Category Archives: Web Design

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Being a Good Steward of Your Website

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Below is an original version of the article I wrote for the September 2018 issue of the IT Radix Resource Newsletter. The theme of the newsletter was national parks and, being a California gal who loves camping and exploring many of the country’s glorious national parks, I was thrilled. Many thanks to the wonderful folks at IT Radix for the opportunity (and permission to republish here)!


Stewardship:
The careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care
Merriam-Webster

We often hear the term stewardship in association with the environment or a home. As business owners and professionals responsible for the technology that supports your organization, you become the steward of those assets that, though often digital and intangible, are just as important as your physical environment. One of those critical assets is your website.

In keeping with the theme of national parks and the responsibility we all share in taking care of our environment, let’s explore what it means for website owners to be good stewards of their websites.

The simple, static online brochures that existed in the early days of the Internet are a thing of the past. These days, websites do more than provide static information – they generate leads, sell products, educate current customers and prospects, provide tools and resources, showcase work and so much more. And let’s face it, making sure your website stays current, fresh, relevant and interactive, as well as keeping up with all of the changes in technology, social media and search engines can be a challenge.

Thankfully, no matter where you are in the life cycle of your website – whether you’re creating a new site, maintaining an existing site or redesigning an old site – there are many solutions available to support you in caring for your site.

Here are 5 ways to be a good website steward:

1) Maintain a Welcoming Look & Feel

Your home page should immediately convey who you are and what you do, as well as give visitors a reason to come back, perhaps through showcasing your latest blog post, project, photos or winning achievement.

2) Create Sustainable Solutions

  • Make sure each person who updates the site has his or her own login.
  • Stay on top of website software updates, including WordPress core updates, theme and plugin updates (for WordPress sites).
  • Back up your website (some web hosting companies include this and some do not, confirm with yours).

3) Give Visitors What They Want

  • Is your content tailored to your target website visitors?
  • Is your site mobile-friendly?
  • Do all pages of your site load in 3 seconds or less?
  • Is your website up to date?

4) Make Security a Priority

Ensuring that your site is secure using HTTPS is now standard for all websites, not just sites that accept credit cards and sensitive information. It builds trust with your visitors, shows your commitment to complying with security best practices and protects your site from displaying a “Not Secure” message. It is also an important ranking factor with search engines.

5) Go Outside to Bring Visitors Inside

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be as basic or extensive as your goals and budget allow. If you have a WordPress website, you can follow basic SEO best practices using a plugin such as the Yoast SEO Plugin. You can also hire an SEO company to build, implement and manage a campaign for you. Social media can also be a powerful way of driving traffic back to your site.

As John Muir, “Father of the National Parks,” said, “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” As you’ve just tugged at the idea of good website stewardship, you are bound to have more questions. I welcome any questions or comments to support you in your website journey.

Tips for Integrating Online Marketing with Your Website

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Tips for Integrating Your Online Marketing with Your WebsiteIf you are doing any kind of online marketing (social media, email marketing, search engine optimization, advertising, etc.), your website needs to consistently reflect the messages you’re promoting and meet the needs and requests of the visitors who find you as a result. Your online marketing ads, emails, posts and copy will likely lead people back to your website (or at least, they should). And when they get there, your website’s job is to provide an answer to whatever question, concern or problem that brought them there. For example, if you’re promoting weight loss through fitness, do you have a page talking about that on your website? And does that page make it easy for people to book a session with you, contact you to find out more or download an ebook you wrote to learn more?

While we all know you can’t control Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Google, you can control what is on your website. As a website design, development & hosting company supporting businesses in having effective websites for 25 years, we’ve identified the following website tips for getting the most out of your online marketing efforts:

1) Make your website user-friendly
Once people click from your social media post or online ad to your website, make sure what they find is clear and compelling, meets their expectations and fulfills their need.

2) Don’t overlook what’s “under the hood” of your website
Proper site speed is when your site loads in 3 seconds or less on both mobile and desktop. This is a key factor in not only good user experience, but good SEO. What affects speed is a combination of the code, images, plugins and other backend elements of your site.

3) Maximize your efforts
Since you’re spending time, money and brain cells on what you’re posting on social media, leverage those efforts by integrating social media (feeds, reviews, etc.) into your website, where appropriate.

