How many of you have started to create your website with one person in mind? No, not you, but your ideal client. Your website needs to do one thing, reach the person who needs your solutions.
When I first stated my business I was too afraid to narrow down my perfect clients and so I operated as a generalist. But in doing in that I took on some crap clients and projects that I absolutely hated.
It wasn't because the people who were coming to my website and connecting with me were terrible people. It was because they were the types of clients I didn't want to work with.
So how do we change that and narrow down our focus so your website can do the job it needs to – attract the right clients and projects?
Use This Client Formula To Create Your Website
Who – Who is your ideal client?
If you don't define who it is your talking to, you'll be talking to everyone. And here's the secret – everyone doesn't listen.
When trying to define our ideal client many times we get stuck on the details like age, income, where they vacation and so on. Instead try to think about the stage of business they are in or what transformation they need to make to get the ball rolling.
Your ideal client might be a DIYer or side hustler who wants to quit their 9 to 5 and go full time with their business idea. Or maybe they are a supporter and want to become a consultant or teacher.
Their details of their story today may not serve the purpose of tomorrow.
Solutions – What is the main problem you are trying to solve?
In order to tell people the solution(s) you provide you need to address the problem head on. What exactly is the goal your ideal client is trying to get to and more importantly what is stopping them?
Imagine your in a room of potential clients in an industry that you want to focus on. Let's say you at BlogHer Conference because you support women who are health coaches that blog as part of their marketing strategy. And you offer WordPress support like scheduling posts, writing social updates and tweetable, creating images and such.
Do you know what the main problem of your ideal client is? There could be a whole room of them right in front of you?
Instead of addressing what you do, talk to your ideal client about how you can make their life better with the solutions you provide. Hit them where it counts, the WIIFM factor. Don't just say I provide WordPress support (we're a dime a dozen supporters).
Instead tell them that you take care of making sure there articles are optimized for SEO by adding the correct images, picking the perfect social share updates and getting them scheduled so they go out consistently.
Turn that into awesome copy on your website and you are now telling people you've got their back when it comes to optimization, promotion and updates on their site. Sounds sexier right?
Add In Your It Factor
Credibility – What is your trust factor?
To continue to build confidence about hiring you as the right solution, you need to have some credibility indicators.
A lot of times we think that's a testimonials page is the answer. Jam a bunch of text on a page from people who love us enough to write something nice. Who ever put a bas testimony on their site?
Testimonials are great to have but people don't view them the same way as they used to. Don't get me wrong, having people give you kudos is awesome but we only display the best of the best projects. That's why it's important to mix it up.
Adding proof of your abilities can include interviews, anywhere your work is featured, appearances you've made, relevant certifications and so much more.
Use embed social accolades so people can see what they've shown to their audiences. Or case studies with real results carry a lot of weight because people get to see the journey.
Uniqueness – What makes you so different?
For every business out there, there are many others that offer the same solutions. Google the term WordPress designers and you'll see at least 146,000,000 results.
That means that WordPress designers have competition from a lot of other designers. And you'll need to set yourself apart.
Sometimes it's a skill, other times its your business personality. Fortunately for me I have digital strategies coupled with design and development skills. But that isn't what makes me different.
My super power is I can explain things in plain English and it starts with the strategies. Plus I'm a little snarky and try to add humor into whatever I do.
For you it might be that you brew a certain kind of beer or are the ultimate coffee aficionado. Or maybe you can find every statistic on a particular subject. Or that you've been to every national park, twice.
Speak To The Potential Client When You Create Your Website
Before you can begin to craft the perfect website and user experience you need to know who they are and more importantly what makes them seek the solution you provide.
It's about building relationships and being authentic so you need to do the work first.
Building a relationship whether online or off starts with knowing who it is that you want to spend your time with. Those who won't annoy the crap out of you or only want from you without nothing in return.
These qualities are what will provide the solid foundation for your website and overall strategies. Don't you agree?
Need more help? Schedule your consulting session today.Keep reading...
Are you creating your very first WordPress website? You know the DIY version where you pick a theme, add some content and site back waiting for traffic. But it never appears and you not happy with the results. Keep reading as we talk about the three things you MUST do to start your WordPress project.
Creating a WordPress website is getting easier and easier with the popularity of page builders, drag and drop options and the upcoming Gutenberg changes. But that doesn't mean that you buy a theme, set up WordPress, add your content and stop creating.
Let's talk about the first steps you need to take when creating your website.
Are you a do it yourself at heart? You know the kind who hunkers down and dig in to create from scratch and pat yourself on the back when you've shared with the world. Me too! Only my guilty pleasure is home remodels and repurposing. But that doesn’t mean that I wing it.
When repurposing furniture and other items, there are some steps you need to take to prep the item and start the process. Same goes for website creation. There are a few things if you have right from the get-go, it makes the creation process go all that much smoother.
Search Google, and you’ll see ten, twenty or fifty things every website needs. Many are essential, but I’ve whittled the list down to the top three items.
Keep in mind we’re setting aside design and development and getting back to basics by addressing planning issues and items. Because let's face it your website isn't about you and you need to keep that in mind with every step.
First Step: You Need a Goal
Your website is the first step people have in learning about you and your offers. You need to make a great first impression. To do that you need to have a goal in mind of what you want from your people.
