Top 10 Website Myths

websitemythsWith the rapid growth of technological ability, there’s a lot a misconception about what it takes to create and market a website. In an effort to clear up those misconceptions, and the resulting mistrust of digital agencies, this post breaks down the top 10 website myths- in regards to development, design, and marketing.

Website Myth #1: I Can Do It Myself and Save Money

As long as you are a web developer, this is absolutely true!

The first thing I’d suggest doing is to look at how much your billable hour is, then decide how long you think it will take you to learn several languages and design concepts… then do the math. Likely you’ve already realized you can save money by hiring an agency! You are awesome at what you do… and likely that is not web design.

That point aside, one should also consider that an agency brings a world of experience in not only development and design, but also marketing and branding. This allows the agency to help you build a website that is marketing-focused and that will communicate the right message to the right audience. Simply put, a website that converts is going to make you money…and website that doesn’t loses you money.

Consider how important your website is to your business. Your first impression is to most of your prospects. What is that worth?

Website Myth #2: I Can’t Afford a Custom Website

Think of your website as an employee – one that works 24/7 and is the first impression a potential customer may have. Do you want that employee to be unprofessional and sloppy, or would you rather that employee be professional and ready to serve your customer?

As we mentioned above in myth #1, you get what you pay for. That bargain website will get you a lazy, inattentive “employee” that will end up costing you more in the long run. Whereas getting the right “employee” upfront will actually save you money and help you create more business, conversions and leads.

There are many options and packages that agencies can provide. Have a conversation with us and you might be surprised that you can afford a professional custom website that helps your company grow. The question you should be asking is if you can afford NOT to get one.

Website Myth #3: I Can Reach Just As Many Prospects by Spending Money on Other Marketing Materials

We aren’t going to tell you to ditch your marketing materials, nor will we tell you that a website is all you need. However, we do believe in integrated marketing strategies that include both print and digital mediums.

A website allows you to update your customers with new products, services, and offers easier than traditional methods. Plus, when your doors are closed and brochure is inaccessible, your website is the “employee” that’s always available.

Website Myth #4: Creating a Website is a Huge Time Commitment

 Yes, creating a website will require a time commitment from you but nothing quite like you imagine. A web design experience here at Rock Paper Simple is not only profitable for you once it’s completed but is also educational, exciting AND fun. Our process includes questionnaires to help guide you through the process, fun graphics to announce your new website, convenient online forms for you to send us your information, and “web guys” that are knowledgeable and easy to reach.

We develop your website quickly and efficiently, and while we do ask for some of your time, we know you are busy so we do our best to guide you along the process. This way we can get to work on your site and have it launched ASAP!

Website Myth #5: Once I Have a Website, I’ll Immediately Get Leads

 You can have an awesome website that kicks your business into overdrive. In fact, it can conquer whole galaxies and cook your breakfast for you, but if you don’t market your business, no one will know about you or your website. Even the organic SEO value (search engine optimization) that your website has on launch will need some time to pick up steam. It takes time and some marketing efforts… but soon, you will be out there earning market share! The trick is to have a strategy!

Website Myth #6: The More Elements On the Site the Better

When it comes to web design, we like to say, “Keep It Simple.” From typography and colors to images and your logo, every element communicates something to the visitor. If your company’s website is too busy or distracting, it’s likely that visitors won’t have a positive experience, nor is it likely they’ll stick around and convert to a lead. Focus on a simple design that enhances the features, attracts visitors and limits distractions.

Website Myth #7: Photos I Find On Google Will Work

So you want to use an image you found on Google for your website? This is almost always a bad idea! It’s considered illegal to use any copyrighted image without the owner’s permission or without purchasing a license that grants permission. It would be best to use your own photos, but we also understand that’s not always possible. We suggest buying royalty free images or using free ones with common license; however, you still run the risk of looking like every other site in your industry.

Best case scenario, you have your agency (that could be us!) come out and do a photoshoot for you to create some amazing pictures to use in your marketing, but alternatively most agencies have access to royalty free images they pay a license to use.

