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

Is it time to redesign your website? 15 reasons to redesign now.

Here are 15 really good reasons to redesign your website immediately:

  1. Is your website bringing in business? If you haven’t made any updates to your website in months, chances are that it’s not bringing you new business and is time for an overhaul. Website marketing strategies change every year and if your phone isn’t ringing from people finding you online, it’s time to take a closer look at why.
  2. Is anyone finding your website? Look at your Google Analytics reports to see whether you have the website traffic you need to get clients or sell your products. Marketing is a numbers game and you need eyeballs. If your website traffic is very low, it’s time to improve your website content and invest in SEO or a conversion strategy.
  3. Are you embarrassed by your website? If you are embarrassed to give out your website address because you are afraid of what prospects might think of it, it is time to consider a website redesign. Do not procrastinate. A bad website can hurt your business far more than not having one at all, because of the negative perception it gives of you and your company.
  4. Does your website have traffic but few conversions? What happens when people get to your site? How do you convert them from visitors to qualified prospects? You need to think beyond just a mailing list signup form.
  5. Does your website look awesome on a phone? When you view your website on your phone, does your page layout change and do the elements on the web page stack on top of each other so that everything is easy to view? This is called a responsive or mobile-friendly design. Google is now penalizing websites that are not mobile-friendly by lowering their search results rankings.
  6. Is it easy to update your website? WordPress websites allow non-technical users to update their website content very easily. If you have to call your developer for simple updates, it’s time for a website redesign.
  7. Are you using older technology? Platforms like Joomla and Magento are no longer well supported. It has been said that one human year equals at least four years on the Internet. That’s how fast technology is progressing, however some website platforms and content management systems haven’t kept up. They may have been great a few years ago, but if your website has been built on older technology you may find your editing choices will become limited as new features become desirable, and you may also be more vulnerable to security breaches and unwanted hacks. If you are using older technology, it’s time for a website redesign.
  8. Can you control your website? A website is your most important marketing tool and it’s critical that you have access to all the parts (domain registrar, web hosting, and dashboard) so you can update and you understand what is involved.
  9. Can you post blog articles? If you don’t have blog posts or articles on your website, you aren’t demonstrating your expertise to visitors, and you might not be delivering real value. The key to SEO and content writing is to write helpful articles (that answer a question someone might post in a search engine), so that visitors to your website get to know and trust you.
  10. Do you want to link to your social channels? Social media is more important than ever. You should identify the social media channels where your ideal client is and then creative an active presence at that particular channel and link to it from your website and back to your website from the social channel. If your social channels are active, it lets Google and your prospective clients know that your business is thriving.
  11. Have your competitors updated their website? Obviously, you don’t need to give your site an overhaul every time one of your competitors changes theirs. If you spend some time on a competitor’s site and realize it could meet your goals far better than your own site does, it’s time to redesign your website.
  12. Does your website reflect all of your services and/or products you offer. If the list of services that you provide has grown and your old website does not reflect the full suite of services that you now provide, this can result in customers going elsewhere to get a service that you provide because they weren’t aware that you offered that service. By redesigning your website you can expand your list of services to include all of the services you provide, so that each visitor and customer is aware of everything you offer.
  13. Is your website optimized for search engines? A website redesign can help you improve your site architecture so that it is more SEO friendly. A website redesign can help you improve your coding and make your website as a whole more SEO friendly utilizing custom page urls, H1, H2, H3 Tags, Page Titles and Alt Tags by utilizing a more advanced Content Management System that gives you greater flexibility and makes optimizing your website easier.
  14. Is your website built on a fast, safe, and secure platform and host? Perhaps one of the greatest concerns of our time is cyber security, and small businesses and entrepreneurs are just as susceptible to website hacking and viruses as larger businesses. If your website was built years ago and hasn’t been updated since, you are at greater risk for malware and hacking.
  15. Has your business focus changed? Business goals change over time and you want your website to support these changes. Businesses that survive and thrive capitalize on the technology that’s available to them to help deliver a better product or service.  If you don’t redesign your website to integrate new technology into your business you may find it hard to keep up in your industry. Your website is a living part of your business, and it should evolve and change as your business grows and as technology progresses. Even when you do get your website redesigned it doesn’t end there, your website should be in a state of constant measurement, improvement, and enhancement.

