The Importance of Performing WordPress Website Maintenance

wordpress-website-technology-updates

Much akin to the upkeep of a car, your WordPress website needs a tune-up now and then. When you own a car, you regularly check the brakes, lights, oil, and other fluids just to keep it running smoothly. Well, your WordPress website needs to be checked regularly too. Often, you will find that tools or code used to display your website, especially in a mobile-friendly format, are simply as outdated as your car’s oil after several thousand miles.

So, why do we care? Well, it’s our mission to make the web a friendly, navigable place that benefits both consumers and businesses alike. You wouldn’t want your local pharmacy to close their drive-through window during business hours any more than we want your website to stop working. It would be more than an inconvenience – you’d lose business too!

A WordPress Website Maintenance Plan Should Include The Latest Code

Your website is where you transact or gain business. You want it to be top notch so that it best represents your company’s values, mission, and goals. If you have a WordPress website, it must be regularly updated because there are patches that fix bugs or security changes that need to be added. They are essential to a properly functioning and secure WordPress website. This is really basic maintenance and should be performed on a schedule.

WordPress Templates Are Only As Good As The Programmer

Many WordPress templates are supplemented with plugins that enable additional functionality. These plugins do not automatically update as do some WordPress website core features. If your webmaster has not suggested an update, then now is the time to contact them.

But, be sure you are working with someone who understands how to update WordPress websites because it’s not just about clicking the update buttons in the back end.  You need someone who can manually update your site at the same time every month and actively prevent and troubleshoot any breaks or bugs that happen as a result of the update.

Your updates will only be as good as the programmer you hire.

Website Themes Become Outdated Quickly

website-maintenanceThis is probably one of the most important messages you can take away from the digital age.  It’s not just the website themes that become outdated faster than the DeLorean.  All technology updates so rapidly that you may as well get yourself a neck brace for the whiplash.

 

The good news is that programmers aren’t the only people who can keep a WordPress website looking and working great. Consider talking to a skilled website designer as part of the equation too. WordPress themes are layered over your website to give it additional features, a desired look and feel, and choices for unique functionality.

Over time, your website will lose its appeal to your audience as later and greater designs become popular, and as their search behaviors change, which is another fact about digital marketing that’s worthy of a neck brace.

It’s always a good idea to try something new with your copy every few months so that your content and design stay fresh and current. This is easy with WordPress themes. Keep in mind, that as your business evolves, so does your content. Keeping it current is essential to making the most out of your dollars spent on web design.

In the end, having a company that knows the ins and outs of WordPress website design and development is your best bet for ensuring your website is in tip-top shape. As I said, a website is like your car. It needs a regular tune-up. And, you much change the oil (content) regularly. Anything you invest in that furthers your business is worth that.

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Drag & Drop WordPress Page Builders

Visual Composer WordPress Page Builder

When WordPress page builders became big a while back, I was skeptical to say the least. How could these page builders compete with clean HTML and lean code? What I learned is WordPress page builders have come a long ways and continue to improve. Once you realize some of their web development benefits you might find yourself using one in the near future. Below I highlight a few of the benefits of using these visual page builders and why we use WPBakery in a majority of our sites.

CSS Control

Many page builders allow you to assign ID’s and classes to the page elements, rows, and columns. This allows you to do styling and CSS updates outside of the editor, saving time when applying styles across several pages. Don’t have a child theme stylesheet? You can still style elements using the builder including colors, fonts, margins, padding, borders, columns, backgrounds, and more.

Mobile Friendliness

A big time saver I’ve found in these visual builders is the ability to quickly display or hide page elements based on the user’s screen size. For example, you can set items to show or hide on desktop, tablet, or mobile with the click of a checkbox. You can also quickly adjust spacing and padding of items to appear differently depending on device. Page columns are responsive out-of-the-box so page designs stack beautifully on phones. All-in-all, you can layout and design a page for both computers and mobile devices in less time.

SEO Features

In viewing some of our websites’ source code, we realized the page builder plugin was adding the appropriate ALT and Title tags to images dragged on the page. This alone is a time saver. Builders also allow you to assign ID’s and other SEO-related items to your page content. Need more control? You still can access the built-in WordPress ‘Text’ editor for adding or modifying HTML/CSS.

Page Load Speed

One of my biggest hesitations with WordPress page builders was fear it would slow down my sites. After testing and building sites with and without page builder plugins these past few years, I learned a lot. First off, web servers are much faster today so extra inline CSS doesn’t seem to phase speed much. Second, themes with page builders are getting better at minifying code and caching items. Third, the proof is in the pudding – many of our new sites with page builders score in the high nineties on Pingdom, not an easy feat.

