5 Must Have Features for Your Small Business Website

Making sure your business website has everything it needs can be a little overwhelming. From having all your business contact information properly in place or having to be certain that your website has a clear description of what your services are can make a huge impact on whether a view becomes a customer. Having a clean and modern approach to your site is what makes a business successful, especially when it embraces the right features. Here are 5 features each website should have:

  1. Mobile Friendly – Your small business depends on a good mobile strategy. Today, the majority of people research, browse, shop and do absolutely everything straight from a mobile device. Making sure your site supports every inch of its site through mobile can make a huge difference in keeping your customers happy and also informed.
  2. Integrate your Social Media – If your business is serious about using social media as a marketing tool either for your business or as a resource, having it connected to your site is important! Having it integrated with your main site allows an easier way for you to connect with your customers and vice versa. Always be sure the buttons are visible on every page, preferably top or bottom of the site.
  3. SEO – Search Engine Optimization is fundamental for any and every small business website. When using SEO, they have two functions: providing a ranked list of websites based on relevance to search term, as well as crawling and indexing sites. It helps position your website at a proper place where customers can find you easily when in need of a specific product or service.
  4. Include Testimonials and Reviews – Using testimonials of the customers who have used your business can help convert your website visitors into customers. This feature is one of the best ways to grab attention to your customers by showing the uniqueness of your business in comparison to others. It allows the customers to get to know you from a different perspective.
  5. Easy Navigation – Having a clean and easy navigation throughout your website can make your customers very happy. Think about what customers need to do on a specific page or where they should go to contact a staff member or customer service. The main page should have features that are easy to navigate to your customers.

These features will help you get started on your business website and successfully maintain it up-to-date with your customers.

How to Make your Business Blog Unique

Your blog is a great representation of what you want your business to stand for – well thought out and accurate knowledge for your audience. Blogging is known as an effective way for businesses and individuals to provide information, gain more business and create a strong relationship within their customers/audience. However, as the blogging industry continues to bloom, you’ll find hundreds and hundreds of blogs all trying to grab attention. Knowing what can make your blog stand out from the crowd is an important key to its survival.

So, how can you make your business blog unique?

  1. Content – Using content that specifically meets the needs, services and products of your business will be useful for your clients. Using ways to provide new and informative content to your blog gives your customers and easier way to be in the know of everything in your business. The more useful information you post, the more your readers will become regulars.
  2. Images and Videos – Having mixed media within your blog can definitely be a boost and maintain traffic. Having mixed media is a way to have your readers engage on a level that they prefer, making them crave for the next post.
  3. Find the Holes – One of the best ways to stand out, is looking for holes in any offerings of your competitors. If many fail to provide a service to a problem, use that specific niche as a problem solver and stand out with the difference.
  4. Become the expert – Your post can help demonstrate your expertise on a particular subject within your business, whether it’s in photography, graphic design, etc., over time you can become a go-to resource to your clients. This trick can help your readers be engaged in learning new resources and solutions in the specific subject.

Remember, your business blog should be easy to read and still encourage your readers to engage. Providing effective posts can create a support and loyalty system to your readers and customers.

How Long Should A Website Last?

When creating a website, the idea of how long it’s meant to last should always be kept in mind. On average, 3 to 5 years is the standard length to a website’s life. The design and coding is an important factor to take into account when creating your site. It’s also important to question what features are better for your website? Is it still helping your business? Or is it easy to access and navigate for your customers and clients?

The best ways to maintain the website’s life is to have constant and frequent updates on everything – many times allowing you to add new features and functionalities to your website as time progresses. After a few years, a website can begin to lose its appeal and can cause unwanted issues for your customers. Similar to seeing an old restaurant lose its appeal, customers can identify when and what websites are new and which are dying out. Therefore, a redesign has the potential to produce better results of turning visitors into sales, or even provide other valuable improvements to your business.