Sometimes you just need an outside expert to take a look at your current website and help you decide whether it’s time to redesign your website. Connect4 Consulting will review your website and call you to review our findings and make recommendations. Learn more about our website audits.

Website Marketing Strategies that Bring in New Business

As a website designer, I spend a considerable amount of time looking at prospective client websites and talking to business owners about their websites. For most businesses, their number one goal is to increase the number of legitimate leads coming through their website. However, most small businesses are still operating websites that only reinforce credibility. That is, new business comes by way of traditional channels such as referrals, public speaking, direct mail, networking, and advertising, and the website serves to support those leads. Websites today can absolutely bring in new qualified prospects but only if a business approaches the website and internet marketing process strategically and invests in website marketing strategies.

A small business owner’s goal should be to invest in a website that drives marketing and brings in new business on its own through Google search. Do you have a conversion strategy for your website? The competition online is fierce and most of your top competitors probably have great websites. How does your internet presence compare with theirs? There are hundreds of new small business websites launching every minute. Small businesses should have website marketing strategies in place to capitalize on website traffic.

Website marketing strategies are also constantly changing and it’s hard for small businesses to keep up with the changes. Website marketing strategies from three years ago no longer work today. This means that it’s time for new website marketing strategies. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that all small business websites need to be redesigned. As long as your website is responsive (adapts to various devices and screen sizes), easy to update (is built on a content management system like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal), and has a modern look, you don’t need to undergo a website redesign. Instead, consider investing in new website marketing strategies.

Website Marketing Strategies that Bring in New Business

Identify your ideal prospect

As you think about strategies to bring in new business, you should first start by identifying your ideal prospect. Who are your marketing to? Who is your ideal client? What are their pain issues? What questions do they always ask? When they hire you, what value will they receive? Why do they buy from you and not your competitor? Create a website strategy that communicates clearly and persuasively to your ideal prospect.

Add a conversion strategy

The biggest mistake small businesses make is not having a conversion strategy on their website. Too often the focus is on driving the traffic to the website and not on what happens when people get there. Without a conversion strategy, these visitors will never turn into leads. You will lose any traffic that isn’t ready to buy the moment they visit.

When someone visits your website, they are trying to solve a problem. Make it easy for them and help them solve that problem.

Google rewards sites that educate by ranking them higher in search results. When you deliver value and educate, your visitor is much more likely give you an email address or contact information in exchange for your valuable content. Suddenly you have a conversion and are building a marketing list of ideal clients. Even if they don’t convert to a customer at that minute, they are on your marketing list and in your marketing pipeline.

Drive traffic to your website after adding your conversion strategy

Traffic is an important part of the equation, but too often, businesses drive traffic to their website before they have a conversion strategy in place. There are many ways to drive traffic:

 Strategy is more important than the visual design

Spend your money on strategy, traffic, writing and photos first. If you get all these right, your website will perform well for you. If you have money left in your budget, you should invest in a custom visual website design.

A $700 website will not help you build your business

There are thousands of website designers who will gladly take $700 or less of your money to design a website. Building an effective website requires strategy and strategy takes time and expertise. Strategy always starts with understanding your target audience and your audience’s needs and then figuring out the right messaging and communication strategy. There is no way that a $700 website can deliver this kind of strategy.

Wonder how your website measures up? Schedule a 90-minute website and internet marketing strategy session with Gabe Seiden.

Questions To Ask A Website Designer Before They Design Your Website

If you are looking for a website designer to help with your next small business website, it’s important to ask the following questions to avoid major issues during the project. You should do this BEFORE you hire the website design firm.

Take the time to conduct a phone interview or, even better meet in person, to ask these key questions. Building a relationship and open line of communication with a website designer from the beginning will help ensure that your project will be successful.

Questions to ask a website designer before they design your website

1. Can you send me a list of sites that you have designed previously?

Ask for a few live working examples of web sites the designer has completed for other clients. Don’t accept screenshots or mockups. Seeing a live site will give you a sense of the person’s attention to detail. If possible, ask for examples that are consistent with your product or service niche or industry.