In summary, I think page builders started out with a bad rap and were seen as clunky drag & drop editors. They’ve come a long way since then. Many of our sites are now built in a third to half the time by utilizing these great plugins. I invite you to try one out on your next WordPress site. Who knows, you may end up using it on all your future sites.

Responsive web design is an integral part of your ranking (popularity)

responsive-web-design-ranking

Hopefully, you understand the importance of quality website design. People judge your website based off of its design and how well it works, and they make decisions about your company based on their experience on your website.

Responsive web design makes the browsing experience better for customers. We’ve written about why (and how you can improve your web design) here. However, responsive web design isn’t just good for the sake of your users. It also helps your SEO and general ranking. In other words, it attracts more people to your site and retains them.

A brief overview of responsive web design

The opposite of a responsive website is a “fixed” website. A fixed website might look great on your standard computer screen, and it is probably easy to read. However, when a user tries to open the site on their phone, they must awkwardly zoom in and scroll to read the content.

As opposed to this, a responsive website automatically adjusts to whatever screen it is on so that the viewer can easily read the information. For example, a responsive website changes photo sizes and converts multiple columns into one long column.

Responsive web design is nuanced, and we’ve written more about how it will improve your business.

Responsive web design and Google’s preference

There’s no doubt about it: Google prefers responsive web design to fixed design. In fact, they explain why in their Developer Guides. They write many reasons, including, “(Responsive web design) helps Google’s algorithms accurately assign indexing properties to the page rather than needing to signal the existence of corresponding desktop/mobile pages.”

Despite this, preference doesn’t automatically mean higher SEO. Google executives have claimed that they don’t use responsive web design in their ranking system directly. However, such design is easier for Google’s algorithms to navigate, which could have an impact on SEO.

Finally, Google does give preference to mobile-friendly sites when users are searching on mobile. Users are using mobile more now than ever before. Make sure you aren’t missing out on these views.

Responsive web design avoids common mobile design mistakes

Mobile design mistakes can impact your user’s online experience and hurt your ranking. For example, mistakes can:

  • make your site load slowly.
  • display unplayable content.
  • cause duplicate content.
  • show text that is too small or too large.
  • place elements too close together on a page.
  • cause high bounce rates.
  • create irrelevant cross-links.

These mistakes hurt your SEO ranking, but — guess what — responsive web design often helps you avoid these pitfalls automatically.

Social media and responsive web design

Users are more like to share content on social media when they are on a phone or tablet. Sites that are easier to use on mobile are thus more likely to be shared on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.

Social media is an important way to build relationships with your audience and your industry. It can also help you generate new leads, and become an established expert in your field. In fact, a bigger social audience often means more website views. It can also create a higher demand for your services and products.

Social media isn’t a direct factor in SEO. However, it can improve your ranking indirectly. For example, social media:

  • creates the potential for more links.
  • helps generate higher click-through-rates.
  • gives you a known brand, which users can then search.

You might be just starting out, or perhaps your current website needs some work. Either way, responsive web design should be one of your top web priorities.

At Your Imprint, we never stop having fun. Web design is one of the best parts of our jobs. If you need help building a stunning, functional website, get a quote. We’ll help you put on a show! 

Understanding the Web Design Process

Web Design Design Featured Image

By now, you understand how much we value web design. We believe that a creative, engaging, and functional website is essential to building your business. Because of this, we’re web design enthusiasts.

A successful website is one that represents your brand and addresses your audience’s needs with artistic precision. This might seem like a daunting task. However, we’ve broken this goal down into an achievable three-part process.Web Design Process

Phase 1: Discovery

In this phase, we ask our clients questions about their business, their audience, and their goals. Some of the questions are meant for us. These questions help us understand what the business is all about.

However, we’re not just web designers. We’re marketers, too. As a result, some of the questions also prompt our clients to think carefully about their branding objectives.

Phase 2: Scope

At this point, we understand our client’s business objectives, and we have ideas on how to implement them. Now, it’s time to start planning.

Phase Two is all about the details of the project. We work with the client to understand their needs in terms of web development, design, and scheduling. After this, we devise a plan for when we will meet milestones and deadlines.

In this phase, we discuss when and how we will brand and source your site.

Phase 3: Implementation

Now it’s time to carry out the goals established in Phase Two. In Phase Three, we focus on production and perfection.

