Website Maintenance Checklist

We live in a digital world, so your business should always be striving to portray its best-self online to gain trust and validation from your clients and potential prospects. But having a fantastic-looking website isn’t enough. You also have to maintain it.

If you own an iPhone or have access to Facebook, you will know how often you are requested to install software updates to ensure you are operating on the latest iOS or app versions. The main reason for this is to stay protected from security threats. Older versions of software can develop bugs and vulnerabilities that if not addressed and updated, allows hackers and cyber criminals to get up to no good. The same goes for your website.

Your website is made from software including the website platform (i.e. WordPress), often a theme and various plugins that provide features and functions for your website to operate (think forms, social media feeds, SEO, security etc). Ensuring you stay on top of these updates, and general improvements around your site, will ensure it continues to run like a well-oiled machine.

As a business owner, we know how overwhelming this can all sound at first... But the key to good balance is to approach the tasks on a weekly, monthly and quarterly basis. By doing so it not only makes it more manageable, but less time consuming and even creates tasks you can delegate out to team members.

Don’t wait until something breaks, or for a customer to tell you that your site is not working or worse, it gets hacked. Start maintaining your website today with our handy checklist and instructions below, or jump over to our web maintenance packages if you'd like Digibrand to ensure you're putting your best foot forward.

 

WEEKLY

Backup your website files

Ever experienced that feeling when your screen all of a sudden freezes and you realise you haven’t hit ‘Save’ on the document you were working on? Yep. That horrible pit in the bottom of your stomach when you realise all your hard work (and the last 3+ hours you’ve spent on it) could have all been for nothing.

Think of your website like this. If you don’t take a backup of your website files on a regular basis, all that precious content you have created (and the money invested too) could go down the drain in a flash. Taking regular backups will ensure you always have a recent copy of your website should the worst happen.

And the great thing is Wordpress have a number of plugins that will allow you to take a back up of your site (and some are free too!). The most popular ones are BackUp Buddy, UpdraftPlus and BackWPUp.

Make sure that your website files and database backups are being performed on a weekly basis. If possible, include the dates you downloaded the files in the file names too. That way, if you ever need to upload a backup version in the future (which we sincerely hope you don’t), you’ll know which one to look for right away.

 

Check your 404 errors and broken links

A 404 error occurs when a page you were trying to visit, could not be found. It usually returns a ‘Sorry the page you were looking for no longer exists’ message or similar, but essentially means that the page you were looking for has been removed completely, moved to another URL or, perhaps you might have typed in the URL incorrectly (hey, no judgement here).

Running a link checker to crawl your site and look for any broken links will ensure you don’t leave any visitors frustrated or confused, and will also assist your search engine rankings.

Again, there are some free tools that will check broken links for you simply by entering in your URL. Use a free tool like Online Website Link Checker or a website auditing and SEO app like SEMrush. WordPress also has a free plugin called Broken Link Checker.

 

Check your contact forms

Perhaps one of the most overlooked website updates of all times, are contact forms. Whether it’s an enquiry form on your contact page, a lead magnet or subscribe function, test them regularly to ensure they are going to the right places and any automations you have in place are working correctly.

It’s not uncommon for a script or plugin update to cause a little havoc on your forms. So testing regularly will ensure you don’t miss out on any valuable leads because of a simple oversight.

If you find you are receiving a lot of spam type of submissions, perhaps look at adding reCAPTCHA to your forms. reCAPTCHA is a free service from Google that helps prevent spam and abuse by adding a “CAPTCHA” test to tell humans and bots apart.

Check out Google Captcha (reCaptcha) by BestWebSoft or engage a developer to add the Google reCaptcha Site & Secret Keys to your site.

 

Check comments, remove spam and reply to any unanswered comments

If you run a blog and allow comments to be posted without moderation, it’s a good idea to keep check on this on a weekly basis. Not only is it good practice, by reviewing this regularly means it won’t take up as much of your time, and the comments won’t pile up either.

Check out the Akismet Anti-Span plugin to keep any spam comments under control. It was likely already installed as part of your Wordpress setup.

 

Check ‘Site Search’ results for keywords and content opportunities

Does your site have a search function? If so, great! Did you know you can pull a handy report in Google Analytics that will tell you what people are searching for when they land on your site?

This is a great insight tool to understand your audience needs and what your site is either lacking, or making difficult to find. Casting your eye over this report will provide you with keywords and/or content opportunities to write a blog about, create a product/service for or ensure (if the content already exists) it is easy to find.

Site Search Results can be a handy way to understand what your visitors are looking for on your website. If you have a search function on your website (most do), head on over to your Google Analytics and enable the search results.

How to set up Site Search:

  1. Log in to your Analytics account.
  2. Click Admin in the bottom left corner.
  3. In the View column (third column), click View Settings.
  4. Scroll to Site Search Settings, set Site Search Tracking to ON.
  5. Next a ‘Query Parameter’ field will open giving you the option to strip the ‘query’ characters from the URL in your search results. What this means is…. When users search your site, a query string including the search parameter and search terms are usually included in the URL.For example, see below search results from ‘Website Layout’ on digibrand.com.au. You will see s (Digibrand’s query parameter) followed by the search term ‘Website+Design’:https://www.digibrand.com.au/?s=websiteTherefore the query I want to omit from my search results is ‘s’.

To view the report in your analytics, navigate to Reports / Behaviour / Site Search / Search Terms.

 

Review theme or plugins updates

As mentioned previously, it is crucial to keep all the functioning parts of your website such as plugins and themes, up-to-date to ensure you are not exposed to security vulnerabilities and performance is maintained.

Besides security, these updates can often involve new and improved features or fixes for bugs users have previously reported. Updating your plugins regularly means your site runs smoother and faster and your server isn’t being weighed down with a clunky, old plugin.

