nonprofit websites - the subscribe box

8. Look Beyond the Home Page

It’s important to look beyond the home page. If you look at site analytics, you might even discover that more traffic enters your site from other pages than the home page.

The homepage is becoming less and less relevant. The home page still serves many functions. It represents your brand/organization, and in many cases it’s the first introduction to your brand for people who search for your organization by name or navigate directly to your URL.

But the home page is also the most unfocused page, because it has to consider the needs and motivations of every potential audience member, as well as introducing your organization and explaining why someone should care.

9. Resources Page

Have a Resources page accessible through your site’s top-level navigation where the public can find reliable, current information about issues central to your nonprofit’s cause. Keep this page updated and well maintained. If part of the value your nonprofit creates is from publishing resources, this is the place to host them.

Examples of Great Nonprofit Websites – The Resource Page

example of great nonprofit websites - the resource page

10. Members Only Page

There are quite a few reasons why you would have a members-only section set up on your nonprofit website. In some cases, this type of section may be needed for privacy and security reasons, preventing the release of confidential information.

In other scenarios, a members-only section might host exclusive resources, or a member directory for paying members of the organization. Just seeing the “Members-only” tab on your website is enough to entice some potential members to join your organization online, knowing they’ll get instant access to these things.

11. Campaign Landing Pages

Apply the same principles from your main website for your specific campaign microsites. For a campaign, make sure you add your campaign’s goal and campaign’s progress.

12. Optimize For Mobile

Mobile traffic now makes up 53% of all internet traffic. People today expect a great mobile experience. It’s imperative to make mobile content not just passable or functional, but truly seamless and easy.

At this point, this should go without saying. If your website is not mobile optimized, then you are really missing the boat – or at least a boatload of donors. Unfortunately, many nonprofit websites lag far behind on optimizing for mobile.

Your nonprofit organization should keep mobile in mind while designing to ensure that your site will translate well. Keep layouts vertical, use larger fonts and buttons, and avoid cramming too many elements onto the page.

If you’re unsure of whether or not an element will look good and be easy to use on mobile, remember: you can always take out your mobile device and check!

13. Intuitive Navigation

Well-planned and intuitive site architecture not only informs search engines of the importance of pages in rankings, but it is also important to user experience. Is it easy to find the expected information? What are the real goals of your nonprofit website? Does the architecture of your site support those goals?

  • Including a top or left side navigation bar that’s visible on every page of your website (minus your donation form).
  • Keeping all navigation titles between 1-3 words.
  • Avoiding jargon, elaborate words, or language that doesn’t clearly or accurately portray the content on the page it’s linking out to.
  • If they’re needed, sticking to only one level of drop-down menus.

14. Page Load Time Under 3 Seconds

Page load time is essential. By minimizing page load time (ideally less than 3 seconds), your organization will significantly increase the chances that the donors who click on your website will actually land there and stay long enough to look around.

If donors have to wait minutes (or even too many seconds), they’re likely to simply abandon the page. After all, visitors can easily turn to another site to access the information they want if it takes too long for your website to load. Check out your website page load speed by visiting GT Metrix.

Here are a few things you can do to help your website load as quickly as possible:

  • Resize and compress all images.
  • Minimize the number of scripts, plugins, and custom fonts used.
  • Opt for HTML and CSS over Flash Player.

15. Website Security

Most of the recent and high profile security breaches can be traced back to weak passwords and faulty website authentication.

If your nonprofit organization wants to maintain a secure website, it’s time you looked into more secure credentials, like two factor authentication and SSL encryption.

Having a secure website protects you and  your donors’ information so that you can maintain your supporters’ trust.

16. Matching Gifts

One of the easiest ways to increase online donations is to offer matching gifts. After all, you’re essentially receiving two donations for the price of one!

The problem lies in the fact that many donors simply aren’t aware of the option to give a matching gift.

To add a matching gift tool to your website, you’ll first need to find a vendor (like Double the Donation!).

Ask your website developer if your website is compatible with a matching gift service. If so, it should be easy to embed the tool into your website with a simple piece of code. If not, you’ll need to work with a vendor who provides custom development options.

By adding a matching gift tool to your site, you ensure donors know about this option and give them the resources they need to follow up on submitting their gifts.

