Happy Holidays to all.
Are you a small business owner reviewing the state of your business at the end of the year? Take few minutes to assess how much time and effort you have spent in the last year in the following areas.
If you have a website or online presence for your business, then it is our thinking that you should give it a good bit of thought of where you stand and what you want to focus on for the next year.
- Social Media presence and engagement – Social media presence such as facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest can benefit your business to bring direct or indirect revenue to your business.
- Email Marketing offers a very inexpensive way to communicate and keep in touch with your potential customers or existing customers
- Inbound Marketing – set up blog and write blog articles that are relevant for your business and your customer base.
- Paid – Getting the word about your business through paid online advertisements can be very costly if you do not watch your week to week spending and do not measure the returns carefully.
- SEO/SEM – With an efficient and targeted search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) you can achieve very good rank in organic search results.
- Mobile – Mobile devices are everywhere. Make sure that your website renders properly in the mobile web browsers on smart phones and tablets such as iPad. If you happen to have Flash enabled on your website then it is a good time to either remove it or find alternative way to represent your website.
Plan for the next year
Create a scorecard and create a plan to spend time and resources to make improvements for your business in the above areas. We suggest that you review this scorecard every quarter and make necessary improvements based on your progress and needs of your business and your customers.
What are the top five reasons to redesign your website? You may think that you already have a fully functional website right now. The five reasons given below would give you an idea whether you would need to redesign your website or not?
After reading this article, if you realize that your website needs a redesign and you are ready to take up the initiative then contact New England New Media and we would love to help you.
Your website users find your website difficult to use
If you get to hear from your users that they are not finding the information they are looking for on your website then you should think about redesign. Either the content or the information is not readily seen or the navigation is not clear and user cannot get to it. Usefulness of website is no longer subjective or qualitative.
There are ways to assess the usefulness of a website’s navigation by applying some simple heuristic rules and reviewing the website logs or how the website visitors are navigating your site.
Your website purpose has changed or evolved
Did you design and develop your website few years ago with a specific purpose and point of view? Now it’s time to think of new design.
If your business offerings have changed in a way that the website is not serving the core purpose/vision of your business then you should think about redesigning your website. You might have started as a simple informational website but now your online presence has grown or the primary purpose of your website is to obtain leads or contact information for prospective customers. A situation like this requires you to evaluate your online strategy and plan on redesigning your website.
Your website visitors are not the same as the ones you originally envisioned
Just like a physical store an online presence of your business should attract and retain the right kind of users and visitors. It may be useful to get a lot of site visitors but none of them become true paying customers then your website is not doing its job. You could review what channels the website visitors are coming from and what activities they are doing or not doing on your website. This kind of website analytics would help you understand the conversion rates of visitors to users to paying customers and could help you in designing your website to functional at an optimal level.
You find it difficult to keep your website current or make any updates
For many small businesses the responsibility to update or change the website content/information falls on the business owner or on someone whose primary job responsibility is not to be the shepherd of business’ online presence. Many times businesses do not update their website because it is too cumbersome to make the updates or they need to contact an outside webmaster to make updates to their websites. These days, there are so many easy to use tools that allow a business owner or staff to update the website. Use of content management systems (CMS) has become very affordable and 9 out of 10 times they can be configured out of the box and can be setup with a business for a very minimal effort.
You cannot use your website on mobile or tablet devices
Finally, the website that you have designed four or five years back is not going to work well on a mobile device such as tablets or smart phones. You may have tried your own website on a mobile device and found out that the text is too small to read or it is not easy to click on your own website menu items. Your website content may be great and relevant and your purpose and vision is still valid but if your visitors have started using mobile devices to visit your website then your website should function well on those mobile devices.
Hope you find this article helpful. As mentioned above, if any one of these points relate to your business or situation then you should contact us to get free one hour consultation to review your business.
There are various kinds of business websites to serve specific business objectives.
The website type foremost depends on the type of the business and what that business would need to achieve from a website. Whether you currently have a website or thinking about building your online presence, we hope that this article would give a good idea on understanding the types of websites.