There are a few things to know and look out for before you go diving in and updating every plugin update in sight...
First, check ‘View Details’ to see what is included in the update and if it is compatible with your version of Wordpress.
If unsure, check support forums or your development team for feedback.

Most importantly, ensure a full site backup before installing the update so if for any reason there are performance issues you can roll back to your most recent working version of your website. Another good idea it to update one plugin at a time so that if anything breaks you can pin point which plugin may have caused the conflict.

 

MONTHLY

Review your Google Analytics reports top and least performing pages, user behaviours goal tracking and KPI’s

Keeping an eye on your Google Analytics is a good way to keep a finger on the pulse when it comes to your website and how people are using it.

Getting a handle on your GA will give you insight into where people are spending their time, what pages they are going to next, where they drop off and what percentage of users are actually making it to the pages you want them to see.

Another good tip is to also look at what devices people are using to view your popular pages. If mobile is accounting for more than half of your traffic to your top performing pages, ensure these pages are optimised for a mobile experience and that your call to actions are in the appropriate places.

If you have goals in place, it’s a good time to check in on their performance and the conversion data in your reports to confirm that key actions and events are being recorded for analysis.

 

Test your headlines and call to actions

Off the back of your reports, you can draw some assumptions and conclusions as to whether your headlines and Call to Actions (CTA's) are doing the heavy lifting you need them to do, or if it might be a good time to change it up a bit.

A good website should provide a clear path for users to get the information they are looking for and/or take the action you want them to take. The homepage for instance, should feature CTA's that encourage users to explore the site further, sign up to your lead magnet or move them closer to the sale.

Buttons and headlines that say “READ MORE ABOUT ...”, “SIGN UP FOR A FREE TRIAL” or “DOWNLOAD OUR FREE GUIDE” are all examples of CTA's. Ensure the CTA's on your site are clear and instruction based so your users know what is expected of them, or where you are leading them to next.

Remember, if you are adding a new page whether it be a new service, piece of quality content or product page, consider adding a new CTA (button) to your homepage or top performing page/s. Your users won’t be able to find your new page if you don't tell them that it exists!

If you are experimenting with headlines and CTA's, remember to take stock of your current site performance and then review/compare again in a months time. Rinse and repeat the process.

 

Create a monthly blog or optimise your site with quality content

Blogs can be super helpful not only for answering your potential prospects questions and moving them through the sales funnel, but also for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) purposes.

By adding fresh and relevant content to your website, Google sees that you are ‘active’ and rewards you for it.

The key here is a couple of things…

  • Make sure the content you are creating is relevant to your target audience and/or industry
  • Optimise your content for relevant keywords and search terms
  • Be consistent. The key to creating a successful blog is being consistent with content and your brand voice
  • Ensure any new pages and/or blogs are updated to your sitemap and indexed on your Google Search Console

It’s also worth highlighting when blogs or outdated content can be detrimental to your site. If you have a blog, but the last post you made was sometime back in 2017 (or older), users can very quickly be deterred and question the accuracy of your entire website.

People want to buy from businesses that know how to deliver the goods or service in the best way possible. Your outdated site may not only make you look like you are out of touch with advancements in your industry, but that you simply don’t care. And that’s not the impression you want to be giving. For more on how an How an outdated website is hurting your business, read our post here.

 

Check your product or service pages to ensure they are up to date

As your business evolves, so should your website. Be sure to check in on your product and service pages, update any pricing, service inclusions, product FAQs or complementary products and services that can be considered as additional revenue streams.

 

Review keyword and search performance

Google Search Console is the best free tool for understanding what keywords are driving organic traffic to your website.

 

Check Google Search Console for web errors and ensure sitemap is up to date

Google Search Console is a free tool that measures all things web performance, site traffic, keywords and notification of any issues your website might have when it comes to search results and ranking.

Checking your account for any error logs and notifications will help you to stay on top of any issues and rectify them promptly. Remember to check your sitemap and ensure any new pages to your site are being indexed. Check for broken links to delete or redirect traffic to the page’s new destination.

 

Check site speed

No one likes a slow website and neither does Google. Use Google PageSpeed Insights (another free tool from Google) or GTmetrix to check how quickly your website pages load and get tips on how to improve your page speed.

 

Remove old, unused or unnecessary plugins or resources from your website

Too many plugins can weigh down your website and cause it to become slow and sluggish. This is due to the extra resources and scripts all working at the same time to pull data from the server. Review your plugins list and deactivate and delete any that aren’t being used or are no longer necessary.

This is the same for any images or resources heavy pages. All too often we see images being uploaded to the Media Gallery and pages that are in excess of 2MB (sometimes 5MB!). These are considered hi-res and great for printing purposes, not web people. To use these same images online, resize and resave at a lesser quality. Where possible, try and keep it under 100KB.

If you’re familiar with and have access to photoshop, open your hi-res images and go file ‘Save for Web’ or if you’re looking for free tools - TinyPNG is just as good online resource for this task.

 

QUARTERLY

Change your admin password

Just as security plugins are great for detecting malicious code or attempts on your website, it pays to also update your password. A combination of letters and numbers, not including your name or the business name and adding a few symbols, hashtags or exclamation marks will help keep the bots at bay.

You can also use an online password generator tool or use a platform such as Dashlane to store, remember and update passwords to all your accounts.

 

Review website goals and KPI’s

Set website goals that will directly impact your business goals. Looking to improve sales of X product by 15%, set a website goal that will track product views, add to cart and/or checkout. Looking to increase email subscribers or product downloads? Set a destination goal that tracks page views of the thank you pages for successful signups.

Whatever your goals, use your website as a tool to help you drive these forward. Too many business owners settle for having a website that does little more than function as an online sales brochure and are missing the mark when it comes to their websites full potential to support their business.