2. What are your qualifications?

There is a wide range of website designers and services and this is a good way to separate the wheat from the chaff. If you have any doubt whatsoever, it doesn’t hurt to also ask for a referral from an existing client.

3. How much do you charge?

Find out if you will be paying a fixed fee for the whole web site or if you will be charged hourly for all requests. Some web designers will charge per page design or for each page on the site. Find out what is and what is not included in the fee. Is maintenance of the website included in the fee? If so, what does maintenance consist of?

4. Will I have a project manager or one central contact?

This is really important. Ideally you want to interact with the same person throughout the entire stage of your website development process. Some website firms have sales people who make the website pitches and then farm out the work to developers. Try and get a clear answer for who is working on your website.

5. How many rounds of revisions am I allowed?

Establishing your limits when it comes to edits and revisions can be critical. Will you be allowed to make edits at each stage of the project, such as design and development, or will you only be allowed revisions at the end of the project? Are you allowed two rounds of revisions (or more) or just one? How do you know when one stage ends and a new stage begins?

6. What are your payment terms?

Many website designers request a deposit to begin work, with either the final payment due upon project completion or partial payments at key stages during the site’s development. It’s best to avoid projects that require payment in full as it leaves no room for changes or issues that may come up.

7. Can I edit the website myself, and which parts?

Be sure to ask the designer if he will be setting up a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or if the site will be static? How many people have access to edit the site? Will training be provided to you or your staff? Is there any documentation on editing the site? Also, ask which parts you will be able to edit and how difficult those sections will be to edit.

8. How many pages will my website be?

This is something that you will work out with the site design firm once content has been agreed upon. Search engines like websites with several pages of quality text and typically websites have standard pages, such as About Us, FAQs, Contact Us, and Privacy and Terms of Conditions. Together, you and the firm you select will determine other pages based on your business, such as Products or Services, Resource Center, a Blog, Case Studies or Testimonials, Photo Gallery, etc.

9. What happens if I want to add a page after the website project is complete and the new website is live?

This is a good question because you will want to know ahead of time whether this is something you can create yourself, whether it has to be done by the website designer, what the cost might be, and whether there are limitations to the addition of pages.

10. What do you need from me to get started?

Typically, you need to provide any images, text, or other content you want on your site. If you choose to have the text done by the firm’s copywriters, you’ll need to provide basic information. If you provide your own copy, it may need a few tweaks for better search engine optimization or design presentation. Whatever the case may be, you should be notified in advance of any revisions needed to your copy and why they are needed.

11. Can you create a logo for my site?

Most website designers can create a logo for your business for an additional fee. Ask about experience in this area and look at other logos the firm has created, paying particular attention to graphic appeal, how well the style matches the focus of the business and how well the logo establishes brand identity.

12. Can you help me get images for my website?

Having actual photos pertaining to your business is always best for that unique factor, but oftentimes stock images are necessary. So there are no concerns over copyright infringement, ask designers whether they have access to a large selection of public domain images, or if you need to pay royalty fees based on usage.

13. Do you offer e-commerce services?

In addition to web design and development, a comprehensive website design company offers e-commerce services for businesses conducting online sales. Ask for specifics when inquiring about e-commerce solutions because they vary among web design firms. Some commonly offered e-commerce services are shopping carts; the ability to add discounts; support for multi-currencies; a customer database that interacts with your online store; cross and up sell features; inventory control; customization; reporting; and SEO integration.

14. Do you offer domain name registration?

Before a website can go live, it needs a name. Most full-service web design firms will handle domain name registration. Ask the firm if it will check whether the name you want for your site is available, if they will register it for you, how many years the domain name registration is for and the cost for performing this service.

15. Will I be able to see the website as you’re creating it?

Reputable web design firms will make your in-progress website available for viewing during each phase so you can make suggestions, changes, or content edits. Inquire about the review and input process that you can expect.

16. Will I own my website once it’s completed?

It’s important to find out whether you will own the domain name (registered in your name, not the web design company’s), website design and hosting account (registered in your name, not the design firm’s), or if the website design company requires your site to be hosted on their servers. Also find out if you will receive all source files for your site and access to your hosting account, backend administration platform and server. Also be sure to ask if you will be required to lock into an ongoing contract to keep your site live and functioning, or if the completed site will be delivered to you upon completion. You also need to know the name of the company where your website’s domain name is registered, all user names and passwords and the name of the hosting company.

