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Whether you are working with an agency or plan on making updates to your business website in-house, it is important to establish a well-thought out plan for what changes to make and the reason for making those changes.

Too many times, businesses have invested large sums of money into a new website with the hopes to increase traffic, and visitor-customer conversions, only to be let down because the right questions were not asked during the planning stages of design and development.

Although a NEW LOOKING website can go a long way, it is not the sole reason why new websites will prosper. It is only one of many contributing factors of a website; we’d like to get the ball rolling and offer you a number of questions you can ask yourself, and topics you can research; before deciding that a website redesign is exactly what your business needs to enhance your online communications.

Benchmark your current website metrics

If you don’t already have Google Analytics installed on your website, install it RIGHT NOW! This is a free tool that Google offers, it will allow you to track how many visits you have, demographical information on those visitors, your most popular pages on your website, how long your visitors are staying on your website and much more. Install it now, and let it run for 1 month. If you do have Google Analytics installed, continue reading ;)

By monitoring the following statistics monthly, you will be able to assess if the changes are making a difference to your visitors and the effectiveness of your website. By using the following questions, you will be able to see if the changes you are making to your website are producing the results you are looking for.

  1. What is the number of visits/visitors and unique visitors monthly?
  2. What is your monthly average bounce rate?
  3. What is the monthly average visit duration of your website?
  4. What are your top performing keywords?
  5. How many conversions did you make in a month?
  6. What are your most highly trafficked web pages?
  7. What third-party websites are referring most to your websites?

Determine your business goals

Using the above questions as a starting point, you should be able to determine specific goals and attach a number to that goal. The results from your google analytics statistics will give you a base line for setting realistic goals. 

Determining your business goals and how you can achieve them through your website is an important ingredient for success. WHY are you doing the redesign? What aspects of your website do you want to change, what’s working right now? What is not working, and how can you change it – so that it will work in the future.

  1. What is your business’s message?
  2. Is your message and branding staying the same? Or is it changing?
  3. What needs to be changed? Why?

Define your target audience

Take some time to establish who your target audience is. Who are the people your website is made for, what kinds of content are relevant to them? What would they like or dislike about your existing website?

Do you currently have a clearly defined target audience? If you don’t or if you’re unsure of whether or not you do. Build yourself a Buyer Persona. Develop a profile of a person or persons, who would represent the types of people within your target audience. The types of work environment they live in, their stresses, their needs, their pain points! For more information, read our blog on Buyer Personas.

Analyze your competition

Now that you have a good idea of whom your target audience is and what some of the business goals you would like to accomplish are, you should invest time into analyzing and researching your competition. How are you competitors marketing and trying to provide solutions to your target audience? What are they doing differently from you? Are there things they are doing better? What are they doing worse? How would you improve on their strategy?

  1. Are there competitors’ sites that you really like? If so, which ones? What do you like most about them?
  2. What are the top 3 most competitive keywords in your industry? ( words your potential customers would type into the google search box when looking for your product or service)
  3. Who are your top-ranked competitors?

Analyze your current website

Use your current website as the basis of where to move forward when designing and developing your new website. Below are some questions you can ask yourself when planning your new website.

  1. What do I currently like and dislike about my website?
  2. What is missing from the current website?
  3. How is my current website accomplishing my business goals?
  4. What is the first impression I want to give my website visitors?
  5. Does my website currently convey a feeling of trustworthiness and authority?
  6. What is our budget for this project?
  7. What platform do I want my new website on? (A content management system like WordPress, Joomla, etc.?)
  8. What content stays?
  9. What content goes?
  10. What content needs to be re-written?
  11. What new call-to-action buttons need to be added?


There you have it, a brief guideline that you can use when planning for a website redesign or renovation. This of course is only a guideline created to get you thinking proactively about what changes can be made to your businesses website and about what questions you should be answering yourselves about your own business goals. If you would like to take the next step and schedule a meeting to discuss your website redesign in more detail, email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call us at (705) 725-0055.

What questions did you find most helpful?

What other questions would you ask yourself when planning for a website redesign?

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What is a content management system?

A website content management system (CMS) is a web application that allows you to publish, edit, modify, add or delete the contents of your website in a user friendly interface. Content could include text, graphics, photos, videos, audio clips and code. They are often run on websites containing blogs, news or online shopping stores. Many new websites are being built in a content management system to make it easier for small businesses to make changes to their websites themselves.