Website Myth #8: I Don’t Need Custom Graphics

Most WordPress-powered websites start off as a generic template that can be tweaked here and there to the look and feel of your brand. There are probably multiple websites using the same theme as yours, so what makes you stand out? By designing buttons, slider images, navigation, and colors to reflect your brand, you distinguish yourself from your competitors and taking that next step and having the site designed custom from the ground up allows you to stand out all the more!

Website Myth #9: If It Looks Fine on a Mobile Device, It’s Responsive

More and more people are viewing websites on their smart phones and tablets, but just because your site looks fine on a mobile device, that doesn’t mean it’s responsive. A mobile website is a different website at a different URL designed specifically for mobile devices. A responsive website adapts to the device’s screen, so whether you’re viewing a website on your Smartphone or desktop computer, the website will adapt for a seamless view. By having a responsive site, you have only one website to manage. Plus, the technology is forward thinking and will work for years to come.

Website Myth #10: Once My Site is Created, It’s Difficult to Make Changes

Truth is, it’s not difficult to make changes to your website. Most WordPress-powered websites have a user-friendly interface, so you can easily add new content and keep your website updated. However, you’re awesome at what you do and you shouldn’t have to worry about keeping your website up-to-date, setting up forms and making sure your web presence is being used to its full potential. Imagine if you had a trusted team on your side maintaining it all for you. Wouldn’t that be more manageable than handling those confusing and annoying issues? We thought so too!

 

We’ve heard a lot opinions when it comes to digital marketing, and web development and design. No doubt there’s many ways to achieve goals and solve problems, and here at Rock Paper Simple we have our own proven process that delivers results. However one thing to remember is that in the end, every process requires trust. Trust in yourself that you’re making great decisions for your company, and also trusting in turn, that the digital marketing agency you choose will help you accurately express your company to the world.

At Rock Paper Simple we build awesome websites that are designed to impress visitors and drive revenue- and we’d never sell you short or ask you to break the bank for quality service. Trust an award-winning team of experts, and get the awesome website you deserve by starting here!

Great website lead capture methods to turn your traffic into sales!

Lead Capture Methods

So what is “lead capture” anyways?

It’s the bulls-eye of your website! In almost every case, if your website is generating leads, it’s doing it’s job!

The whole purpose behind any method of website lead capture is to capture a prospect’s information in some form or another. This could be a sales lead in which they are asking about your services, it could be their email address so that you can continue to market to them, a social follow so they can remain exposed to your marketing or any other form of lead or connection. It is pretty common for websites to just provide information, but no real lead capture opportunities. Without lead capture, how will we convert visitors into leads and more sales?! We won’t… and that is why lead capture is one of the key elements behind a results-focused website.

Think about it… warm leads from people already interested in what you have to offer sounds much better than cold-calling or bulk-mailing tons of people who might not even need what you have to sell, huh? You will hear it from any good internet marketer, the money is in your list. If you have a solid list of prospects to market to, you will make more money. Making great use of lead capture methods on your website will help convert traffic into leads.

 

Start with excellent content

You will need to make sure you start by creating excellent content for your website that presents the benefits of working with you and what you have to offer them. I have some great colleagues who are internet marketing coaches and one of the things they tell their clients is that the purpose of each line of copy is to get the reader to read the next line. It’s so true! Your content should guide the visitor through your page and ultimately end on some sort of lead capture.

[sws_pullquote_left] “Your content should guide the visitor through your page and ultimately end on some sort of lead capture.” [/sws_pullquote_left]

You need to write with your visitor in mind and get them excited so they WANT to take action with one of our website lead capture methods. Your content will be a key determining factor in if they find value in your offering and if they feel safe providing you with their information.

 

 

Now on to the fun part. Let’s chat about some of the actual lead capture methods you can use.