17. What support do you offer after the web site goes live?

Ask about ongoing maintenance and monitoring packages. What happens if the web site gets hacked or if something stops working? Does the designer provide routine backups?

18. How long does the typical website design project?

Every project is different but it’s important to ask how long sites typically take to complete. Are there any incentives if it is completed early or any penalties for missed deadlines? Also, ask how long particular phases of a project take, to ensure things stay on time. Ask about the length of time you have to review and provide feedback.

19. Do you start from templates or build custom sites?

If the designer is starting from a template, ask about licensing and whether other local business sites have the same template? Does he update templates or provide support if the site is broken following core updates? If custom, does he provide ample testing and browser compatibility?

20. Will it be a responsive site that works on multiple mobile and tablet devices?

Will the site be coded for responsive design? Will he design for just mobile breakpoints, or tablets as well? Will he provide mockups of the mobile and tablet interfaces? Will it be load-optimized for mobile or be just a smaller version of the desktop site?

21. What are the client expectations during the process? What assets do I need to supply?

Clarify your responsibilities and those that the web designer will handle. Get in writing all expectations and requirements for each party so that everyone is held accountable.

Get clear dates and deadlines on when deliverables are due or when you need to provide assets and feedback. Will you need to provide any copy, images, hosting, or other items to the web designer, or will he handle it?

22. Who will write the content?

Some web designers employ copywriters to manage the writing and optimization of your website’s text. If that is the case, ask if you need to provide bullet points for each page. If you are writing the copy, ask for guidance on length, tone, and style. Ask for suggested word counts for each page. Lastly, ask the designer to provide any SEO keywords to include in the copy.

23. What search engine optimization or marketing do you do for the site?

Will the web site designer be performing on-site search engine optimization during the setup process? Does he offer off-site optimization? Also, does he submit your site to local or niche directories? Will he continue to optimize blog posts or compose additional ongoing content? If so, does this service require ongoing fees?

24. What other services do you provide?

Although you might have engaged the designer to create your website, ask if he provides additional services, such as graphic design services (logo, business cards, stationery), email templates and social media content or local search optimization tools? This could help make your design and online marketing tools more consistent.

25. What type of results can I expect?

Ask the web designer if he has any expectations of what kind of growth you can expect? How long before you begin seeing results? Does he expect a dip in results after launch? How will you track conversions? Will you have access to analytics from the CMS or a service such as Google Analytics? Will you still have historical data on your old site after launch?

Additional Questions To Ask A Website Designer

The website design process is detailed and complicated and it’s helpful to go into the process prepared to get your arms dirty. Ultimately the difference between a good website and a great website falls on the client’s shoulders. When the client is involved and the client and website designer are in sync, communicating with ease and on a regular basis, the outcome is usually a great website. As you review this list of questions to ask a website designer, you will probably think of other things that are not on this list. If the website designer wants to rush you through this process, then that’s probably a very good indication of what it would be like to work with that person. In my experience, the best relationships often lead to the best projects, so be sure to ask yourself whether you think you’ll enjoy the process of designing your website with this website designer.

Website Redesign and SEO

Idjwi Island Education Fund Website

Website Redesign and SEO

When you are considering a website redesign, it is crucial you take SEO into consideration so the website does not lose current traffic or drop in the search rankings. Sometimes in the anticipation of a site redesign or migration, it can be easy to overlook important items and stay organized. I wanted to pass along what we have learned redesigning websites for clients and how you can make sure you are properly prepared when you’re faced with a site-wide redesign.

Here are some questions to ask yourself / look into before launching a new website.

  • What pages get the most traffic and referrals?
  • Which pages receive the most back links?
  • Will these top pages (found in #1 and #2) have a new URL?
  • Are any pages being deleted? Is it necessary to delete these pages?
  • What pages will the deleted pages be redirected to?
  • What internal pages do the the deleted pages link to?
  • Are the new pages that will receive the redirect relevant to the old page and target the same keywords?
  • What changes are being made to the site architecture?
  • What pages are changing position (example: main menu to submenu)
  • How is the internal linking structure changing? What links are being removed from the main navigation, main menu and sidebar?
  • Will content change on the existing pages?
  • Will the current on-page optimization be carried over to the new site?
  • Are the same images going to be used?
  • Do images currently refer any traffic?