Remember to review, rinse and repeat when it comes to setting goals. As your business goals change, so should your website goals and CTA’s accordingly.

 

Review design of your website and images

Images can be just as powerful as words. Choosing your images carefully and using high quality images (and in particular, human faces) can make or break your websites ability to connect with the user.

Evaluate the images being used on your website once a quarter and make a plan for replacing any that are outdated or don’t reflect your brand or business.

Keep abreast of web design trends or consult with your web team for the latest in conversion rate optimisation design tricks and hacks. For more tips on web design that will boost your conversions and user experience, read our blog post here.

 

Update any recent and relevant work

Got a job that would make a great case study? Don't forget to put it up on your website! Take the time to think about any recently finished projects, schedule in photography and be sure to ask your client for a testimonial or review of your services. Testimonials go a long way in influencing the purchasing decision.

 

YEARLY

Renew your website domain

This one we see a lot… websites going offline usually due to a domain not being renewed, renewal notification being missed or credit card details on the account expiring. The good thing is, most providers give you a 1-2 week opportunity to rectify the situation.

In any case, knowing who your domain provider is and setting appropriate reminders to ensure your account is up to date and renewals take place will keep things ticking over like clockwork.

FYI when purchasing a domain, most are purchased for 2 years and then renew yearly (to the date) after that. If your developer or web team purchased your domain for you, it’s a good idea to check in with them that they are managing the renewals process and/or if you can have it transferred to your own account so you maintain control of your digital assets.
Review your website host

As with interest rates and loans, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the market and compare plans amongst web providers. There are plenty out there and all offer competitive pricing.

Aside from pricing, some other factors worth considering are:

  • Storage
  • Bandwidth
  • Security
  • Customer Service
  • Location

Personally, we choose to host and recommend Digital Pacific and VentraIP as their servers and support teams are all Australian based and extremely helpful. One thing to point out if you are considering a new hosting provider is to consider where your emails are hosted (if on the same server as your website) and the temporary email disruption should you wish to move. Consult with your hosting provider what services are included for email migration or engage an IT professional to assist you with any of the technical setup on your devices. If you have any questions or need further direction on this, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

 

Update the current year in the footer

Another common oversight in all things web updates is the copyright notification and year in the footer of your website. As mentioned above when it comes to outdated content bringing the integrity of your website down, this is the tell-tale sign that can bring all your hard work undone.

Most of the time, this can be changed by navigating to Appearances / Widgets / Footer or Bottom Footer widgets. Alternatively, have a poke around your theme settings. If you need help finding the date and getting some instruction for updating this in the future - be sure to drop us a line and mention this article.

 

If you need any further guidance on any of the tasks mentioned in this post, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re always happy to help.

 

Third party plugins and companies are suggested in this blog article, of which some are affiliate services of Digibrand. Rest assured however, we will only ever recommend services that we would recommend to our grandmother.

 


6 Things To Think About Before Doing A Website Redesign

You might have several reasons for considering a website redesign. Perhaps you have a new product or service you wish to promote, perhaps your audience needs and desires have evolved or perhaps your brand or business has simply outgrown the current format. Whatever the reason, there are some basic considerations to think about before you go diving in and that’s what we are going to cover today.

Firstly, if you are considering a website redesign it’s a great time to look broadly not only at your website, but your brand and business too. Too many business owners settle for having a website that does little more than function as an online sales brochure and are missing the mark when it comes to their websites full potential to support their business.

Take a moment to look at your own website. Can you say it sufficiently supports your business and where you want to be heading?

When done correctly, a website redesign can accomplish a few things. Not only will it make your site more user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing, it can build trust, credibility and become the lead generating machine you need it to be, improving your overall marketing and bottom line as a result.

With proper planning, research, and a little foresight, you can help make your next redesign a huge success – and not to mention, a lot less stressful. If you put in the necessary time and effort to answer think about these things now, you’ll not only save yourself time and money, you’ll be miles ahead of your competition too.

Here are the things you should consider before moving forward with a website redesign.

 

1 | What has prompted your website redesign?

For a redesign project to be truly successful, you’ll need a solid understanding of why you’re doing a website redesign in the first place (and for whom, but more on this later).

Maybe you’re not getting enough leads, maybe it’s outdated, doesn’t match your brand or what you stand for, your business has evolved, or maybe it IS generating leads, just not the right ones and not quickly enough. Dont be alarmed, this is a good thing!

The reason it is important to identify the shortcomings of the existing site (and why it might not be performing to your expectations), is to ensure you make the changes which will fix that when you rebuild it. Without this, you will only be masking the problem - just with a shiny new look and slightly updated content.

 

2 | What are your business goals?

Whilst an outdated appearance and content tend to be the more common motivators for a website redesign, it’s important to identify and set clear business goals for your website and communicate these goals to the team building your website. These goals should drive the design and structure of your entire website.

Here are some examples:

  • Increase brand reputation and awareness in local area
  • Increase sales by 15% in the next year
  • Sell 10x product each quarter
  • Upsell clients from X product/service to X product/service to create $X additional revenue
  • Build passive income stream from X service
  • Sign up X new clients at a rate of $X

At the end of the day, your website is one of the most important pieces of your brand collateral and serves a specific purpose to your overall business strategy. It should therefore be designed and developed in a way that is helping you to get there.

 

3 | Who are your users?

User-centered design is no longer an afterthought, it should be the driving force to your design brief. You can have the most beautiful website in the world, but if it isn’t meeting the needs of your users, then you will have missed the mark completely.

Ask questions like:

  • Who is your primary audiences?
  • Why and how are they coming to our website?
  • What keywords are they using?
  • What information are they looking for?
  • How do your products or services help to solve the problem your customers have?
  • What do they seem to be struggling with on your site?