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#1. Contact forms

Contact Form ExampleA contact form is the most basic and most obvious of the lead capture methods. The visitor fills out a form which is then emailed to you. Pretty simple. These are normally found on the contact us page, page sidebars and even on the home page and are normally tied to something like a quote request or a free consultation.

This method is going to actually be expected by most visitors and people are used to seeing it, but at the same time it isn’t terribly attractive and does not create a lot of value or incentive. We use this method on our Contact Us page as a simple contact method should someone go directly to that page and as an option on some of our sales pages, however we use more advanced methods elsewhere on the site.

(psst… always avoid using the word “submit” on forms)

 

#2. Freebie form

This method is an evolution of the contact form. The reason it works so well is that it first creates an incentive and added-value to a visitor completing it before requesting their information. You are essentially saying “if you fill out this form, I will give you something for free in exchange”. The goal behind this is to create something of value that your visitor absolutely must have and that will incite them to give you their contact information for. This could be an eBook, report, whitepaper, audio, video or even a sampler kit you mail them. The freebie you choose should be something they see value in and will want enough to fill out your form.

The most common delivery method is to provide the form and setup an autoresponder that automatically emails the download link to the visitor who fills out the form. A thank you page for the form can also be setup for this purpose. I highly suggest using a third party system to capture the email and automate the sending of the email with a link to the freebie as well as a tool to be able to follow up with an email newsletter. Some of the better systems include InfusionSoft and 1ShoppingCart which provide form codes to embed on your website that will capture the email, add it to a list, send out autoresponders and ongoing email newsletters. You can also use Mail Chimp or Constant Contact, but they are more geared towards just sending newsletters and have less autoresponder options.

Again, keep it simple and only ask for the information you need. In most cases, for a freebie, you are only going to ask for a name and email and in the case you are mailing them something, a mailing address. You will notice we have a freebie form through-out our website on various pages. You can also find a page on our website dedicated to capturing leads through our freebie form. Click here to check it out.

 

#3. Schedule a call button

Schedule an Online Call Example

This is a great lead capture method (one of my favorites!) that places a button on your website, normally within your content or as a home page call to action that opens up a calender with available times for the visitor to choose from and schedule a phone call with you. This is powerful because it not only captures the lead, but you have more than just their contact information, you have a scheduled call! We use this method throughout our website and in fact you will find one at the bottom of this blog post.

Be sure to create value and incentive for them to take action. For example we offer a “free 30-minute consultation” and when they click on the button, they are taken to the scheduler to choose when they want to call us. We also tell them exactly what is going to happen to them on the button by including “click to open scheduler | no opt-in required”.

I highly recommend using a company called TimeTrade for this functionality. It is very affordable and provides you with the tools to setup the scheduler, customize it with your information, choose the time slots you want open, integrate it with your Google Calendar and provides you with the link to attach to your button on your website.

 

#4. RSS feed

RR Feed Signup ExampleAs funny as this is going to sound (we are not making this up, I promise!), the term RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. “Ok, cool, so it has a funny name, but, what is it”? Well, here’s the Simple version: It is a really easy way to send out content so programs and other websites can read it.

This makes it super easy for people to use RSS readers to pull in all the feeds from all the blogs, news sites and other websites they are interested in. WordPress websites automatically generate RSS feeds of your blog posts, so if you have a WordPress website you just need to know how to provide that link to your visitors so they can subscribe to it using their favorite reader.  By getting people to subscribe to your feed, it is almost as good as capturing their email for your newsletter because they regularly see your new content.

We use Feedburner to manage our feed since it provides additional options and statistics for us and should we ever change our blog URL, we can move our subscribers along with us instead of losing them. You will find that we provide an RSS button in our footer as well as at the bottom of our blog page and individual blog posts.

 

#5. Social media like or follow

Social Media Lock ExampleWhile a little more passive than some of the other methods providing ways for visitors to “like” your Facebook fan page or “follow” your Twitter account still exposes them to your ongoing marketing and provides a way for them to engage with you. This, of course, hinges on the assumption that you are posting regularly on your social media presences. Integrating a Facebook “like” button or a Twitter “follow” button is pretty simple and should be placed in positions that make sense to visitors. Communicate what the benefits are for them to connect with you so they know what to expect.

