We’ve talked about this before. The importance of making sure your website game is on point.
But that was years ago now. And some new things have emerged for consideration. Sure, some things remain true. First, unless your customer base is already firmly established (i.e. you’re making plenty of money without one), you have to have a website. Next, your site should be easy on the eyes. Not too cluttered. A common word you’ll hear among design enthusiasts of all sorts, is “clean.” Another basic tip, have a qualified writer help you craft the language for your site. That’s all stayed the same.
Now, you may be thinking, “I don’t need to think about that stuff. I already have a good website.” Oh, but how wrong you may be. How time flies! There is always going to more to learn and to keep in mind.
So, what else should we heed? Here is a list of further things to recall when assembling or, more importantly, maintaining your site. It’s a combination of familiar basics plus new information you may not have considered since you first launched your site.
If you were an early Internet adopter, good for you! You saw the wave coming and you knew to jump on board. Still, most people from this generation built sites with static pages. In other words, these websites were launched and left alone soon thereafter (Oh, pobrecito, little website, pobrecito). These sites functioned essentially as an extension of one’s business card or brochure. And that’s great, but I’d bet you’ve updated your business cards and brochures way more often than you have your website. Which means, depending on how long ago you went live, you may have severely out-of-date information on your pages. Maybe you have offers that no longer exist. Your bio may sound like you’re still only starting. Could be you have a bunch of broken links. Perhaps your site has been hacked with sex advertising (Actually happened to someone I know) and you didn’t even realize it! You get the picture.
I’ve mentioned this before. But in the age of “SEO experts,” it’s worth mentioning again. Are these guys a riot or what? They claim to have Google all figured out (Make outrageous claims much?). Plus, there is a fair amount of writing out there about how gaming the SEO system can harm your site in the long term, particularly when the algorithm is altered to stay ahead of all the people — who are seeking to game the system. First-page-ranked sites have been known to drop into an abyss once the Google detectives are on to you.
Worse, however, is the utter disregard some of these quacks have for the customer experience once arriving on your site. A lot of these SEO guys will totally cram your website with tons of unproductive text in order to impress the search engine. And I mean, disgusting alphabet vomit. Sure, it’s possible you’ll now rank highly for some computer code. But it’s the customer that you really have to rank highly for.
Most web visitors will make a determination in less than 10 seconds as to stay or leave your website. So, what’s the point of landing first-page real estate if everyone that clicks can’t find what they are looking for and bounces out shortly thereafter? Would you rather have high traffic and no conversions? Or lower traffic and higher conversions? Machines aren’t buying from you, people are. Keep this in mind when crafting the visual and narrative flow from your homepage to the contact page.
Here’s a little test. Pick up your smart phone, open your browser app, and type in your URL. How does your site look? Navigable, easily legible, well-formatted? Or do you have to pinch-to-zoom, drag, and scroll left and right just to read the page? Today, more than 80% of web surfing now happens through mobile browsers opposed to desktop browsers. Consequently, all properly qualified web designers and developers are using templates and code that automatically adjust to look sparkly on both. Hence, the term “responsive.” If your site isn’t mobile-friendly (remember what I told you, too, about typical bounce rates), you are likely missing out on a lot of new conversations, networking opportunities, and yes, fresh business.
Why are we so embarrassed to see what we wore in our photos from high school? What makes something appear current or not? It’s hard to say with certainty. A lot of times, it’s just a gut-feeling in combination with broader cultural context. You just know when something seems… well… passé. While I wouldn’t encourage you to be a full-time trend-chaser, at the very least we can admit that whatever looked hot half a decade ago, probably shows up in the discount rummage bin today. Out of sync. Kind of faded. Even mildewy. Ew!
Along with your wardrobe, your website has to keep up too. As a side note of the brick and mortar type, I know a cafe/restaurant in the Western Addition of San Francisco that seems to have given itself a makeover every five or so years (remodel plus menu update) to keep up with the changing demographic of the neighborhood. It makes good business sense. Refresh the look and feel of your brand as the times progress. Whether physical or virtual, project a sense of present-day awareness and first-rate quality.
As a general rule, I’m going to recommend you steer clear of what developers refer to as “hard coding.” This is typically utilized to generate unique design attributes. However, too much hard coding ensures you remain tied, whether either of you likes it or not, to the person who built your site. Any little change may require an altering of the code rather than a simple fix made by you from the dashboard. That spells extra time and extra money for you. Plus, there’s a strong chance your developer would rather be working on a new exciting contract than on piecemeal repairs for a former project. Worst case scenario (and it happens a lot!), your developer might abandon you entirely, leaving you to potentially have to begin entirely from scratch. What you want is full control of the reins for basic updates over, at least, the next five years — until you make your next redesign.
It is for this reason that I am going to recommend you use the industry standard: WordPress. It is what is holding up this very site you are visiting now. It is a relatively stable platform with user-friendly settings. It also gives you access to a grand library of plug-ins that grant you highly customizable functionality. This means you can grow and make adjustments to your business without having to strip everything down to the ground and start anew. Still, novices are going to have to experience a learning curve when first giving this option a try. Not a horrible investment to pay for longevity and relevancy. If you have the budget for a designer/developer, this is certainly the route you will want to take. See the little demo below on how to buy a hosting service and mount WordPress.
With only a few words of caution, I am also going to recommend another site-builder called SquareSpace. My only hesitation is that many of the sites I’ve recommended previously, due the the rapid speed of the Internet, are already either nonexistent or stale. Still, I was searching for the ultimate easy-to-use web-maker for clients and I discovered SquareSpace by far qualifies. Last I checked, WordPress templates (the free ones anyway) were still kind of clunky and required the finesse of a professional to smooth out. This is where SquareSpace excels. Just about every template they offer possesses a look of modernity and spaciousness, plus everything I mention above: easy on the eyes, navigable, clean. All ready to go, no tinkering needed. In fact, I’d recommend against any tinkering, code-wise, for reasons described earlier. But also, because the designs are already so flossy and streamlined, unless you are a legit designer, you’re likely to screw up an already good thing. Add to the mix that SquareSpace is cost-effective and user-friendly, and you have what I would call a perfect starter kit for the new business owner, almost no tech skills required!
Of course, I had to test it for myself before giving it the green light. While ArtofHustle.com will remain an active space for fresh content and workshop announcements, this new one will function as a more grown-up home base for the coaching services. It only took me eight hours to learn and have up and running! Please check it out and especially visit the newly crafted biography titled “Anthem’s Story.” Tell me what you think.
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