You need to set a primary goal, and it should be relevant in the top part of your website (aka the above the hold space). And there are different goals that you should be addressing with the different parts of your website.
The key to beating user overwhelm is to set a focus and try not to have your visitors do too many things at once. Especially on your home page. Your overall goal might be to sell one-t0-one services which means you may want to have your clients book a vetting call with you
You could also structure the remainder of the page to funnel visitors who are starting the buying journey with you by having them read blog posts or sign up for a freebie. But have structure to the page: important item above the fold, underneath that you can address objects and have the next action. And so on.
After the home page is laid out you'll want to move on to all the inner pages using your funnel or buying journey as a guide. Each page and action should address the end goal and how you move the visitor to help you achieve your primary goal.
Think about what kind of goal you want your visitors to achieve.
Do you need to vet your clients before signing them up? Then schedule a call it is. Are you trying to build your list and awareness? A strong opt-in will do the trick. Are you building authority? Learn more will do then.
Action: Define your funnel based on your primary goal. Use that information to create a buyers journey and outline your website structure.
Second Step: The Legalese
You know what the basics are, but it’s important to understand the why behind it. You are warning people who come to your digital space that there is a slim chance they can be harmed in some way by acting on your advice or purchasing your materials. And at the same time, you are informing them that you won’t be held responsible for those damages.
It’s like coffee. You know it’s served hot, and if you spill it on yourself, you’ll get burned. But there is that one person who will try to act like they did not know it was hot and come after you with everything they've got. Don’t let that one person get away with that in your web space.
Terms also outline of what is an acceptable use of your information. Can they share it freely with others? What are the standards for linking your information or using your brand assets? In addition to acceptable use, terms also outline your refund and return policies.
Action: Determine if you need these additional legal pages: Disclaimer, Accessibility Information, Trademarks, Patents, Corporate policies or Affiliate Disclosure
Third Step: Ways To Contact You
Having a Contact Page or ways to contact you seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised that people only give one way to get in touch with you. I’ve seen many websites leave off important contact information like an address, phone or public email.
People want to know where you are and that you are a for-real business. They need information that will not only let them get in touch with you but to add some credibility. So when adding an email address, it should be your public business email address that is branded with your site or company name and not firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep in mind that everyone does not want to fill out a form. Especially if on mobile or if it's super long. Sometimes a quick question is all you need to answer to make an immediate sale, but if you have no way to call you, then you’ve lost that opportunity. Or maybe someone connected with you on Twitter and they want to be sure you are the same person.
Live chats are popular now because they give a quick response. Adding a chat box is simple with the addition of a WordPress plugin, Facebook chat code or an embed from some scheduling software. Before adding a chat box though be sure that there is someone to man the chat or an option to contact you if you are away.
Action: Review your site contact information and make sure you have more than one way for people to connect with you or contact you.
So there you have it, three simple things you can add to get the ball rolling. When designing a website, I start with these three steps in the planning process. Keep in mind this is the start, and there are still ten, twenty and fifty things that will need to be added but by address bite-size chunks of information, the process won’t be overwhelming.Keep reading...
You are looking to hire a web designer or don't know where to start when designing your website? Keep reading to be in the know for five things that will help you begin your website project.
I remember when we bought our first fixer-upper house. I was handy, and crafty, and savvy, but I was so out of my league on some things. There was no plan, no strategy, and no timeline. Big mistake. This was way before HGTV and other fixer-upper shows were popular, so the hubs and I winged it.
That strategy cost us extra money but, more importantly, lots of extra time since we had to make changes to changes to the original change. The same goes for your website. Like a house, some things need to happen first so that you don't have to tear it down and start over again.
The idea of having a website designed to be a friendly, informative user experience is to set it up correctly from the get-go so that you can continue to enhance and not keep reinventing the wheel.
Ready to get started? I'll share with you my favorite tips and steps that make up my Roadmap Strategy for designing a client engaging, useful website.
1. START WITH THE FOUNDATION
Before you begin planning your website you need to know the who, what and why of your perfect client. Your website is not about you, it's about them. You should know exactly who you will serve, what offers will address their needs, and what message you will put out there to start the conversation.
You might not have this figured out just yet or maybe your smack in the middle of a rebrand and still working out the kinks, and that's just fine and dandy. If that's the case, stop right here because you're not ready for a web designer yet. Instead, I recommend putting up a landing page to have a presence because once you become clear, everything will change.
2. ADD IN A MARKETING STRATEGY
Website design consists of at least 50% planning because you need to know everything about your clients, their journey, how they fit into your journey, and how you will attract them. Many people think to build it, and they will come, but why throw spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks when you are talking about your single most important marketing asset?
Your website is the base for your business to convert leads into clients and sales, and before you can do that, you need to attract that person to your website. There's a lot of ways to generate traffic and attract new visitors, but you can't do that without a marketing strategy. A few things you need to take into account is your lead capture process, your content strategy, and how you'll promote your business. If you're not sure where to start you can schedule a website audit today.
3. DON'T OVERLOOK YOUR COPY
There is no website development without website copy because they go hand in hand like PB& J. Website design is there to add pretty to your message, grab the attention of the visitor and complement your written words. The copy (aka words) is what makes the reader connect and lead to the sale.