At a higher level, we consider that there are three types of websites:
Informational websites serve as the simplest form of online presence for a business. Informational websites, as the name suggests, merely provide information about a business and pretty much consist of what a business would contain in its marketing brochure. Usually, the content of these informational websites does not usually change from time to time. The design and development effort required for these informational website is very minimal. There are a lot of small businesses that start with an informational website and soon realize that they have to improve their online presence by getting most of their website
Some examples in this category consist of dentists, take out pizza or chinese restaurants etc where the websites provide information about location or store information and nothing more.
- http://bcdentalweb.com/index.html — dentist website
- http://palacepizzaofworcester.com/menu.php — pizza place
Lead Generating Websites
For many, business websites serve as great sales funnel to drive the business growth for their services or products. Lead generating websites bring awareness to a business’ services or products and let the prospective customers to contact the business and continue the conversation online or offline. These prospects or leads could turn into paying customer by careful execution of the business website operations. In it’s simplest form a website could have a contact form or request form to let website visitors to submit the information to the businesses. These lead generating websites may need regular effort to create relevant and updated content about their business.
Some examples in this category consist of real estate agents, property inspectors, attorneys etc. These businesses may acquire visitors with paid online advertisements and need to create website to make the most out of their online advertising investment.
- http://nenewmedia.com — our own web design/development company
- http://tilleryinspect.com – home inspector website
- http://www.armyandarmylaw.com – attorney/law firm website
eCommerce websites, as the name suggests, allow a company to sell their products and/or services online. An ecommerce website could be an extension of an existing physical store or as the only way for a business to conduct business and sell its products/services.
The complexity and the effort involved in designing and running an eCommerce business depend on the size of business’ operations and the number of customers the company is serving online. eCommerce shall offer trust, security and great customer service to serve the customers online. Setting up an eCommerce website could be a turnkey solution or a custom developed solution to suit business needs. Features like shopping cart, payments, website speed and usability should be the hallmarks of an eCommerce website.
Some examples of eCommerce websites may be for a local mom-and-pop store that sells hand made articles or products or a big website where the ecommerce store could sell items from various sellers.
- http://www.flowergirldressforless.com/index.html — purely eCommerce business
- http://mudlarkpotterystudio.com — a pottery studio with an eCommerce store front
We hope that this article gave you good idea on different types of websites. If you are a business owner that is looking for setting up a new website or already have a website but want to take it to the next level then please contact us. We will be happy to understand your business needs and offer free one hour consultation.
Videos are good for small businesses. But, there are some points that business owners need to take into account when adding Videos to their websites.
Videos offer an excellent way for explaining about services of someone or features of a product. The length and content of the video matters a lot for businesses. Depending on where the video is placed the length of the video should not be more than few minutes at the most. If it is video meant for home page then the video should be less than a minute to get visitor’s attention.
Example Video developed by Blue Marble Media for CitationAir
Sometimes, what you provide in the Video tours is not always very easy for your site visitors to follow. You need to supplement the video content with a list of detailed blog posts. This is necessary for a number of reasons.
- the video is very linear in nature – this makes it difficult for the user to scan large content. Blog posts with pure text could be easily scanned provided they are broken down by headers and bulleted lists.
- long duration of the video – any video longer than 2 or more minutes will not keep the users focused.
- missed opportunities – Users tend to fast forward and skip through video segments. Users may loose the material that you want to get across to them when they do so. Again, it is important to keep video length in mind while presenting on the web.
In summary, creating and publishing videos has become as easy as writing text blog posts. Every business should start making use of these tools to promote and grow their business. Dont forget that it is important to search engine optimize videos too.
Short URLs and friendly URLs are not quite related but short URLs are friendly and friendly URLs could be short. Hence, the reason for this post. Continue reading about these two topics and see how you could better inform your readers and viewers about your website pages/resources.
Short URLs have become quite popular these days. Short URL is an alias to a long-not-easy-to-type-remember long URLs. Short URLs take less space while including in emails, other web pages, while sharing on social media. Services like bit.ly and tinyurl.com take a long url and make it a short URL. Short URLs are used on the popular microblogging service Twitter.com as the tweets are limited only to 140 characters and any saving in letters in including website links (urls) is a good thing.