If pages are being eliminated during the redesign or if not all pages are being migrated over to the new site, you need to create a proper 301-redirect strategy. If you do not implement necessary redirects you run the risk of negatively impacting your site traffic. No matter how much you prepare, there is always a chance that some things will not go exactly according to plan. However, if you have the proper steps in place, like checklists, QA plans and other preemptive strategies, you will be more equipped to deal with issues that arise.

WordPress vs. Squarespace

WordPress or Squarespace?

If you’re reading this post because you need a new website and are trying to figure out whether to go with WordPress or Squarespace, I can help you make the decision an easier one: WordPress wins the head-to-head battle every time. WordPress crushes Squarespace. I know this first-hand because we actually get a fair number of prospective clients who start their website process with Squarespace. They are recruited to Squarespace for all the reasons that give it so much potential – it’s so inexpensive you don’t even need a credit card to get started; it has an intuitive WYSIWYG theme builder; the hosting is fast and reliable; you don’t need to know anything about websites, domain names, or technology to have a nice looking website.

While both WordPress and Squarespace both give you a platform to build a website, they are completely different. WordPress is used by more than 25% of all websites on the internet, while Squarespace powers just 0.5% of all websites on the internet.

This post will give you more than 20 reasons why WordPress is the clear winner over Squarespace.

 

Reason #1: Free Download

WordPress is free, open source software for anyone to download and use on the web host or server of your choice.

On the other hand, Squarespace isn’t flexible – you are stuck with their hosting, which is strictly on Squarespace’s servers.

Reason #2: Build Upon the Software

WordPress has a GPL 2.0 License. This means that you can improve upon the code and make changes that suit your specific needs, as long as you are willing to share your changes with others as open source.

Squarespace has no such license and actually forbids you from tinkering with their code.

Reason #3: Edit with Code as Much as You Want

You can also edit WordPress plugins and themes as much as you want to extend the capabilities of your website. You aren’t limited to the number of changes you can make. There are also many plugins you can use to add custom code to your website.

Squarespace isn’t flexible at all. While you can add a little HTML, CSS or JavaScript to make small customizations, you can’t change any major components.

Reason #4: WordPress has 49,000 Plugins

WordPress has a huge repository of more than 49,000 plugins to extend the functionality of the core WordPress software. You can find practically any feature imaginable for a website in the plugin repository.

Like the visual editor in Squarespace, what you see is what you get. If a certain feature or functionality you need isn’t available, you’re out of luck and this is where and why many people leave Squarespace and seek out WordPress.

Reason #5: Your Copyrighted Content Can’t Be Used for Free

WordPress has no right to publish any part of your website for free.

On the other hand, Squarespace, according to its Terms of Service, statements 2.2 and 2.3, can use any part of your site for uses such as advertising, even if the content they take is copyrighted. If you want a Squarespace website, you have to agree to this. While you can opt out, it’s not an easy one-click option.

Reason #6: Features aren’t Discontinued without Notice

The WordPress core gets updated regularly with new features and security updates and there’s a system in place to ensure transparency with what goes in, gets fixed and what’s omitted.

Changes are suggested, reviewed and approved before they’re worked on, then later released. Any amendments or omissions are well documented and announced beforehand. In the event that a feature you need is discontinued, you have time to search for or create a plugin to cover the capabilities you want.

Squarespace, on the other hand, can discontinue or remove any features at any time and without notice.

Reason #7: Your Server Resources Aren’t Limited

You can choose to host your own WordPress website unlike Squarespace which requires you to host your site on their servers. This means that you can’t scale it later if it becomes super popular.

Squarespace advertises all plans as having unlimited bandwidth, but the fine print on their pricing page makes it clear that the service is limited to normal usage.

This means your site can get shut down if Squarespace decides you’re getting more than average amounts of traffic – whatever that means – since there isn’t a clear definition (or any at all) for “normal usage.”