Your copy will determine if someone will buy what you are selling, it's that important. Writing for the web is different than writing an essay or book. And it's easier to write for others than it is to write for yourself. Telling your story is key, and using the right words is essential. If you're challenged about writing for yourself, then it would be better to hire a copywriter or, at the very least, learn some good tips for writing your web content. Whatever route you take, you need to have some copy nailed before development can begin.
4. STRATEGICALLY SELECT YOUR IMAGES
There are two types of images you need on your website: images to enhance your message and images to build trust. Enhancement images are those that add visual interest to your messages like stock photography or illustrations. Trust images are headshots, lifestyle shots, and other photography that show the real you.
When using stock images make sure you have the right to use them. Don't jack images from Google and plop them into your copy. There are plenty of free stock sites that allow you to use images without attribution, and there are even more where you can purchase a license for use. Using other's images without permission is a costly mistake many people make. To be a little different, you can crop, edit, and brand your images, so they look different from the others who use the same photo.
Professional headshots and photography have become affordable, especially with digital cameras and media delivery. Please don't use selfies and think that is going to help build trust even if they are a personal brand, get a good round of headshots. Professional photography can make your best self-shine with their knowledge of lighting and positioning. Some photographers offer make-up and hairstyling, too, but be sure that they enhance your look and not completely change it.
5. ALWAYS INCLUDE THE LEGAL STUFF
Every website needs the legal basics to keep you covered while telling visitors how they can use your site and how you protect their privacy. These pages are often overlooked because you might not think they apply to you. Remember all the GPDR notifications when the new guidelines were implemented in May of 2018? That applies to you, too, if you are an online business.
Plain and simple, it's a good business practice to have the necessary pages. There are some good templates and resources available that while generic are great starter options but you may want to check with a legal professional to have a policy tailored to your online business.
Some other legal pages you'll need are disclaimers, including affiliate disclosure because you are making money from selling other's offers. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has provided the “Endorsement Guide” document that addresses many social media advertising and marketing best practices and requirements, including the need that there must be disclaimer made available when affiliate links are used on a website.
By following these five tips, you will be well on your way to hiring a designer that has your best business interest in mind or have a good foundation if you are taking on the project yourself. Remember, though; you need to factor in a realistic budget for your project.
Your website is an investment, and it should be treated like any other essential business expense. When hiring a web designer, be cautious if someone quotes you at a lower price that is generally below the norm. Prices are subjective, so it's crucial that you truly understand what you are getting for the cost. At the very least, part of the process should include the tips above.
There are no such things as good, fast, and cheap. And I'd use caution when your designer touts fast and cheap. For your budget, you'll want something that looks appealing, but more importantly, you'll want functional and user-friendly.
Have other website questions?
Schedule your complimentary website audit where we put the fun back in the web design process while giving you down to earth actionable website tips.Keep reading...
Website clutter is real and can affect how your visitors interact (or not) with your website.
I have a friend who operates in what she calls organized chaos and it’s amazing what she gets done in a day. When there is a lot going on around me (repetitive loud noises, fast moving things, and clutter, oh the clutter) I get easily distracted and tend to forget what was happening at the moment.
That happens a lot in the digital realm and the distraction includes clutter and chaos on websites.
According to web credibility research from Stanford, 75% of users admit to making judgments about a company’s credibility based on their website’s design.
So can you imagine someone landing on your site and there is so much going on they don't know how to process any of it. They're even left to wonder if this is how they run their business. Chaos and clutter.
Now imagine the challenge of reviewing a website that has everything and the kitchen sink. Not knowing what to do first, where to begin or whether a visitor will want to stay.
Trying to make a decision is hard. Really hard.
Is your website filled with clutter and chaos?
Steve Krug once wrote a popular web usability book called Don’t Make Me Think. The idea behind the book is to get visitors to navigate your website without having to think too much.
We are a point, click and scroll nation. And many of us are impatient because we know that it's now or never. Distractions drive our lives and simple is welcome.
Website clutter can be a killer for conversions especially in the age of the distraction economy. Information overload that is causing a gap between the amount of information we're faced with and the capacity to consume that information.
When someone comes to your website, they want clean, clear and well-organized information (UI) so they can find what they need as quickly as possible. And they want this without getting distracted.
Then there’s this thing called website accessibility. Basically, it’s a set of standards to make your website easy for those with disabilities to use. You need to factor that in too.
What is Website Clutter?
Clutter, or chaos as some call it, is the context of web design that allows the website to live up to its purpose.
A cluttered website will turn someone off from your site. Because the overwhelm sets in they won't stick around to try and make heads of tails of your information.
Cluttered designs usually lacks order, both visually and organization wise which leads the user struggling to understand which part is important.
It's easy to identify the three parts of the design that can cause clutter.
Three Main Parts Of Website Design Clutter
1. Too much content on the screen
Wondering how to fix this clutter mistake? Planning is the answer.
You'll want to plan your website around results, the results you want your visitors (and potential clients) to achieve. Rather than throwing text and images onto the page and trying to see what sticks, figure out the end goal and work people towards that.
You'll find that you may not need as much information or many steps to get them there and this alone can cut down clutter. You'll have a clear vision of what action will need to be placed where and how many objections the visitor may have.
And remember with every link you place in your content and on your pages can be a potential distraction. Those distractions can lead to the visitor to forget what they were originally there for.
Action: Use your funnel as your guide defining what steps each part of the journey will require. Plan your page(s) based on that funnel.