To do this well, we have even more steps:

  1. Find inspiration. We work with our client to look at other websites, competitors, and like-minded business owners and evaluate their sites.
  2. Create a mini brand kit. This kit includes colors, logos, web fonts, shapes, and images to use in the design.
  3. Source visuals, including photos, graphics, and videos. Our client works with us in this step. Having a visually appealing website is important in any industry, and you want yours to stand out. Because of this, sourcing quality images should be a priority.
  4. Draw wireframes. Our designers draw wireframes, or simplified outlines, of the homepage and one child page (a page that is subordinate to the homepage).
  5. Design a live mockup. The mockup of the homepage is hosted on a staging platform. In the past, we provided our clients with two to three photoshop mockup versions prior to this step. However, we’ve found that the live mockup is more efficient, interactive, and economical. Because we do this, our clients must communicate their needs throughout every step. When communication is clear, clients trust the designer to create a site that matches their needs.
  6. Finish the site. After the client approves the mockup and any modifications, we finish the site’s main pages. Websites with more than 15-20 pages are designed in cycles.

At Your Imprint, we never stop having fun. Web design is one of the best parts of our job. If you need help, get a quote. We’ll help you put on a show! 

What is Responsive Web Design and How to Improve It

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There’s a good chance you’re reading this blog post on your phone or a tablet. If you’re not, you probably still use your phone to scroll social media, search for information, and look up websites. In fact, 52.64 percent of web views of total web traffic comes from mobile devices.

Understanding this statistic matters when you’re building a website. To succeed in the business world, your site needs to be able to automatically adjust itself to fit the dimensions of a device it is on. This is what responsive web design is all about.

What is responsive web design?

Let’s consider the opposite of responsive web design or a “fixed” website. This website probably looks great on a desktop or a laptop computer. When viewed on the desktop, the site might have multiple columns that are easy to read. However, when a user tries to open it on their phone, they must zoom in and scroll in ways that are difficult.

On a smartphone, these websites are often slow to load, large pictures may break up the text, and certain elements may be blocked.

In contrast, a responsive website automatically adjusts in a way that makes viewing the content easy for the users. For example, this website converts multiple columns to one long column. It readjusts photo sizes and makes everything visible on one page.

How does responsive web design work?

Responsive web design uses proportions rather than pixels. For example, if your site has 4 columns, you denote how much of the site each column should take. When converted to mobile, those proportions remain consistent. In addition, a fluid design works better on a variety of screens with different resolutions.

This design also uses a tool called breakpoints. Also called media queries, this design trick allows the website to gather data about the width of a user’s device. The website uses this data to apply specific CSS styles to fit that width. Breakpoints can be set to any size. However, most designers follow standard width sizes for desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones. In other words, they tend to use the sizes 1200px, 768px, 480px, and 320px.

Why small businesses need to switch to responsive web design.

Check your web traffic. If your website is like most sites, then a significant number of users are coming to your site through mobile devices. In fact, studies show that users are quick to leave sites that are slow, difficult to use, or are a pain to navigate. Responsive web design doesn’t completely eliminate all of these problems (sometimes, you just need an overall website tune-up!). However, it often will improve these problems.

As a small business owner, you know that bringing people to your site can be especially challenging. Not only does responsive web design play role in Google ranking, but it also keeps people engaged once they’ve found you.

Easy ways improve your responsive web design.

 1. Think mobile first. 

It’s tempting for many people to build their website from the perspective of a desktop user. As a result, the website often becomes filled up with lots of writing and photos. However, scaling down to a mobile site is often more challenging. Instead, build your site with a mobile mindset. Adjusting your site to a desktop won’t be as challenging.

2. Remember what’s important to users. 

Why are people coming to your site? What do you want to take away? Focus on communicating what matters, and try to stick to that. If you are unsure how to do this, enlist the help of a copywriter.

3. Optimize your images. 

Large images cause websites to slow down, and they don’t always convert well to other devices. To manage this, use a service like Adaptive Images.

At Your Imprint, we never stop having fun. Web design is one of the best parts of our jobs. If you need help building a stunning, functional website, get a quote. We’ll help you put on a show! 

Why Good Website Design is Important for Business

Web-design-for-business

Do you believe your website is secondary to your marketing campaign? You shouldn’t. Over 80 percent of consumers visit websites before making a purchase. Your website tells your customers who you are and what you offer.  Although the content of your website matters significantly, so does your web design.

From your site’s organization to its layout and colors, your web design impacts your virtual presence.

Good web design establishes trust.

A study conducted for a research publication called the Trust and Mistrust of Online Health Sites showed that only 6 percent of web users distrust an organization based on its online content. The rest, or 94 percent of users, distrust a company because of its web design. They struggled to trust websites with:

  • complex layouts.
  • small text.
  • very slow load times.
  • too much text.
  • poor indexes or search options.
  • obtrusive ads.