4) Get specific
Use well-designed, action-oriented landing pages to drive business and conversion rates on your site. Social media is about lead conversion and driving people to your site. Once they’re on your site, make sure that the pages on which your prospects land have well-written content and calls to action that make it easy for them to contact you.

5) Properly Add Video to Your Site
Having an excellent video on your website is not enough (trust me, we know that it’s no small feat, which is why we work with wonderful partners for this). There is a right way and a wrong way to place video on your website. We recommend adding your video to your YouTube channel or Vimeo page, following all best practices, of course. Then, per tip #3 about maximizing your efforts, embed the video on your site for all to see and enjoy.

For assistance with implementing any of the above, contact us any time!

5 Tips for Improving Your Website

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1) Engage & Invite

Free Website Consultation with TAG OnlinePeople come to your site for a reason. Maybe they need to solve a problem or address a challenge, perhaps they are looking to grow or find a reliable vendor. Your site should address how you can help them, very clearly show them how to reach you and also give them a reason to stay. How can you engage your visitors so that they stay on your site and even come back later? Here are some ideas:

  • Ask questions and use calls to action
  • Offer valuable information – through success stories, blog posts, case studies 
  • Provide tools that support visitors: online forms, informative videos, charts or calculators, discussion forums

2) Talk to Them not at Them

We all love having a conversation with someone who only talks about themselves, right? Wrong! Make sure your website isn’t all about you. How do you know if it is? How many times do you use “I,” “We,” “Us”? If we go back to #1 and look at why people visit your site and how you can offer solutions, you’ll be on the right path.

3) Leverage Your Social Media Efforts

If you’re using social media – whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or an industry-specific platform, include it on your site. There are ways to integrate social media feeds on your site that bring what you’re doing off of your site right onto your site, allowing visitors to easily like, share and interact with you.

4) Make Security a Priority

If you have a WordPress website, as many of you likely do, it’s important to keep it up to date. The software that runs your site gets updated every few months or so and these updates often address security issues and make your site function better.

5) Make it Mobile

Usage of the internet on mobile devices surpassed usage of the internet on desktop computers at the end of 2014. If your site is not yet mobile-friendly, not only are you missing opportunities with potential clients, but search engines are not also not ranking you as highly on search results on mobile devices as sites who are mobile-friendly.

Need help with any or all of these pieces?

Schedule a Free Website Consultation Today

Why Go Mobile?

By | Mobile, Web Design | No Comments

cellphone-laptopOne of the hot topics in web design and development this year was and is “going mobile.”  How could it not be, really? With the already huge influx of smartphone use both in America and internationally (36% of global consumers use smartphones; source) and the lofty projections for future smartphone usage increase, it’s no wonder that the web design world is a-buzz with discussions on how to meet the demand for mobile-friendly sites (check out TAG Online Vice President and CTO Andy Gideon’s article on defining “mobile-friendly” here).

Some people, however, choose to opt out of creating a version of their website specifically designed for mobile use. Websites can function on mobile devices–the problem is not that the sites are mobile “un-friendly”.  Sites that are mobile friendly, however, are specifically designed to achieve the goal of the website on a mobile device, which is the way a huge portion of your audience is viewing your site.  And remember, the goal of any website is, of course, to cause the visitor to take action.

Why you should create a mobile-friendly website:

  • Sites lose functionality when they are not specifically created for mobile devices.  And loss of functionality means loss of sales (if the site is too difficult to use, the viewer will give up, as pointed out by Andy in his previous post).  By fitting the screen, having buttons large enough to click accurately with a finger, and having the most important information immediately accessible (store location, hours, “call us”/”get directions” button) mobile sites maintain the functionality of the original site, guiding people to take the same action that they would on a computer.
  • Mobile commerce (mCommerce for short), is on the rise in a big way.  In 2012, US mCommerce sales rose 81% to nearly $25 billion, and in 2013, total mCommerce is expected to reach $37.44 billion (eMarketer report “Retail Mobile Commerce Forecast: Shoppers Turn to Smartphones First”).  Your business cannot afford to miss out on its piece of these mobile sales.
  • Mobile/tablet sales are surpassing desktop computer/laptop sales.  According to current statistics, tablet sales surpassed laptop sales for the first time in 2013 and will continue to surpass laptop sales into 2019.  Tablet sales will surpass not only laptop sales, but also all PC sales, by 2015 (source).  As mCommerce and the ubiquity of mobile devices increase globally, “going mobile” becomes less and less an option, and more and more a necessity.
  • Mobile friendliness is a ranking factor in search engines On April 21, 2015, Google Search expanded its use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal, meaning that mobile-friendly sites rank higher than non-mobile friendly sites on mobile devices.

