Posts Tagged ‘Content’

WordPress – Why Your Company’s Website Needs It

wordpress website logo

As an agency specializing in WordPress design, we often hear business owners say their company already has a website. Then when we begin explaining the value of having a WordPress website to them, they quickly want to know why their current website isn’t good enough and why they should switch. Sound like you?

Or maybe you have already ruled WordPress out because it’s designed for blogs, which your company doesn’t use (although you should!). WordPress has been around since 2003 and in the beginning it was targeted toward bloggers, but it has evolved into the #1 most popular content management system (CMS) for good reason! Over 24% of the internet’s websites are powered by WordPress, with that number rising every year.

So why is it different? What are the benefits? Though there are literally thousands of reasons to convert your site to WordPress, I’ll give you the most popular ones:

WordPress is Free!

This fact still excites my developer husband. With thousands of design themes and plugins to suit any website need, it truly is amazing that WordPress is a free software service. It’s free because it is run by a volunteer group of consultants interested in expanding the software. It’s a community where experts are invited to create a theme, write a plugin, answer tech support issues, and generally contribute. Once you begin using WordPress, all those community benefits become accessible to you. You receive support, downloads, themes, etc. And many are also free to install and modify, which makes WordPress so universal and loved.

The open source code is also especially helpful for beginners wanting to learn how to maintain their own website. It enables anyone to view, study and change the source code of the software. The only investmentĀ required is on hosting and a domain in order to operate WordPress.

WordPress isĀ User Friendly

wordpress website cms

No coding experience required. Novices are able to upload video and pictures, edit blog posts, manage content and create new pages. WordPress offers hundreds of articles for beginners. The WordPress platform allows you to log in from any computer, day or night, and make changes so you don’t have to wait until Monday morning to contact your design company. You have control. And because blogging was the original target for WordPress, it remains to be the simplest platform on which to blog. Blogging is already built in to WordPress and ready to use, so every site from e-commerce to photo gallery will gain from its benefits.

WordPress is SEO Friendly

If your company’s website is struggling for first page placement on Google searches, then powering your site through WordPress is a good option for you. WordPress’ code is written to be highly compliant with search engines. It’s clean and simple, making it easy for search engines to index your site. Additionally, you can prime your WordPress website using keywords to make search results very specific. And because Google loves new content, the fact that you can easily and regularly upload changes and modify your company’s site will boost your SEO.

WordPress is Safe

A lot of novices feel insecure with their ability to maintain their own website, fearful they might “break it” or that it might be susceptible to hackers. Rest assured, WordPress is secure. There is a specific process to “harden” a WordPress website installation that doesn’t exist in traditional websites. And with the right agency, your site will be safe even with multiple users. You, as the administrator, have the ability to appoint users on your site and grant them varying access levels and capabilities.

WordPress Can Grow

Your company’s website is not limited to its original design and functionality with WordPress. There is no need to start from scratch and build a new site because your business changed its marketing strategy or branding method. Want to add an event calendar, calculator, or email sign-up form to your site down the road? That’s not a problem for your WordPress engine. Even if you need to expand your site by adding pages or a video, WordPress is adaptable and none of it will negatively affect the performance of your company’s website.

A huge way WordPress grows a business is by recognizing mobile devices. If your company does not currently have a mobile-friendly website, WordPress covers that by configuring your site to adapt when being read on mobile devices so that it is viewed appropriately. Brilliant, huh?

There are so many benefits for companies that convert to a WordPress website, it’s impossible to name all of them. But if you are beginning to see the value of hiring a WordPress expert agency, feel free to fill out our contact form to discuss your project and we will be happy to set you up and on your way to managing and maintaining your own website. WordPress training comes standard, of course.

Have you already experienced the benefits of powering your site through WordPress? We’d love to hear it! Post below your favorite WordPress qualities and plugins to share.

Usability: Does Your Website Pass The 5 Second Test?

Usability

What determines whether a user stays on your website? Is your target audience clearly receiving your intended message? Within 5 seconds, the usability of your website will determine whether visitors deem your site worthy of their reading time or decide to abandon ship. Failure to pass the 5 second test could mean lost customers and conversion opportunities. Some commonly-made usability mistakes can be easily remedied by checking your site with the guidelines below.

Usability

Load Time

The average online user expects your site to load in 2 seconds or less. After 3 seconds, 40% of users will abandon that site. Nearly a quarter (and rising) of website traffic comes from mobile devices; users are on the move and expect sites to respond quickly. A longer than average load time heightens your page’s risk of abandonment.

To check how long it takes for your site to load, plug it into tools.pingdom.com. If your site’s load time exceeds 3 seconds, try these changes to improve usability:

  • Use a JPEG for complex images like photos and compress the file size by up to 60% without compromising quality
  • Only use a PNG when you need transparent images
  • Use a sprite instead of individual images to decrease download time
  • Wherever possible, use CSS and text in place of images

Responsive

An enormous amount of website traffic comes from mobile sources and if your site is not responsive, (that is, uniformly viewable on your customer’s laptop, tablet and smartphone) your site appears scrambled on their device and unreadable. Your visitor will not stick around to decode the jumbled mess. Ensure you are avoiding this silly mistake by having one existing version of your site that is clearly visible on whatever platform your user chooses.

Important Information is Above the Fold

The Fold is all the information visible before ever scrolling and it’s the prime real estate of your website. Users spend 80% of their time looking at content above the fold, so that is where all your important information should be. If you make your visitors have to scroll to learn what products/services you have to offer and how to contact you, they will likely leave.