2. Content is not organized in a logical manner
Content is king, queen and everything in between.
Your content is paramount to the success of your site. High-quality content should inform, entertain, and gauge or sell a product. And it should be organized so that it is accessible or findable to the visitor.
The best way to do this is to prioritize your content making sure your visitors are finding the information you want them to find by arranging your content to reflect what is most important.
Using your funnel that you've outlined, the first thing you need to determine is your goal. Once you have determined the goal you can tailor content to fit each step of that journey. If you're selling products, you'll need to hit on the benefits of the product and answer customers questions and most importantly telling them how to buy.
If you get stuck on this step visit sites that are similar to yours that you think will be of interest to your target audience. How are they arranging the information? Is there things that they are hitting on or maybe missing or hard to find?
Action: Make a list of all the contents that are necessary to reach your goal. Then prioritize that information to determine the placement of the content. Make sure that you think about what the user wants. This step might take some time but it is really a key part of organizing your website.
3. Too much visual noise
When we think of visuals we, for the most part, think of pictures and graphics. But visual design including visual clutter also can encompass colors and fonts and other visual elements.
The first step to making a website visually clean or appealing is to make sure that there is cohesion in your style and your brand. Because this is what first catches the eye and our brains are sense-making machines.
Color is the most powerful subliminal visual tool that will influence a buyers decision. So you want to test different colors to determine what is most effective and you certainly don't want to vomit too many colors to wear the brain can't process your information visually.
And remember a picture tells 1000 words, but a wrong picture won't enhance your message and multiple images may confuse your message. So you want to use your images sparingly to make sure that they are adding to the story and not distracting from it.
A study conducted by Adobe found in that more than 66% of website users judge a website on the quality of their graphics within the first 15 minutes of landing on the homepage.
And finally you have whitespace, whitespace is an undervalued commodity. It's the breathing room on your website. Whitespace is like a welcome break in your busy day. It allows you to take a moment to focus on what's important.
And remember the mobile does not give you a lot of visual room. So don't stuff it up with images or videos or other visual clutter. Besides it being busy and noisy, images take up a lot of bandwidth so you want to remember that for your mobile visitors.
Action: The first thing you want to check is to make sure that you're using the right color scheme and keeping your fonts choices to a minimum. Then you want to move onto your elements, you don't want to be sticking things willy-nilly. Make sure that the visual cues you are using enhance your message. Don't add an icon just for the sake of adding an icon. You might be able to do away with the images and add a little more whitespace or breathing room.
Website clutter is the main reason that people don't engage with your website so remember that simple is better. Removing distraction and creating clear paths to get information that will help with solutions is key. Need some help getting your website ducks in order? Schedule a consult to help you get a game plan in place.Keep reading...
We're talking home page layouts today. Take a look at your home, do you have several ways you can get inside? Me too but I don’t always have keys to access all those ways so I rely on my garage door opener. Even when I go out with someone else, I take my door opener to get back in. Why because that’s the easiest access point for me.
But the hubs, although he has keys, and usually I’m home working in my office, so he just wanders through the front door. Because for him that’s the easiest access point. And this is the same way for visitors to your website.
Normally there are lots of access points to get the information your visitors need but more times than not they come through the front door or the home page. Which is why the purpose of above the fold area on your home page is to turn visitors into leads and customers.
Basically, the one thing your home page should do is answer, “Can I help you find what you are looking for?”. So what do you do to catch the attention of your visitor's eye?
Best Practice Number 1: Express your Value Proposition
By now you know that the best way to start a home page design it to find the primary and secondary goals for your business. But before we can tell people to take that action we need them to know what we stand for and more importantly why.
Your Value Proposition needs to answer their questions:
- What is this business/company?
- Does this website help me solve my problem?
- Why should I choose this business to address that problem?
- What do they want me to do?
Without a clearly stated statement, your visitor can get lost, confused or bored and never move on to convert.
Here's LastPass's example below. Notice how they make it as easy as possible to convey their value proposition to their visitors.
Best Practice Number 2: Simple Navigation
Do you have a junk drawer? Mine is in my kitchen, and the hubs hates opening that drawer. Me, I know everything that is in it and where in the drawer I need to dig. Having a cluttered navigation is like an unruly junk drawer.
Deciding what to have on your navigation can make the difference between someone moving further into your site and leaving entirely. And here’s the best part, you can have more that one navigation. Especially if you’re commerce or membership based.
Here are some good rules to follow:
- Limit the number of choices between five and seven with Home being in the leftmost position and Contact at the rightmost.
- If you must use drop-down keep them to one level.
- Note drop-down menus with a visual cue.
- Make sure your menu is responsive for different devices and sticky if your home page is long.
And another good rule of thumb is your money making items should be in the leftmost position after home. And if you have user accounts you can have menus for those logged in and those not.
It’s all about addressing these concerns in the pre-design, planning process.
Best Practice Number 3: Use Correct Calls To Action
Someone coming to your site usually has a certain reason for visiting. Some will come for information, others for one of your products and still others through referral. Your home page should be designed to move your people through the journey and different calls to action will do that. Here are some of the typical actions:
- Lead Generation/Form Submission is the most critical even if you're not selling to your list. Since you want to turn visitors into leads, you need a way to capture their information and what a better way than a freebie. Lead gen is part of the awareness phase and can include white papers, fact sheets, webinars.
