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Are Those Crickets We Hear?

Are Those Crickets We Hear?

Hearing crickets is the equivalent to pull into the parking lot of a restaurant.. and nobody is there. You probably move on to the next one. If people are hearing crickets on your website or any other online property, you probably want to address why […]

I am a Web Designer but it is not websites I sell.

I am a Web Designer but it is not websites I sell.

There are more places for a business to be found today that it can leave us scratching our heads. From websites and blogs to online stores, Facebook (business), Instagram along with a plethora of online directories the possibilities are many. But, how are we to […]

Giovanna@marti.agency

Giovanna@marti.agency

Do I need a website designer?

Do I need a website designer? There are so many options for creating a nice looking website ranging anywhere in price from free DYI sites to 10’s of thousands of dollars. I’ll share some things to consider at each price level of web design. When hiring a website designer consider that they may have very different skill sets. At the basic level, they can create very nice looking sites. On the other end of the spectrum, we find designers that not only produce good looking sites, but they also focus on integrating all the other aspects of your marketing goals including social media and search engine optimization.

What is the difference between a website designer and a web developer?

Website designers and web developers can both create websites. A designer works with HTML ( code that an internet browser like Chrome or Firefox uses to show you the site ) CSS – Stands for Cascading Style Sheets (this type of code controls how the website looks: colors, fonts, some animation today, etc. ) and usually scripting languages like Javascript and Jquery ( these are mini little programs that run on the site visitors computer that add some functions t0 sites.)  A web developer also uses these tools plus databases, languages like PHP that run on the server that the website is hosted. A developer can actually create applications. Let’s say I wanted to create a utility that people could your to upload a file and have it spell checked and return it back. A developer can do that. They also more with dynamic content. For example, when you Google to a site like Amazon to find a book and you didn’t know the title but you knew the subject. A developer created a page with a form that when you enter your info, it searches the entire database of books that fit those criteria and delivers the results to you on the same page. That is usually a web developer.

Do I need a website at all?

There are so many places to share our information today on social media that sometimes it makes sense to use those option in lieu of a branded website. Can you get by with a Facebook Business Page or a LinkedIn Business page? Would directory listings suffice? Could a psychotherapist do with just an enhanced listing in Psychology Today? Ideas like these are worth considering when time and money resources are low.

For most companies and organizations, a website is at least, a central place for people to find contact information and acts as an online brochure. At its’ best, a website is the central place to share information and get feedback. It becomes a part of an integrated marketing plan including social media, traditional media, Search engine optimization, search engine marketing, email marketing and a place to get feedback from site visitors. What kind of website do I need/want?

Broken down into general categories we find:

  1. Standard brochure type ( one that you probably won’t change very often.)
  2. A Standard site built on a content management system that is easy to edit even without a lot of technical skills.
  3. eCommerce Sites
  4. Some websites are built as a specific application like a directory site.
  5. Although they are not individual websites, they can look and feel like a branded website including your branded URL.  You can create a store on platforms like *Amazon, Etsy, eBay, Shopify, Squarespace, WIX, Big Commerce, etc. Because they are built on the companies servers ( you don’t need a hosting package ) and they take care of security, credit card processing, and even shipping using carriers own software. ( Jessie Sykes from   Supplyspy shared comprehensive post about Amazon. )

To answer the question, do I need a website, we consider first, what are you trying to achieve? Do you plan to sell online? It is possible to use the Amazon/Etsy route without a separate website.  From my experience, one of the limitations to this method is in the customization. It is not easy to change the source code on these but you can generally make them work great without customization. Other than that exception I have found few companies or organizations that would not benefit from their own site.  But, even with these eCommerce options, you may want to consider hiring a web designer that can guide you through building the site and incorporating SEO components etc. You will also find that a good web designer can build the site faster than if you tried it yourself.

A good web designer knows that your website plays a crucial role in your complete marketing effort. It becomes the hub of communication connecting all your other social assets. As people shop today they are sure to Google what they are looking for to gather information and for larger purchases, they may visit sites multiple times before making a buying decision. They will also check with their friends and look at review sites before making a purchase. A well-planned website will also work to qualify customers. Perhaps they are not really your best customer profile. Your product or service may be out of their league, or maybe it may under-serve their needs. Either way, a well-planned website as the cornerstone of your online marketing strategy so that when customers do come through your door, they are ready to buy.

 

Website designers help build a website that is found in search engines, are tied to social media accounts and create a sales funnel to nurture leads.

Specialty Custom Built Website.

Websites that perform different functions or need to integrate with POS systems, Inventory control, and accounting packages would require a web developer with more different skills than most web designers.

You can be your own website designer and actually build some nice do-it-yourself websites.

It is easy to start off simply and Do It Yourself Website and become your own website designer.  You don’t need any technical skills, and if you run into any difficulty there is generally a lot of help to be found when building a Do it yourself website. You always have the option of hiring a web designer if it gets difficult or time-consuming. Options to build your own website ad plentiful. Some options are built on content management systems (CMS) like WordPress, Drupal or Joomla.  These solutions are open source and available online for free. You install each of these options on your own hosting account. Wordpress by far has the largest user base, the greatest amount of plugins ( utilities that increase the functionality) and themes ( themes create the look and feel of the website) There is a hosted version at WordPress.com, and a version you install on your own hosting account, WordPress.org. Most hosting companies have a utility that installs WordPress for you. For a very comprehensive list of content management systems, you can visit Capterra, a website that specializes in finding just the right software for its’ visitors.  In the DIY corner, there are many low or no cost tools to help. I have shared a list of tools, many that I still use, to help you with your project. You can find that list here.