If you have a lot of important content that your customers need to know, try creating a slider on your home page above the fold to convey the information. Separating content between slides is a good way of keeping mass clutter in check. But remember to keep slide transition time under 5 seconds so your user sees it before making their decision.

Informative Headlines &Titles

If your users can’t find who you are and what you have to offer, they are not going to search for it. 8 out of 10 people read a page’s headline, yet only 2 out of 10 read the first paragraph. So be certain information such as who you are and what you do are positioned obviously in as few words as possible. For relevant examples of how to do this, check out my article Top Web Design Trends for 2013.

Usability

Visually Attractive

Engage your audience’s visual attention with a large, stunning image that portrays your product or service accurately and conveys the message you want to send. Strategic placement of images to text and whitespace improves usability by creating a clean, clutter-free page that mobile users will especially appreciate.

Also be cautious of poor color combinations as certain pairs are harsh on the eyes and turn your user off. Experiment with hues and tones of the same color that aren’t offensive when matched with your background. Annoying color clashes and clutter-rampant content will almost certainly turn your visitor away.

Ease of Navigation

Your site’s navigation should be easy to use and intuitive. Be certain the highest-level tier of your navigation conveys the most important, easy to understand content. Make it simple for your visitors to know where they should go next in your site’s progression and how they can contact you, otherwise your call to action is lost on your users.

The success and conversion rate of your website is based on many factors, with usability being one of the most influential. After comparing your site to these factors, does yours pass the 5 second test? Please share any additional marketing tactics that keep visitors’ attention.

Top 2013 Web Design Trends

Design, whether it be for clothing or websites, is influenced by the reflection of our culture. And with all the latest technological advances this year, users expect web design to harmoniously interact on their new device, thus a shift in user interface is required. Here are the top 2013 web design trends capable of converting viewers into customers:

Content

Over-sized typography and large headlines support the #1 content-focused 2013 web design trend, making it easy for users to quickly identify and access important information. In order to drive traffic and improve conversion, designs should be developed around content instead of pasting content inside a completed design. Large, bold text conveys the primary message to your visitor without making them look for it.

Flat Design

Devices have been simplified and minimized in size, therefore designs with bevels, shadows and gradients appear cluttered and overload your user. Stripping away the unnecessaries leaves your site looking fresh, clean and simple and keeps the focus on content.

2013 web design trends

Responsive

Again, because users view sites on variable platforms, it’s crucial your site is uniformly visible on laptops, tablets and smartphones. There are over 1 billion smartphone users in the world, so it makes sense for your site to have one existing version that will load flawlessly on whatever new device comes next. Responsive design favors simplicity and your customers will appreciate it, too.

Whitespace

The use of whitespace (blank sections on your page, not necessarily white) emphasizes the main message of your website by ridding of distractions. Minimal design is key here, an advantage of which is the reduction of your site’s load time. On a small device, whitespace lends to a reduction of clutter for your user. With only one focus point, your customer’s attention is easily captured right where you want it to be.

Fixed Header (aka Navigation)

This new 2013 web design trend offers a constant compass on your website and quickly navigates your users back to your homepage. It also serves as a modern visual paired with exceptional functionality. A site’s ease of navigation often makes or breaks your visitor’s experience.

Social Media Icons

Positioning icons from social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin are a highly effective marketing technique this year, and likely for the years to follow. These are actively used by readers who want to quickly share content and information. You can be certain by fixing social media icons to blogs and articles, that the chances of your content being re-posted increases dramatically.

2013 web design trends

Grid Layout (“Metro”)

With a focus on content-first design and the popularity of the Windows 8 “Metro” scheme, websites are moving toward a grid-style layout of variable colors, sizes and effects. Separating content with boxes creates an intuitive, easy-to-navigate user experience that narrows their options upon first glance and shepherds your customers into clicking.

Large Images

It used to be only photographers used over-sized photos and images as their site’s background. However, using a large, sharp image helps your visitors identify who you are and what products/services you have to offer. This trend is particularly useful to design businesses such as portfolio, photography and website design.

Single Page Web Design

The move toward a single page website is an excellent way to improve your site’s usability. Single page sites ease navigation (especially if your header is fixed) so your visitors know exactly where to go next. This web design trend is especially useful if yours is a call-to-action site. Another benefit of single page websites is reduction of load time, ensuring your potential customers won’t abandon your site out of impatience.

Infinite Scrolling

Infinite scrolling enables your site to load additional information as your reader scrolls toward the bottom of your page. This ability enhances your visitor’s experience by keeping them engaged in reading on one page instead of having them click on additional pages to continue reading. Infinite scrolling is trending as a design tool in 2013 because it mimics the familiar experience offered by sites like Facebook and Pinterest.

Breaking up with Flash

You’re no longer compatible and that is a great reason to break off your site’s relationship with Flash. Flash is hardly supported by mobile devices since new options like Jquery have arrived. By the end of 2013 and going into 2014, users will see a dramatic decline of browser crashings and choppy animation because sites will have made the upgrade to modern technology.

Keep in mind though these web design trends are popular in the mainstream, they are not ideal for every business. Every company and individual is unique in personality and you need a website that will portray that beautifully.

Feel free to comment on which emerging trends caught your attention in 2013 and which you predict will be dominant in the year to come.