Website Design Flaws That Are Killing Your Engagement


It’s 2016—you don’t need to be sold on the necessity of a website for your business. What you need is a website that’s better than the other guy’s. Good is the enemy of great, and the market is vicious—from Tokyo to Edmonton, website design can make or break a business. Step up your website design game by checking your content against these 5 deadly problems compiled by Edmonton’s premier web design specialists. Fix what’s broken.

Bad (or No) Strategy


Websites need a plan. Who is your audience? What do they want? How will they interact with your site?

You need to visualize and plot how you want to tell your story, without forgetting your purpose—have a narrative for your content (or at least a logical way to put it all together) and remember to put the user first. Think like a visitor to your site; what content should you put up and how should it be arranged?

You wouldn’t build a house without blueprints—don’t design a website without a strategy.

Bad Visuals


Eye-searing fonts, dull stock images, and clashing colour schemes can turn off your audience in seconds. Make your visual identity unique and personal—reflect your business in your website design choices, while still appealing to your core audience.

Looking great is a key component of being great.

No Mobile Support


Mobile accessibility matters. According to the Pew Research Center, as of 2014, 90% of American adults own a cellphone and 42% own some kind of tablet computer. Your website can’t be built solely around desktop users—it needs to be agile and scale-able for a variety of devices. How often have you looked up a restaurant’s menu on your iPad, or the contact number for a towing service on your phone?

No one wants to fumble around with a website they can’t read on the go.

No Transparency


Who are you? A website is your business’ chance to make a killer first impression with potential customers, so let them know who they’re dealing with. Highlight your staff, highlight your managers—and highlight how to get a hold of them. You wouldn’t pass up an opportunity to introduce yourself to a potential customer in person, so why would you do it online?

Selling yourself is as important as selling your business.

Out of Date Information


A website isn’t a magic bullet you can fire and forget—it’s a commitment. Out-dated information on your website says to your audience that you don’t care—if you can’t be bothered to update a hyperlink or inform people that your hours of operation have changed, how can you be trusted to effectively do business? Dedicating time to your website shows engagement in being the best at what you do.

You spent the money to build a website, spend the time to maintain it.

So Now What?


You now know about a handful of the flaws that could sink your website, but that’s only part of the story. Best practices are great core principles, but your specific needs might require expert attention. Contacting professionals, like the Edmonton web design team at PixelNerd, can turn your “good enough” website into something that will really get customers talking.

PixelNerd is located in Nanaimo, British Columbia. We have been creating engaging online experiences that draw on our experience in Graphic Design, SEO, and Website Design.

If you are looking to help increase your presence and page ranks online. Here is a great list of FREE Canadian sign up directories. Its always important to get your business contact info out to the internet. WARNING signing up for these will get you marketing calls to your business, and spam mails from companies. You can ask to be blacklisted on the phone calls and unsubscribe from the emails if you wish but there are a few of the companies such as 411 and yellow pages that offer great premium SEO packages and AD campaigns that you can consider. In my eyes the marketing calls and spam emails are worth the SEO benefits you recieve from the free sign ups.
  1. Google: Sign Up for google+ and business. Use Google webmaster tools to geo locate your business.
2. Bing/Yahoo: Click Here is a step-by-step article which explains how to get listed on Bing.
3. Yelp Business: Yelp is great for getting reviews and a very popular directory in Canada.
4. Yellow Pages: One of the most well know directories.
5. 411 Canada: More know for the phone service. But they also have a very large web presence.

PixelNerd is located in Edmonton, Alberta. We have been creating engaging online experiences that draw on our experience in Graphic Design, SEO, and Website Design.

Increase your sales online

I am the type that always needed to learn the hard way and of course with my business I did the same. I started out on Facebook, looking for businesses that needed branding and i would create logo designs to grab their attention and afterwards try to sell it to make a bit of profit for my time. I would spend hours at this computer creating about 12 logos a day to only sell about two. Eventually after doing this for some time my portfolio started to grow and clients that had purchased logos from me were giving my company referrals to new clients. Which in return expanded my business. Eventually I had made enough money that I started to expand my business into doing much more then just logo designI started doing bigger graphics such as flyers, brochures, business cards, and banners. Then website design came along  and all the perks to go with it such as hosting, emails and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

That is enough about my story though. The point I am trying to get across is that hard work does pay off. Along with this story I want to share some tips I have learned along my journey of the digital world and how it works.