Getting a grasp on who your web visitors are, their reasons for visiting and what information they are looking for or task they are hoping to achieve can greatly affect the success of your website. Afterall, they are who you create your products and services for in the first place, right?

If there’s a disconnect between how your site is designed and what resonates with your customers, hands down it’s going to be a conversion killer.

 

4 | Audit your current site

A website redesign is the perfect opportunity to review both your content approach and user experience. An intuitive website with good content is what visitors want, not generic information which can be found on other websites (like your competitors!). By understanding what the user is looking for, what questions they need answered, and how they’ll look for it on your website is the only way to really set yourself up for success.

Start by looking under the hood. Go through your Google Analytics and find out what pages are the most popular, what pages have the highest bounce rates, what pages are being viewed on desktop vs mobile (are your pages designed/optimised for mobile?), what sources are bringing in the most traffic, what keywords are being used or searched for onsite.

Behavior flows are also a great report to provide insight on how website visitors are moving through your site. This data can help point out any common paths to product or service information, as well as any roadblocks. Knowing this can help you open up those roadblocks, or make typical user journeys easier to follow by bringing them to the forefront.

Gathering this data will give you a greater insight into how your audience is using your site, what content is most popular, what might be missing and what can be repurposed, refreshed or what needs to be created from scratch. Remember this – content is what converts, the design should help with the process of converting.

Don’t just take your own word for it either. Recruit some of your peers - friends, family, co-workers, industry peers or perhaps one or two of your key customers of whom you value their input. A fresh set of eyes can do wonders to testing out your user journeys and spotting any potential issues or deadends.

Tip! It’s also a good idea when conducting a site audit to also review your competition for inspiration and to get a view of industry best practices. Understand how your site is stacking up in terms of messaging, structure, visual design, and functionality. Are they doing anything better than you are currently? Or is there anything your site is lacking and you could do better? Taking stock of what is currently in the market will help you ensure your new site will really stand out.

 

5 | How will my site generate leads

The number one goal you should have for your website is to generate new leads for your business, otherwise what is the point in investing a big chunk of money? Start considering different ways in which your site can help you increase leads or at least improve the quality of these leads, close more deals or get more ROI out of your marketing efforts.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • What is one piece of free valuable content you can offer to your potential prospects? This makes for a great Top of Funnel awareness piece that you might promote via a downloadable ebook to capture leads with an initial offer.
  • Where do your prospects currently struggle in the sales process? Are there questions you can answer up front that might speed up the sales cycle?
  • How many CTA’s need to be on each page? Depending on the length of the sales page, you might strategically position different CTA’s around the page (remember to test and refine).
  • Are you selling physical products or virtual downloads? How are they being delivered?
  • What information do you need from your customers to qualify a lead?
  • How will people continue to follow your business after leaving your site?
  • Do you have a content strategy in place that reflects the positioning of your business?
  • How will you continuously drive new traffic to your website?

Social media is now a critical part of your marketing. Thinking about your traffic sources should be a vital part of your launch strategy. In the words of Sabri Suby “We’re living in an age where you can have access to millions of prospects within hours”. And it’s absolutely true. Google and Facebook have paved the way for us to have access to millions of online users in the matters of minutes. And the best part? Compared to traditional advertising you can put your best foot forward for a fraction of the price (and measure the ROI!).

Side Note... if you’ve not read Sabri Suby’s book ‘Sell like crazy’ add it to your list. NOW!

Above all, remember to make it easy to convert the customer’s interests in to leads. Create a clear conversion path, with an appropriate call to action and/or information that will lead them closer to the sale. Another tactic you can try is to look at the top performing pages (as found in your site audit) and add forms to the pages that are generating the most traffic.

 

6 | What does your site require

Last but not least, if you are embarking on a redesign/rebuild now is the time you should be planning for the features and functions that are going to best support the tasks you need your site to perform.

Start by brainstorming a features and functions wishlist. Take note next time you are browsing or visiting a website for information on a problem you are experiencing. Competitors are also a good source to check out, have they got anything in place that you could implement and improve upon?

Features and functions may include:

  • Online shopping capability if selling a product or complementary service is part of your future
  • Video and Audio (think explainer videos or podcasts)
  • Membership capability to restrict content to subscriber levels or paying members
  • Downloadable resources
  • Surveys if you wish to find out more about your audience
  • Online forms perhaps you have a paper based application form you could build online
  • Calculators or industry tools
  • CRM or other third party software integration (accounting, quoting, POS)
  • Case studies or portfolio area to showcase your work
  • Blog or News area
  • Hosting provider or packages

Once you have your wish list, you may want to use this handy tool to prioritise based on the value the feature or function will add to the overall experience, versus the cost to implement. Your web team should be able to assist you with this.

 

Bonus!

When briefing your team on a website redesign, be sure to include the following requirements as a mandatory.

  • Responsive Design - Ensure your website is responsive across all devices. With mobile’s increasing role in the decision making process, it is essential that your website be mobile-friendly so prospects can browse or find information regardless if they are on a mobile, tablet or desktop. Google will also thank you for it by using the mobile version of your website for ranking and indexing.
  • Optimise for SEO - There are many ways to optimise your site for SEO during a website redesign however consider the following as your key foundations.
    Well-written page titles, meta descriptions, and permalinks for all of your content
    Design content for readability and include headers and subheaders
    Target the right keywords on all your pages
    Check site loading times and make them as minimal as possible
    Ensure 301 redirects on any page URL’s that have changed with the content restructure
  • Google Analytics - Install (or transfer your existing) Google Analytics account in order to continue with performance reviews. Take note of your pre-site audit and conduct another in 3 months time to see if there are any improvements or actions.
  • Adopt Conversion Optimisation Tactics - Use powerful headlines to wrap your sales pitch in one sentence. Ensure your website is set up to be able to edit and test your headlines and CTA’s. Simplify your navigation so it is easier for people to use your website. The simpler it is, the more likely they will go on to become leads. For more on this, read our post on Web Design Tips to Boost Conversions and User Experience.
  • Share the love - Collate and request reviews and testimonials from previous clients and showcase these around your site as a form of social proof.