Here are some solutions to help keep your website looking brand new: 

  • Making sure your website contact is up to date like the contact information, or checking if your business hours and location are still current. If your staff members are also included in the website, it’s a good idea to keep track of the current ones as well. Aside from accurate content, providing important information to your website such as FAQs, articles and information for clients will allow them to frequently visit your website for anything they need.
  • Social Media is a big deal for any business success. Make sure your social media accounts are all linked correctly. By linking your media accounts directly, it allows everyone to follow the accounts to their preferences – Use buttons such as “Like/Follow/Share/Connect”.
  • Another cool feature you can design into your website are blogs or discussion forums. It gives you and your audience a better way to connect, as well being a great opportunity to keep track of any event, information or product that your business promotes.
  • Attract your audience eyes by providing more images and/or videos. This is a great way to add content that can help extend the time your site design remains for viable.

Depending on your business, a fresh design varies from an entirely new website. Different elements can be added or changed on a regular basis. In many cases, applying new designs to your already existing website does the trick and saves you time from having to redo it from the ground up. This lets you redesign and rebuild more quickly and effectively while still giving you the chance to update any changes later on.

The 3 Secrets of Successful Website Content

Businesses today require more than just price, quality and convenience. Instead, it requires a successful online foundation it can continue to strive and attract its customers. When using a successful online process, it’s important to know which factors will make your audience come back. Here are some tips to help you better engage your audience and keep your content to a perfect amount.

  1. Engaging but To-the-Point Content – When dealing with content, your main goal is to engage your audience but also to get your point directly across. For example, think Buzzfeed. The articles aren’t incredibly long, and the paragraphs are properly divided out to get their points across. The best way in doing so, is to point out examples that are short and directly will get your goal across to your readers.
  2. Compelling Imagery – It is much easier to process information with images. It  breaks up long chunks of text, as well as create a stronger experience for the audience to scan the site they are seeing. When using images, use images that are professional and relevant to what your content addresses. In addition to this, use images that are high quality which will bring a unique experience to your audience.
  3. Satisfying UI/UX – User Interface and User Experience is all about how the site looks and flows to your audience. Of course you’ll want it to attract the eye, as well as be intuitive and easy to navigate. However, it’s important to have it clean and consistent (user experience) before look (user interface). You shouldn’t have to teach your user how to navigate your product. In doing so, you avoid using too many new, intriguing features so it’s not overwhelming to your readers.
  4. Know What You’re Trying to Say – It’s important to know exactly what you want to say, and what your main goal is when having an online presence. In doing so, you can represent accurate and related topics and suggestions that better represent your brand. You’re also able to better engage your audience to social media platforms that will represent your brand to not only your needs, but to the needs of your customers as well. For example, if your business is strictly photography, platforms such as Instagram or Facebook can be a better platform to your brand because you are able to promote your photos and engage your customers accordingly.

With these four helpful tips, your website will be able to have accurate content to better suit your customers and your businesses.

PR Essential You Need to Know

When dealing with Public Relations, you never stop growing professionally and even personally. With every new development in the business, you adapt and take in a bit of information every time. With the right skills and motivation, a successful career in PR isn’t hard to come across, however, which essentials are needed in public relations? Follow along for a list of the top skills a PR must have.

  • Communication – From being a good listener, communicating with others is something that will happen every single day. As a PR person, you must be able to pick up on the slightest tone or emotion during a conversation. Aside from not allowing your emotions cloud your judgement, having a clear way of speaking and choosing words carefully, allows you to build a relationship with your client.
  • Expert in Social Media – The social media is redefining communication today as we know it and being knowledgeable about social media is an important factor. Knowing your client’s voice is vital to their needs, and knowing how to brand that out on social media is what they will need. Making use of Google Alerts and other tools keep you on top of the hot issues and on top of the competition.
  • Research Skills – A good researcher, in order to communicate accurately, needs to be knowledgeable about their clients and what their needs are. This allows you to keep track of a fast-paced markets and keep you up to speed with current affairs.
  • Be Creative – As a PR professional, not only will you be creative in writing, but being creative in ways to promote new businesses and approaching new clients. As a profession that is always calling for fresh new ideas, having a creative streak is a crucial skill to have. If you can think out of the box, you’ll make your clients happy.

