What makes a good website?

Build yourself an effective website

So, you’re ready to build your website. Great! No big deal, right? Just use one of those drag- and-drop sites like Wix or SquareSpace, and in an hour or so, you’ll have it made. Pretty pictures, nice text and navigation buttons. Voila!

BUT… a lot of forethought goes into an effective website — “effective” being the operative word here. A successful website requires that you take the time to create some goals and strategies to meet them before diving into the free site-makers, which could lead to some back-tracking and creative pain.

Websites have different goals. What are yours? To sell products (e-commerce)?, be informative (written blogs)?, describe services (consultants)?, gain campaign credibility (run for office)? There are a multitude of others.

Every website speaks to a specific demographic and builds in actions they want their visitors to take. So, when creating your website, your goal is to identify your end-user, clearly articulate your value proposition, appeal to them emotionally, keep them engaged, and lead them to take the next step.

Below, is a list of basic website tenets that will help you create an effective site.

Know Your Audience (Demographic)

Before you choose one photo, font or button, define your target audience first.

Who is your target audience exactly? Think in terms of education, financial status, gender, ethnicity, interests, and religion.

Would you create the same website for people under 20 as you would for people over 60? Of course not! Walk in their shoes if you want effective results.

Make Your Site User-Friendly

What does “user-friendly” really mean? It means that navigating through your website is an easy and pleasant experience for the visitor.

The website should be appealing to your demographic, information should be easy to find, website should be easy to read, navigation should be intuitive and all the pages on the website should load fast.

Don’t bury important information so far into the website that one needs to click many times to get there. Or have to scroll down the page to find the message.

When someone can’t find their way around on your website, they would feel frustrated and abandon your website. And… they don’t come back. So, pay attention to your website’s user-friendliness.

Make Your Website Technically Sound

What the heck does that mean? Technical aspects of a website are generally not obvious to the visitor, but are equally important. Two of the important technical aspects are making your website secure and speeding up the load time of the website.

To protect your website from hackers, make sure that your website has an SSL certificate. If there’s a lock on the left side of the URL of your website, then it means that any communication with the website is secure. Yay! With hackers doing their craft all over the web these days, it is important to make sure that you have this certificate on your website.

Make fast load time a priority when you design your website. It is frustrating to visitors when pages on the website take forever to load. You can actually test this out and find how fast your website loads at Google or at GTmetrix

Quick tip: a score of above 80 is pretty good.

Don’t Skimp on Text

Even though it seems like nobody reads anymore, that is well… just not true. It doesn’t have to be lengthy, but your text needs to get to the point and pack a powerful punch. If you know your target demographic, you already know why they’re there. Point out their “pain” and show them the solution immediately. To convert visitors to customers, speak directly to them and weave your message throughout the site.

Every word — even on buttons — matters. For example, “Join Us” is much more inviting on a button than “Click here.”

Pay Attention to SEO

The primary goal of your website is to attract your target demographic to it. The search engines need to know that your website is worthy of being recommended on page 1 of a search. This is better known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO isn’t just one simple task; it is a combination of activities on-and-off the website that lets search engines know who you are targeting and when to recommend your website. Get in touch with us if you need help in this regard.

Website Errors are Tacky

…and will rob your message of importance and credibility. Make sure all spelling is correct and test all pages to ensure that no visitor lands on a 404 (Page Not Found) page.

If you have a contact form on your website, make sure it works seamlessly, and that when someone fills it out, it arrives promptly in your mailbox. Seriously, perform this test at least once a quarter!

Finally

So, you see that there are many aspects to building a website. A good website is more than just pretty pictures and a cool, aesthetic look. We have many years of building websites for small and medium-sized businesses. So please give us a call and let us help you build an amazing, effective website that fits you and one that you’ll be proud of.

Pros & Cons of WordPress page builders

There are a variety of tools available in the market today that will help you build your own website. WordPress is one of those tools. It is a popular and widely-used software in which many of the popular websites are built. And it’s free! 

Although WordPress is considered user-friendly, using it is not quite as simple as it is made out to be especially if you don’t have a background in programming. You still have to be somewhat tech-savvy to use it when building your site.

To get the most out of WordPress, you must be comfortable with PHP, HTML, and CSS. Unless you are trained in these and familiar with how to use them, it can be difficult for you to use WordPress.

Because of this frustration, a lot of third-party tools have been developed for WordPress that are designed to help a novice build a website on WordPress more easily. These tools are popularly known as page builders. Visual Composer and Divi are two of the most popular of such tools.

Instead of dealing with code, you use the drag-and-drop features provided in these WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) tools to design and build your site. Just as the name suggests, you drag what you want — a particular module such as a text box, image, button, etc. — and place it where you would like it to appear on your web page, thus making building a website easy and intuitive. 

