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How to Make Your Website Disability Friendly

How to Make Your Website Disability Friendly

How to Make Your Website Disability Friendly

 

How to Make Your Website Disability Friendly

Millions of internet users have some sort of disability. Making websites more accessible for traffic with special needs isn’t a difficult task, but it starts with understanding the challenge. There are many impairments to consider. Things like visual and hearing impairments require multiple approaches. Another all-too-common disability is photosensitive epilepsy. Websites and plugins take pride in ultra-dynamic animations and video clips, but the high-intensity sites can cause seizures for some users. Website accessibility is all about inclusion.

The list of impairments and disabilities is long. Finding ways to make your website accessible to everyone is a never-ending process. As the web evolves and you learn about more unique needs, you’ll realize your website needs to change as well continually. Fortunately, you can find guidance from several sources.

 

What Is Website Accessibility?

Website accessibility is the idea of making your website available for all traffic. Internet visitors are a broad mix of people, some with various disabilities. Standard websites may not account for those. However, taking the time and effort to make your website accessible for all users is beneficial for everyone. 

Accessibility means finding tools and resources to continue to improve your site. Keep in mind that some disabilities and challenges are temporary. Broken arms and temporary blindness (lost glasses or medical work) can make using the computer much more difficult. Some problems develop over time. Think of gradually aging into poor eyesight or hearing. Website accessibility is an understanding of how to reach everyone everywhere.

 

Why Is Accessibility Important?

Designing your website to be more accessible is essential simply to be inclusive. The internet is for everyone. Shouldn’t your website be available too? Not only is being inclusive imperative from the human level, excluding traffic can take a significant toll on your site. Thousands of people can skip over your website due to a lack of something pretty simple, like adding alt-text to images. 

Traffic is important. Your website dies without visitors. However, the growing threat is litigation. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 helps to make sure accommodations are available for people with disabilities. Websites are now being referred to as places of public accommodation, given the increasing use of sites for everything. 

Title III of the Act states: “Public accommodations must comply with basic nondiscrimination requirements that prohibit exclusion, segregation, and unequal treatment. They also must comply with specific requirements related to architectural standards for new and altered buildings; reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures; effective communication with people with hearing, vision, or speech disabilities; and other access requirements. Additionally, public accommodations must remove barriers in existing buildings where it is easy to do so without much difficulty or expense, given the public accommodation’s resources.”

The rapidly growing number of lawsuits regarding website accessibility is a direct tribute to internet services’ necessity. Your website is no exception. Some countries already have laws in place to govern accessibility, so be sure to take the required steps. 

While the threat of landing in court is intimidating, making your site more accessible has other positive outcomes. By changing specific ways to navigate and updating designs, you can create a more enjoyable experience for all visitors. Customer interface and accessibility go hand in hand, so focusing on accessibility helps all aspects of your website. 

 

How can you make your website more accessible?

At the beginning of this article, we mentioned that making your site more accessible is not a difficult task. As the ADA states, your responsibility is to make changes that are without much difficulty and reasonable expense. There’s no need to redesign your entire site. Here are just a few ways to make your website more accessible.

-Keyboard Friendly: What do we mean by that? Make sure your visitors can navigate your website without a mouse. Many assistive technologies can’t use a mouse, and so, by not making your site keyboard friendly, you immediately exclude anyone needing to use an adapted keyboard. Check out WebAIM for an excellent guide to creating a more keyboard friendly site. 

-Color Scheme: Colorblindness is an all-to-often overlooked disability that substantially impacts whether or not someone can see your content. Be careful about choosing your color scheme. Ideally, you want a heavy contrast between text and background, preferably a dark background. Also, try to avoid similar colors in your design. Most colorblind people don’t only see black and white. They see colors on different spectrums. This effect makes carefully designing your color scheme even more essential.

-Don’t use automatic media: Pages that immediately launch into some kind of video can be annoying for everyone. Imagine not being able to turn it off. Visitors using a screen reader will have exceptional difficulty trying to turn off a video. Others may get confused about where the noise is coming from and immediately leave. Either way, add media wisely.

These examples are some of the bare minimum things you can do to make your site more accessible. Other steps like limiting table use and enabling resizable text aren’t challenging either. Take the time to learn ways you can incorporate some of these features into your website. The payoff will be worth the work.

 

The Internet Is For Everyone

Always remember the internet is for everyone, regardless of if you suffer from a disability or not. Our job as website owners is to be as inclusive as possible. We need to understand these difficulties affect millions of people. Taking even the most basic steps to be more accessible is the least we can do. Along with the business sense of reaching out to as many people as possible, neglecting accessibility requirements can be a threat to your business. In summary, do some research and learn more about how disabilities can affect how internet traffic browses. 

