Website Tips to Bring In New Customers

Though there are numerous social media platforms out there to help you boost your business, your website is arguably your most important marketing tool because it conveys to others you mean business. Whether you deliver a service or sell a product, it is important to keep the information up to date and easily conveys to the consumer what it is you are selling. Managing a website though is no easy feat, and if you find your site is struggling to bring in new customers, here are some website tips to follow.

1.You don’t have a good mobile site. According to Google, more than 50% of the world’s searches come from mobile devices.  With that said, having a responsive web design for your business is crucial. Responsive web design (RWD) makes web pages on all devices easy to read and navigate.

2. Your site lacks a brand. Branding is more than your business’ tagline and logo. It’s your image and voice-your message to the world!  A good brand sets you apart from your competitors and represents your story and values.

3.You don’t have custom photographs. Adding custom photos to your website enhances your brand. It brings a personal touch, a peek into your business, and uniformity. Additionally, you can put your custom photos on your newsletters, ads,  presentations, social media, brochures, and other print designs.

4. You need to focus on SEO/SEM. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a crafted marketing equation to increase the number of hits on your website. SEO is done so by dropping keywords in the correct places of your website to improve your business’ search engine ranking. SEO’s sibling is SEM (Search Engine Marketing). SEM is all about increasing your business’ impressions, clicks, engagements, and sales through paid advertisements on search engines and social media sites.

5. No clear call to action. You want to make it very easy to get in touch with you or purchase your product. Make sure the phone number and address, if you have a physical location, are easy to find. Additionally, make sure there are clear points on the website where you are asking for the users’ business and making it as easy as possible to buy.

6. Less words and more visuals. While studies have shown people are becoming more visually intelligent, your visuals shouldn’t tell your entire story. People will spend on average 2:30 minutes on your website and a minute or less per page. Visuals help to tell this story quickly and efficiently.

Chrome’s New Change

The purpose of SSL(Secure Sockets Layer), is to guarantee visitors they are on secure site. It is an encrypted connection between the web server and the visitors’ web browser. It helps prevent any attack or intrusive companies like ISPs from tampering with the data that is sent between websites and your own browser. Not only is it important to protect from sensitive information, but it also helps protect your site from any malware as well as preventing others from injecting advertisements in your resources.

There are three different forms of SSL:

  • Single –  secures one fully-qualified domain or subdomain name.
  • Wildcard – covers one domain name and unlimited number of its subdomains.
  • Multi-domain – secures multiple domain names.

The benefits provided by an SSL are not simply limited to security of data the consumer inputs into the site. Instead, it provides the consumer with the ability to identify the security and legitimacy of a website by verifying if the information on a website will remain secure and will not be intercepted on its way from point A to B. There are several advantages to SSL Certificates:

Authentication –  Online users always want to be sure their information or the content on a website, goes to a correct server without it being intercepted. Having an SSL certificate adds another type of protection called a server certificate. The server certificate purpose is to act as a mediator between browsers and SSL servers to show it is and can be trusted.

Encrypts Information –  Encryption helps to keep information read and used between two intended parties. When information has more “stops” to make, the higher chance a third party could access that information. When users are visiting your site, it’ll know that you have encryption in place in several different ways such as ‘http’ with ‘https’. This change shows the site is secure and is backed up by a lock image.

Critical for Payments – To meet with Payment Card Industry compliance regulations, online businesses need an SSL certificate with proper encryption of a least 128-bit. PCI have specific standards such as the SSL certificate is from a trusted source, has the right strength of encryption and provides a private connection for every page that personal information that is used. These standards are then verified, which then allow them to take credit card payments.

Business Proofing – Companies and business are prompted to have advanced security. As companies implement SSL, they are taking a step forward in future-proofing.

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.

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.

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.

5 Ways to Improve Your Website this New Year

A new year brings new resolutions, new improvements and new opportunities for growth. We’re sure you have a list of your own personal resolutions lined up and today, we are here to help you achieve your website resolutions and improvements for your companies sites. Follow along to learn about 5 different ways to improve your website and gain more viewers.

 

  1. Be obvious about website navigation.

Website navigations helps visitors find what they are looking for first, and increase search engine ranking second. Therefore, use keywords that would be obvious for your visitors; this may mean no internal lingo. Remember that the less clicks visitors have to go through to find what they are looking for, the better.  

 

  1. Add a CTA throughout your website.

After providing your visitors with all the information they are looking for, give them a sense of direction so they know what they can do next with the information provided. Remember that each call to action (CTA) should begin with a verb and should be set apart from the rest of information. For example, a yellow button that says “Add to Cart.”

 

  1. Add internal links throughout your website.

Internal links are not only great for SEO but they are also great for keeping your visitors browsing through your website for a longer time. Internal links can be used to direct visitors to pages with further, more detailed, information about a particular service or product mentioned in a different page.

 

  1. Avoid using carousels.

Statistics show that internet users don’t even get to the fifth slide in a carousel. If you insist on having one in your website, minimize the amount of slides to three. Otherwise, use alternative to carousels such as changing your layout to a Hero layout, highlighting your major services or products on the homepage and direct them to its page, or providing a video that highlights top services or products.

 

  1. Lose the testimonial page.

The truth is that visitors don’t go to your website looking for such page. The best way to highlight positive reviews about your company is by incorporating quotes or highlights throughout your website in different pages, such as the product page, about page, contact page, etc.