Advantages to using drag-and-drop page builders

Easy to use.

For a novice, these third-party page builder tools are great! Building a website using these tools doesn’t require you to be a techno maniac or know any complicated programming language. The idea is to let you build your website fast — using their drag-and-drop feature.

You will have a variety of page templates to choose from

All these tools/plugins come with an array of templates that resemble many commonly-built web pages, such as a Team page, Services page, Contact page, etc. You simply select the page template that most appeals to you and suits your particular needs and then add your content to that template. You should be able to customize the selected template to fit your specific needs. You can also create your own page from scratch using the drag-drop features. 

No design experience needed

A web page template already comes with the basic design of the page. This includes colors, fonts, navigation buttons, etc. Page templates also come with a variety of color palette options (suggested colors that go together) to help you customize your page and website to your individual stylistic look and feel. 

Building your own website saves you money

If you are just starting a new business and are strapped for cash, using one of these third-party tools can be a cost-effective way for you to get yourself an online presence.

Disadvantages of using page builder tools

Page builders have a learning curve

Every page builder has its own unique way of creating pages, changing colors, selecting fonts, etc. The User Interface (UI) of each page builder may be very different. This includes where the tools are located on your desktop and what they call each tool.

There is no standard tech-vocabulary among all the page builders. So, a particular page builder may or may not be intuitive to you. There can be a learning curve to figure out how to edit various parts of the website and how to manipulate the page/website resulting in the design that you want.

Once you choose a page builder… you are locked into that builder!

Let’s say you build your website using one of the WordPress page builders. Now, if you decide to change to another page builder or not use one altogether, the result could easily be broken pages!

And if the page builder uses shortcodes, then your website pages will actually show the shortcodes (gobbledegook!) instead of your intended web page. 

So you see, you are tightly locked in with the page builder you choose. Deciding to move away from the page builder at this critical stage is tantamount to rebuilding the website.

Some aspects may create more headache than is worth

There can be unexpected, disappointing issues, like limited fonts, margins, no drop-shadows, etc. which are discovered ONLY when you start using the tool.

You can’t use the full potential of WordPress using page builder tools

Although these WordPress page builder tools are improving all the time, as it stands today, a person building his/her own site does not have the flexibility of using the FULL POTENTIAL of WordPress directly. Some features and nuances simply aren’t offered.

Installation of these drag-and-drop tools cost money

All these drag-and-drop website builders are sold as “plugins” to WordPress. You will have to purchase these plugins before you can use them to build your website.

This cost is for the purchase of ONE tool for ONE website. If you are building another website, you will have to purchase the product AGAIN — for each separate website.

The resulting websites are bloated and load slowly

Page builders try to appeal to a large audience and want to cater to as many needs of a website designer (you) as possible. Unfortunately, this comes at a cost: These page builders offer way more than you need and therefore are very code-heavy and bloated. 

Believe it or not, this has a direct effect on your website! Websites built with these page builders are slower to load on a screen. A slow website suffers in its SEO rating, as page speed is an important factor by which all websites are graded by search engines. 

Page builders can be overwhelming and time-consuming

While the wide variety of options offered by website builders seems a fantastic advantage, they also have a downside… there is plenty that can go wrong! You can easily mess up your website or accidentally delete a page and not know how to correct or retrieve it. This can be massively frustrating — and there is no simple solution or fix.

Content created using the drag-drop feature may not be searchable within WordPress

When you build a website using page builders, the textual content you enter into these pages may not be accessible to WordPress. This means that if you have a search feature on your website (This is quite handy!), then this text isn’t available to WordPress for search. So your search feature on the website is useless.

For instance, let’s say you build a blog page using the drag-drop feature. All content you input will be available to search engines and will provide you with the ever-desirable SEO energy you want, but it won’t be searchable WITHIN the website.

So, if you want readers to be able to search through your blogs on your website, you must build your blog post using standard features of WordPress instead of a drag-drop feature.

Conclusion

To sum it up, here are the pros and cons of using a WordPress website builder:

Pros:
• Easy-to-use
• A wide variety of page templates to choose from
• No design experience needed
• Money savings

Cons:
• Comes with a guaranteed learning curve
• Locks you into the page builder parameters 
• Some aspects may create more headache than is worth
• Each installation of a drag-and-drop tool costs money
• Resulting websites are bloated and load slowly
• Learning each tool can be overwhelming and time-consuming
• Content created by the the drag-drop feature may not be searchable

How to Select a Chatbot for Your Website/App

Pick a chatbot for your website or app

Ever been visiting a website when a little customer service window pops up and asks you if you need help?

Then, you’re already familiar with a “Chatbot.” These software assistants play a crucial role for businesses who wish to communicate with their customers and are becoming more and more ubiquitous in our lives while becoming more refined.