Conversely, WordPress gives you the freedom to choose your own hosting so you can find one that’s scalable and works for you.

Reason #8: No High-Resolutions Images? No Problem!

It’s much easier to find a WordPress layout that suits your needs and content. You also have the option to adjust the theme to better fit your images, videos, posts and other content.

Unfortunately Squarespace is heavily biased towards themes with gigantic high resolution images. Most of their 59 themes require huge images and if you don’t have them or need them, your website won’t look great.

Reason #9: Top Companies Trust WordPress

There are many popular, high-profile companies that trust WordPress to power their sites including The New York Times, CNN, PlayStation, LinkedIn, Flickr, Walt Disney, NGINX, Time Inc, cPanel and hundreds more.

Many celebrities also have their sites built on WordPress including Beyoncé, Snoop Dogg, Katy Perry, Jane Fonda, Kim Kardashian, The Rolling Stones, Sylvester Stallone, and William Shatner.

Top companies don’t trust Squarespace because of the reasons listed in this blog post.

Reason #10: Better Analytics

There are many WordPress plugins that can add analytics straight into your site’s back end. Often times, you can get incredibly comprehensive analytics.

For example, you could sign up for Google Analytics and use the Google Analytics + plugin to add all the stats to your WordPress dashboard.

Squarespace includes an analytics feature, but it only has basic information that isn’t nearly as detailed as Google Analytics and you aren’t able to connect the two together in the admin area.

Conclusion

When it comes to a head to head comparison of WordPress and Squarespace, there’s no contest. Yes, you can create a great-looking website with Squarespace, but the platform is severely limited when compared to WordPress, which you can use to do practically anything you want.

Is Your Website Mobile Friendly? Time May Be Running Out.

Gary Illyes at Pubcon announced today that Google is switching to a mobile first index.  This means that Google will be indexing the mobile versions of pages and not the desktop as its primary index.

This is a huge change.  Google has always used the desktop version of a page for ranking, even when serving results to users on a mobile device.

The mobile first index is not live yet, but it will be soon. So what can you or your business do to be prepared?

For starters, you’ll need to make absolutely sure your website is mobile-friendly and responsive. Here are some tips to get you started, so your web site’s mobile experience is optimized and ready to go by the time the transition occurs.

  • Use Google’s mobile-friendly test, which was created to analyze websites and offer suggestions for mobile optimization. As part of this test, you can check your site’s page loading speed – which is absolutely critical in a mobile-first environment. While the mobile-friendly test gives users a ballpark idea of what to aim for, don’t simply rely on its results. Instead…
  • Review your site on your own smartphone, and a friend’s smartphone, and your neighbor’s smartphone… Your site could potentially display differently from device to device and browser to browser (e.g., Chrome vs. IE, vs. Safari vs. Firefox). Start making a checklist: How do your main pages appear? Is your company or organization’s contact information readily available with clickable calls-to-action? Your website should be responsive, with buttons that are easily pressed, menus that are easily accessible, and text that is legible without resorting to a pinch and zoom approach.
  • Start planning now for optimized content. Writing for mobile-first shouldn’t change your style, wholesale. Keep in mind, though, that when writing for a smaller screen, brevity is a virtue. Consider shorter headlines that trim the fat and focus on the core subject. Content headings, font size, and color may need to be toned down, somewhat. In terms of main content, getting to the point swiftly and succinctly will be essential, as it allows scanners to decide if they want to scroll any further. (Better yet, hook them and reel them in so they have no choice but to do so.)

From website updates to redesigns, taking a mobile-first approach is more important than it has ever been. If you haven’t yet taken the leap, now is the time to get started.
If your website does not initially ace Google’s mobile-friendly test, contact us today. We can help you identify what needs to be done so you can pass with flying colors.

Essential Elements of An Awesome Website

At Connect4 Consulting we like to think that we specialize in creating Awesome Websites for our clients. But what’s awesome one day is not so awesome a few years later. This blog post lists the essential elements of an awesome website and unpacks each of the essential elements.

Your website is often the first interaction between you and your audience (customers, donors, readers, grantees, general public, etc.).  It is essential that your website impresses your target audience. Building an impressive website requires either a significant investment of time and effort or a significant investment of money.  Sometimes it requires all that and more.