 

Remember, your website is the one tool that will work for your business 24 hours a day, every day of the week (and year!). Even when your store or business is closed, your website is open and able to take enquiries from potential prospects and customers. It’s your 24/7 workhorse, your marketing and sales force, your best brand representative, your customer service team and THIS is what you should think of it as.

If you need guidance on the journey to a website redesign or help on using any of the provided templates, get in touch with the team at Digibrand today.


8 Web Design Tips to Boost Conversions and User Experience

It’s no surprise that first impressions matter. When a visitor lands your website for the first time, they immediately form assumptions on your business and decide whether to take the next step or abandon mission completely. The way your homepage (or landing page for that matter) is set up can make or break your conversion rates, regardless if they have come via search or even the best referral.

You only have a very tiny window of opportunity to engage a user when they first land on your site, so make every. second. count!

That’s why it is important, even more so now than ever before, to follow website design best practices that will directly impact your conversion rate. You don’t just want your website to look beautiful, you want it to function as a conversion machine and be sending through those hot little leads.

Here’s how.

Consider the Rule of thirds

This design principle essentially divides your website into thirds – or nine equal squares.

rule-of-thirds-intersections

The four middle intersections are strategic positions and create the most impact for image or design. Place your most important elements such as CTA’s (call to actions), key headlines or USP’s (unique selling points) at these intersections since this is where eyes will be drawn.

 

Consider the F layout

The F layout relies upon various eye-tracking studies for its foundational concept. These studies show that website visitors read the screen in an ‘F’ pattern – seeing the top, upper left corner and left sides of the screen most… only occasionally taking glances towards the right side of the screen. These eye-tracking studies argue in favour of placing the most important elements of your website (branding, navigation, call to action) on the left side of the design.

Here is a heatmap demonstrating the F layout.

f-layout-heatmap

And what this looks like as a wireframe.

f-wireframe

Images by envato.

 

Colour & Contrast

Getting your colour palette right and incorporating a contrast colour for your CTA’s is critical.

If your call to action or lead magnet is blending in with everything else on the page, who’s going to see it and click on it? Chances are, no one.

If you want your users to convert on an offer, make sure it stands out from the rest of the page by using a greater contrast colour.

 

Direction Cues

You want to make it as simple as possible for visitors to take action and that means building your webpages so that they point the way to the action you want them to take. Think arrows, triangles, lines or imagery to create a strong connection between the user and the image. Did you know, research suggest we are all wired to react to a baby’s face.

web-principles-baby

I mean come on, if you didn’t just smile are you really even human?

 

Leave plenty of white space between section

The more white space – also called negative space – the better. The less cluttered that your designs are, the easier it’s going to be for the visitor to decide where they are supposed to take action. If you group items too close together, you risk overwhelming visitors and convincing them to click away.

White space also makes it easier to communicate a single key message to your user as it’s given breathing space and a clear focus.

 

Gestalt principle is the law of similarity

Our brains love to take shortcuts and make assumptions all the while reassuring ourselves that everything has been thought out.

For example, we assume unification or relatedness to visuals based on proximity and whitespace. Visuals in close proximity are perceived as related although that may not be true. Another example is that of similarity, where elements that look similar are considered to be related and elements that look different unrelated. To apply this in your web design, try grouping items you want to be associated with one another such as a glowing testimonial under the lead magnet or item you are selling.

 

High quality images and human faces

Using high quality images and, in particular, human faces will ensure that your conversion centered website elicits emotional responses.

Human faces are very powerful (as we just discovered). We are all constantly exploring the world around us by looking for something familiar. Familiarity gives us a feeling of comfort and reassurance.

“When we see a face, we are automatically triggered to feel something or to empathize with that person. If we recognize content on a website — such as a problem, dilemma, habit or whatever else — we feel connected and understood.”
– Aarron Walter, User Experience Designer

Here are some of our resources for sourcing hi quality imagery:

iStock
Shutterstock
Adobe Stock
Unsplash
Pexels
Death to Stock
Superfamous Studios

 

Social Proof

At our very basic, we are all social creatures and as such, we look to other people to guide our behaviour. Including social proof will help visitors feel better about any decision to engage with you and buy from you. One of the simplest ways to help build rust is to deliver social proof which is simply feedback on how other customers and visitors have felt about your products and services. This can be simple in the form of star ratings or longer in the form of full testimonials, reviews or recommendations.

 

There you have it! Some simple design principles to keep in mind when next approaching your website home or landing page design. One item not covered here but still just as important is the age old mantra “Keep it simple (stupid)”. The simpler your content can be, the more intuitive the pathway (and not to mention aesthetically pleasing) and more likely the conversion.

Many of these principles can be implemented fairly quickly and easily, if you would like a hand reviewing or optimising your site for conversion and user experience, get in touch with Digibrand today.


How an outdated website is hurting your business

Do any of these sound familiar?

You haven’t updated your website since the early-mid 2000's

Your company has evolved

Your audience has evolved

How people use the internet has changed (fundamentally!)

If you don’t understand how an outdated website is hurting your business, you could be leaving money on the table (or driving it straight to your competitors).

In many cases, your website is your first point of contact with prospects and it is being used to shape the perception of value and quality you offer. Your website is being used as a tool to form assumptions on you, your company, your products and services before deciding whether or not to take the next step whether that be a phone call, request for quote or purchase.