 SEO and marketing isn’t as complicated as some make it to be. In fact its quite easy if you just look at the bigger picture of things. In my story I mentioned that I spent lots of hours doing things on Facebook, and the internet in general. I am all self taught so I had to do alot of research on my own and learning about the ins and outs of marketing and how to successfully brand a company. In doing all this,  I was posting to comments on websites and social media. Each time I did this I would leave a link to my website on my comments or something associated to my business. Little did I know I was doing what you call back linking, Back Linking is my first tip, so let me explain what it is and how to do it.

  1. Back Linking

Backing linking is a term in SEO services that refers to a  hyperlink that links from a Web page, back to your own Web page. You can achieve back links by leaving them on comments and also by getting placed on a persons website. So for example if a friend of yours has a website, lets say they are a blogger and your business is a spa. Your friend aka blogger decides to write about some fabulous spa outings,  and mention your spa in their blog.  When they mention your business they link it to your spa website. This is considered a back link or Inbound Link (IBL). As a business it is very important to get as many of these back links as possible. Reason for it is because the more times you are mentioned on the internet the more probability you have of getting your website pulled up on the front pages of search engines. So a good habit to make is when your doing any form of research, or even if its just a comment you make on a website leave a link to your website always. It’s just like high-school all over again trying to win the popularity contest.

 

2. Your presence online matters.

This is the easiest one to do yet the most neglected SEO tactic that can really help your business. It’s simple, just be online and address your presence being there. As I stated earlier back linking is important, but in order to back link you need to be online, if you are constantly posting on your social media platforms, leaving back links, blogging on your website. Your business will get better rankings simply because there is more information about you then there is of your inactive competition. Instead of focusing on back links here though. I want to take a moment to mention social media and blogging. Social media is important to your SEO and the more you make yourself present with it and the more social media platforms you have the better your SEO will be. Pixelnerd recommends a few social media platforms to all our clients due to there popularity and SEO factoring. Those platforms being twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+. We aim at Google+ the most, although research says LinkedIn has a huge percentage in social marketing. Here is why. Google is the largest search engine available to this date used by millions everyday and billions of search terms going through it on a daily bases. Now lets step back a second and ask yourself. Who’s product are you going to promote first for your company? The answer is your going to promote your products first above anything else. Well Google does the same, Google+, Youtube, and Google maps are all Googles products and they are more then likely to be pulled up in the search engine above other social platforms. Point here is to post lots on your social media platforms. It can be as simple as copy and pasting someones website and talking about how good of a read it is (This is a back link and also as a courtesy the person being back linked may post your website for you in return).  Now that I covered social media I want to talk a bit about blogging. Blogging really helps your SEO, because for one it increases the amount of “seekable” information on your website. If you blog about things that generally involves the type of work you do this will help search engines find more on the terms potential clients/customers are looking for. Therefore, the search engine will pull you up. Also this is a direct link to your website. When using social media the easiest way for a customer to find your website is to first go through the social platform. If they click on your blog title, it is automatically taking them to your website. In return for that you have the potential to sell a product or service. This is the main reason for blogging, but another great reason for blogging,  is its a great way to talk about and share the things you like most.