There are many different CMS’s available, some are free and some cost money, some are very powerful and developed tools, and others are basic and contain limited features. We thought we would share with you some of our favourite content management systems, their price and an overview of the features each are known for – depending on your own unique website requirements, one of these CMS’s might be the right choice for you!


You may be interested in having a content management system set up, but lack the technical skills to install it on your website. Let us help; we can offer suggestions for the best system for your application, set it up on your website and provide you with training needed to easily make changes to your content management system. We will also be just an email or phone call away if you run into difficulties. 

Wordpress

Wordpress Logo

WordPress is probably the most popular of all website content management systems. It is often referred to anytime a person or business discusses blogs. WordPress is known for its blogging capabilities, but is far more powerful to be only regarded as a blogging content management system.
You can develop fully responsive websites using WordPress, manage blog posts, website content, uploading images and video to website content, start an online store, host picture galleries, or start your own social network. Part of the reason why WordPress is such a powerful CMS, is because it is Open Source, what that means… is that anyone can add to the development of the software (i.e. - programmers can help to make the software better, by programming WordPress themselves), this has made WordPress a popular CMS choice of programmers and consumers who would like a wide variety of options and features available in their content management system.


WordPress has a library of third party ‘plugins’. These plugins are developed by WordPress or third-party programmers. They are additional features that you can add to your WordPress website.  Popular WordPress plugins are: Contact Forms, All-in-One SEO plugins, Woo Commerce (online stores), Google Analytics, WP Touch (mobile website plugins), Online Chat plugins, Frequently Asked Questions plugins and more… These plugins were developed so that you can include an intuitive application into your website, without having to know how to program the application yourself; you can download it for free (or at a cost, sometimes), install it into your WordPress dashboard, activate it, and use it. Visit www.wordpress.com for more information.


WordPress also gives users the options to install Themes; there is a large database of free themes you can install on your WordPress Dashboard, that act as the layout to your website. This prevents you from needing to design and develop your own website layout; you can easily adopt a pre-fabricated theme for free, or choose a premium theme at a price. For the more tech-savvy individuals, using a theme as a starting point and customizing that theme with your own html and css code will give more control over the design, aesthetic and uniqueness of your website.


Price: Free
Ease of use after setup:  Easy-Medium
Website

Joomla

Joomla Logo

Joomla is another Open Source Content Management System, it is most popularly used for developing websites and web based applications, it is easy to use for a tech savvy individual, who wants the ability to update and manage the content of their websites effectively. Some of the types of websites made within the Joomla CMS are: individual portfolio sites, social networking portals, restricted member access portals, corporate websites, entertainment sites and news & magazine publication portals. Online stores can also be made with Joomla by using third party plugins, such as Virtuemart.


Joomla is unique in that it can be shaped to be used as an e-commerce, social networking, or other type of web portal; it comes with a large database of free extensions (similar to WordPress Plugins), that you can install to further to available features of your website. There is a large database of free and purchasable templates you can use and customize to suit your small businesses unique brand. Visit www.joomla.com for more information.


Price: Free
Ease of use after setup : Medium-Hard
Website

Pulse

Pulse CMS logo

Pulse is a very simple, easy-to-use content management system. It is a flat file CMS, unlike WordPress and Joomla, it does not require complicated database setup, all you have to do is install the CMS to your server, and start using the application.


Pulse CMS is handy for businesses who have smaller sized websites, and who are interested in primarily having the capabilities of updating the contents of their websites, such as services lists, about us content, contact information, and blog articles. One of our favourite aspects of the Pulse CMS is that you can program or have a third party company program a completely custom website, and then simply install the CMS application into that website design with simple 1 line codes – that allows for ‘blocks’ that can be edited in the admin panel of the content management system.
The Pulse CMS comes with a few different templates you can use as a foundation for your website, or you can design your own custom template. It also offers a few different ‘extra’ plugins you can install to enhance the features of your website like a Static Calendar, Google Search feature, Recent Blog Posts features, and Password Protection features. If you have a small-to-medium sized website, that doesn’t require heavy amounts of updating or expansive web applications, Pulse CMS could be the content management system for you. Visit www.pulsecms.com for more information.


Note: To install, awareness of html, php and how databases work is handy, however they do offer step-by-step instructions. Knowledge of website design is recommended for installation.

Price:  $29
Ease of use after setup: Easy
Website

 

Perch

Perch Logo

Perch market themselves as the really little content management system. Don’t let that fool you into thinking its size lacks in power. Perch is a very powerful little CMS, which is very easy to use. Similar to Pulse CMS, however it offers a wider range of built-in features and add-ons that you can install into any custom website layout you or your third-party designer/developer has created.