- Read More/Learn More entices your visitors to read a full article or visit another page. This action is also part of the awareness phase by allowing people to get information on a particular topic or problem.
- Social Sharing is the simplest call to action that encourages people to share your stuff and expand your reach. It’s also a low-commitment way for people to engage with your brand. Part of the awareness phase, people who want to connect but don’t want to give up their goods, will share with their audience.
- Testimonials/Case Studies because we all love a happy customer. It makes us feel better about our decision to seek you out. Part of the evaluation stage, it helps the customer decide if this is right for them. You can also use FAQs to address concerns too.
- Coupons, Trials or Demos gives people the extra push to buy from you and is part of the Decision phase. Usually, this is for people who’ve made the decision that you solve their problem but need to narrow down a solution.
- Schedule A Call/Consult is the ultimate call to action for many since it’s a key part of their sales process. Part of the purchase stage consults allow you to vet your potential clients and let them ask key questions to convert to the sale.
Take a look at Smart Passive Income's home page. See, how the call to action is clear and straightforward? Is yours?
Whether you considering creating a new website or revamping an existing one, using these three pieces of information as a guide can help you have a conversion machine instead of a brochure site.
Need help creating an effective home page? Request a free consult or web review.Keep reading...
Ever try to find that perfect font and then you end up down the rabbit hole of font choices and selections? Every day new typefaces make their way to the web. But not every font, no matter how cute, is right for your website.
When picking the perfect font(s), you have to think about a few things. Readability and design are a given, but you also need to consider load times and acceptable use.
I remember when I first started in business, I didn't give a second thought to fonts for my website. I didn't consider what they would look like across devices. I wanted pretty and to hell with everything else.
That's the point that I discovered not all fonts are created equal. That's also the point that I learned all about commercial licensing and acceptable uses.
Now I was lucky that I chose web safe fonts for my website body text but my headings, that's a different story. The result, different looks in different browsers on different devices. See mobile was up and coming, and I'm not sure that iPads and tablets even played a part in web browsing. Who would have thought that mattered?
A graphic designer I was not. I had a lot to learn about typeface, kernings, weights, contrast and everything else that goes into making these choices.
Here are some tips that I picked up to help you find the perfect web-friendly font choices.
There are five basic types of fonts: serif, sans-serif, cursive, fancy and monospace. The two most popular for large blocks of text come down to serif or sans serif.
Let's start with the differences of font choices. Serif fonts have small strokes that extend from the end of the letters. Some people call them feet or tails. Serif text is easy to read in print media and has been a favorite for books and newspapers.
But for web text, it's not as appealing. Serif fonts are great for headlines and documents that may be downloaded and printed.
Sans serif, on the other hand, is a simple font and lack the tails. Many websites now use sans-serif for the body text because people find it easier to read on most devices.
And remember different font styles communicate different messages. So one sans serif font will work for one type of business but not another. Remember readability is a must for any font choice.
We all have different personalities; some are extroverts who feel at home in any crowd while others are introverts and prefer a more quiet environment. And some creatives tend to be more casual and comfortable.
The same goes for fonts.
When picking fonts, think about the type of personality you want to represent:
Traditional, reliable, corporate or respectable. These fonts are timeless and give the impression of trust. Try these, Times New Roman or Georgia.
Romantic, elegant and vintage. These fonts are usually handwritten-type fonts that are curvy. Use these fonts sparingly since they can be hard to read in large blocks. Some popular ones are Alex Brush, Black Jack, Good Vibes and Great Vibes.
Now that you have the basics under wraps let's talk where to find web friendly fonts.
We no longer look at websites on desktop and laptops. Just because your site looks beautiful on full-width screens doesn't mean they look good on other devices. Most of us get the bulk of our traffic from mobile devices, so it's important that your fonts look good on these too.
And, the good news is that you can create differences in your text copy with different types of fonts. But you need to put some thought into the combination so that they do work well on all devices.
Usually, that means two (not more than three) complimenting fonts. To add more variation, you can use colors to highlight important words and phrases. Here are some of our favorite sites for font pairing suggestions:
There are many places to find typefaces for your website and brand. If you have a graphic designer, start there. And if not, here are some of my favorite resources.
Google Fonts: All Google fonts are free and open source which means Google takes care of the licensing. You can safely use these fonts on your websites, social media and any of your digital spaces. Most builder programs and template based sites integrate Google fonts for easy use.
Font Squirrel: Font Squirrel tries to list fonts that are commercially licensed. But, not all fonts are free for web use. Most of the fonts have free desktop licenses meaning they are allowed in commercial graphics and images with no charge. Embedding on a website or in an e-book requires different licensing. Be sure to check before using on your site.
Adobe Typekit: Typekit has an array of beautiful fonts that are available for sale or by subscription. These fonts are not free for use, but they do have simple licensing, so there is no guessing on what is acceptable use. They also make it easy to add the fonts to your website using kits. And the kits allow you to make changes if you want to try different fonts later.
Final Thoughts on Font Choices
Of course, this is just a start to web-friendly fonts and typography. You also need to consider things like:
- color scheme
- kerning and leading (the space between letters and space between lines – line height)
- contrast (light and dark), and of course,
- alignment (left is easier to read)
Selecting the perfect web font can either be fun or make you want to bang your head against a wall. But you can find a typeface that works for your website and appeals to your audience.