3. Now for the “where do i spend money advertising part”

All the tips I have stated above are all free services that you can do yourself to help increase your marketing efforts and drive traffic to your website. The real question here is can you do it all free. The answer is yes but its definitely time consuming and takes much more time to do. Lets talk a bit about paid advertising online and where to do it and how to approach it. There are alot of great places to advertise where you can be noticed. Social media platforms such as twitter and and Facebook offer ads, and the great thing about this is you can localize. What is Localization you ask? The simple answer, is when you advertise a product you want to target the most potential customer base as possible and in doing so you want to slim down your competition list so that it increases your chances of being picked. The internet has the awesome power of reaching out to the world, but really do you want to compete against the whole world? Probably not, especially if your a company just starting out. So we localize your business. That way only people in your city or surrounding areas see it. This takes 1000 competitors around the world and slims it down to 100, and now you are only 101 and have a much higher chance of being chosen. Have you ever noticed those little yellow AD tags beside companies on the top of a google page when you search something? Those are Google ads and we pay Google in a biding system and PPC (Pay Per Click) to post those ads. A great ad needs to be very detailed in a small amount of words. Alot of mistakes made are “I want to get people to my website” and that’s all the goal is. That is a good way to bring traffic to a website. But is it really the best way to bring potential clients/customers to your website?  The answer is… “I want to get the right people to my website”.  When an ad is created you want to pay as little as possible and have a high return. To achieve this you want to focus all your energy in targeting as many potential customers as you can, simply by being extremely direct with your details. For example Pixelnerd is a website design company. I want to run an ad on google. The bids are at $19.63 per click for my keyword choices. That is not cheap, in fact that could make or break a company. So a bad example for an ad would be to say “offering cheap website designs for everyone”. That is too broad and a general statement, and yes it may receive alot of clicks to our website, but the client is expecting to see cheap websites for sale. Cheap being $100.00 to $300.00 websites. Yet we start our websites at $1000.00 so that’s not what alot of potential clients clicking on our ad would expect and then abandon our website. Leaving us with the cost for the click on the google ad and no sale generated.  We officially just lost $19.63 because I simply didn’t specify on what exactly is cheap. The more approachable way for me to run an ad would be to say “we offer affordable websites starting at $1000.00”. By doing this I eliminate the customers that don’t want a 1k website and will only bring in the clients that expect to be paying that much for the service. So case and point make sure when you run ads that you target the exact customers you are trying to receive purchases from,  and also localize to dull down your competition.

4. Where Graphic Design comes into play

Graphic design is a huge part of your marketing efforts. If your branding is in rough shape and not updated from time to time, your sales from online may take a hit. Why you ask? Simple put yourself in a customers shoes are you going to click on the company that has 1990’s branding or are you going to click on the the company that has beautiful modern , professional designs? Of course you are going to click on the more professional looking company, there is no doubt about it. This is where the saying first impressions go a long ways fits into place, and it really does. Keep on top of your branding and stick with one design company. If they are generating you sales there is no need to change “don’t try to fix something that is not broken” as I say. I had a friend of mine and another great designer Alyssa Gavinski you can check her work out at alyssajgavinski.com. She recently did a video blog about trusting your designer. The general point was to not doubt your designer that you hire. You have chosen that designer for a reason. Probably because they are good at what they do. Let them do your designing for you, that is their job, and a good designer will always consult the client on their grand vision for your company.

Final Thoughts

All in all the main point to all of this is to make your presence online known by simply posting and interacting lots. Post lots of back Links as you do all this and have great graphic designs for your company. I could sit here day in and day out just writing about this topic but the tips I shared today are some great things to consider and act on. Not only will this naturally increase website traffic and sales, it will help you understand your own customer base better.

PixelNerd is located in Nanaimo, British Columbia. We have been creating engaging online experiences that draw on our experience in Graphic Design, SEO, and Website Design.

What is SSL? Well by technical term it means

SSL Certificates are small data files that digitally bind a cryptographic key to an organization’s details. When installed on a web server, it activates the padlock and the https protocol (over port 443) and allows secure connections from a web server to a browser.

But let’s get out of the technical and describe this in an easier way, basically an SSL turns your HTTP website into an HTTPS website which means extra security. Once your website is HTTPS for example HTTPS://yourdomainname.com, any incoming or outgoing information is encrypted with security coding so that it makes all the information harder to steal/hack. To know if a website is SSL certified, look for the green or grey HTTPS: at the beginning of your address bar.

https image2

Now that you know what an SSL or HTTPS security is, why is it so important, and why is it becoming so popular? Let’s step back for a moment and think, if you have a small low traffic website. What are the actual chances of you being hacked? Statistics say slim to none with 936,570,xxx (goes up per second) websites being created and only 49000 hacked websites. Yet we are seeing all these small websites pop up now with the HTTPS protection.

The answer is easy. Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Google has announced that they will be factoring in SSL (read here for further details) protected websites. So of course now webmasters all across the world are enforcing SSL onto all websites  so that they can compete on the ranking charts of the major search engines. It’s quite amazing how Google can influence so much on the internet. I got to give Google credit on this one though SSL will only help improve the safety of the internet and over time that 49k hacked websites will come down by 50%. When it comes to running a business no matter large or small. Security is always important.