There are also tools and methods available to “lock” content until someone “likes” it or shares it in some fashion via social media channels. This advanced technique is very similar to the freebie above and in fact can be done in conjunction with a freebie. You promise your visitors additional content or a freebie in exchange for a social interaction.

For example, we have a landing page on our Facebook fan page that requires a “like” to download our freebie as incentive.

 

#6. Honorary Retro Mention: Newsletter Opt-in form

While still something that we use on some of our clients websites from time to time, it’s not something we use very often any more and I’ll explain why.

As another iteration of the contact form, the opt-in form requests the visitor provide their name and email (or just email) to be included on your email newsletter list. While nowhere near as effective as a freebie form, this will allow visitors who are interested in what you have to say to provide their contact information in exchange for it sent to them on a regular basis.

This method can work to garner some leads, but don’t expect hordes of people to give away their email addresses just to receive MORE email in their box each week. If you are going to be capturing emails for your newsletter, tie it into a freebie so you create more value. If you must place a newsletter capture form, place it in your footer or at the bottom of your blog posts. On some occasions when a client has a particularly valuable newsletter, it may be placed in the header.

 

When using any kind of lead capture method, keep these things in mind:

  • Keep it simple! Don’t ask for alot of information. Always ask for the absolute least amount of information you can. That means that if all you need is name and email, that’s all you ask for. Other common fields to include are the phone number and a field for their message. Beyond that, if you don’t need it to make contact, don’t ask for it. I’ve seen lots of forms that ask for tons of information such as address, gender, multiple service questions, etc. People are much more likely to fill out a form that asks for less things.
  • Tell people what to expect. Your visitors will always appreciate being told what is going to happen. What is next after they fill out the form? Will they get spammed? Will you email them? Will you call them? What is next? Use some pointed content to assure them what is coming. This could be something as simple as “Use the form below to request your FREE 30-minute consultation and we will call you within 24 hours”.
  • Make it look trustworthy. You are asking people to share personal contact information, make sure the form or button (and the whole site for that matter) looks like they can trust it. That means spend a little time making sure it is easy to read, text is lined up properly and everything is spaced out appropriately.

 

 

So, now what are you going to do about it?

Web IdeasSo you see how important lead capture is to a results-based website and you’ve even learned about five or six methods… so what are you going to do about it? Take action! Make sure you are incorporating at least one or two of these on your website so you aren’t wasting traffic to your website.

All the information you can learn won’t help your website make you more money unless you apply it. So I encourage you, pick one or two of these and apply them to your website so you can start converting that traffic to leads and ultimately sales!

 

Not sure where to start?

(psst, here’s a great example of a website lead capture method and call to action! ) Schedule a 30-minute consultation with us to see how we can help you. We build websites that are results-focused for people who are awesome at what they do… like you! Click the button below and get your 30-minute call scheduled today.

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Making your website your vehicle to business growth!

MAKING YOUR WEBSITE YOUR VEHICLE TO BUSINESS GROWTH!So you want your website to make you more money?

I spent an amazing weekend at the Be The Change event in Orlando and I met some incredibly awesome people while I was there. I was able to walk around and talk to hundreds of business people, coaches and entrepreneurs and just get to know them and their businesses. I got to hand out more of my awesome clear plastic business cards (which were a total hit!) and I got to make some game-changing connections.  But also learned a tremendous amount of things from the speakers and sessions.

One in particular was Bert Jacobs, one of the brothers who founded “Life is Good”. After an incredible hour-and-a-half talk, which was filled with tons of amazing nuggets of wisdom, hilarious cracks and even frisbees he tossed into the audience (I didn’t get one, I’m so crushed), I was left with one really important point he made. He said, that even though his company sold t-shirts, the t-shirts themselves were not the product. The product was the message and their t-shirts were just the vehicle to get the message out there.

