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.

 


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.


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.


What's all this talk about GDPR and what it means for your business

Let’s start at the very beginning - what is the GDPR? The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is European Union legislation that commenced being enforced on May 25, 2018, however its purpose can be summarised very simply:

Its aim is to strengthen the rights of data subjects within the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) with regard to how their personal data is used and how it’s protected. (‘Personal data’ means any information that relates to an identified or identifiable natural person).

To that end, the GDPR is structured around six key principles:

  1. Transparency on how data will be used and what it will be used for.
  2. Ensuring that the data collected is used only for the purposes explicitly specified at the time of collection.
  3. Limiting the data collection to what is necessary to serve the purpose for which it is collected.
  4. Ensuring the data is accurate.
  5. Storing the data for only as long as necessary within its intended purpose.
  6. Prevention against unauthorized use or accidental loss of the data through the deployment of appropriate security measures.

In addition, there is a new accountability requirement to be able to demonstrate how compliance with the principles is being managed and tracked. This will mean maintaining records of how and why personal data was collected as well as the documentation of the processes put in place to protect it.

Who does GDPR apply to?

The GDPR applies to any organisation inside or outside the EU who is marketing goods or services to, and/or tracking the behaviours of, data subjects within the EU and EEA. If you do business with Europeans that involves the processing of their personal data, this legislation applies to you.

Penalties for non-compliance are significant, with large fines for those in breach of the regulation: the maximum fine for a single breach is €20 million or 4% of annual worldwide turnover, whichever is greater.

What does this mean for your business?

As businesses, if we create customer experiences that feel personal and human, that are founded on trust and delivered with care, we will win their hearts and minds.

Though the GDPR doesn’t use these terms our goals are the same, namely to respect the rights of our customers and go on to earn their trust. To build and maintain that trust we, as businesses, need to be attuned to the how, when, and why our customers want to be engaged and respect their preferences.

How you address these higher expectations around the collection, use, and security of the personal data that we routinely use in the course of our business is key.

There are two key aspects of the GDPR where businesses need to review past, current, and future practices. The first is consent by the individual to process their personal data and the second is accountability, namely being able to demonstrate how they comply with the principles of the GDPR.

Consent

The definition of consent under the GDPR is: “any freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of the data subject’s wishes by which he or she, by a statement or by a clear affirmative action, signifies agreement to the processing of personal data relating to him or her”.

This dual need for an ‘affirmative action’ that captures consent which also must be ‘specific’ in how the personal data will be used before any processing of the data represents a significant change for most marketers in how they record and respect customer preferences.

Of course, customer preferences change over time and rarely exist in perpetuity and GDPR has something to say about this too—namely that organisations must make it easy for data subjects to make any changes in preference or withdraw consent altogether. Essentially it must now be as easy to withdraw consent as it is to give it.

All businesses need to audit, identify, and review the current points at which they are collecting personal data for processing.

Consider what personal data you need to do business and create relationships, how long you need to hold that data, how safe and secure it is, how you will accept specific consent and how you delete that data once there is no further need for it or a customer withdraws consent.

Accountability

The most significant addition to current legislation under the GDPR is the accountability principle. The GDPR requires you to show how you comply with the principles—for example, by documenting the decisions you make about a processing activity.