17. Nonprofit Website and Donor Database Integration

Between online donations, event registrations, membership signups, and other online forms, your organization will likely be receiving a lot of donor data through your website. By integrating your website and your CRM, you’ll eliminate the need for manual data management, which can be time-consuming and prone to human error.

Instead, all new data you collect will automatically filter into donor profiles, making the data collection process much easier.

18. Marketing Automation – Email and Social Media

The two most common digital communications channels are email and social media.

Your organization can incorporate email into your website by adding a subscription box that enables visitors to sign up for your newsletters. Your email marketing platform should generate a code that you can easily place on your website to get this feature.

As far as social media goes, include social sharing buttons so that supporters can forward your content to their networks. If you’re active on social media, you can also embed social media feeds to share current updates.

19. Consistent Branding

Standardizing branding will ensure that visitors feel secure when browsing your site.

Think about it: if users suddenly land on a page that looks completely different from the rest of the site, chances are they’ll mistake it for someone else’s website. Considering that they want to engage with your organization, they’re not likely to trust pages that don’t look like they came from you.

If, on the other hand, they see your organization’s look and feel throughout your site, supporters can be confident that they’re interacting with you, which will make them feel much more comfortable submitting donations and taking other actions.

As long as your organization is using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or Drupal, this is not so hard to achieve.

20. Powerful Photography

Photography plays a big role in first impressions. Research shows that using faces in your design can increase engagement by over 30%. Just take a look at this image below and take note of how much it grabs your attention:

example of great nonprofit websites - powerful photography

21. Minimal and Uncluttered Design

Donors don’t respond well to complex, busy websites. They are already going out of their way to help your cause, the last thing you want to do is scare them off with a cluttered and complex web site.

Minimalism is important because:

  1. It makes your site easier to navigate, since visitors won’t have to wade through a bunch of information and elements to find what they want.
  2. It helps your most important content stand out, since it won’t be competing for visitors’ attention.
  3. It will keep your site looking current for longer and reduce the amount of major updates you’ll have to make. Simplicity is always in style!

Ultimately, taking a minimalist approach highlights the problem, solution, and impact provided by your nonprofit organization.

22. Multiple Opportunities for Engagement

While making sure that you can receive online donations might be your organization’s main website goal, some of your visitors might not be ready to take the leap and make a gift.

If you don’t include other engagement opportunities throughout your website, you’ll be missing out on building relationships with supporters who wish to engage with you in other valuable ways.

A supporter who gives their time through volunteering or access to their network through social sharing is just as an important to cultivate as a potential donor.

23. Highlight CTAs in Site Navigation

Visually highlight your most significant call to action within your navigation menu. On any page, that goal will be prominent and easily accessible. Secondary CTAs can be a more muted color but still be visually prominent.

24. Optimize Donation Pages

There are a number of things you can do to optimize your donation pages:

  • make it easy to donate
  • use trust indicators like badges, independent ratings, and financial disclosure
  • make an emotional appeal
  • translate donation amounts into monthly impact
  • provide the option for recurring donations

25. The Post-Donation Experience

Don’t forget about the post-donation experience. After a person has donated, make sure the thank you page shows them your appreciation. Then, make them feel valued with a tailored thank you email, including further steps on how they can continue to support your nonprofit’s mission and cause.

Put these best practices into practice, and your nonprofit website will truly be a great website. Does your non-profit need a technology partner to help implement strategies like these for your website? If so, contact us!

How to launch a new website? Ten Tips

Few investments have as immediate a positive impact as a new website.

A good website provides immediate credibility. Credibility means trust. Prospective clients, donors, readers who trust you make for repeat clients, donors, and readers.

An outdated website sends a message that you aren’t up on the latest trends. There comes a time when it’s time for every business to redesign and re-launch their website for maximum business impact.

For example, older websites might not be optimized for speed. About 40 percent of those who visit your website will bounce away if it doesn’t load within three seconds. You can’t afford to keep a bulky, outdated website with statistics like that.

While a redesign project might seem overwhelming, we’ve developed some tips at Connect4 Consulting to launch a new website in an easy, productive manner for maximum business impact.

Existing Benchmarks

Before you start a redesign process, be sure to record your website’s existing statistics. You’ll want to know:

  • traffic
  • bounce rate
  • site load time
  • average time on site
  • most visited pages

Without these existing benchmarks, you’ll have no idea whether your new project is successful.