Likewise, your website is a vehicle to carry your message, to generate leads, to drive sales, to encourage engagement and more. If you let it, your website can be the vehicle that grows your business and makes you more money. So stop treating your website like it is just a “website”, a collection of pages and information hosted on some server halfway across the country that every once in a while you take a look at to update your rates, your office hours, your services or to post that random blog post that no one reads anyways. Start treating it like it is another vehicle that carries your message and your goals to even more people.

Most websites never contribute anything to the business it was built for. Why does it fail to become a vehicle? Why does it fail to actually contribute to business growth?

 

Why do most websites fail to really become this vehicle?

Simply put, because there’s no goal set for the website  in the first place. If there’s no goal, the website has no purpose and no venture, no mission, no business has ever been successful without a purpose. How can we even measure success if there no goal in the first place?

This is one of those things that drives me absolutely crazy… when a web developer doesn’t START by asking what the clients goals are. This results in websites that are cobbled together, that might even “look” great, but have no real purpose and just don’t accomplish much except drain time, money and sanity. Have you been there? Spending countless hours and dollars on a website, then wondered why you were even doing it in the first place? Only to wake up one morning and realize your website doesn’t actually contribute anything to your business and might actually slowly be tugging away at your precious sanity? It’s time to make money with your website!

 

#1. Start with the goal

Web IdeasThere’s hope… don’t worry, I’m an optimistic kind of guy, so I wouldn’t leave you hanging on that dreary note. The first thing that should be done before any website project, or before you start the process to revitalize an existing website is to set a goal and a purpose for the website. Be clear on what message you want it to send and what goals you want to achieve. Do you want to build your email list? Generate leads? Maybe convert sales? Or maybe you are looking to generate engagement in your blog and build a community? Maybe your goal is even to generate subscriptions to an online lesson system plan system? That’s fine! Whatever it is, make sure you know what it is and get it down on paper. You can have multiple goals, just set them up in priority.

[sws_pullquote_right] The first thing that should be done before any website project, or before you start the process to revitalize an existing website is to set a goal and a purpose for the website. [/sws_pullquote_right]

Start with the easy goals. Do you want your website to make you more money? Ok, that’s a good goal… in what way? How will it make you more money? Do you want your website to tell visitors about you and your products/services? Great! Now HOW would you like it to do that? What will it sound like? What is the message you want to get across? What are the things your website can do that would help grow your business? Jot your ideas down on paper before moving forward. I suggest taking this to your web designer and getting their input as well. They may have ideas you didn’t even know were possible.

 

#2. Get a solid plan down

PlanningNow that you have that goal (or multiple goals), it’s time to plan how you will accomplish those goals. How does the website need to look? How should the copy read? What features need to be included on the site? All of these are items that will need to be determined before you change anything on your website. Are one of your goals to build your email list? Well, then you should probably have a capture form on the site that gives the user an info freebie in exchange for their email and you are going to want this capture form somewhere prominent, probably on the home page. Is your goal to generate sales? Well, then you might need landing pages and an e-commerce system.

One of the biggest reasons I see website projects crash and burn is just poor planning, which comes from the fact that very few have goals set in the first place. By planning out how goals will be achieved and what systems and content need to be created, you ensure that halfway through a project, a surprise doesn’t pop up and burn the whole project down.

[sws_pullquote_right] It’s true. If the project is well planned, it actually takes less time and costs less than if each part is figured out as you go along. [/sws_pullquote_right]

Did you know that it is MUCH more time consuming for a web designer to do little pieces at a time when developing a website as opposed to developing it all at once? It’s true. If the project is well planned, it actually takes less time and costs less than if each part is figured out as you go along. Think about it. If you were building a home, then just as it was about to be finished, you decided you wanted the home builder to add an indoor jacuzzi in the master bathroom… it’s going to end up costing alot more for him to add it now than if it was in the original plan. Why? Well, because it is not just a matter of installing a new jacuzzi. He first has to pull out the old smaller tub, possibly cut holes in the doorway to fit in the large jacuzzi, then rework all the plumbing. See how adding something to the plan later ends up adding more work in the long run? I see this happen all the time with web projects. Because the project was poorly planned, people don’t realize they want or need things until the site is halfway done, then when they want to add it, it either takes a long time to add or costs more money than they were prepared to spend. This causes friction with the web developer and the project falls apart or finishes without actually having everything it needs.