PixelNerd is located in Edmonton, Alberta. We have been creating engaging online experiences that draw on our experience in Graphic Design, SEO, and Website Design.

 

 

I’m not one to preach about Do-it-Yourself web builders, simply because i feel they lack originality, and SEO is near impossible with them.There are lots of these web builders out there to list a few of the popular one, Weebly, Wix, Squarespace.

This all being said, there is a completely new aspect of web builder coming soon. It’s called The Grid. This platform is the first of its kind, mind you it is still in Beta testing. The Grid, is a AI (artificial intelligence) web builder. From what I gather a web designer is able to input all the information and images into the platform, and then you choose a style. The grid does the rest for you placing everything out for you.

What are the benefits of this you ask? If this works the way its supposed to it could take

  • countless hours away from building a website.
  • allow bigger sales opportunities for freelance graphic and web design.
  • take on more projects

purus-fb

Sounds great right? In the end of this all its still a Do-It-Yourself web builder. Its going to lack two huge factors which all search engines take into factor. Originality in layout and customization. Let’s sit back for a second and think about why I say this. For example: Website A is a basic website for a photographer, we are most likely going to have a portfolio websites to display all their images for the world to see. Website B is the same scenario as website A. The Grid only provides a few selected layout functions, so let’s just say we choose the portfolio layout on the grid. Website A and Website B are going to be almost the exact same. The only differences being the imaging and text. Even if the Grid makes a bunch of templates, there will be a bunch of the same layout websites.

Case and point, I want to say although this is a great idea and a leap ahead into a new outlook into web design, it’s not quite there yet. In order for this to be a huge success and for all designers to head their way. They need to allow originality. There has to be total control of the fine details. Being a Web Designer myself, the fine details are just as if not more important than the website on its own. Originality is what makes a website successful, because you stand out from the crowd and this is what brings sales to your business.

 

PixelNerd is located in Edmonton, Alberta. We have been creating engaging online experiences that draw on our experience in Graphic Design, SEO, and Website Design.

social media at work

Best Practices for Using Social Media

It is a self-evident truth that having a social media account is not the same as using that account. This can be applied equally to all social media platforms.

I’ve included a list of some of my own best practices that will help you grow your followers, control your public image, and win that popularity contest.

  • First, invest in the management tools you need. Social media is unprecedented in the influence that it can offer your brand, spend a little of your marketing budget to get the most out of your socials. Analytic tools will allow you to make sense of all the noise. I use Unfollowers, Twitter Analytics, and Edgar.
  • Don’t be a wallflower and join the party. Like posts in Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest. Thank followers, follow back, and play nice in the sand box. You’ll need to create a presence and establish yourselves before you’re see the followers/following ratio flip.
  •  It is critical at this point to present your company as real (not a robot) and ideally maintain a sense of casual cool. It works for Google.
  • Court popular social media accounts to gain exposure to their followers. If you can get a post re-published by an online radio talk show host, you can have your brand immediately presented to 150,000 followers (or more).
  • Use the Re-tweet/Like voting system to engage with your audience. (I.e. “Re-tweet for the red pill — Like for the blue pill” etc. Bias the vote so that the more popular option is re-tweeted. You’ll gain easy exposure this way if the question is fun and speaks to your audience.
  • Use trending keywords daily (if possible) to keep your brand name/logo in the most popular searches.
  • Be gracious and follow back anyone who follows you. Don’t be mean: that’s not how you make friends.
  • Often when you publicly thank a user for following you they will like the post. Anyone can then see your name in the (relatively) short list of liked tweets for that user.
  • Also, saying nice things makes people want to re-post those nice things, with a link back to your site. This is easy self-promotion and it all adds up to build a certain ethos for your brand. You always want your company to be viewed as the nice girl/guy; you want to be Taylor Swift.
  • Encourage your audience to check out a new followers page within a thank you tweet/message/whatever. It’s easy to automate a message like: “These [folks] were kind enough to join us, be sure to check out their awesome stuff too!” People love that.
  • Remember your audience is comprised of real people; treat them with respect, always.
  • Test out all links before re-posting them from another user. Sometimes the links are dead and then that becomes embarrassing for your company if you re-blog it. Know where you’re sending your audience. Don’t waste their time.
  • Original content is gold.
  • Re-tweeting other news stories does not really help you, but it does provide free content for your account and helps foster relationships with your audience (or new businesses connections, it happens a lot).
  • Further to the above point, stay on top of your inboxes. Reply to your messages. Prove you’re not a robot.

