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