Goals

Once you know what kind of website traffic you have, you can set goals regarding the quantity and type of traffic that you want. This is important because it will impact exactly how you go about redesigning and relaunching your website and web presence. You should set several goals.

Look at what your competitors are doing online. You can do some intensive research through sites such as SEMRush or SERPSTAT and find out what keywords competitors are ranking for, as well as their most visited pages. Using this information, set some firm goals for your own website.

  • What do you hope to accomplish with your re-launch?
  • Do you want more traffic?
  • Perhaps you want more visitors to convert into customers.

Whatever your goals, write them out and then work backward on how you will get there.

Let Your Customers Know What’s Going On

Send a short note to your mailing list and social media followers. Let them know you are redesigning your website, why you chose to do so, what you hope to accomplish with the redesign and when they can expect to see the new look. You probably already have some loyal followers who have been with you and your website for years. They deserve to know before anyone else that you are updating, improving, and relaunching your web site. You might even get some valuable feedback from your customers that will help your process or the final outcome.

Don’t Forget About SEO

There are more than 1 billion websites on the World Wide Web. You are trying to differentiate and stand out from all of those, rise up in the search results ranks and capture the attention of potential site visitors. There are so many factors that play into ranking and how many people visit your site, but in general, you want to do some basic keyword research.

Find the keyword strings that make the most sense for the type of visitor you most want to attract and create content around the information those searchers would actually want to read. You can drive people to your site, but if you don’t have the content to hold them there, it won’t do you much good. For more information on keywords and content marketing, you can check out all the blog posts we have written on search engine optimization, keyword research, and content marketing.

Get Feedback From Your Site Visitors

Once your website has been relaunched, gather feedback from your site visitors. Devote as much time as you can to answering questions, listening to concerns and fixing problems as they crop up. This is your best test of how users are interacting with your content.

Make Sure To Test Different Browsers

Ideally, before you launch your new website, you should test how the site performs across different browsers and screen sizes. There are many services online that allow you to do this for free or a small fee, such as BrowserStack and Browserling. Browserling will let you use their system for free for short 3 minute increments. Choose the one you like best and see how your site might look on a mobile device or on a larger screen.

The photos and text should be responsive – adapt to the device and screen layout – and be clear to read, and images should still have a sharp resolution. Also, test out the way the site functions on a mobile device versus a traditional PC.

Update Your Content

The best time to revamp old content is during a website redesign. Freshen things up. Fix any issues, such as broken links. You can easily find plugins to help with this, such as the Broken Link Checker plugin WordPress. You can also push older, but still popular, articles to the top by doing a roundup around a certain theme and linking back to those articles.

When site visitors come to see what has changed, they’ll see the content is fresh and updated and of even greater value to them.

Extend New Branding Throughout Your Online Presence

Your site may be rebranded with new colors, logos, fonts, etc. Now it’s time to extend that new branding throughout your entire online presence. Colors and designs should repeat on social media, for example. Update your social media headers and profile images. Link any interesting new content to your social media pages. Update any contact info or “about us” info.

Identify The Influencers In Your Niche and Get Feedback From Them

In each industry, there are influencers who have a lot of consumer reach. Figure out who the influential people are in your industry and reach out to them about your redesign. Ask for their input and feedback. You’ll get some amazing tips, and if you’re lucky they may decide to announce your re-launch to their social media followers, which will increase your traffic.

Test For Speed

Remember that three second rule from the beginning of the blog post? Whenever you add new features, images, plugins and such, there is always the possibility one or more of those things will slow your site down. Site loading speed is an important aspect of whether or not a visitor sticks around beyond that three-second mark.

Test your website’s speed. GTMetrix has a free and easy speed test you can use to see how quickly your pages load. They will give you a percentage grade and suggestions for ways you can speed up your site a bit more. Follow a few or all of the suggestions to make your site “sticky” and avoid that dreaded high bounce rate.

By implementing these tips, you’ll have a much more successful re-launch and a site that will work well for your visitors. And if you’re thinking about a website redesign or new website, Connect4 Consulting has got you covered. Contact us today.

Six Most Important Elements on Your Homepage

People have very short attention spans.

HubSpot reports that “55% of visitors spend fewer than 15 seconds on your website.” Half of you are probably already gone.