For example, we require our clients to have their website content ready before the project begins, even if we are hired to write it for them. This is because the website content is so absolutely critical to everything else about the website… and once you get to writing the copy, you start to discover other pages or elements you might need. It also results in a much much nicer website when the site is built to house the content, not the other way around.

Want to know the top 10 pitfalls people stumble into when building their website? Click here for a free e-book.

 

#3. Implement your plan

building-websitesNow that you have some solid goals and plans, it’s time to implement. If you are extra web-savvy, you might be able to implement yourself, but in most cases it is more cost and time efficient to hire a professional to build the site for you. The project is much more likely to achieve goals and results when developed professionally. When choosing a professional, always ensure they are trustworthy and have great sample work and testimonials to show they know their stuff (psst, like us!). Have a meeting with them and look over their materials to ensure they are organized and are very clear about what they are offering. Make sure their process includes determining goals and planning the project before beginning. I also suggest finding someone who will build a WordPress website as it provides powerful back-end functions to maintain and update the site as well as a host of useful plugins.

[sws_pullquote_right] It is also a common “kiss of death” for websites when businesses never seem to be able to leave the planning stages. [/sws_pullquote_right]

When implementing, because you have your goals and your plan, it should all be done in one motion. Try not to break it up into phases or add and remove things unless you absolutely must do so. This can affect the final product and slow down the process. It is also a common “kiss of death” for websites when businesses never seem to be able to leave the planning stages. They go over and over the plan, making small tweaks. This is fine at first, but at some point, pull the trigger and don’t look back until the project is ready.

If you are doing it right, once your website is up and running, you will be revisiting from time to time, making tweaks to over time to optimize it and ensure it is working as efficiently as possible towards your goals.

 

#4. Now make sure you follow through!

Website ResultsAnd one more warning. A great website with a great plan with great implementation can be completely worthless without follow-through. Ever seen a fantastic website with a blog that hasn’t had a post in it for 6 months? No matter how good it looks, the dated content makes the site look untrustworthy. Ever been to a website where the content was outdated or prices were wrong? Ever submitted a form to receive a newsletter, freebie or a quote and never heard back because the business didn’t follow up? Whatever features and functions you build into the site, have a plan of how you will follow through and ensure it creates the most results for you. If you are going to have a blog, post often! Provide fantastic content and send that content out in your newsletters. Be consistent with your newsletter so your list knows what to expect. If your website is designed to generate leads or sales, make sure you follow up on those leads and sales right away and keep sales copy, prices and product information up to date.

[sws_pullquote_right] A great website with a great plan with great implementation can be completely worthless without follow-through.[/sws_pullquote_right]

Websites also need periodic updates and maintenance. Make sure the site doesn’t fall into a state of disrepair. If built correctly, a good WordPress website will only need some minor tweaks a couple times a year such as updating the WordPress version and any plugins installed or making minor tweaks to the code to update for newer browsers.

 

So how do you make your company’s website your vehicle to business growth?

So, how do you develop a website that is a vehicle to communicate your unique message, generate leads, convert sales or accomplish any other goals you might have set? How do you build a money making machine that grows your business? How do you make money with your website?

  1. You set goals
  2. You plan
  3. You implement
  4. You follow through

 

Looking for some help?

Ready to get a WordPress website that is results-focused and revolves around your goals? Ready to take your plan and have it implemented to create that vehicle that helps take your business to the next level? Ready for some help building that plan and setting up steps and processes to follow through with your new-found web presence? Then schedule your 30-minute consultation with us to discuss how we can help you grow your business by clicking on the orange button below.