How did you choose the fonts for your website? We'd love for you to share your tips below.Keep reading...
Think about the last time you landed on a website, and it took forever to load because the page speed was turtle slow. Did you stay? Or are you impatient like me and moved onto something else?
If your bounce rate is high or your traffic is non-existent, this may be a problem for you. To provide a more user-friendly experience, you need to make sure your page speed is fast.
A little while ago the hubs and I went to this newer and trendy microbrewery. It was average busy, with the line out the door. That happens with growing pains and sometimes it takes some tweaks to get all the processes right.
But the hubs is a little less patient than I am and was not willing to wait because he was hungry. I was on the fence but ready to wait because I'd heard good things about the food and the beers.
It's the same thing with your website. You may have everything that I need but if I have to jump hoops or wait, what you offer might not be so appealing.
It's all about convenience. Convenience to the visitor and the customer. That's what page speed is convenience.
Yes, it matters!
Consider these three things that you should know about page load times.
GOOGLE THINKS ITS IMPORTANT
Google is a business, and they want to deliver excellent service to their customers. That's us, the web browsers. And they want us to get our questions answered, and they want it as quickly as possible.
Consider this from the Official Google Webmaster Blog:
Speeding up websites is important — not just to site owners but to all Internet users. Faster sites create happy users, and we’ve seen in our internal studies that when a site responds slowly, visitors spend less time there. But faster sites don’t just improve user experience; recent data shows that improving site speed also reduces operating costs. Like us, our users place a lot of value in speed — that’s why we’ve decided to take site speed into account in our search rankings.
So in a nutshell, Google likes happy users and happy users want answers now.
Google even has a test for our websites to check load speed. You can see how you rank at PageSpeed Insights
YOUR VISITORS THINK ITS IMPORTANT
A good indicator of visitor frustration is a higher bounce rate. Slow load times do affect your bounce rate. And a high bounce rate indicates that people are leaving your site without sticking around.
We're on information overload, and with short attention spans, we are more impatient than ever. So, your pages need to load fast and display relevant information for their interests. No matter how awesome your content, if it takes forever to load they won't care.
Still not convinced? Let's look at these numbers
47% say they expect a load time of 2 seconds or less. SRC: Kissmetrics
YOUR CONVERSION RATE WILL THANK YOU:
The better a user experience, the more you are likely to sell.
Studies have shown that we like control, and a faster page load gives the user a perspective of having control over the process.
When it comes to buying decisions you have seconds to make or break the decision. The longer the sales page or the cart takes to load the more likely the customer will change their mind. A one-second delay will make a difference.
Still not convinced? Let's look at these numbers
A 1 second delay will cause a 7% loss in conversions and 11% fewer page views
If you find that you've done everything you can to speed up your site but nothing is working it's time to look at your host. A recent switch of hosts found a significant increase in load times.
What is a good page speed?
The average speed is 3-7 seconds, but you want to get that number as low as possible. Anything over that and you need to consider fixing what is wrong.
Still stuck? We can help you with your page speed and keep your WordPress website maintained.
You Need To Keep Your Site Maintained and Secure.
I recently got a new car because I lease, and my lease was up. The reason that I lease is that the hubs and I like a new car every few years because mechanics we are not. I can change the oil and the tires, but that's the extent of my car maintenance knowledge. So knowing I'm covered by warranty is essential in my book.
The best thing they ever did for cars was to add the maintenance reminder icons on the dashboard. Now I don't even have to think about when maintenance needs tending too. That's why we have WordPress support and maintenance plans offered here, to keep your site maintained.
To keep your car running like a well-oiled machine, you need regular maintenance. Your website is the same.
Each car I lease must have a maintenance plan. While I can change the oil, I'm not hip on rotating the tires and checking other fluids, gears, and such. I'm always afraid something will go wrong, or I'll miss something, so I leave it to the pros.
That happens to many WordPress owners; they are afraid to break the site when updated or adding to the site. So they do nothing. And so I become like emergency roadside help, getting a call to tow them out of a jam.
No need for that. We offer Back Pocket Support, but for the ultimate DIYer, here are seven things you can do right now.
1. Backup and Store Offline:
Backing up is like having insurance coverage on your car. If anything happens, your insurance kicks in to get you back on the road. But like insurance, all backups are not created equal. Backups are the first step to keep your site maintained.
To ensure you have the best-laid plan, you need to start with a good backup option. I recommend UpdraftPlus, but there are a lot of other great options available. With a program like Updraft, you can set backups to happen automatically.
Keep a schedule based on how much you update content. Here's a glimpse at mine:
Full site backup happens weekly or when changing your site, including running updates.
Database backup: daily with three backup versions available.
Manual backup: before any major updates or changes to my theme.
But backups themselves are not enough. You need to send those files to the cloud. Keeping the backup within WordPress on your server is like not having the backup at all. What if your host server crashes and you can't get access to anything. How would you be able to restore?
Sending your files to Dropbox, Amazon S3 or even Google Drive is simple with UpdraftPlus. You link your website up with your cloud account and tell Updraft to send your files once they are ready. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
2. Keep Out The Bad Guys:
Hackers are always searching for weaknesses in your site from outdated themes and plugins. They want access to your resources for free because who doesn't like free.