Better Photos for Your Website Using A Smartphone

Ever wonder how people take these wonderful and bright photos on their phones? How could they get a perfect angle, with the right amount of light without a fancy camera? You look through their Instagram and Flickr for inspiration and next thing you know, you’re trying to take pictures like them. With practice and patience, taking top notch pictures on your phone will become a habit for you. Here are some tips to try to get a better photo without the use of a professional camera!

  • Use Grid to Balance – The grid is your bestfriend. Using the grid is great to help improve the balance and focus point of your photo. With a series of lines on the screen of your smartphone’s camera, based on the rule of thirds – a photographic composition principle that says an image should be broken down into thirds, vertically and horizontally, giving you nine parts in total to use. By  points onto your focus, your photo will become more balanced, leveled, and focused.
  • Edit, Don’t Filter – Why use the same filter many, many people are using as well? Branch out and be creative. By editing your photos, you can get creative with lighting and choosing what colors are going to bring your photo to life. There are several helpful apps that are perfect for editing to help you get perfect exposure, filtering, convert to black and white and help get rid of blemishes and unwanted spots. A few apps that are free and great for editing are VSCO and even Snapseed, which is great to use for tools like removing any unwanted object or to enhance the mood of your image.
  • Focus on One Subject – The best photos always include that one subject, whether it be a plate of food or one specific person. In which case, spending extra time on the shot is an important key. By tapping on the screen, it allows the camera to instantly focus on your subject, helping you ensure the right focus and lighting.  Always remember not to let your focus take up too much of the frame, but instead allow two-thirds of the photo to be negative space – letting the focused subject stand out even further.

With these helpful tips, you’ll be able to get the right focus, with the perfect lighting and edits to get your picture perfect!

Importance of SSL Certificate

Have you ever noticed the http:// and https:// in front of a URL before and wondered what they mean, or why the variation exists? Well, that is because the S in front of the Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (http) determines whether or not the website has a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificate. Do you have an SSL Certificate in your website? Let’s look at some of the reasons for why you should consider it.

The ultimate purpose for an SSL Certificate is to secure all communication between your browser and the website, which secures the connection between clients and the server as information is being loaded. It encrypts all the data so it’s only understood and seen by those who are intended to have the information. This encrypts information by using two different keys. One key is the private, which is only known to the recipient of the data, and the second key is public.

This is important because information that is submitted to the Internet could get lost, or end up in the wrong destination since these data pass through multiple computers before reaching its target. SSL Certificates holds all types of important information, like the domain name, the owner’s name, the location of the owner, and more! Could you imagine if this type of information ended up in the wrong hands? That is why SSL is important.

If your business is a retail business or requires the exchange of money, having an SSL Certificate is a requirement. In other words, you need to have an SSL Certificate in order to accept online credit card payments. Aside from this, though, online users who know of SSL will NOT risk shopping on a non-secure site, so not having one can inhibit your business’ sales. Having this certificate can not only help you keep all important data secured but also help create a trusting relationship with your customers, which is needed in order to ensure that they will return to your site.

Plugins We Like: WooCommerce

E Commerce is the transaction of money made through the Internet. Having a reliable way to make such transactions is crucial especially when your entire business depends on it. This is why WooCommerce is our go-to ecommerce plugin.

WooCommerce is a free WordPress plugin created to allow you to sell absolutely anything, from physical object to digital tools. It is also one of the most used for online stores on WordPress, which could be because of the full control WooCommerce provides to both store owners and web developers. With this plug in you get control of the following:

-Discounts

-Bookings (for restaurants, hotels, etc.)

– Memberships and subscriptions

-Shipping Rate

-Shipping locations

-Transaction type

-Shipping company

…. AND MORE!