A chatbot is an automated conversation system that can communicate with a visitor in a conversational tone while responding to questions and resolving customer issues.

Chatbots are intuitive site valets, on-duty 24/7, that engage with the customer online and ask them pre-programmed questions designed to lead the end user to the right person or area.

They can be installed on a website or an app and are a useful tool for answering routine questions for common customer issues, saving the company time and money.

They are not a replacement for customer service; they are an augmentation of it. Their job is to determine the intent of the visitor, so bots are programmed with the right questions to ask which then narrow down the possibilities for finding the solution.

Chatbots free up personnel time and connect visitors with employees ONLY when they cannot resolve the issue or require a more nuanced response.

Chatbot questions are developed by the business owner to ask custom questions along with rules that decide when to ask which question.

It is vital that customer interaction is smooth and seamless, so the person engaging with the bot is confident that their issues will be resolved or will move them correctly to the next step in the journey.

When questions asked and answered by the bot escalate the customer experience, users are more inclined users to use it.

Chatbots are used primarily in two places:

  • Customer Service
    When customers repeatedly ask the same questions of a company, a chatbot is a perfect solution. Especially because the alternative — 24-hour human resources who answer the same question over and over again — is costly!

    When repetition like this occurs, it becomes clear to the company what algorithm to write into their “site valet” and how to narrow down subsequent choices. This not only saves the company time and money, but better serves their clients with immediate responses.

  • Lead Generation — Chatbots can convert visitors into clients! After answering routine questions about certain product features, services and plans, the chatbot can actually qualify a lead and connect the visitor to a sales person for further discussion.

    Since they are on-duty 24/7, no leads are ever lost due to service hours or absent staff. As attention spans in general decrease, capturing a lead when a purchase is about to be made increases ROI for chatbots.

    Before investing in chatbots, you’ll need to determine these things first:

    1. What is the problem you are trying to solve?

      Knowing this will elucidate your needs and help decide how to evaluate a chatbot’s effectiveness.

      • Why do you want or need a chatbot on your website?
      • Are there standard questions that all visitors have?
      • Is it to create a better support system for your products?
      • Do you want to prequalify leads as they move through the chatbot sales funnel?
      • Will other departments also use this Chatbot at a later stage?

    2. Create an outline of a typical conversation the chatbot will have.

      Chatbots ask visitors questions about their needs. For example, are they looking for a product or service? Do they need customer service for a product or service they purchased? Do they want to report an issue?

      Spell out a typical conversation that potential buyers/clients currently ask your sales and support team. This is the basis for programming your chatbot.

    3. Assign a person to be responsible for the chatbot.

      Like any software, chatbots need time to be evaluated, tested, built and maintained. This is best accomplished by assigning a person / division / company to take on this responsibility. This party can then look for ways that the selected chatbot can be integrated with other software used within your company. For example, a chatbot that handles lead generation might also be a natural for customer service enhancement.

    4. Choose a chatbot that comes with a trial period.

      The only true way to know if a product is for you is by taking it for a test drive. If the software you buy does not allow a trial period, you may end up stuck paying for something you don’t want. Some chatbots may not be compatible with your system.

      After programming the chatbot, install it on a test site and have test users take it for a trial run. Be ready to immediately program a chatbot before your trial period so you get maximum trial time.

    5. Make sure the chatbot works on other devices as well.

      Mobile use is exploding! It is uber important that the chatbot you select works on mobile/tablets. Be sure to test it on each device.

    6. Select a chatbot that serves special requirements that your domain may have.

      For instance, if your field is a highly regulated domain, you’ll want to decide what kind of chatbot deployment will meet your industry’s security requirements. Most chatbots are cloud-based services. If your company needs an online solution, use that as one of the criteria when selecting a chatbot.

    Chatbots really can act as a perfect complement to your customer-facing department. They do not replace personnel, but serve to make your team more present and efficient.

    If you need any help selecting a chatbot for your company, feel free to reach out to us at (650) 346-1442.

What are the Costs Associated with a Website?

Cost with having a website

These days a well-built website is essential for any business. Here’s a breakdown of what goes into building a website and approximately how much each item costs.

Domain name

A domain name is a web address (such as purelynx.com) that may end in “.com”, “.org”, etc. Purchasing a domain name is generally the first thing you do when embarking on a website project. The company that you register your domain with is called a domain registrar.

A domain name usually costs $10-$20 a year. In general, shorter domain names are more expensive than longer names. And a “.com” is more expensive than other options. If the domain name you want has already been registered by someone else, you may be able to purchase it from that person for a fee.

Check out Namecheap to check if the domain name you have in mind is available.

Many people think of GoDaddy when they want to purchase a domain name. We’d recommend steering clear of GoDaddy for reasons that we will discuss in future blog posts.