The number one reason sites get hacked is due to outdated plugins and themes. Because of vulnerabilities with these, hackers can easily plant destructive code. You should check your website for updates to plugins and themes.
While you're at it, take a look at the plugins that you are using on your site. Do you need them? Are they outdated? Were they created by someone reputable? Can a newer one take the place of several older ones?
3. Delete The Spam:
Spam comments are one of the most forgotten areas of your WordPress website. Before those comments have a chance to make it to your site, you need to stop them. There are several plugins available to combat spam, including Akismet, Antispam Bee, Anti-spam, or WP-SpamShield.
Depending on your website, you can receive hundreds of spam comments on any given day, which in turn created several entries in your database. Spam comments can cause you site speed to be slower. The more comments you have the more entries in your database. Keeping your database optimized is a great way to keep your site maintained.
Besides being annoying, there is no benefit to keeping spam comments around. Unless you're the spammer, of course, and one may slip through and give a backlink to your site.
4. Examine Your Frontend:
Your site is like your baby. You see it every day and are immune to things that aren't working or don't look right. It's a good idea to visit your site as a prospect or new visitor.
Start by opening a private browser. How do things look? Browse your site as a newbie would. Fill out the forms to make sure they are working. Click on buttons and links to see that they take you to the correct place. Open external links in new tabs or pages, so your user does not entirely abandon your site.
If you have a sidebar, is it overrun with widgets and fluff? It would be best if you made sure that all the elements of your website and pages contribute to your goals. Drop what you can that will cause a distraction.
And don't forget mobile devices. They have become a source of web browsing for many users.
5. Fix Broken Links:
Broken links cause 404 errors, which happen when a visitor or search engine bot goes looking for a page. It might not be a dealbreaker from Google's perspective; it does lead to poor user experience. You don't want to annoy your visitor.
It's easy to find dead links by checking your Google Webmaster account or a site like Dead Link Checker. Once you've found the broken links, you can fix them, replace them, or remove them.
To make sure your visitor hang around or find useful information, a custom 404 page will do the trick. A helpful 404 page will funnel visitors to things they may find valuable on your site.
6. Create Strong Passwords:
We know we need strong passwords, but that doesn't mean we always use them. I am surprised by how many clients come to me with the same password for every application.
While you need a secure password on your administrative account, it's just as important to insist on strong passwords for all users too. As much as your users might not like this, it's for their protection and yours.
7. Use SSL everywhere:
SSL certificates ensure that data transmitted from and to your site uses encryption. SSL encryption helps to keep your data secure, which means there's less chance it's spied on.
It would help if you used SSL on your site is you are collecting any data, including contact and opt-in forms. Many web hosts offer a free version of the certificate, so there is no reason why you can't have one. Plus, Google boosts ranking scores of those with SSL.
Another bonus is that when people see the little green lock in the browser, they tend to trust the site more. It's a small, subtle thing, but it's a thing none the less.
Wrapping It Up
It can be hard to stay on top of the maintenance of your WordPress site. These seven tips are the beginning to keep your WordPress site more secure and optimized.
If this list seems overwhelming to you, check out our maintenance programs. Whether you are looking for simple solutions or more support, we have an option for you.
So what do you think? Do you have any more tips to add or questions about keeping your site safe? Let me know in the comments below.
Providing technical services to my clients has given me a great look into the not-so-tech-savvy way things work. Lucky for me, technology has always come easy. I’m able to find ways to explain it to my clients, so they understand at a minimum, the basics of keeping your website up and running, which is a win for everyone!
There are three website mistakes that I see people do (or not do) that could be the difference between having a functioning site or constantly having unprepared issues.
To avoid website shutdown or the white screen of death (eek!) try these three simple things you should have in place to keep your website healthy:
1. Know Your Access Details
I’ve gotten my share of frantic calls from clients being locked out of their site because they did not set up the account and don’t have the information they need to log in. Or, worse yet, they simply didn’t understand the service, so they left it in the hands of someone else, without getting all of the details they needed at the end of the project.
So how is one supposed to be prepared and get control of your accounts?
Problem: You can't access your hosting account, domain account or WordPress dashboard because your web designer set up the accounts without sharing the details with you.
Solution: Contact your designer and ask for the account information. You can use a spreadsheet, password journal or an app like LastPass to keep the information safe for the following three key pieces.
What you’ll need:
a. Hosting Account – login information for your account and cPanel. Make a note of your IP address and name servers. Your host can help you gather this information.
b. Domain Register – login information to review your account information. Be sure that the registered domain is in your name with WhoIs.
c. WordPress Dashboard – login information. To keep things safe I create two user accounts: admin and editor. I do this, so my admin account always stays safe and non-published.
2. Have Backup Access with FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
Sometimes when your WordPress site goes down, it's because of a conflict or glitch on your particular site. But what happens when the entire WordPress site is down, and you can’t even access your account to fix things? Use FTP (File Transfer Protocol), which is a program that allows you to connect to your hosting account and files for your website.
Disclaimer: Let me say that you can do ALOT of damage if you get into your files and delete or move the wrong one. But it is important that you have the FTP information to access your account in the event of errors or white screens. Just tread carefully!
Problem: You cannot log into your WordPress dashboard because a plugin is corrupt or worse, a hacker got into your files.