The unique thing about Perch is that, it doesn’t have ‘themes’ like most CMS’, and it doesn’t prevent you from using your favourite jQuery or PHP Scripts; you can fit perch into any existing site within minutes and use any scripts you would like. It is a fantastic content management system for small-to-medium sized businesses that are looking for the capability of updating images, galleries, and content of your individual website pages and having the option of including powerful third-party or custom website applications & features.


Although there are free alternatives to Perch, at the low cost of 50 Euros, Perch is well worth the investment depending on the size and requirements of your project. This is one of our personal favourite Content Management Systems just because it’s so well constructed and has made a strong commitment to being user friendly.


Note: To install, awareness of html, php and how databases work is handy, however they do offer step-by-step instructions. Knowledge of website design is recommended for installation.


Some of the noteworthy features of Perch are:

  • Built in content form editors
  • Easy to use control panel for making updates
  • Undo, Drafts and Preview options when making updates
  • Ability to use Bootstrap, Foundation or any front-end framework (such as responsive frameworks)
  • Ability to assign multiple users unique roles and permissions for update content.
  • Some of the plugins Perch offers are: Galleries, Mail Chimp integration, Members sections, Podcast publishing, Ecommerce, Twitter Feeds, Blogs and Events.


Price: 50 Euros
Ease of use after setup : Easy
Website

Couch

Couch CMS Logo

Couch CMS is good for small-to-medium sized businesses who would like the capability of updating their content, and adding blog posts or images to their website. Some of the key features of Couch are editable regions, cloned pages, comments, blogs, seo friendly links, PayPal integration, events calendar, and forms.


With a quick tutorial on how to navigate the back end interface any user would be able to easily make updates to their website.
Couch offers good documentation on how to install the content management on a website, and also offer forums to field any questions you may have while working within the content management’s framework.


Note: To install, awareness of html, php and how databases work is handy, however they do offer step-by-step instructions. Knowledge of website design is recommended for installation.


Couch CMS is a combination of WordPress/Joomla and the two smaller content management systems mentioned above. It is a free Open Source content management system, which was built specifically for designers. There is limited required knowledge of PHP to set this CMS up on a given website, there are also no templates for the Couch CMS website, similar to Perch, you can easily install the CMS into an existing website with the inclusion of a few short codes.


Price: Free
Ease of use after setup: Easy-Medium
Website

So there you have it… A collection of 5 popular Content Management Systems available for you to use on your business websites.

 

To get started, all you have to do is visit the respective CMS’ website links, download the application and follow their instructions on how to install it on your websites server. We make it sound easy, it isn’t overly complicated; however, this is something we specialize in. If you have any questions about a content management system or if you are looking for assistance in setting up a CMS on your website, contact us today and we will gladly walk you through the process!!


Which Content Management Systems are your favourite? Why?

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What is a keyword?

Keyword Examples - Worker SafetyWhen people are looking for information on the internet, they often type a word or phrase into the search bar. This word or phrase is called a keyword . The search engine ( google, bing, yahoo) then looks for the most relevant web site or web pages it can find about that specific word or phrase. Learning about keywords and SEO can significantly help your business website in gaining a stronger online presence.

 

Choosing and using the right keywords and phrases for your website is very important if you want to be found by people looking for your products and services on the internet.

 

You will need to come up with words and phrases that are searched for frequently and are the most relevant to your website’s purpose. Put some work into being classified by the search engines as having current and relevant information about that topic. The more relevant to the key word or phrase your web page has the better ranking you will get in a web search. You will want to rank in the first 8 spots to make the first page of a search.

#1

In order to come up with the right keywords, you first need to know who will be searching for your website. This is called your target audience. It may help you to develop a character for a typical customer or a persona. To help develop these examples of your typical customer , look at your best current customers. Who are these people?

 

Developing a persona (or 2 or 3) will help you clearly target your website and your marketing. You can go as far as to choose a picture and write a biography for the persona. Now when you craft a blog or develop a marketing piece, write to the persona. This will help you get a clear picture of who your target audience is and help you keep your message to them consistent.

 

Questions to ask when developing your target audience persona

  1. Persona Example

    Are they male, or female, how old are they, do they have children?
  2. What is their education level, do they work in management or front lines?
  3. What do they do in a typical day? Are they spending the majority of their day at home or at work, where would they rather be? What do they do in their leisure time? Are they passionate about a cause?
  4. What are their pain points? What do they value most, what do they get excited about?
  5. How do they like to shop? What would their most common objection be to your product or service?