Let’s look at how an outdated site might be hurting not only your business, but your reputation and credibility (ouch!).

Complacency is a killer

When you land on a site that looks like it hasn’t been touched in 5+ years, you assume some things.

“Business must be slow for these guys. It doesn’t look like they’ve touched their site in 5 years.”

“I wonder if they’re still in business?”

or…

“It doesn’t seem like these guys would be in-the-know”

And before you know it, they’ve hit BACK and you’ve lost the sale.

It takes less than 4 seconds for site visitors to form a first impression about your business and, once that impression is made they will either stay and explore what you have to offer, or they will leave and take their business straight to your competitors. It happens that quickly.

Hands up who’s exited a website before it’s even had time to load 🙋. Add to this a horribly out of date website design and things aren’t looking so good for your credibility.

When your website looks ignored, is out of date or looks like it hasn’t been updated since the 90’s (the box design, cliche or pixelated images and fonts are a dead giveaway), it sends a message to your visitors.

People want to buy from businesses that know how to deliver the goods or service in the best way possible. Your outdated site may not only make you look like you are out of touch with advancements in your industry, but that you simply don’t care. And that’s not the impression you want to give when you’re working tirelessly behind the scenes to continue to drive the dollar and have a profitable business to one day hand over, or sell.

We get it, some businesses (especially those who may be less tech-savvy) find it easier to provide quality customer service in-person, but with the ever increasing rate of searches taking place online (and predominantly via mobile), it is vital your online experience is just as good as the experience they will receive offline - otherwise there is a clear disconnect.

With a vast array of screen sizes from phones to laptops and tablets, it’s important to make sure that your site is adaptive and responsive to all devices. There’s nothing more annoying for a customer than to have to continually stretch, pinch or scroll a screen simply to see content or worse, get no response when they try to navigate between pages or make contact with your business. Add to this a 4 second chance to make a good impression (as we just spoke about) and Google’s mobile first index and you’re suddenly wondering how you even get any traffic (let alone enquiries) at all!

If you’re wanting people to find you online, then ensure they can do this seamlessly on any device. To see how responsive your website is, enter your URL in to this handy tool: http://ami.responsivedesign.is/

Simply put, a responsive web design leads to a good user experience, and you will also earn Google’s favour which will lead to greater rewards (and higher rankings).

Another key identifier of your site being out of date, is that it falls in to the ‘pretty brochure of information’ type of website. Remember, people are looking for solutions to their problems - it’s how they’ve come to land on your website in the first place. When you neglect something as important as your website, your visitors may be thinking that you neglect other areas of your business. Instead, use your website as a tool to empathise with your audience, find the pain points that trouble your average customer and clearly demonstrate how your business will remove them.

If the information customers want isn’t available on your site, they’ll go elsewhere. If however, you can move them by speaking their language, chances are you’ll move them a step closer to becoming a long-term customer.

So how do you know if you have an outdated website?

If your website features any of the following, it might be time to think about investing in a new website:

  • Your website uses Flash
  • Is not responsive or mobile friendly
  • No current way to edit or manage the admin
  • You don’t have Google Analytics installed
  • Excessive or obvious use of stock photography (i.e. lady with headset or handshake stock photos)
  • Box design that puts all your content above the fold
  • Pixelated or blurry images
  • Huge uncompressed image files
  • Low word counts on key pages
  • No clear call to action
  • Out of date products, services or no recent examples of work
  • Former employees still listed (or new employees not yet listed)
  • Too many sidebars or widgets
  • Unnecessary page clutter
  • Auto-play videos
  • Background music
  • Huge uncompressed image files
  • Excessive image borders
  • Broken links, images or logo

If you’ve let things fall to the wayside and think it's time to invest in your business for the future, read our handy post 5 Things To Think About Before Doing A Website Redesign here.

Final thought.

An outdated website limits your ability to reach and engage with your audience. An updated site is secure, displays text and pictures easily, loads across platforms and designed to generate more traffic and leads. If you’re not getting the traffic or conversion your business requires, let's talk about how we can fix that.


Do you want to speed up your WordPress site?

Speeding up your website offers a wide range of benefits for your business - faster loading pages will:

  • Increase pageviews
  • Improve user experience
  • Assist with your WordPress SEO

Why does your website need to load quickly

You have a matter of seconds to highlight your offering and your content and convince visitors to stay on your website, to engage and to convert.

A slow loading website means visitors will potentially click off your website before it even loads - meaning they will see/read nothing about you.

According to a StrangeLoop case study, a 1 second delay in page load time can lead to 7% loss in conversions, 11% fewer page views, and 16% decrease in customer satisfaction.

Add to that, Google and other search engines have already started penalising slower websites. How? They are pushing them down in the search results which means lower traffic for slow loading websites. If you want more traffic, subscribers, advocates and website generated revenue - then you need your WordPress website to load and load fast.

So, how do you make your site load faster?

There’s quite a few things you can do in order to speed up the load time of your web pages and they are all easy - aka no coding required.

  • Install a WordPress caching plugin
  • Optimise images
  • Ensure your website is updated regularly
  • Optimise the background processes
  • Don’t upload video and/or audio files directly to your website
  • Use a theme which is optimised for speed
  • Use faster plugins
  • Use a CDN (content delivery network)
  • Use excerpts on archives and homepage
  • Divide comments into pages
  • Divide long posts into pages

And now it gets a little trickier aka you may need some technical assistance to implement the following:

  • Reduce database calls and external HTTP requests
  • Optimise your WordPress database
  • Limit the post revisions
  • Ensure you are using the latest PHP version
  • Disable hotlinking and leeching of content
  • Use lazy loading and a DNS level website firewall
  • Fix any HTTPS/SSL security errors

If you need help to determine if your website is, in fact, loading slowly and then how to fix that just get in touch with the Digibrand team today.