Also, be wary of add-on items that some domain registrars will try to charge you for, such as domain privacy. Most of these items are unnecessary. And be sure to make note of your login credentials for your domain registrar. If you lose access to your domain name, it can be very difficult to reclaim it.

Content: text

Website content is the text, pictures, logos, videos, etc. that are on your website. You will need effective marketing text that describes your business and its offerings in a clear and inviting way. It can be difficult for a company to write its own text for two reasons:

• It’s hard to step outside of everything you know about the company and put yourself in the mindset of someone who doesn’t know anything about you and what you offer. It’s easy to miss important things that should be said because to you they are obvious.

• Marketing is a specialized skill and it isn’t necessarily a skill that every business owner has, even though they may be great at many other things.

Many website companies, such as PureLynx, offer marketing copywriting as one of its services. The cost is usually hourly and therefore will be higher if you have a lot of text needed. For example, you may have multiple locations, many services and products, etc. A good estimate might be $500 and up. If you receive a quote that is surprisingly low, you may be getting the services of someone who is not experienced in marketing.

Content: images

It may be cliché, but it still holds true — a picture is worth a thousand words. You will definitely want one or more high-quality images on your site. Professional images can be purchased from stock image companies; they may cost $25 or more for each image. Alternately, you can have professional photographs taken. Depending on what type of business you have, you may want photographs of you, your team, your storefront, and/or your products.

Creating the website

This is the most expensive and time-consuming phase of a website. It includes visual design, interaction design, and actually coding the website. Whether you get a templated website or have a custom one built, they both require plenty of input from you about your business.

You should have a good sense of your target market before you start searching for a web designer. Check out “10 tips for a successful web design project” before hiring a web designer/agency.

You can get a bare-bones template-based website for around $500. A quality custom-built site may cost $1000-$5000.

The cost of building a website depends on many factors. Check out our post How much should a website cost? for information on the various website parts that cost money.

If cost is a concern, then we have an offering that may be a fit for you. It allows you to get your website up and running with minimal effort and cost. Our 1-2-3 Go plan may be perfect for you. This plan is an all-inclusive package which includes building the website plus maintenance for the budget-conscious business owner.

Hosting

In order for visitors to view your site, it needs to be ‘stored’ somewhere on the internet. This is called hosting.

You may see some hosting charges advertised starting around $3/month. Be wary of prices this low. It is usually an “introductory rate” which will go up after your first year, often to more than the price of other webhosts. Also, rates this low usually indicate a bare-bones service &mdash one that offers little memory and disk space, and runs your website on a shared server with many other websites. This limits the software you can use, and often makes your website slow, which may cause people to abandon your site in frustration. (Note that, on your own browser, it may look like your site is fast. Your browser has cached your website locally, thus giving you a misleading impression of how fast it loads for other visitors.)

In addition, Google Search penalizes slow websites. It returns them lower downe in the search results than they otherwise would. This has the unfortunate effect of reducing your visibility online.

And finally, low-cost minimal hosting services often lack fast and friendly technical support to help you when you run into issues.

When you build your website with PureLynx, one of our services is fast, efficient hosting along with excellent customer service.

SSL certificates

No modern website should be without an SSL certificate. These security certificates are no longer just for banks or websites that require logging in. They legitimize your website so that visitors as well as other applications on the internet can trust that the communications from your website are indeed coming from your website and not from interjecting malware.

You can verify if a website has a security certificate by observing the padlock icon to the left of your website URL in the address bar of your browser. Many people will refuse to use a website that does not show the secure symbol.

When you sign up for PureLynx hosting, your SSL certificate is included for free.

Content updates

Once your website is built, you will want to keep the content current. For example, if your business changes its hours or expands into a new geographical area, you will want this information on your website. You will also want to keep your website fresh by highlighting seasonal products and sales, adding new products and testimonials, or maybe writing a blog.

Some changes are going to be simple, while others are going to be more time-consuming. Changing your telephone number would be a simple website edit; something like offering a new service, in contrast, will usually require new text and images and maybe a new page and/or menu item. When the site is changed, make sure that the new content is added in a way consistent with the site’s existing design and navigation.

Depending on how often you expect the content on your website to change, you could either have a monthly retainer service to update the site, or you can have the edits performed on an hourly basis. A monthly service may cost $45-$150 a month depending on the frequency and and complexity of the changes.

Software updates

Your car, your furnace, your health — pretty much everything needs maintenance to stay functioning. Your website isn’t any different. Continual updates are released by the various browsers, WordPress and associated plugins, mobile phone operating systems, and the many Google services (Maps, Fonts, Analytics, etc.). Failure to update your website may cause it to stop working due to compatibility issues.