You really shouldn’t settle for anything less than a totally impressive website.  In fact, your website should be awesome right from the get-go.  In this article, we’ll tell you the best things you can do to help you stand out from the competition.  Here, then, are the essential elements of an awesome website:

It has to look good.

If you want to capture and maintain attention, your website must look good and it must look good to your target audience. Knowing your audience is critical because there are a wide variety of awesome websites, but not all are appropriate for the same audiences. So you need to think about the following elements of visual design:

  • layout
  • color palette
  • fonts/typography
  • images
  • symmetry and balance
  • white space
  • supporting media/videos

It needs a clearly defined purpose.

Visitors should be able to determine what your site is about at a single glance.  If your site is about cars, that should be obvious.  If your site is about drones, I should be able to see that.  If your site is about Chuck Norris, you shouldn’t need to explain.  It should be perfectly clear what your site is about, without requiring any real thinking.

Yet you’ll see dozens of therapy and yoga websites with serene pictures of waterfalls or zen-like arrangements of pebbles. These may be beautiful and put people in a good mood, but it’s only a good approach if the purpose of the website is obvious. It is hard enough to get people to your website. Make sure that once they get there, they know what it is you want them to do.

It has to be easy to use.

An awesome website should be totally intuitive. That means someone visiting the website doesn’t have to think to figure out how to move around the site. The very best sites make people forget what they came to see – as long as they find what they were looking for in the first place.

User-friendly websites include:

  • clear and coherent navigation
  • links that give a good indication of what they lead to
  • something that makes users want to explore further
  • good accessibility features
  • seamless responsiveness

A well designed website is like a well-designed chair. People should want to sit in it. The feeling should be that it’s almost impossible to resist being drawn in. 

Put the most important things at the top of the page.

Always lead with whatever is most important. Don’t tuck those things away in the footer and make people have to hunt for them. When the visitor finds what they are looking for, make sure it works.

Make sure all users have an awesome experience.

The site should work on all devices. To do this your site needs to be responsive. It needs to have images that are optimized so they don’t use too much bandwidth to load.

How To Make Your Small Business Look Big

There are clear upsides to having a small business. You are agile and can change directions on a whim. You don’t have to conduct focus groups or wait through months of testing. You’ve got autonomy, since no other company owns or controls you. Of course you’re not competing directly with the biggest firms in your industry, but there are a few tools that can help your small business look bigger online.

How To Make Your Small Business Look Big

Build/Redesign Your Website

Last year the U.S. Small Business Administration estimated that 50% of small businesses still don’t have a website. Without an online presence, your small business can go unnoticed by potential customers. The good news is that it’s easier than ever to create a small business website that looks like a big business website. In fact, many small businesses actually have more impressive websites than big businesses because they take advantage of the fact they are agile, nimble, and have autonomy. A new website is an achievable goal.

Plan Strategically

Strategic planning isn’t only for big corporations or non profit organizations. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Where am I now?
  2. What’s the vision?
  3. What are the obstacles?
  4. What are my resources?
  5. What’s my strategy?
  6. What are my tactics?
  7. What will we monitor and measure?

Establish A Marketing Budget

Procter & Gamble spent nearly $3 billion in marketing in 2014! That’s more than any other company in the world. While no small business can even dream of matching that, there’s a cost to getting your product, service, or brand in front of potential customers and clients. How much do you need to spend to look big? It depends on your business and whether you are selling direct to customers or direct to businesses. On average, companies spend about 6 percent of their revenue on marketing.

Don’t Rely Exclusively on Social Media

Social media is all the rage these days and it’s true that it shouldn’t be overlooked. At the same time, it makes no sense to rely exclusively on social media. Some people do it because it’s mostly free. Success depends a lot on the industry and your target audience. If most of your target audience is on Facebook, then spend some of your time there. If you’re in a professional business and you need to connect with professional colleagues, I’d recommend LinkedIn. If you run a restaurant and you want to show people how great your food looks, try Instagram, which is also a great tool for connecting with teenage consumers. See which sites the big brands in your industry use, and use that as a guideline.