We asked our designers and developers Stacey, Clair and Azizul what their opinions are on WooCommerce and why it is our most favorable ecommerce plugin. According to their experiences, they have found WooCommerce to be highly customizable and easy to manage items. They also agreed it is very user friendly for clients with multiple built-in payment options and easy checkout process. They did point out, however, that there are many premium plugins that require payment so, not all the customization options are free. Another important fact to note is that this interface is most useful for small to medium ecommerce businesses. If you are a small, startup retail business owner, WooCommerce would be the best option for you.

Developing Apps for Small Businesses

Mobile apps have become a great way for businesses to stay in the loop with their customers. For small businesses, it’s an even better way to branch out and receive more customers and even more traffic with the use of push-up notifications.

The mobile app industry is a huge competition, but inventing a brand new idea that helps your business will only keep your customers loyal to you. Whether it’s an app never developed before or an already existing app with a twist that makes yours stand out, apps will boost your success. From simplifying online purchases to gaining easy access to your information, the benefits they have is why small businesses are now developing apps to stay competitive in their market field. So, how do you start an app for a small business? Here are some tips to get you started.

 

What’s your goal?

The idea for the app is your first step, however, what is the ultimate goal? After thinking about what idea you want for your app, think about what its main purpose in your business is, and use that as your main focus. For example, if your business is all about catering services, your app will be promoting your catering services. Creating a clear view of your business to your customers need will be very important in motivating them to download it.  

 

Design for your audience

Sure this is the hard part, but knowing your target market is the main goal in any business. Knowing what they need and who they are, whether they are iOS or Android users, helps develop your app to work better by knowing what your customers issues are and giving them a platform that they can use as a solution. The best way to find out your target market is through the use of surveys. With these, you can find out which types of apps they will resonate with, and what they dislike or like about mobile apps?

 

Branding information

If you already have a branding set, such as logos, colors, fonts, etc., share the information with your developers. This gives developers the opportunity to provide you with the necessary solutions to your unique business needs, like your app loading faster, working on several platforms, keeping the aesthetic clean, and making it simple and effective.

 

Keeping WordPress Secure

A new year gives you a great start to take the best measures to boost up your security. Even WordPress pros can often forget that staying on top of the simple things can lead you to a successful and safe site. Here are a few tips to keep you and your WordPress in the right direction, secured and away from being vulnerable from any sort of attack.

 

Change your password (often) and don’t use common usernames.

It is highly important to always make sure your password is being changed often and that it is fitted for security. Random strings of numbers and letters are the best way to keep your password safe from hackers. You can even use password generators such as Norton Password Generator to give you a top-notch one.

Shy away from using ‘admin’ or anything simple when creating your username for WordPress. If that’s the case, you may change it by adding /wp-login.php or /wp-admin/ at the end of your domain name.

Another great way to keep your security measure boosted is through two-step authentication. Two-step authentication (2FA) means a password is required along with an authorization code that is sent to either your phone or email, in order to get through the site. Owners decide what those two can be, whether a regular password followed with a secret question, a code or set of specific characters.

 

SSL to encrypt data

SSL, Secure Socket Layer, ensures security to data transfer between user browsers and the server, which makes it difficult for hackers to breach the connection or access your information.

For WordPress, you are able to purchase one from dedicated companies or ask your hosting firm to provide you one, often found in their hosting packages.

A bonus to using SSL, is Google ranks sites with SSL higher than those who don’t have it. In other words, more traffic for your website.

 

Securing themes and plugins

WordPress is updated frequently. Updates that are made for the purpose of fixing bugs, as well as updating vital security patches. In doing so, can cause some serious harm that you want to avoid at all cost.

In other words, update plugins, themes, everything. Regularly.

However, if you do want to use the built-in plugin and theme editor in the dashboard, you’re better off disabling it. Authorized users are given access to this editor, and, if by any chance the account is hacked, the same editor can be used to take down the entire site just by modifying the code.