 

If you’re not sure about how your website stacks up, WPClover offers a free website health check, including a WCAG 2.1 report to check accessibility. We’d love to talk with you a little more about your site and what potential steps you can take to improve.

 

 

Shamrck Recipient Of United For America Luminary Fellowship

Shamrck Software has been selected for the United for America Luminary Fellowship dedicated to working with female owned enterprises. United for America, a movement led by Unilever joined with Luminary to provide resources to emerging small businesses. Luminary works...

3 Things You Need To Know About Third-Party Scripts On Your Website

3 Things You Need To Know About Third-Party Scripts On Your Website

3 Things You Need To Know About Third-Party Scripts On Your Website

Third-party scripts are scripts that can be embedded into websites by a third-party vendor. Mostly, they’re used for things like analytics, advertising, widgets, and connecting your website to other business software. Anytime you see an embedded video or social media sharing buttons, you’re looking at third-party scripts. 

Why are third-party scripts a big deal?

They’re everywhere! Every site you visit or click you make could send browsing information back to a third-party source. You may not know who is receiving your data and you’re at the mercy of whatever website you’re visiting. 

Your website is no exception. Those quirky widgets you think are fun and eye-catching might be opening you up to liabilities. Luckily, You can decide what third-party scripts you allow to operate. While many of these third-party scripts come from reputable sources, the internet is full of unreliable and risky ones. Here are three things to know about third-party scripts on your website.

 

Privacy Issues

When we browse the internet, our information continually goes out to several third parties. They can track us through cookies and place ads on one site based on our browsing history from other websites. Standard third-party tracking is pretty transparent. We can follow codes and get an idea of what kind of browsing is going on.

Unfortunately, there are some bad actors out there who are not transparent. Your email address, purchase history, location, and more can leak to eavesdroppers without you even knowing it. As a site owner, you’ll almost certainly add third-party scripts. Share buttons, form creators, and also comments sections all fall into this category. The best thing you can do to protect your users’ privacy is to research the third-parties you’re using and make sure to disclose the names of those systems in your privacy policy

If your privacy policy doesn’t have accurate information for users to know where their data is going, you open yourself to potential lawsuits. Be wary of any scripts that provide personal identifying information about your website visitors as they may be selling that information. That is against the law in some states and some countries so make sure you are careful.

 

Security Issues

Letting someone else’s script into your site makes you extremely vulnerable. That third-party has access to your entire front-end website. Before adding any additional scripts outside of your own, make sure the service you’re using is safe.

Sometimes, third-party scripts will actually build off information coming from another third-party. This process funnels data to at least two other companies, if not more. The more the code is exposed like this, the more opportunities hackers have to inject malware, which directly affects your website’s security.

Hackers are continuously looking for ways to access encrypted information on your website. Similar to the privacy issue above, some advertisers or third-party payment scripts have lax encryption implementation methods. Without realizing it, your customers’ information could be out in the open until the vendor encrypts the data. By that time, the information is available for anyone to see.

Privacy is essential, but taking additional security steps is paramount. Neglecting site security, including third-party scripts, can land you in the courtroom. Be diligent in your research before deciding to welcome in a third-party.

 

Optimization Issues

Another substantial problem with third-party scripts is the effect on your site’s optimization. Privacy and security are important, but they’re irrelevant if no one visits your site! Adding widgets and analytics to your website can slowly drag down site performance. Boosters like caching and CDNs can only do so much, but some third-party scripts can damage performance. 

For starters, these scripts can load large images or video files, putting more stress on your host. Slow page load times are a killer for your SEO scores since search algorithms put an enormous focus on website speeds. The more additional functionality you add with third-party scripts, the more work your server has to do. 

Having several third-party scripts can also run into the problem of launching too many requests off to multiple servers. The more requests a site has to make, the longer it will take to load. We discussed how CDNs can reduce latency, but even so, too many requests can overwhelm servers and slow everything down.

There are tools in place to help identify what third-party scripts are on your website. This diagnostic information shows how many third parties are running scripts and a breakdown of which ones take the most time to execute. Optimizing your website, including these third-party scripts, will be one of the most critical aspects of site maintenance.

 

Conclusion

Almost every website uses some kind of script from a third party. We all take advantage of inserting someone else’s code from embedded videos to pop-up forms to social media share buttons. Our challenge is to make sure we only use third parties we trust and trying to keep our site as optimized as possible. 

When adding any third-party scripts, the first step should be to research security protocols for third-party codes. Make sure you’re working with reputable firms before opening your site to additional functionality. Choosing from thousands of potential integrations is difficult. Choose wisely!