#2

Make a list of words and phrases these target audience personas would type into the search bar when looking for your product or service. Look at newspapers or magazines your personas would typically be looking at to find buzzwords related to your industry or service. Ask current customers what words they would use. There are several keyword tools you can use to gauge what popular keyword searches are at any given moment, or get a good idea of what future keyword searches might be.

#3

Choose the top 3 keywords you want to work on, make sure your website has google analytics set up so you can track your progress (at least monthly). Now use these keywords throughout your website; in the tags and titles as well as the content. Be careful, use the key words where they make sense, but don’t overdo it. Using the same word over and over on a web page is called keyword stuffing ,this is frowned on by the search engines.

 

Add content that contains your chosen keywords, you may want to add a new webpage specific to a product, or service or write a blog about something regarding your targeted key word. Consider a picture or diagram or video to help explain a product or concept.

 

Being found through a keyword search is one of the best marketing tools available. Keep in mind though, it takes some time and work to achieve being placed on page 1 or 2 for many key words. Once you make it, you must continue to monitor and keep providing fresh relevant content in order to stay in top ranking.

 

If you would like to update your website or would like to improve your keyword ranking, call us or email for a free consultation. 705 725-0055 , This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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Posted by on in Business Websites and Hosting

A picture speaks a thousand words, but using unauthorized graphics on your website can cost your company hundreds of dollars!

Using pictures and images on your website is a great way to draw visitor interest and illustrate a point. Including a relevant graphic on an article on your website can increase the number of times it is read by 94 % according to a study by Skyword.

Warning!

Though there are many graphics throughout the internet, be careful in choosing the ones you use. All images have been created by someone; many of these people create these images as their livelihood. Actors must be paid, cameras must be bought, skills and expertise that create these graphics are not cheap. Before you use an image, be sure you know who owns it! If you use an image that belongs to someone and you have not paid for it you could be subject to a hefty fine and threats of legal action.

Find Out Who Owns the Graphic

There are many “free” graphics out there, through sites such as creativecommons.org , be careful, free often comes with specific terms and conditions, which if violated can cost. 

Some graphics can be traced to their owner by using a Reverse Graphic Lookup using Google Images or TinEye.com . The results from these searches will tell you other pages on the internet that contain the same image, you may be able to work back to the owner of the graphic. Some graphic owners will be happy to let you use their image, but be sure to ask, get written permission, and use it in the way the owner requests. If you’re still not sure who owns the image even after searching, it is best not to use that image at all.

Best Bet

Taking you own photos or designing your own graphics is the safest and cheapest option. If you are not artistically inclined, purchasing stock photos from a reputable stock photo company is perhaps the safest and quickest way to obtain graphics for your website. These companies sell licence’s to use the graphic, but be aware you have not purchased exclusive right to the photo or content, what you’ve actually done is licensed the rights to use that photo or content. You haven’t bought the file outright, a royalty-free license allows you to pay once (or pay one royalty) for the rights to use a file multiple times. Though not free, this option provides quality graphics relatively inexpensive compared to having a photographer shoot content exclusively for your project.

There are several stock photo companies out there, such as iStock or shutterstock. The company we have been very happy with is http://www.dollarphotoclub.com they have a large library of quality photos for $1. each. Their site also allows for you to save a variety of photos to personalized galleries before purchasing them.  This allows you to explore a variety of photos before making your decision to purchase.

Next Step is Easy!

Go now to dollar photo club, and check out all the amazing options for adding new graphics to your website!

If you need help changing out your pictures or would like to have few changes made to your website, call us at 705 725-0055 or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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 If improving your business website is on your to do list this year, here are some tips to consider.

 

What makes a better business website?

 

  1. When people are researching a product or service, they will most often start with a google search. A better website will rank on the first page of the search for relevant key words.
  2. When the searcher makes a choice of which website to choose from the search results, a better website will load quickly. As 40% of people will abandon a web page if it takes more than three seconds to load, speed is an issue.
  3.  Once the website loads, the searcher will start looking around the website. A better website will display properly on all devices – desktop, laptop, tablet or cell phone.
  4. Your website must meet the needs of the visitors, be easy to navigate and provide timely and relevant content. A better website will guide your visitors through their web experience with calls to action that lead them logically to the next step.


Looking for help or advice to make your website better? Encore Web Plus is a Barrie Website Company that specializes in websites for small and medium sized businesses. Contact us today for a complimentary website consultation - 705 725-0055.
 


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