Good websites tell your audience that you have the professionalism and financial means to effectively engage the business world. As a result, the audience uses your website to make assumptions about the quality of your products and services. In fact, 98 percent of users say that if a website works poorly on mobile, they take it to mean that the company doesn’t care.

This may not seem fair, but it certainly isn’t new. Long before the Internet, advertisers knew that packaging design mattered. For example, in chapter 5 of the book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell writes about the way we subconsciously perceive design. He writes, “Testers for 7-Up consistently found consumers would report more lemon flavor in their product if they added 15% more yellow coloring to the package.”

Good web design keeps people coming back.

Websites that are easy to use are websites that people return to more frequently, purchase products from, and stay on longer. Here are a few need-to-know statistics that back these points:

  • 51 percent of American online shoppers say slow site loading times is the number one reason they don’t make a purchase.
  • 40 percent of users will leave a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
  • 38% of people will leave a website if they think the layout is unattractive.
  • Two-thirds of people would prefer to read something that is beautiful over something plain.

Really, these statistics are self-explanatory. Nobody wants to use something that is visually unappealing, and websites are no exception. Chances are, there are other businesses like yours. Don’t let your website be the reason a customer chooses your competition over you.

Good web design matters for SEO and mobile users.

An SEO-friendly site is one that allows Google and other search engines the ability to examine your site. When building your website, you need to pay attention to how the site looks. However, you also need to build it with a long-term vision. This is what will impact SEO, and your business, in the long run.

Responsive web design is a type of design that readjusts itself based on the device it is being read through. For example, our site can be read on a phone, tablet, or laptop without requiring the user to zoom in or out to see our content. This sort of design is especially important when evaluating your design and SEO. In fact, Google and other sites reward sites with responsive design.

At Your Imprint, we never stop having fun, and web design is one of the best parts of our jobs. If you need help building a stunning, yet functional website, get a quote. We’ll help you put on a show! 

Web Developers: Job Role, Responsibilities, and Pay

Web Designer Job

This is the sixth post in a series about digital marketing jobs. Keep your eye on our blog or our social media channels as we add more careers in the coming weeks.  Read more about social mediadigital marketing, and graphic design jobs

Web developers design, manage, and maintain websites. They’re an essential part of the digital world. In fact, without web developers, we wouldn’t have the digital space for online marketing.

Job Role

An effective web developer creates websites that are aesthetically pleasing and function well. In addition to this, web developers understand how to create websites that are usable and convey the appropriate information in a logical way.

A typical day for a web developer will vary, depending on where they work and the type of developer they are. For example, developers are typically back-end or front-end developers. While most developers are also web designers, some companies hire separate developers and designers.

Despite all the career nuances, developers are never just writing code. They’re also communicating with clients about their websites. Additionally, they meet with illustrators and copywriters to develop a website plan.

Finally, web developers don’t stop once they’ve created a website. Ideally, they keep monitoring the site to improve any problem areas, watch the number of visitors, and conduct regular updates.

Job Responsibilities

  • Write testable code by using best software development practices.
  • Stay up-to-date with web development and design language, skills, and news.
  • Create user interfaces with standard HTML/CSS practices.
  • Create responsive designs and develop working themes and plugins.
  • Monitor website traffic.
  • Monitor website speeds and evaluate potential problems.
  • Communicate with design and writing teams to implement complete website.
  • Train entry-level developers.

What about pay?

Web developers make an average of $88,488 per year, according to Glassdoor.com. However, entry-level developers should expect to make around $55,000 as a starting salary. 

Many web developers will stay in their field, according to Payscale. However, others will become senior web designers, software engineers, or programmers.

Do you need to hire a web developer? We are ready to help. Learn more here.

The YourImprint team is full of knowledge about how to succeed in digital marketing, and we are eager to help aspiring marketers! Learn more about the field on our blog or view some real-life design pieces in our portfolio.

How to Improve Your Site’s SEO: A Checklist

Improve Your Site's SEO

Improving your site’s SEO involves taking an in-depth look at your site and why it functions the way it does. Look beyond your site’s keywords. Yes, they are important, but your site’s usability, mobile friendliness, and page load speed matter too.  And don’t even get us started on proper and ethical link building.  We love SEO, and we love to show our clients how to see, understand, and use SEO to their benefit.

Here’s how to improve your site’s SEO:

Check your site’s load speed.

Take load speed seriously. Your users will leave your site if they have to wait for a page to load, and both Google and Bing take load speed into account for their algorithms when ranking.  Some things that slow down page load speed are:

  • Site host
  • Image sizes
  • Amount of Javascript and CSS
  • CDN (Content delivery network; from which server your information is pulled, based on location)
  • Site cache (PC Mag defines browser cache as “a temporary storage area in memory or on disk that holds the most recently downloaded Web pages.”