 

Industry Specific Social Site: ActiveRain

If you are in the real estate industry, you may have heard or already have an account with ActiveRain. This social channel is the world’s largest and most active professional network in the real estate industry boasting 285,233 members. If you happen to be in this industry but haven’t thought about signing up for an account, then read on to find out all the reasons why you should.

First and foremost, ActiveRain provides users with one of the industry’s largest real estate specific content library with over 4 million blog posts. This is due to members sharing their best practices from sales strategies and marketing to technology. Members are able to create and share blog posts onto the site to help teach and inform one other of real estate related topics. Through all of these helpful blogs, members are also able to build professional relationships with other real estate professionals around the United States and Canada, which can later help with building a national referral network.

These services can definitely help real estate professionals build a greater following; especially since other ActiveRain visitors are able to see member blog posts. The more people recognize your name and work, the better it will be for business.

Signing up to be a member of ActiveRain is completely free. In order to do this, click here! If you would like your blog posts to be seen and searched by the millions of ActiveRain visitors, you could upgrade your account to become a “Rainmaker”.  As a rainmaker member, not only will you be able to share your blog posts with millions of users but, you are able to create Hit Router and Home Search Campaigns using your IDX. To learn more about Rainmaker and its benefits visit here.

Color Combinations We Like

When it comes to web, print or, really, any design, color combinations play a crucial role in the designs appearance. Because of this, it is important to keep the basic rules of color combining in mind when creating a new design.

When deciding on a combination, you want to incorporate a variety of colors so that the design comes to life. At the same time, you don’t want to have too large of a variety since it could make it difficult for the audience to follow the design. In general, you want to have at least 3 main colors in your design:

  1. The Primary Color, which makes up about 60 percent of the design.
  2. The Secondary Color used to back up the primary color should make up about 30 percent of the design.
  3. The Highlight Color used to emphasize parts of the design should make up about 10 percent of the design.

 

Deciding on the right combination requires keeping in mind the basic rule of complimentary colors. These are colors opposite to from one another in the color wheel. In other words, cool colors with warm colors. Using a variety of shades of a specific color can also be helpful when deciding on a combination.

In general, the combinations are usually decided on depending on what kind of business the design is being created for. In this case, you would have to take into consideration what pictures you would need to incorporate, what colors are associated with the brand of the business, and what kind of influence is the business to make in the audience.

We decided to ask our Sperling Interactive team of designers what their favorite color combinations are. The following are their answers:

Andrew: A combination of light grays, blue, and white is Andrew’s favorite because it gives a clean and sleek appearance to the design, and simply looks good all together.

Jose: A simple red, blue and green is Jose’s favorite combination. These colors are highly influenced by the Dominican Republic’s flag and, also, by the fact that these colors can create a variety of other colors.

Julia: Recently, Julia has been enjoying white or subtle colors with a brighter accent color, like cream, white and a bright mint green. She feels it creates a modern and clean feel.

Holmes: One of Holmes’ favorite color combinations is light blue, gray and white with yellow highlights because enjoys the clean color the cool tones create. Another favorite is orange and yellow because these demand attention and are challenging colors to work with.

Rose: A combination of purple and green tones with some grays and white is Rose’s favorite because it brings color balance while still being lively.

Stacey: Bright floral color combination is what she enjoys the most along with shades of blue and gold. She says that, even though those are Michigan colors, the combination is a reliable contrasting one.

Current Web Design Trends

As time goes on and changes are being made in the world, so are there changes being made in web designing trends. There are many trends that have been developed in the past years, and today we are going to tell you about those trends you should consider when redesigning or creating a new website.

New UI patterns:

Obvious trends among websites are the new user interface (UI) patterns that include:

Hamburger Menu

This menu is recognizable to the majority of users, which makes navigating through the site much more simple and easier.
Example: National Geographic Channel National Geographic

 

 

 

Long Scrolls

The days of carrying all your content on the top of the page are no longer here. Thanks to smart phones, people have been accustomed to the long scrolls in websites. This trend usually includes clear breaks through the sections to create a “multipage” feel.
Example: Our Home Page

Card Sections

This trend has been developed from the Pinterest website where there are many “cards” with different content information. This helps users get the company’s information in small chunks while also giving them the possibility of clicking on them to get more information if needed.
Example: Topsfieldfair.org

Hero Images

There is no question about it; humans are easily attracted to visuals. By having a hero image as the home setting for your website can help grab users’ attention.
Example: Prada Website

 

Interactive Animation:

Another noticeable trend are small animations being incorporated throughout websites along with a large focus on interactive content.

Animation

Large and small scale animations are incorporated to create a more personal touch to the sites as well as making them more interactive thought hover tools, loading bars, pop-up notifications and more.
Example: AGildedNest.com

Interactions

Other ways websites can be more interactive is when slides are incorporated into the site. This creates a more physical interaction especially when it is full screen slide.
Example: ChelseaJewish.org

 

Responsive Design:

This design allows websites to be accessed from various devices without having to zoom in/out because the site is being shown just as it is.
Example:

responsive design

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flat Design:

Although this is an old trend that’s existed for many years, when new trends are incorporated into this design, it can create a fresh and engaging look.

Shadows

Adding long shadows onto certain materials can create movement and depth onto flat designs.

Bold & Bright Colors

A great color scheme can keep this design more interesting and pleasing to the human eye.

Typography

Using bold typefaces can make a flat design more even more pleasing to the eye, especially with a great color scheme.