So how do you GRAB ATTENTION? You do this by putting the most important elements on your website above the fold. The above the fold language comes from print newspapers – it’s simply the upper half of the front page of a newspaper where the top story was printed. Above the fold in print looks like this:

Online, above the fold translates to the portion of a web page that is visible in a browser window when the first page loads. It’s what visitors first see without scrolling.

Why is above the fold so important?

  • It’s what people see first.
  • It’s what attracts the most attention.
  • It’s where visitors spend 80% of their time!

Six Most Important Elements on Your Homepage

Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Your unique selling proposition or unique selling factor is the single thing that differentiates you, your product, or your service from its competitors. It is absolutely essential that this is above the fold. The USP is your way of instantly showing your visitors exactly how they will benefit by exploring your website further.

Here’s the Unique Selling Proposition for Dropbox:

Visitors know immediately that the site is for businesses that might benefit from using dropbox.

Copy that Explains Your Unique Selling Proposition

The explainer copy fills in the details. In the Dropbox case, above, the explainer copy is “upgrade to Dropbox Business and get the solution that both employees and IT admins love.” It’s brief and concise but visitors can quickly tell what the site can accomplish for them. When effective, the explainer copy should raise the visitor interest level and encourage them to keep exploring the website.

Logo

Your logo is critical. It must be on the homepage – preferably in the left-hand corner. Brand recognition is of utmost importance. You want to establish consistent branding and take every opportunity to reinforce your brand identity.

Simple Navigation

Suppose a visitor has landed on your website for the first time. After seeing your Unique Selling Proposition and explainer copy they have a good idea of what it is you do and what you are offering. After seeing your logo, they associate it with you. Now you’ve piqued their interest and they want to learn more. It’s your responsibility as a website owner to give them a framework to explore your website in a logical, streamlined fashion. Allow me to give you a few examples of brands that do this really well.

First there’s Dropbox again:

Then there’s Buffer:

And finally there’s Mailchimp:

 

Notice that all three of these examples feature simple, intuitive navigation. Visitors can easily and quickly find what they’re looking for with minimal effort.

Contact Information

If I had to pick a pet peeve, this would be it. So many websites are missing clear contact information. People want to make sure you are a legitimate business and not a scam artist. Having full contact information will build trust and strengthen credibility. Include your contact information – not just a contact form. Give visitors multiple ways of reaching you.

Call To Action (CTA)

It turns out that it doesn’t matter as much where you put your call to action. Your site definitely needs a call to action. If you manage to sustain your visitors’ eyeballs longer than average, they will stumble across your CTA (it should be somewhere on your home page). If you can put your main CTA above the fold on the home page and do it without overwhelming your visitors, then do it. Keep it simple and focus on a single CTA.

Conclusion

Here’s a recap of the six most important elements on your homepage:

  • A well-written Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
  • Some brief copy that explains your USP
  • Your logo
  • Simple, intuitive navigation
  • Contact information
  • A Call to Action

 

 

 

Loud Colors Can Improve Your Website User Interface Design

Color is a powerful design tool. Loud colors can grab your attention, set the mood, and influence a website visitor’s emotions and actions. In the past, loud colors were exclusively used by websites with playful, cartoonish designs. Increasingly, however, we are seeing the use of bright colors on all kinds of more traditional business websites. The appeal of the vibrant color trend is that it is very versatile and can be applied in many different ways.

Overlays

Overlaying is filtering an image through a color lens. Images with color overlays have been popular for a long time because it’s relatively easy to apply and has the power to focus user attention.

Color Overlay Example

Color Overlay Example

Monotone

One of the most popular ways of using loud colors in your website design is a technique called monotone. Monotone palettes consist of a single color with a mixture of shades and tints. Monotone color schemes are usually really easy to read as they establish a solid foundation for foreground content and typography usually “pops” off the screen.

Example of a monotone website color palette

Example of a monotone website color palette

 

Duotone

Duotone palettes are made up of two colors. This can either be two contrasting colors or two shades of the same color.

Example of Duotone color scheme in website design

Example of Duotone color scheme in website design

Gradients

Gradient color schemes are back again however this time they are being used with high-contrast complementary colors. Modern gradients are also now being used as accent colors. Look at the gradients that are used in the navigation on Bloomberg’s site below:

Gradient color scheme example

Gradient color scheme example