Solution: Having FTP access will allow a web developer or problem solver to access your account through your hosting account back-end. FTP access allows a direct connection to the hosting files, so even if you cannot log into your WordPress site, your developer can get to the information to solve the issues. Phew!
What you’ll need:
Hosting FTP Access – create an account that is not the main FTP account. Be sure that it links to your access public folder. Your host can help you set this up. There are key parts: the FTP address (ftp.yoursite.com), the user account (this will look like an email address) and the password. Make sure you have all three parts for successful FTP Access!
3. Move Your Backup Off Your Server
Let’s start with the assumption that you are regularly backing up your website. Score one for you! The million dollar question is, are you moving your site to an off-server area like Dropbox or Amazon S3?
Backing up your files and leaving them on the server is like not backing up at all. If your files are on the server, and the server gets corrupt, or your host server goes down, you have no recourse other than to start fresh.
Problem: Your site server goes down, and you have to move your site, but your backup files are on the corrupt server, as well.
Solution: After you make your backup files, send them offsite to a cloud storage system like Dropbox. Also, you could use a service like VaultPress that will backup and send them to a secure area.
What you’ll need:
A Backup program that will send your files to a cloud area or offsite. Set up your backup program to automatically create the backup and then send it off. If you’re having someone do this service for you, be sure you have access to the where the files are sent to so you can get to the files anytime you may have an emergency.
Having control over these three areas will give you the extra protection you need to keep your site safe and functioning with no issues. If you’re having trouble gathering the information or don’t know where to start, schedule a Tech Talk with me today, and we’ll get you all set up so you can take this off your task list!Keep reading...
Who would have thought a move to Amish country taught me some lessons abut building websites.
A little backstory first. In the last five years, I’ve moved four times. The first move was to get away from the hustle-bustle of the big city. The second, we got an offer on our acreage and 100-year-old farmhouse. The third was due to transfer that the Hubs got which moved us to our “ideal” area. Turns out our ideal city didn’t gel with our idea of our forever home.
This last move presented itself as an opportunity to once and for all move to our dream area. Not many houses come up for sale here in our price range that don’t also need tons of work. We never thought we’d find a home, let alone the perfect home. But we did.
It was in an Amish community that doesn't embrace modern technologies — not least of which includes building websites. I moved here because I’m an old soul who cherishes this Mayberry type community and the simple people who surround it.
Kinda clashes with the WordPress, technology-driven geek that I am.
Not really…I’m slowly learning how to marry the two worlds. Having the best of both parts of me working together instead of clashing is such a refreshing way to live.
The Amish are a different type of people. They’re savvy business owners who sustain themselves and continue to thrive.
I’m fascinated by this.
Every time I visit a farm, shop or stand it gives me a chance to how they run a business.
Daniel, for example, is a furniture maker. I’m helping him build an addition onto his home for his in-laws. Not helping in the physical sense. Every time I walk into Daniel’s store, I buy another piece of furniture. (Coming soon…a beautiful oak desk and chair for my office). Enough lately to fund his expansion.
Because of the quality. Because of the one-of-a-kindness (is that even a word?). Wish I could bottle that when I'm building websites for everyone.
Take the wood for example. Daniel uses only oaks and maples. Fine hardwoods. They may be a little more pricey, but you know the finished piece will hold up and last for years.
This is why I choose premium themes for building websites on WordPress. With a premium theme, you get a well-coded site that Google loves. And because there’s a team behind the design, you also get updates when new versions of WordPress come out.
Daniel customizes his furniture to fit the needs and desires of his customers. Everyone starts with a blueprint or plan and then he makes it work for them. Could be the color stain added, the pulls on a drawer or in my case, adjustment to the width and length.
I love to customize premium themes for my clients, too. Every business and business owner is different. Their needs are different. Their vision is different. Their processes are different.
Which is a lot like WordPress. Everyone starts with the same framework, but you choose a theme and plugins that will make your site work for you.
With so many options to choose from, it’s best to get advice from someone who stays on top of timeless resources, as well as today’s trends. Having a designer who knows the best options makes creating the site easy.
You'd think that with Daniel making all these custom pieces it would take forever to get my order delivered. That’s not the case.
Daniel embraces his version of outsourcing. He works with another craftsman to supply some of his inventory. He’s great with tables and chairs but gets china and curio cabinets from another Amish woodworker.
This reminded me of the many partners I work with to supplement my skills and available time. I partner with copywriters, graphic artists and marketers so that I don’t water down my craft.
This allows me to concentrate on pulling your site together to make it work for you and your visitors. Having the best resources at my fingertips means it won't take me months to give you the site or page you need now.
Daniel does business the way he does because spending time with his family and on worship is important to him. He also recognizes that he's honed his skills with particular furniture types, but others would take too long to get right.
This simple relationship with my furniture builder has helped me to shape and change my business. Because of the coding and usability skills I've acquired, WordPress is my tool of choice. This doesn’t mean that I can't offer support on other technologies, but WordPress is what I’m best at and love to do.
I’ve stopped spending time providing everything to everyone and started offering WordPress production, support, and maintenance. I’m now able to do the things I love while providing the services that make me excited to get up in the morning.
How about you…need an awesome website or an update to your existing one?
If you need help with WordPress or your website, let's talk digital. Stop struggling with your site and start honing the thing that makes you a kick-ass business owner.
What is one thing you would change about your website? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.Keep reading...