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Hacking Alert For WordPress Websites! (WordPress Security)

Hacker WarningAn unknown group has targeted websites using the WordPress platform and are using advanced tools and techniques designed to use brute-force (it guesses your username and password) to hack into WordPress admin logins. The attackers are using over 90,000 IP addresses to mount this attack and it is being said they may be attempting to create a “botnet” which is a network of  infected computers that then go on to send the bot out to others. This allows the attack to act much like a virus, gaining momentum as it takes down websites.

There are tons of technical details that really don’t matter a whole lot to my readers or clients, so I’ll get to the point. Be on high alert and be sure to keep an eye on your site. But beyond that, there are some things you can do in the meantime!

WordPress Security Steps (protect your WordPress Website):

  • Update your admin account password! Use something at least eight characters long (I use 15) and mix in special characters and capital letters. Use this tool to generate a secure password:
    http://www.pctools.com/guides/password/
  • Ensure there are no other accounts on your site that have full administrator access, but if they do, make sure they have a secure password as well.
  • Change your admin name if it is something simple like “admin”. Use something you can remember, but don’t make it obvious! (tip: this can be changed using the plugin below)
  • Install a security plugin. A great free one is Better WP Security (Better WordPress Security):
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/better-wp-security/
  • Make sure your version of WordPress has been updated to the latest version!

 Read more on the subject:

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What is W3C validation?

What is W3C validation and why is it important?

What is W3C validation?

We in the “web world” tend to use scary words and acronyms when talking about what we do and it is very possible you have heard of “W3C” or “W3C standards” or maybe even “W3C validation” and wondered what in the world a this strange jumble of letters and numbers has to do with your website! I’ll translate this from “Tech” into English for you.

 

First, let’s define who and what the W3C is. (w3c definition)

W3C stands for the World Wide Web Consortium who are the recognized standards organization for the world wide web. This organization was founded by Tim Berners-Lee and is run by a full-time staff to continue to develop and maintain web standards. These standards are then used to help guide web developers and browsers to develop code that lives up to certain standards. In a nutshell, they write the rule-book that helps to define if our code is well-written or poorly written. This is how we know if our markup (code) is awesome or not-so-awesome.

 

Ok, so what is W3C Validation? (w3c validation definition)

We have established that there is a “rule-book” to define how we write our HTML, CSS, Javascript, etc and make sure we do a good job, right? Well the programming languages we use all have their own grammar, vocabulary and syntax just like a spoken language and that means that it can be written wrong if it does not follow the rules. When we say we write “W3C valid code” or that “our websites pass W3C validation”, we are saying that the code we write and websites we build will pass W3C validation tests without errors because our syntax and “grammar” is correct. It means we wrote awesome code that was done right.

It’s all a very complicated way of saying that W3C Validation is a test that makes sure we follow the rules!

A tool is provided by the W3C to test websites and can be found this link: http://validator.w3.org. We use this tool on all of our websites to give us insight as we work on the websites and especially once we have launched them.

 

Why is it important that your site is W3C Valid?

A great question! I’m glad you asked. It’s important that your site is W3C valid to ensure the site works properly on your browser as well as the other major browsers such as Internet Explorer, FireFox, Chrome, etc. A website that contains many errors can suffer from many ill-effects.

The following are just some of those ill-effects:

  • Not displaying properly or consistently
  • Not compatible with all major browsers
  • Not displaying properly on devices of varying sizes like mobile devices
  • Ranks badly in search engines (because they can’t read the code)
  • Loads elements slowly

Additionally, websites that are coded to standards last longer and are “future-proofed” for the most part against browser updates and the like. If your code is poorly done, the chances of your website breaking as browsers and other software updates is greater than if the code validated. We believe in value for our clients and what good is a website that breaks a few months later!? When working with websites we have not built, one of the first things we do is check the W3c Validator tool to see what we are in for!

Here is an article on the W3C website “Why Validate”. Click here to take a look.

 

Wrapping it up.