Website ‘not secure’? Here’s how to deal with it

Google Chrome browser update (version 68) bought about a new ‘not secure’ warning in the URL address bar. Essentially, this warning is shown wherever you visit an insecure web page. It signifies a lack of security for the connection to that web page - it’s telling you that info sent and received with that web page is unprotected and you run the risk that it could be modified, read and/or stolen.

The ‘not secure’ warning appears on all web pages using the HTTP protocol and where a secure connection is not possible. It does not mean that the website is affected by malware.

Websites have been transitioning to HTTPS (note the S) which is used by millions and millions of websites and does provide security to protect your data while you browse, log on and make online purchases.

If you do see the ‘not secure’ warning on a webpage you own provided over HTTP we suggest enabling the HTTPS protocol for your website. What is it? HTTPS used the SSL/TLS to offer a secure connection which is authenticated and encrypted. You can use this protocol by purchasing an SSL certificate which you then install to enable it on your web server.

We suggest starting out by assessing if your site currently has any support for HTTPS - some have partial support. If partial support exists look into how to deploy HTTPS across your entire website (or by default).

If HTTPS is not deployed at all get assistance about the SSL certificate you will need - this will depend on the number of domain names you operate and other issues such as if your business needs to be validated for additional user trust.

As all the big web browser players - Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari and Google Chrome move to a user interface that will warn website visitors of insecure web pages it’s important to more to HTTPS - for security and a better user experience.

To get assistance on HTTPS protocol for your website just contact the Digibrand team today.


How to optimise WordPress website images

We can all agree that website images have the ability to grab a reader’s attention, break up large chunks of text and enhance the likelihood of content being share across the internet. Sadly, images will also increase the load time of your web pages which, in turn, increases the likelihood visitors will leave your site. Add to this; too many images can significantly increase your bandwidth. Not such a big deal when you first start out but can increase your hosting costs in the long run. So, how do you optimise WordPress website images to ensure both bandwidth and load times are considering?

File Formats

The most commonly used file formats online are JPEG and PNG with GIF to a lesser extent:

  • JPEGS are better suited for photography due to the number of colours they contain. This format uses compression in order to reduce file size.
  • PNGs are more suited to screenshots and website design images such as icons and buttons. Using lossless compression techniques the quality is better, but this also means larger file sizes.
  • GIFs are better suited for low quality images with only a few colours. This format is best known as the file format for animated files.

Optimising images before uploading

You can adjust the sizes of images as you see choose or you can configure WordPress to create:

  • 150×150 pixel thumbnail image
  • 300×200 pixel medium image
  • Or, 600×600 pixel large image

If you uploaded an image that was 1000 pixels wide, you could display the large image in your article and link to the full size image. This is exactly what many website owners do although it’s not always the best course of action. The file size of thumbnail images will be smaller however it won’t be compressed.

A much more effective method is to optimise images BEFORE uploading them to the website. Most editing software and platforms allow you to reduce the size/compress the image for use online.

Optimising images after uploading

There are many plugins available which allow you to optimise your images after you have uploaded them to your website. While not ideal - it can save time. Plugins, such as Smush.it, allow you to optimise by converting GIF files to PNG, removing meta-data, optimising JPEG compression and more.

The importance of optimising your images should not be underestimated - it will reduce your page loading time, reduce bandwidth and improve your website experience for visitors. Just keep in mind that compressing image will reduce both the file size and the quality of the image - here’s where creating balance is of the utmost importance.


4 Essential Steps to Brand Strategy

Let’s start with what will happen if you don’t have a concise brand strategy; you won’t have clear marketing goals for your business. It will be tricky for your clients/customers to understand what you stand for, what you can provide, what solution you can offer. A defined brand strategy provides clarity - for your business’ way forward and for your clients/customers way to you.

What is a brand strategy?

It’s your plan of how you will define, create and share your brand with the world. And, it’s about more than just your logo; it’s the customer experience and the quality of your offering (products and services) to.

A clearly defined and consistently executed brand strategy will assist with:

  • Improved sales
  • Stable business growth
  • Setting you apart from the competition
  • Attracting more clients/customers
  • Decrease confusion about your brand
  • Increase trust and customer loyalty

Within your business, a brand strategy will keep everyone involved stay on the same page, maintain a sense of purpose and increase feelings of inclusion and productivity.

So, regardless of whether you’re a start-up that’s branding for the first time or ready for a rebrand after a while in your industry, a brand strategy is essential, and here are the four essential steps to creating it.

1. Clients/Customers first - always

Sure, your brand strategy is designed to support your business however, if you create and implement a customer-centric strategy you’re more likely to succeed. Focus clearly on what your clients/customers need and want - this will foster customer loyalty and repeat patronage. Remembering that it’s often more efficient to retain a client than constantly searching out and converting new ones.

How do you have a customer-centric brand? Be relevant, showcase personalised content and really get to know your audience.

2. Be consistent

Inconsistency confuses everyone - your customers, your potential customers, even your own team. If you use different logos, fonts, colours, packaging without an identifiable theme you will lose sales. Consistency across your branding will increase your visibility and, by default, increase your sales and profits.

Keep in mind that consistency goes far beyond looks (visual elements). Be consistent across your values - if you promote that you’re eco-friendly - prove it in across your communications, products, packaging etc.

How do you maintain consistency? Create branding guidelines, keep them up-to-date and ensure every single person involved in your marketing efforts has a copy and adheres to it. Your branding guidelines should include everything from the tone of voice to use when writing social media posts, to how, where and when to use the logo.