How to introduce yourself on social media

This is a basic plan to get your socials percolating away. I’ve used it before, it works.

  1. Follow smaller companies first (they want the readership and will tend to follow back)
  2. Generate content and especially dialogue.
  3. Pass 100 followers.
  4. Start using user search tools (such as Unfollowers.com), Follow users that fit with key hash tags, for your business e.g. #pizza #yeg
  5. Wait.
  6. After 48 hours you can go ahead and un-follow inactive (zombie) accounts or those users who don’t follow you back. You can’t advertise you business to someone who isn’t home or won’t open that digital door.
  7. Repeat process with different search terms.
  8. Comment on the posts of the most popular accounts.
  9. Generate dialogue with new users.
  10. Leverage the audience of others.
  11. Play nice in the sandbox.

— Derek Neil Pluim

PixelNerd is located in Edmonton, Alberta, for ‘x’ number of years we have been creating engaging online experiences that draw on our experience in Graphic Design, SEO

“What’s in a (Business) Name?”

As Juliet famously said:

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

First, I don’t actually believe this. At least not in relation to choosing, what is possibly, the single most important component of branding your business — deciding on a name.

Second it’s hard to be original. Someone else could have claimed some of your best ideas before you even knew you had them. This produces a unique challenge. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of [legal] troubles.

Case in point, the Shakespeare quote at the beginning of this article was the obvious choice to introduce the subject of naming a new business venture. So obvious, that several other blogs (even the Canadian Intellectual Property Office) used it first. If you’re unsure about the availability of a business name you can check with your local registry office.

Your business name is vital to the success of your company

Understandably, your business name is vital to the success of your company. It’s a fine line to walk because your goal is to choose a name simple enough for your customers to remember, yet complex enough in the subtle details to embody within it everything your business stands for.

While it is tempting to follow the examples set by Interac, Tumblr, or Google and play with language to create a brand-new word (pun intended). It is worth bearing in mind that these are giant companies with budgets to match. With a strong marketing strategy, any name can work. What we suggest is to merely work smarter, not harder.

In most cases — simplicity is best

Abstract names such as All-star, Pinnacle, Summit, or Wind, can be effective insofar as they offer more Flexibility than static, literal, regional based business names. If you feel the nature of your business may evolve over time or relocate, then maybe an abstract name is actually a pretty good idea. However, much like the remixed versions of language invented by companies like Google, an abstract business name needs dedicated marketing efforts to support (and explain) what your company is and why customers should come to you. If we only ever saw the word “Google” on a bus stop or billboard no one would have any idea what to make of it. Branding is holistic.

Entrepreneur.com republished a great article with some smart advice. “The more your name communicates to consumers about your business, the less effort you must exert to explain it.” This comes back to using real words, and literal language. Albeit, if you can get away with a clever double-entendre, do it. Not everyone will get it, but those who do will appreciate your business all the more for it.

When choosing a business name, keep the following tips in mind:

• Choose a name that appeals not only to you but also to the kind of customers you are trying to attract.
• Choose a comforting or familiar name that conjures up pleasant memories so customers respond to your business on an emotional level.
• Don’t pick a name that is long or confusing.
• Stay away from cute puns that only you understand.
• Don’t use the word “Inc.” after your name unless your company is actually incorporated.

Finally, be sure to test out the new name on your oldest, most trusted, and most honest friends. If they laugh at you, it’s a sign.

When you have the name perfected, own it. You can register your trademark with any registry office. The fees are posted on the Canadian Intellectual Property Office site. This is an important step because the registration provides proof of ownership. It also provides you with exclusive rights across Canada for 15 years and may be renewed indefinitely. And perhaps most importantly, it helps you to protect your products and services from imitation and misuse from infringement under the Trade-marks Act.

If you want people to remember your name: keep it real

So, if you want people to remember your name: keep it real.

 

— Derek Neil Pluim