A good free tool to check your site’s speed is Pingdom.

Add outbound links to improve your site’s SEO.

Linking to reputable sites will increase your site’s SEO because doing so gives your site validity. According to the site Shout Me Loud, outbound links tell search engines what your blog is all about.

Find outbound links by conducting your own industry research. However, one easy way to do this is by searching “related:(your domain name).com” on Google.

Remove broken links.

Nobody wants to click on a link only to end up on a 404 page. And Google knows this. Sites with broken links rank lower than those without them.

Check to see if your site has broken links by visiting Screaming Frog SEO Finder, W3C Link Checker, or Dead Link Checker.

It’s not enough to just find the broken links, but you have to go and find them and fix them.  Often, this requires looking at the source code.  This part can be tricky. Let us know if you need some help figuring this part of the process out!

Marketing Tips

Add a contact page.

Google sees pages with sufficient contact information as more trustworthy than those with poor information.

Plus, a contact page encourages users to connect with you. That’s what we all want at the end of the day.  Build trust with your audience and add all necessary information to your contact page, including a Google Map, address, phone number, email, fax, social media pages, and contact name.

Improve your images.

Sites with images that are too large load slowly, but sites with images that are too small look equally unprofessional. Most images in a blog post, for example, should be about 20Kb-30Kb. Learn more about image sizing here.

Additionally, Google loves connecting the dots, so include your site, page, or post keywords in the images’ file names, alt tags, titles, descriptions, and captions.

Don’t just use photos.

Yes, use photos. But also engage your audience with slideshows, infographics, videos, and most importantly, captivating written copy. Multimedia and relevant information make a site more appealing.

In fact, a recent study shows that videos keep people on your site for longer. Get this: websites with video have an average 4.8% conversion rate, compared to the 2.9% rate of sites without video.

Improving your site’s SEO ranking takes dedication, patience, and expertise. We provide SEO Services that improve your business and brand.  We’re experts, but don’t take our word for it. Visit some of our past work instead.

4 Easy Ways to Prep Your Web Design for Cyber Monday

Web Design in Fort Collins

It’s just around the corner! In a few weeks, we’ll see two of the biggest shopping days of the year—Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s important to ensure your site is up and ready to make record-breaking sales. No matter what industry your business is in, you want that website to run as effectively and efficiently as possible on the two most lucrative days of the year. Fort Collins web design wants to help your site get ready with these 4 easy tips.

 

Coupon Codes

Kick off the shopping season with a coupon code or promotional offers on your website. These coupons codes are simple and easy to share on multiple platforms. Web design in Fort Collins suggests sending out the code one week prior to Black Friday and Cyber Monday with a reminder email three days before. Coupon codes can be sent out via email or shared on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Update your Landing Page

The landing page is the very first page new and existing customers will see when they come to your site, which is why it’s so important that the landing page highlights the seasonal promotions. Don’t be afraid to make the landing page as festive as possible… ‘tis the season! Add relevant banners and calls-to-action in order to further promote the two best shopping days of the year. Continue the excitement long after the holiday season is over by asking people to sign up for your email list for even more seasonal and non-seasonal deals.

Optimize Your Website for Mobile

Last year, a record number of sales were made using mobile devices like tablets and smart phones. In fact, in 2016 $3.45 billion were Black Friday mobile sales. With consumers continuing to shift from desktop to mobile, it’s time to start optimizing the user experience no matter where they are. Consider syncing their online carts across different devices to make shopping with you an easy and fluid experience.

 

web-design-fort-collins  Simplify Checkout

Have you ever purchased something through your site to experience the entire process as a consumer would? If not, now is the time! Take a few minutes to walk yourself through the checkout process to identify where shoppers are likely to drop out of buying. This will help you to eliminate any unnecessary form fields and minimize clicks before completing a transaction.

 

What Can Digital Marketing Do for Your Business?

Failing to plan is planning to fail. Don’t stress just yet! There’s still time to get your website ready for the big holiday shopping season kickoff. If you’re ready to take your brand and website to the next level before Black Friday, find out how our Fort Collins web design team can help you. Reach out today to learn more about digital marketing and brand management services.

Can You Really Build Your Own Website?

build-your-own-website

The short answer is yes, you can build your own website, but you probably won’t like the long answer, which is no. Building your website can end up being more than you bargained. From theme decisions to search engine optimization and shopping carts, the process can be overwhelming and time-consuming. In this post, I’ll tell you about the website design process and help you figure out if you even need a website.

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