3. Be emotional

While it might sound odd, being emotional in business is a game changer. Learning about your customers’ emotions and leveraging that knowledge is a massive leap towards creating brand loyalty. And that loyalty creates sales, repeat custom, and advocates for your business (think referrals and free exposure).

How do you encourage an emotional connection? Be authentic - across the board. From how you respond to customer service enquiries to the copy on your About Us web page - it’s important to be sincere. Your brand will appear more relatable and accessible if you use a conversational, friendly tone of voice in all of your communications. Highlight those things/issues/views that are important - when your values and your customers’ values align you are likely to create a connection.

4. Keep an eye on the competition

When you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors’ brands then you can apply those findings (both good and bad) to your own brand. Example - if something is lacking in your competitor’s customer service, perhaps that’s where you can step up. If your competitor is doing something great, then perhaps you could become better, fantastic at it.

How do you keep an eye on your competitors? Undertake some competitive analysis - pop onto their websites, scope their social media accounts. If they have a physical shopfront - go in for a visit. Try to understand how their brand makes you feel and the quality of their customer service offering.

A clear brand strategy can be an integral part of improving the success of your business. A definite plan will easily communicate what your business is about and where you’re headed. For help with creating your essential brand strategy, contact the team at Digibrand.


Google Maps widget stopped working?

If you are using a standard widget by Google or some other plugin with Google Maps API by side developers, then starting July, 16 you may find that Google Maps are not working on your website.

That’s because Google recently announced the launch of their new Google Maps Platform and pricing structure for businesses making use of the Google Maps APIs to deliver customised Maps, Routes and Places experiences on their website. While the product updates rolled out on 11th June, the new pricing structure took effect on 16th July - forcing many websites using the Google Maps API to display a ‘development purposes only’ watermarked message.

The newly-named Google Maps Platform is being brought under the Google Cloud umbrella and consists of three core products: Maps (for delivering customised dynamic maps, Street Views and 360° views), Routes (directions and traffic) and Places (location names, addresses, reviews etc). Each has its own pricing structure which you can find here.

For many businesses, you’ll continue to pay nothing under the new ‘pay-as-you-go’ system as you will qualify for the first $200 worth of free API calls. However, you still have to create an account and provide Google with billing details to keep using the APIs. This is applicable to all users – even those with a simple map embedded on their website’s contact page. To set up your account, click here.

Under the new pricing strategy employed by Google for their Maps Platform – all users get to make $200-worth of API calls for free each month.

That works out to:

  • up to 28,000 free loads of Dynamic Maps; or
  • up to 100,000 free loads of Static Maps; or
  • up to 40,000 free Directions calls; or
  • up to 40,000 free Geolocation calls.

Importantly, the new pricing system allows unlimited free use of simple Dynamic Maps in Embeds and in Mobile Native apps. However, if you use the Embed API in Directions, Views or Search mode, you will be eligible for billing.

For more information or if you would like Digibrand to assist you to set up your Google Maps Platform account, simply drop us an email to [email protected].


Google rolls out Mobile First Index

While we’ve been warned since 2016 about this, finally Google is rolling out its Mobile First Index.

What is Mobile First Index?

Mobile-first indexing means Google will use the mobile version of a web page for indexing and ranking in order to assist primary mobile users find what they are searching for online.

Primary mobile refers to the fact that the majority of people using Google search as doing so from a mobile device. Essentially, soon there will be only one index for search result - so not a mobile-first index and a main index - so Google will begin to look only at the mobile web pages to index the web rather than the desktop version.

What does this mean for websites? Well, you now must have a mobile friendly or mobile responsive website in order to be indexing and ranked by Google.

What is responsive design?

Simply put, it is when a website is responsive - so the layout and/or contents of your website respond or adapt based on the size of the screen on which they are presented. Typically there are four general screen sizes that responsive design are aimed at - widescreen desktop monitor, the smaller or laptop screen, the tablet and the smartphone.

How is this different from adaptive design?

There are three main techniques for serving up mobile content - responsive design, adaptive design (which is also known as dynamic serving) and separate mobile URLs. It’s pretty easy to identify separate mobile URLs by looking at your browser’s address bar however telling adaptive from responsive can be a little trickier.

Adaptive websites detect when the reader is on a mobile device and presents a different HTML accordingly.

Responsive websites will change the layout based on browser window size, regardless of device.

If you’re not sure if your website is adaptive or responsive then you can visit your website on a desktop and see what happens when you resize your browser window. Then you can check and see what is displayed on your mobile device.

When getting your website ready for the mobile first index, here’s a checklist for you:

Refine your visuals

Creativity is great, but don’t try to be super creative and use all the design principles at once. When a user sees too many objects of differing colours and styles on a tiny mobile screen, it can make their head spin. In other words, they simply leave your site. Quality design is never loud. It’s sensible, and it guides the user through your site. Minimalism is the key to a great mobile site.

Reduce redundant content

Though the screen sizes of mobile devices have grown larger, they’re still smaller than laptop or desktop screens. It’s important not to crowd a small screen. The fewer the text and visual elements on a mobile site, the easier it is to navigate.

This is especially important for people on the go — while shopping or glancing at a screen while on the train commute.

Be thumb friendly

What’s the most important action that a user can take on your site? Is it making a purchase? Or liking a post? Or reading a specific text? Make sure that this action can be accomplished with only a thumb.

To accommodate more information on a small screen, some designers mash links and buttons right up against each other. Unfortunately, this often leads to unintended button presses and frustrates your users!

Prioritise and make your most important call to action buttons large enough so that users can click on them without zooming and having to use their pinky.

Speed things up

Mobile users care a lot about a website’s load speed. They get irritated if your pages take more than a few seconds to open. When designing for mobile, keep in mind that some users may have slow internet connections.

Quite often a page’s speed is held back by data-intensive image or video content. Optimising your images will vastly improve your page load time.