What do I need to build a website?

There are 5 basic things we need and we can get them all in one place. Some suggested companies check out are Godaddy, Host Gator, Dreamhost , Bluehost, or our service – You can check out this link and try some domain names out. I have included some entry-level budget prices below.

  1. Chose a Domain Name and purchase.  $10 -15 
  2. Purchase a hosting plan – This is basically the computer that your files will be on. $7-12 /M
  3. Purchase an SSL  – Google assumes that most sites will be protected with a secure certificate by the end of this year. $50 /Year
  4. Install WordPress – Most hosting companies today have the ability to install it automatically WordPress is open source $-0-
  5. Pick a theme – There are countless free themes available along with paid themes. Free to $50 for most

There are a few ways to handle eCommerce. From simple to more powerful, You can use sites like Etsy, Amazon, eBay you can add shopping cart plugins or widgets to your CMS, You can Use online solutions like Shopify, Squarespace or WIX and finally you can build a full-size eCommerce site like BigCommerce.

E-Commerce solutions like Squarespace, Shopify, WIX allow you to design your site with templates like WordPress and have a component that allows you to add products and display them in an organized way on your site. These three are hosted on their own server which has some benefits. The cost of hosting is built into the price of the system, The servers are very secure which helps site visitors feel comfortable entering their credit card information online. All of these have the ability to charge sales tax, shipping, offer discounts etc. One thing that gets a little sticky is gift cards. It is generally easy to sell and redeem gift cards online but they don’t interface with your POS system. If you have a POS system in your store, you can set up your card just like any other product and when one is sold, you mail the physical card to the customer. Then they can use the gift card in person at your business but not in your online store.

The more robust and integrated solutions can connect to your current POS system so you can track inventory including sales from your online store and sales in your physical store so you won’t sell an item that you don’t have. They also can integrate with your accounting software. Some can even use the same credit card processing company for both online sales and in your physical store.

Custom built sites that perform different functions or need to integrate with POS systems, Inventory control, and accounting packages would require a web developer with more advanced skills than web designers.

 

 

 

Online Security is Depends a Lot on Our Behaviors

Online Security is Depends a Lot on Our Behaviors

Our security online has a lot to do with our own behaviors. We can’t passively relax and think that we are safe because we have a virus protection program. Managing your security online doesn’t need to be technical. We can start with things we can […]

My Favorite Website Management Tools

My Favorite Website Management Tools

Website management and marketing tools including development and design, CRM ( customer relationship management ), email marketing systems, social media dashboards, and content management tools abound. There is an overwhelming amount of information available on each of these tools and solutions. As you may have, I […]

Internet Security, Passwords Are Your First Line of Defense

Internet Security, Passwords Are Your First Line of Defense

When it comes to internet security, passwords are your first line of defense.

You do change your passwords on a regular basis, right?

Yea, that is what I thought. Even with all my preaching about how important keeping up with security is, I am just as guilty of putting it off changing passwords. I put it off because it is not just changing the password once. Like, when I change my password to my email address I have to change it on my phone, on my computers etc. Changing Wifi passwords seem even worse because you have to update every device that connected. ( That’s probably why people rarely change them) It is easy to get access to your stuff via wifi. You can check it yourself. The Ip of most routers is 92.168.1.1. You can probably get the manufacture of the router from there. A quick lookup of the manufacture and get their default username and password which is something crazy like “admin” and “password”.  It is amazing how often I see this. So, I know I should change passwords more often. I don’t. But, I’m getting better.

Some things we can do to help manage your passwords and security.

There are a few considerations when managing your passwords

  1. How vulnerable are we? Is it an online banking password? Is it a password for an account that has a lot of access to all your other accounts like your email address?
  2. Thinking of passwords that are secure and conform to all the different criteria that web developers establish with the # of characters, caps and no caps, number and/or special characters. You know the drill.
  3. How do we remember them or how do we store them easily and securely while allowing quick retrieval.
  4. How often should we change them?
  5. How unique is each password for each site?

A  few ways to check your current exposure.

There is a site that monitors data breaches where your information may have been compromised. Have I Been Pawned is a site where you can take your email address and check to see if your account has been compromised in past data breaches. If so, you should change that password immediately.

To check your website, Mozilla released a free tool called Observatory To access the security on your website.

To check your browser you can visit Qualys Browser Check

To make passwords easier to manage, you can use different tricks that help you remember strong passwords.

One technique that I really like is to think of a nonsensical sentence and play with the words and letters. I’ll give you an example: ” liteROCKS2fly” It is complex, varied, easy to remember because it is nonsensical- Rocks are not light and they don’t fly.

Another way I feel comfortable with is by using password managers. The generally have tools to create passwords, to store them securely, and may even autofill the username and password for you. There are two that I like, Keepass that is like an old friend and my current new workhorse is LastPass. For other suggestions, follow this link to Lifehacker : https://lifehacker.com/5529133/five-best-password-managers

 

Are QR codes dead?

Are QR codes dead?

  Wait, what is a QR code?  QR stands for “quick response.”   Plugin for Chrome browser. Create via Website – QRCodeMonkey If you want someone to access your information on the web without having to type in a long URL, QR codes rock. Through […]

Where to start | How to use Social Media To Increase Sales

Where to start | How to use Social Media To Increase Sales

Quick Start for maximizing your efforts in Social Media. First, what are we trying to do with social media or why?  Do we want to increase sales, build memberships, share information, build donors and by how much do we want to grow? What problem are […]