As scores of new mobile-friendly sites are launched each day, don’t let your website get lost in the shuffle of sites that have not yet caught up with the trend.  An effective mobile-friendly site shows newness and an interest in keeping your business ahead of the curve.  As the ubiquity of mobile devices and mCommerce grows, your website cannot afford to lose its functionality when being viewed on a mobile device.  Keep your product moving–go mobile! Contact us to get started.

 

At TAG, You’re It!

By | Social Media, TAG Newsletters, Web Design | No Comments

Most people don’t realize how powerful a website can truly be. First impression are important! When you take care of your website the website will take care of you. Our Newsletter to Our Summer 2012 gives you helpful tips on how to enhance your website, discussing topics like social media, mobile visibility, flash, favicons and an example of a recent redesign for one of our clients.

Our Summer 2012 Newsletter

The Importance of Having a Good Website

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For business owners these days, having a website is as essential as having a computer. If you own your own business or have any type of product or service to offer consumers, you need an outlet to promote your brand and connect with people. Having your own website is an extremely effective way to market your brand, expand your network and drive business.

It’s also important to realize that there’s a difference between having a website and having a good website. Your website is a representation of you and your business. You wouldn’t attend a meeting with a possible new client dressed in a stained t-shirt and ripped jeans would you? Having a professional, attractive and well-crafted website that’s easy to navigate lets the visitor feel comfortable during their visit to your site, which in turn increases the chance of them choosing to work with or refer you over a competitor.

Client Showcase – Johnnie M. Jackson

By | Client Spotlight, Testimonials, Web Design, Web Development | No Comments

How often do you change your cell phone? Every year? Two years? More than that? What about your wardrobe? Running shoes? Handbag?

Like mobile technology, fashion, performance gear and personal style, online technology and tools used on the web are constantly changing and evolving. Part of having a good website [link those words to the post “The Importance of Having a Good Website”] means that your site reflects those relevant changes not only in technology and the web, but in your business. That requires the dreaded word most people resist…change. People often assume that changing or updating their site will be expensive, time consuming, demanding of their creative writing skills and a general pain in the neck. But, like most fears, the thoughts are much worse than the reality. Having a passion for creating elegant and powerful web solutions since 1992, we make the process easy, simple and even fun.

We’ve recently made a significant facelift to the website of Johnnie M. Jackson, a seasoned Executive Coach Mentor and Independent Consultant that resulted in a large client within two weeks after the redesign.

Here’s a testimonial from Johnnie M. Jackson:

“I’ve been working with TAG for more than 8 years and they recently gave my site a facelift. The site has been very well received and, thanks to their expert guidance, it is much more of a marketing tool for me now. Not only was the whole process fun, easy and well-managed but, almost immediately after the site went live, new prospects and new clients started showing up because they were attracted to what they saw on the site. Awesome!”

– Johnnie M. Jackson, Jr., Executive Coach, Mentor and Independent Consultant

Converting Flash Websites

By | Web Design, Web Development | No Comments

Flash is a special program that allows for animation on your website. It was once very popular, however, it is not as prevalent as it used to be.

Some important things to know about Flash:

  • Cannot be viewed on iPhones, iPads or any devices without Flash software installed.
  • Requires a programmer with knowledge of Flash software to make updates. This can be expensive, cause delays and, not to mention, requires having a good Flash programmer available when you need him or her.
  • Are generally not visible by search engines.

Flash sites have some nice features, like elegant slideshows, animated eye-catching graphics and visual consistency across browsers, however, these features can be accomplished by other means that do not have any downsides.

Many of our clients have come to us to convert their sites – or flash elements of their sites – to straight HTML, the basic, universal programming language of all websites.

If your website is still using Flash, you’re missing out on interaction from people who use iPhones, iPads or other non-flash compatible devices. We can work with you to make your site more accessible by converting it to HTML.

Give us a call for a free 15 minute consultation! (973) 783-5583.