- For example, a long URL from the DMOZ directory to the WordPress software is given by…
and with the use of bit.ly we can shorten it and the short url is:
bit.ly service not only shortens a long URL it allows you to customize the short URL name to something of your choice. If you sign up for bit.ly service you could even track the clicks of the short URLs and get realtime stats for that short URL.
Friendly URLs on the other hand are useful to make a meaningful URL name to the site visitors and to the search engines. For example, the URL of this blog post is “
Almost all of the content management systems, whether open-source or commercial, support the friendly url feature and the website developer needs to enable it and configure it for various website pages and blog entries. Even for a static brochure site that does not change much it is a good idea to group the pages to a specified structure and create meaningful and friendly URLs. For the New England New Media blog we use WordPress and it offers a lot of control in how we create short/friendly URLs.
There are many URL shortner services and Search Engine Land has an exhaustive article on this topic. If you are looking to learn more about this topic and understand about any dangers or pitfalls in using URL shortners then you should read this article from Joshua Schacter’s Blog.
Hope this information is helpful. We would like to hear back from you, our readers, about this post and our blog.
Small business web site design & development promotional video from New England New Media (NENM). NENM serves Boston, Worcester, and New England area small businesses. This promotional video was created using animoto free video creation service.
Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.
What is a CMS and how is it useful for your business or website?
Content Management System (CMS) lets you manage content on your website with not much of a headache or pain. Without the CMS, updating a website whenever you want is not easy and you need to reach out to your webmaster. Content Management System lets you update parts of a web page/website or add/update pages all from your web browser. So, If you are looking for an easily-update-whenever website without webmaster help then you need CMS.
Website update workflow with and without CMS:
- Identify what page/information needs to be updated
- Contact your webmaster to update
- Webmaster updates the content and informs you
- You review the updated page. If you are happy with the update everything is good otherwise you need to go back to the webmaster and ask her to update it.
- Identify what page/information needs to be updated
- Update the page/information within the CMS
- Preview the page on how it looks and “publish” yourself
Update means adding new content as well such as blog posts or articles.
Tools or programs such as WordPress, Drupal, and other CMS software lets you manage your site content without webmaster’s help. Of course, they do take a little bit more effort to setup. But, once you have them setup for your business then it becomes super easy to be in total control of your website.
Hope you find this article helpful. In the coming days we will write about WordPress powered websites.
If you are looking for a CMS based websites then contact New England New Media to get started.
What are landing pages?
According to Seth Godin‘s vocabulary, “A landing page is the first page a visitor to your site sees”.
There are many resources that you can find on the web to learn about landing pages but marketing Guru Seth Godin has short one pager explaining what the landing pages are. For example, the landing page on our website is a contact us page where we provide a way for our readers/prospective or current customers to reach us. Landing page acts as a glue (according to @unbounce) in your online marketing efforts. The team at unbounce.com put together a great blog post (http://unbounce.com/landing-page-optimization/7-elements-of-a-winning-landing-page/) on 7 Elements of A Winning Landing Page. The main purpose of the landing page shall be achieved and all your efforts in designing, developing and deploying a landing page should work to achieve this goal.
When you are running an email marketing campaign or pay per click (PPC) campaign on the google (http://adwords.google.com/) or other sites it is important to tie your advertising campaigns to a specific landing page and make sure the visitors of those advertisements have a specific actions to do on your website. This could be learning about a promotion and making a purchase, signing up for an email newsletter subscription, reading a product/service description, learning about new features etc. Your landing page should have one Call to Action (CTA). You might ask what is Call To Action? A call to action is one important thing that you want your website visitor to do on the landing page. It is a good idea to have only one call to action on any given landing page. Otherwise, the visitor may not take the action that you require them to take.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to all.
We are getting ready for the new year to serve our current and future customers. If you are looking to build, promote, grow your business using online marketing tools such as websites, email marketing, social media marketing then contact us. We would love to offer a free one hour consultation to get you started on the right track for this new year.
Photo courtesy: Flickr User http://www.flickr.com/photos/oter/