Keeping in mind that a website can be coded with valid W3C markup, but still not be done well or properly in other ways, however this is generally a good test to see how well the site was coded. For example, our own website doesn’t 100% validate due to some of the features we have decided we must have for marketing purposes, but it avoids the major errors that could be damaging our user experience or search engine exposure. The real red flag is raised when there are lots and lots of errors.

Every website should meet W3C validation standards if at all possible. It is not only the “right” way to do it, but it has many lasting benefits, such extending the sites life expectancy, ensuring compatibility across browsers, increasing load-speed in many cases and much more. Hopefully this helps you understand why we think it is so important and why we test all of our websites for W3C validation before deeming a project complete.

 

What is a Results-Focused Website?

So you keep hearing us use this term “results focused” websites and you are wondering what we mean? Well, I’m super glad you asked! It is one of the things that sets us apart. A results-focused website means that it is built to achieve a specific goal and it’s primary purpose is to produce results for our client. So many websites are built without direction and without purpose. We believe that every website should have a purpose; a result that it is being designed to attain. Otherwise, isn’t it just a waste of money?

You and your company work hard for your money and when you spend some of that hard earned money on marketing services or a new website… shouldn’t you expect it to bring a return? Shouldn’t you expect it to meet goals and bring in results? Well, of course the answer is yes!

Every website we build, we start with identifying what the client goals are and from that first meeting, we begin to determine exactly what features they need. We focus on lead generation elements, call to actions, concise information, searchable content, easy-to-use navigation, etc. While we are proud of our designs and how our websites look… we put alot of focus on ensuring that the website will perform.

So if your website is not generating results… or you think it could do better, give us a call at 321-241-4215 and see what we can do to help! We build results-focused websites and are proud of it.

 

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What is Responsive Design?

Responsive design is the term used to describe websites that respond to varying device and screen sizes. Sites developed in this way utilize specific style techniques, multiple stylesheets and client-side scripting methods to ensure all page element shift, resize and even disappear or appear depending on the screen size. The power of this development technique is that it allows a website to always display properly without requiring various different versions of the site. The site will look great on a smartphone, your tablet, your laptop and desktop.

The way users read and interact with content on their mobile phones, tablets and smaller displays is completely different than their standard desktops and we can see how companies have responded with mobile versions of their websites and apps that basically just duplicate their website in an easier to digest format. But these methods many times simply just provide additional costs and maintenance as well as multiple locations to ensure information is up to date and accurate.

With responsive design, we have one website, but multiple, if not infinite display possibilities based on the user’s screen resolution. Blocks of content shift, buttons change size, menus evolve into dropdowns and so much more so that the user experience is optimal no matter what device they are using.

Not only is this really awesome looking and makes your site look like you pulled out all the stops and thought of everything… but it is really quite practical since it presents the optimal viewing and navigation experience to every visitor, regardless of device or screen size. Menu too small to see on an iPhone? No worries! With responsive design we will change that menu into a dropdown… or perhaps a slide-out large-print menu. Those call to actions too small to read or tap on your Droid Razor? Not a problem at all… with a responsive website, those buttons can be stacked and displayed at a larger size. Text shifts, images shrink, columns stack.

Responsive design has trended through 2012 and continues to be a sought-after method and technique. If you are looking into a new website… think about having it developed as a responsive site.

Our website, the Rock Paper Simple website, is a great example of a responsive website. When deciding if responsive design is something you should have or include in your website, consider your needs and goals and weigh them against the benefits it brings to your website. If your visitors are likely to be visiting with their mobile devices or tablets, then it might be a good option for you. If your ideal design just doesn’t look or function right on a mobile device, then maybe responsive design is right for your website.

Like I tell all my clients, just because it’s cool and has great benefits, doesn’t mean you do it. First make sure it makes sense for your business and can help increase your bottom line… then step out and do it. If responsive design helps the readability of your site and will help your visitors digest your content better and have a better experience… and all of that leads to more leads or conversions for you… then, absolutely, your website should have responsive design!

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