In addition, an out-of-date website is very vulnerable to malware. It’s much better to prevent this from happening than to try to deal with cleaning your website after a hack. If you can afford only one type of maintenance, software updates are essential. At PureLynx we offer several monthly maintenance options, customized to your needs.

Your time

Don’t forget to add your time to this project. Even though there’s no exchange of money, the time you spend on your website will take away from other tasks.

Even for a “simple” website, you will have to devote 10-20 hours for a DIY project.

When you hire a professional web developer, you will need to spend time to describe your business to them. Allocate about 4 hours to give your web designer details about your services and products, take photos or approve images selected by your designer, comment on the design, purchase your domain name, etc.

In summary

To recap, the upfront costs for a website include:

Initial domain registration: $10-20
Creating a website: $500-5,000 one-time cost
Copywriting (optional): $500 and up
Stock images: $25 per image

And here are the common ongoing costs:
Domain name renewal: $10-20/year
Website hosting: $20-90/month
SSL certificate: Make sure this is included in your hosting charges
Software updates: $50+/month
Content updates: $50/month and up, depending on number and complexity of the updates

Call us today at (650) 346-1442 to learn about the best options for your business.

6 Things to do before hiring a designer/agency

Before you begin interviewing web designers/agencies for building your website, you need to make sure that you have done these 6 things. Without these, you won’t be able to evaluate the offerings of a web designer/agency.

1. Figure out why you need to build a new website or update an existing one

It is important to know why you want a new website. If you have one already, perhaps it is not working the way you’d like it to. Or it needs to be modernized. Check out our blog post that can help you evaluate your website.

If you don’t have a website, you might feel that having a web presence will help your business in getting more clients.

Knowing how a website will help you is something you should relay to your website designer.

2. Define the goal of your website

Is the goal of your website to help people get in touch with you? Or buy online from you? Or is the goal to make it easy for people to donate to your organization?

Being ready to articulate this to your web designer will get the project off to a speedy start.

3. Be ready with your domain name (URL)

a) You don’t have a domain name
If you have some ideas for a URL, but haven’t bought one yet, consult with your web designer first before purchasing one. They may have valuable suggestions with regards to the SEO effectiveness of the domain name you have in mind.

b) You own a domain name
It is surprisingly common for companies not to know where their domain name is registered. If you already have a domain name, find out where the domain name is registered and make sure you have the login name and password. Being ready with this information will prevent unnecessary delays in building your website.

4. Be able to describe your target audience

Before embarking on building a new website or updating an existing one, you should be able to articulate the type(s) of person or business you wish to target. Who is it that you want to find your website and be motivated to hire you or buy from you?

It’s important to let your web designer know your target audience so they can design a website that is appealing and compelling for that audience, both in its visual design and its messages.

Define this individual in as much detail as you can. For example, a consulting firm targeting “marketing executives” could define their target market as “marketing executives between the ages of 35 and 55 who is looking for a long-term relationship with a consulting firm”. This can be further defined as “marketing executives only on the west coast”.

Once this target market has been defined to as much detail as possible, content can now be written to speak to such a person and SEO can be targeted as well.

5. Key content you should have right out of the gate

Even if you plan to use writing/editing services from your website company, it is still important for you to write down the key messages about your business. It doesn’t have to be the final draft, and can even be just bullet points. Be prepared with rough-draft text about what you offer, what distinguishes you from competitors, who can benefit from your services, etc.

To make this process easier for you, we have compiled a list of questions for you to answer. Visit to download the document.

6. Images you want to use on the website

You should have ideas regarding the images that you’d like to be used on the website. These may be specific images which you already have or plan to have taken, such as a professional photo of your store interior.

Unless there are specific circumstances, make sure that all images are high-resolution and available in a digital format. If some of these images need to be edited/enhanced, let your designer know this.

The images could be pictures of yourself, your team, your business location, your product, or of your target audience.

Example 1: if you are an attorney, you should have a high-resolution quality photo of yourself.

Example 2: If you own a restaurant, you should have high-quality photos of the interior of your restaurant plus nicely plated food that you serve.

Other images that may be used on the website are icons and stock images. These images can be purchased online from companies such as iStockPhoto. Consult with your designer before you purchase images.

Remember that you shouldn’t grab pictures from the internet and use them on your website without explicit permission from the owner of the image or purchasing it from an online company. You need to have the legal rights to use them.

7. Logo

If you already have a logo, be prepared to share them with your designer. You might have these in JPEG or PNG formats. If you have the logos in Photoshop(.psd) or Illustrator(.ai) formats, then your designer would be able to edit these logos, if need be.

If you already have a logo, but don’t have the original files (Photoshop or Illustrator), and you’d like the logo to be edited, then let your designer know.