 

Do you know everything happening behind the scenes on your website? Shamrck offers a FREE 30-point website health inspection to help show you the effect third-party scripts have on your site. Schedule your check today!

 

Shamrck Recipient Of United For America Luminary Fellowship

Shamrck Software has been selected for the United for America Luminary Fellowship dedicated to working with female owned enterprises. United for America, a movement led by Unilever joined with Luminary to provide resources to emerging small businesses. Luminary works...

Why You Should Use Image Compression on Your Website

Why You Should Use Image Compression on Your Website

Why You Should Use Image Compression on Your Website

We already know that slow page load times can kill your SEO efforts. So, what slows down page speeds? The answer is pretty wide-ranging, but one of the most common problems is image size. We all remember the dial-up days when websites took 10 minutes to load, and a single, grainy image could take even longer. Those times were different, though. We expected it. Today, websites are blazingly fast, and if users have to wait longer than two seconds for a page to load, they’re ready to leave. Luckily, we have image compression to help keep your site loading quickly. 

Because of image compression, we can see the world in vivid colors without having to wait for a dial-up server to piece together a picture one kilobyte at a time. You should be compressing images on your website already, but if not, it’s time to get with the program.

 

What is Compression?

Image compression is the practice of optimizing a large image file into a smaller one to limit the amount of stress placed on your website. Larger pictures with more data, slow load times and can cost you valuable traffic. With compression, you can take the same images, reduce the file size, and immediately see improvements in page speeds. In short, compression is the act of limiting the data an image contains.

There are two main types of compression, lossy and lossless. 

-Lossy refers to image compression or optimization, where the compression strips away bits of data from an image while trying to maintain as much of the image quality as possible. “Lossyness” can result in pixelation or jagged edges because the compression is getting rid of those data segments. Lossy compression is most commonly associated with JPEG images.

-Lossless compression is a way to reduce file size without losing any quality. Without going too far into the weeds, lossless compression essentially rewrites the original file’s data more efficiently. The tradeoff is the image files don’t end up that much smaller. PNGs are an excellent example of lossless compression, but depending on the needs of your site, PNG files may still be too large.

 

Benefits of Image Compression

You don’t have long to grab someone’s attention when they visit your website. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 2-7 seconds does not give you much breathing room for load times. Large image files slow load times and cost you traffic. Worse, slow page speeds drastically affect your SEO. Google does not like slow page speeds, and after video, image files take up as much space on your pages as all other data (coding, fonts, etc.) combined.

How do you make sure your images aren’t your downfall? Easy. Since image compression, by definition, reduces the size and amount of data of an image, your pages can load more quickly. Search engines won’t penalize you for slow page speeds, and visitors won’t get impatient and leave. Optimizing image files has other perks, too.

The smaller file sizes use less bandwidth, meaning less stress on your server. Networks can operate faster when there’s less traffic on the road. Also, website backups are a necessity, and compressed images can speed up that process. Finally, and it almost goes without saying, compressed images take up less space on your server. 

 

Best file types for web images

Before we start discussing which types of files are best, let’s cover the differences. The main four types are JPEGs, PNGs, SVGs, and WEBPs. None of these files are better than the others, but each one has benefits in certain circumstances. 

JPEG – JPEGs are possibly the most commonly known and used image files. JPEGs are easy to compress because they use lossy compression. The images shrink, but because JPEGs delete data to become smaller, the images lose quality. JPEGs are best for simple pictures that can lose a little data and still look the same. The trouble is finding the balance between small and too small. 

PNG – PNGs are the weapon of choice for most people starting or running their own sites. These files can be compressed without losing any quality (lossless compression). However, PNG optimization doesn’t actually remove data, so the image can only be compressed so far, leaving you with what could still be a large image.

SVGs – SVGs are scalable vector graphics. If you are familiar with vector images, you know the draw is the ability to grow or shrink an image without losing pixels. SVGs operate in much the same way. These image files can compress like JPEGs without losing quality like PNGs. SVGs are also incredibly versatile since they show at a higher resolution without slowing down page speeds.

WebP – WebP files are a giant leap into the future of image files. Google created the WebP format to combine superior lossy and lossless compression. Files end up noticeably smaller than both JPEGs and PNGs without losing any quality, and they support transparency just like other files. We’re not to the future yet because not all browsers support WebP images, but it’s a great start.

What kinds of image files you use are dependent on your skill/comfort level with image creation and optimization. SVGs and WebP files are the future because they can do everything PNGs and JPEGs can and then some. But not every occasion suits the more modern image files. Regardless of the image type, the principal goal is to create an optimized file to load on your site.