If you don’t have a logo, try to get an idea of the kind of logo you’d like. Go on the internet and find examples of logos that you’d like to emulate. Pick out colors that you would like to use on your logo. Give these to your designer before they begin to work on the logo.

If you are ready with the above 7 items, your web design process will be off to a good start.

Would you like us to help you with your website? Get in touch with us by calling (650) 346-1442 or sending us an email at hello@purelynx.com.

Doing business during COVID-19

With COVID-19, the way we conduct business has changed drastically. Seemingly overnight, we have had to change how we interact with clients and earn revenue. Experts tell us that this is the new norm for a while. Because of social distancing, businesses are increasingly using the internet to do business with and communicate with their clients.

Here are a few steps that you can take to keep your business humming:

  1. Get a website today
  2. If you don’t have a website yet, it is time to get one. Your website is the nexus of all your online activities. It is one place where you have total control over your message. You can describe your offerings (products and services), keep your customers informed, and convert a visitor into a client.

    Note: We have a new website plan called 1-2-3 Go specifically designed for small business owners who need to go online fast and without breaking the bank.

  3. Add an informative banner.
  4. Create a message banner on the home page to let your clients know how your business is operating during this time. Remember to update your hours of operation. If needed, create a new page with details of your safety precautions.
    Describe delivery of goods. If you sell a product, then describe how your product will be delivered to the buyers. It could be anywhere from curbside pickup to mailing.

  5. Safety precautions for service.
  6. Social distancing is the phrase of this time. If you are a service company, then clients may like to know the safety precautions you are taking to keep yourself, your employees, and clients safe during this time. Add as many details as you can. There will be people with compromised health who will want to know such details.

  7. Take orders online.
  8. Now that many customers are reducing their trips to physical stores, it is important that people can order from you online. Add a form to your website so people can order from the comfort of their homes.
    Use your website to make appointments. You can put an appointment calendar on your website to allow people to shop by appointment, schedule pickups, or schedule services.

  9. Get personal.
  10. Create a video to describe how your business has changed doing business. During these times, we are hungry for a personal touch. A video from the owner describing how they are conducting business during this time is a great way to stay in touch with your clients and to give this interaction a personal touch.

  11. Maintain community.
  12. For businesses with strong customer communities, your customers want to feel connected — with you, your business and each other. You might create a space on your website to showcase the projects customers are working on, or create an informative blog on your website to keep people learning. Social media and email can also help keep your customer base engaged.

    Do you need help getting started? Would you like some help updating your website with COVID-19 information? Call us at (650) 346-1442 or email us at info@purelynx.com.

Business owner’s guide to evaluating your website

It is hard for any person or business to evaluate their own website. It’s hard to be objective and it’s hard to put yourself in the position of a new site visitor who does not know the things that you know. It is harder still if you don’t know what the important factors are in evaluating a website. Here are few questions to ask yourself when appraising your existing website.

Marketing

  1. Four-second test

  2. If you don’t know anything about the business, can you clearly understand the nature of the business within 4 seconds of looking at the home page? Can you immediately tell what geographical region this business serves?

  3. Calls to action

  4. Does the website intuitively lead the visitor to the next step?

    Buttons/links that say “Read more”, “Get in touch”, etc. lead visitors to take the next step on the website. Without any such help, the visitor may leave the website and you would have lost a potential lead.

  5. Above-the-fold content

  6. Does the top of your home page contain the most important information that you want to convey to your visitor?

    “Above the fold” is to newspapers as “top of the home page” is to a website. It is the place of highest visibility where the most important information should lie. This increases the likelihood that a visitor will interact with those features.

Design & Aesthetics

From a purely aesthetic standpoint, design can be subjective. What one person finds attractive may differ from another person’s taste. However, there is more to web design than personal aesthetic preference. A website is, first and foremost, a marketing tool. The website’s design should reflect the brand’s personality and should be crafted appeal to the target audience. Most importantly, the design needs to effectively communicate what the business does and provide an intuitive path for the user to do what you want them to do (i.e., contact you, buy a product, etc.).

Here are some questions to ask about your website:

  • Do the colors used on the website complement the colors on the logo?
  • Do the images or the website embellishments get in the way of the marketing message?
  • Is there enough contrast between the background and the font colors? Are the fonts large enough? If not, then the text may be hard to read.
  • Is the style consistent throughout the website?
  • Are the buttons and links obvious?
  • Is the design appropriate for the audience?
  • Is the textual content placed in one long and boring block or are they broken out into easy-to-read logical chunks?

Contact information

This may seem obvious, but it very common to see websites where the contact information is difficult to find. You don’t want your site visitor to have to click around various places looking for this information.
This may include the following information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Contact form
  • Email address
  • Geographic region served (for example, you may be located in San Carlos, but do you serve the entire Bay Area?)

Technical

  • Is the website mobile-friendly?
  • There are now more site views happening on mobile devices than on desktops or laptops. It’s important for your website to work well for those users. In addition, your search engine rankings are lower if your site is not mobile-friendly. Go to Google’s page for mobile-friendly testing and it will analyze a URL and report if the page has a mobile-friendly design.

  • Are all the links (internal & external) active and valid?
  • If you intended a part of text to be a link, but forgot to make it a link, that is an inactive link. You make it active by including the URL of the link destination. A valid link is one which works (i.e, no errors) and which leads you to the correct location.

  • Does the website work well on different browsers?
  • It is essential these days for your website to work well on the most popular browsers on both Windows and Mac computers.

  • Are there any Flash videos/applications on the website?
  • Flash is an outdated technology that not all devices support.

  • How long do the pages take to load?
  • Longer a page takes to load, the worse it is for retaining a visitor’s attention. In addition, your search engine rankings will be adversely affected if your site is slow. Particular care needs to be taken with videos and large images since they often consume a lot of bandwidth.

Conventions

Design conventions are very important online. They help visitors intuitively know where to look for information. This reduces the frustration of not knowing one’s way around a new website.
Does your website look and feel markedly different from a lot of other websites? If yes, you may be flouting convention. Unless you are in an edgy field or have a good reason to move away from convention, don’t.

Questions? Call us at (650) 346-1442 and we’d be glad to help you evaluate your current website and suggest ideas for improvement.

10 signs that your website needs a redesign

Are you tired of looking at your website? Do you feel that your business needs a newer and more effective website?

Redesigning a website is more than just making it pretty. It serves as your primary online marketing tool, and must have intuitive navigation and clear and compelling messaging. It is also a process that deserves your wholehearted time commitment and monetary investment. If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, then a new website design is in your best interests.

1. Your website isn’t aligned with your current marketing strategy

Your website is first and foremost your a marketing tool. If your marketing has changed recently, then chances are your current website isn’t aligned with your overall marketing strategy. Take time to define how your website can augment your business objectives. This is the perfect time to talk to a web marketing agency about your online requirements.

2. Your audience has changed

If your current website no longer serves the right audience, then website content and its design deserves a review. Before you jump into redesign though make sure that you define the persona(s) of your audience, their motivations to buy from you, and their perception that you are the right business to serve them. Your web marketing agency should be able to develop your buyer’s persona(s) before building the website.

3. Your content has changed

A content architecture that is served by an intuitive navigation is very important for a lower bounce rate. If you have added different kinds of content to the website since your last redesign, then it is time to evaluate your content architecture. This has ripple effects on how the content is organized, navigation elements, images, etc. A redesign may be in your cards.

4. Your website isn’t responsive

Google now penalizes websites that aren’t responsive (mobile friendly). Go to https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/ and type your URL. If Google deems your website unfriendly to mobile devices, then that means your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) will suffer. In other words, it will be harder to find your website on the web and you won’t be able to achieve your business objectives. This is the number one reason why many businesses are opting for a redesign these days.

5. User experience is not good

It is hard for the business owner to know how user experience has degraded over time because he/she is familiar with its navigation structure. If you have added/changed content on the website since you last built it, it is a good idea to ensure that the website, your online marketing tool, is working at its best. Hire a web marketing agency to evaluate the user experience of your website.

6. Your website looks dated

Technologies change, and so do designs. If your website is starting to look like it was built when the dinosaurs roamed the earth (circa 2012), then you should think about redesigning your website. Websites that look outdated make the visitors think that you are either out of business or aren’t successful. Neither case helps your business. Hurry up and get a new website!

7. Your site is slow to load

Web is all about instant gratification. If something takes too long to load, people check out of there. It could be that the technology that is used on your website is too old and hence crawling along on a superhighway. At a minimum, hire a web agency to do an audit of your website.

8. Functions and features are obsolete

Nothing says “obsolete” like outdated features and functions on a website. If your website is advertising old products or you wish to add features such as social media, blogs, etc., then call to your local web marketing agency.

9. Your website is in Flash!

Flash shouldn’t be used anymore. Not only is it mobile-unfriendly, it is also hard to edit, isn’t good for your SEO, and is slow to load. If your website is built on Flash, it is time to develop a new website for your business.

10. Conversion rate is poor

The purpose of your website is to be visited online by as many potential clients as possible and then have them either get in touch with you or buy from you. If your other marketing activities like email marketing, are consistent and generating leads, but there is a drop in sales, then this shows that the website isn’t working well to capture these leads.

It may be that the website needs a few tweaks or it needs an overhaul. In either case, it is time to evaluate the design.