 

Compress your images with Imagify

Imagify is a WordPress plugin dedicated to image compression and built by the same team who brought us WPRocket. Imagify offers an easy-to-use image compression system allowing you to choose from three different compression types with one click. Depending on your need, you can choose from normal, aggressive, and ultra. If you don’t like your new image, you can re-compress with one click and start again.

Imagify does come with a free plan with a limit of 25MB/month, but plans up to 1GB are only $4.99/month. Image optimization is a critical factor in running your site, so investing in a compression plugin is certainly worth a look.

 

Why compression matters

As cameras and software become more advanced, images become more and more detailed. We can zoom in to see every blade of grass from 20 feet away. The wonders of technology! However, that level of detail comes with a cost. The images can be enormous. 

Trying to add images that size to your website is almost certainly going to slow everything down, hurt your SEO, and lose traffic. The results can be catastrophic. For years, though, image compression has been the solution. Just as cameras and software are improving, image file types continue to develop. Using SVGs and WebP files let you display full images on your site without slowing page speeds, and tools like Imagify make the task more accessible to anyone. 

Without image compression, we wouldn’t see the world online as we do today.

 

How is your website speed performance? Shamrck offers a free 30-point website health inspection to check page speeds and walk through possible best practices for improvements. Come sign up, and let’s get started!

 

Shamrck Recipient Of United For America Luminary Fellowship

Shamrck Software has been selected for the United for America Luminary Fellowship dedicated to working with female owned enterprises. United for America, a movement led by Unilever joined with Luminary to provide resources to emerging small businesses. Luminary works...

How to Speed Up Your Website with Cache

How to Speed Up Your Website with Cache

How to Speed Up Your Website with Cache

We, as internet consumers are impatient. Our attention span for a first impression is roughly four to seven seconds. Your website does not have long to reel us in. Imagine now that your page takes four to seven seconds to load. We form a first impression around the fact the website takes too long to load instead of what content we might see. 

Enter Caching.

Caching is the quick and (sometimes) easy way to speed everything up. At a server-level, caching can be broken down into very technical terms, but for the average end-user, plugins like WP Rocket help take care of the work for you. Here are some ways to speed up your website with caching.

 

What is Cache?

A cache is a collection of items of the same type stored in a hidden or inaccessible place. In the software world, we refer to it all the time. Traditionally, when someone clicks into a web page, the site has to request information from the server, which sends the data back to the browser, and users see the end result. Caching speeds up your website by not requiring it to request page information every time someone visits. 

Since most webpages contain headers, bodies, and footers, continually having to piece together every bit of information after each click is, understandably, time-consuming. The process slows down page load times since the server is processing so many requests at once. 

 

Why is caching important for websites?

Caching saves much of the website’s information for a server, so it doesn’t have to handle requests for every part of a web page anymore. The cache stores files to a disk or RAM, making it easier to duplicate the information when requested. This process limits the amount of work going into loading and reloading webpages, making them load faster.

Since these repeat files are stored, caching reduces the stress on your server. A fast server equals faster page load times, which has a substantial impact on your SEO. But more on that in a minute. This process also speeds up the time to first byte (TTFB). Essentially, the TTFB is the time it takes for a browser to start to receive information from the server. A low TTFB is crucial to fast load times.

 

Server-level caching with a good host.

A good host will handle caching for you. There are generally four types of caching done at the server-level: Bytecode, Page, Object, and CDN. We can break these down one at a time to understand why each is essential and why utilizing a speedy server with a good host is vital.

  • Bytecode: Bytecode cache deals with PHP code. PHP codes must be compiled into what’s known as a readable “opcode.” Once the opcode is in place, the server no longer needs to sift through the PHP to return browser requests. 
  • Page: Page caching refers to storing the entirety of the HTML from a webpage, so WordPress does not need to generate the page over and over. Most pages are static and evergreen, meaning they don’t change much. The server does not need to build the page for every click continually. 
  • Object: Object caching refers to storing database query information. Querying a database can be arduous and time-consuming for a server. Caching bits of data produced by a search means speeding up the page load times since there’s no need to query an entire database every time.
  • CDN: CDN stands for Content Delivery Network. CDN caching stores website files like javascript, CSS, and media. CDN caching is a more complicated process because it involves storing information away from the server on a, you guessed it, separate network. CDNs can deliver the website information instead of the server, reducing the stress on the server and speeding up load times.

Server-level caching is crucial because a good host does all of this behind the scenes. Since page load times are vital to your website’s SEO, caching as much information as possible is paramount.