At PureLynx, we not only help clients refresh and maintain their current website, we also help build a great SEO-ready website that delivers results. Call us today at (650) 346-1442 to find out how we can improve your online presence.

7 website misconceptions that can cost you in the long run

When people think of building a website, they mostly think of visual design — images, colors, and fonts.

It is thrilling to get the ball rolling on designing your website.

As the web has matured, other factors that have risen in importance. Not knowing them or having false impressions about them can cost you in the long run. Here are the top 7 misconceptions:

1. Page loading time is not very important.

In this era of instant gratification, waiting more than 4 seconds for a page to load seems like an eternity. If your page doesn’t load within 4 seconds, you can easily lose a visitor or a potential customer.

If you have spent a lot of time and money on SEO, but the page loading time is high, not only will the visitors not give you the time of the day (literally!), Google will downgrade your website for page speed.

Curious about how your website is doing on page speed? Enter your website’s address here and check for yourself.

2. Once built, I can use my website forever without any more work on it.

In this rapidly changing field, new products, ideas and trends emerge continually. These include browsers, and their new versions, new design directions, software products to build websites, online marketing ideas, social media directions, SEO … the list is seemingly endless.

Since there are so many variables that affect a website, and these are in continual flux, a 2 year old website could start to look dated or its effectiveness degraded over time.

A website that looks outdated or whose software isn’t updated regularly runs the risk of not functioning optimally across platforms, browsers, and operating systems.

Such a website could end up alienating its visitors and possibly losing potential clients or followers.

3. User experience? My website doesn’t need it.

You may or may not have heard the phrase “user experience”, but it is playing an increasingly important role in the building of websites.

The purpose of a website is to attract, engage, inform, and hopefully convert a visitor into a client or a follower.

If the website has not been built with the end user and his needs, experience, demographic, etc. in mind, the user experience would suffer.

This, in turn, will adversely influence how the visitor perceives the organization. At best, the visitor will find it difficult to use the website or be frustrated. Or worse, the visitor may abandon the website in favor of its competitors.

4. Websites built on templates are easy and cheap.

It is easy to be lulled into thinking that if a website is going to be built on a template, then it should be fast and cost less.

There are many templates available for every need. Picking a template because it “looks” pretty nice is akin to buying a book because the cover appealed to you.

There is a lot more to a template than meets the eye. In this ever-changing domain, a template needs to be responsive, standards-compatible supported, customizable, and easily integrated with plugins. The other features of a theme that would make it attractive are support, forums, and documentation.

If the template needs to be changed in any way to fit the needs of your website, then it would require customization work. This along with integration with other plugins and software increases the cost of building a website.

Remember that a website looks beautiful and functions as designed because of the experience and talent of your web developer and not a template.

5. Responsive design and mobile-friendly design are the same.

A mobile design is where a website is developed to be comfortably viewed on a mobile device. The website’s content are reorganized to fit within a mobile device.

A mobile website is generally accomplished by having a separate mobile version of the website.

A mobile version of the website complicates the maintenance as you now have to maintain 2 different versions of the website. Since the mobile version is generally a subset of the full website, a visitor doesn’t get served all the information.

Having a mobile website is good, but it isn’t the same as a responsive website.

A responsive website on the other hand, has one website with all its content and code. Depending on the device size, the web server serves the content.

You can check to see if a website is responsive by how it behaves when you resize a browser window.

A responsive website will change its look as the browser window changes width. A non-responsive website will degrade in its look and its usefulness as the browser changes size.

A non-responsive site generally has a preferred browser size where the website looks right.

6. I can save money by using photos that I took.

Even online, pictures speak a thousand words.

It is very exciting to want to see an image of your organization to be used on its website, but not all images are appropriate.

Images that are chosen for the website should satisfy many criteria depending on the project. For example, if the website has a slideshow of a certain aspect ratio (ratio of width of the image to the height), any image that is used on the slideshow must also have the same aspect ratio.

Not all images can be cropped to the required aspect ratio and still retain the essence of the image.

If any marketing messages are to be written on the image itself, then the image should have the appropriate space for those to be placed on top of the image.

An image could be rejected for a specific purpose for many reasons, including being busy, irrelevant to the message, low resolution, or just doesn’t look within the context.
Let your web designer lead in you in selecting the best images for your website.

7. Once the website is built, the traffic will come.

There are over 1.24 websites in the world and many more go online every day. With such numbers, it is hardly surprising that you may not see organic traffic for a few months.

There are different ways to get traffic to your website. SEO is a process by which you build credibility online and thus start attracting traffic. Online advertising, offline advertising, social media, guest blogging are a few ways to build your reputation online and to draw organic traffic.
Conclusion

Keeping these points in mind will help you have realistic expectations for your web design project.

Have questions? Call us at (650) 346-1442 or fill out our form.