 

WordPress Caching with WP Rocket.

Sometimes we need to go further than our server-level caching. WordPress has mechanisms in place to replace or supplement caching strategies. You can use plugins to perform caching functions if you are self-hosting or using a shared host. There are dozens of plugins to choose from, but we recommend WP Rocket. 

WP Rocket is exceptionally robust but simple to use. Developers will love the ability to play around inside the plugin, but we love that it is excellent for beginners who might feel overwhelmed quickly. The WP Rocket dashboard and settings are easy to set up and understand. The plugin also seamlessly works with eCommerce sites to make sure page load times are blazingly fast.

WP Rocket is a premium plugin offering different pricing plans, but given the usability and depth of the software, we recommend at least trying out the free trial.

 

How caching affects SEO

One of the largest hurdles websites face when trying to rank on Google is page load times. The Google search algorithms weigh load times heavily when ranking sites. This factor makes caching a must-have. Without caching, your server load speeds will deteriorate as your pages become more dynamic, and the servers have to request and report every line of code/image/etc. for every click. 

The stress will be too much for your server, and page load times will be slow. Not only will that affect your SEO, but you’ll lose traffic almost immediately. No one wants to wait more than five to seven seconds on a website to load. For every second it takes until TTFB, your site slips slightly further in the rankings and becomes more invisible in searches.

 

Caching is crucial

Websites today are dynamic, loaded with images, and interactive modal windows. Ecommerce sites have tons of media, links, and walls of text. The sheer amount of data on each page is enough to strain any server. This is why caching is so vital. Without caching, servers can be spread too thin, and page load speeds can drop dramatically. The consequences can be disastrous. 

Imagine your website is a store on the main street, but you start to open later in the day than other stores. So, the city moves your store to 3rd street. Search engines are no different. Search algorithms look for the “stores” that open early. Websites with fast speeds will outrank the slower ones, so make sure your site is as quick as possible. Don’t lose your place in the market because you didn’t apply some simple methods to make your website faster.

Shamrck knows website caching is crucial to a site’s success. We’d love to talk to you about your website’s performance and how some simple caching techniques can help immediately.

Shamrck Recipient Of United For America Luminary Fellowship

Shamrck Software has been selected for the United for America Luminary Fellowship dedicated to working with female owned enterprises. United for America, a movement led by Unilever joined with Luminary to provide resources to emerging small businesses. Luminary works...

5 Easy Ways to Secure Your WordPress Website from Hackers

5 Easy Ways to Secure Your WordPress Website from Hackers

5 Easy Ways to Secure Your WordPress Website from Hackers

 

Websites are continually targets for hackers. Each site is a treasure trove of valuable information from basic contact information to social security numbers to payment info. Security software and hosting services are improving prevention strategies every day, but so are techniques to avoid them. The more sophisticated hackers become, the more diligent we need to be with our security.

Website security has never been more crucial to businesses. In 2017, one of the big three credit bureaus had a data leak. Experian reported a data breach that affected as many as 150 million people. The leak was catastrophic and led to Experian paying out $700 million to settle federal and state investigations. The lesson to be learned? No company is out of reach for hackers. 

Luckily, we have various ways to take precautions. Secure passwords and the right plugins are an excellent start, but there is no such thing as too much website security. Here are five easy ways to secure your WordPress website from hackers.

Select Good Hosting

Choosing who will host your website is a monumental decision. The most important aspect is knowing you can trust your host with your business. Hosts, like Shamrck, need to continually maintain updates to keep up with the most current versions of server software. Excellent hosts are proactive in ways to keep your website safe including having data centers in your country without rerouting information through unsecured servers.

This proactive approach means providing accessible support channels and automatically including the essentials like site backups, security checks, and performance checks. Make sure you know where to find your host’s support team and that they can easily communicate with you about your needs. Working with your WordPress website is complex and not having clear communication with support reps can lead to confusion and frustration.

 

Keep Plugins, Themes, and Core Up to Date

 

We already mentioned hackers work daily to find new strategies to break through your security. Part of bracing for those attacks includes keeping your site up to date. Software companies routinely release updates with bug fixes, performance releases, and security enhancements. Make sure your website keeps pace.

WordPress routinely updates the system’s operating version to fix bugs exploited in older versions. The majority of website “breakdowns” can be attributed to out of date software like older versions of WordPress. Worse, older versions may have outdated security features, which leaves your website security vulnerable.

Making sure you stay up to date with all of your software versions is surprisingly straightforward. Many systems offer automatic updates, while others prompt users with notifications to update. Managed hosting services like Shamrck handle all updates and security monitoring

Regardless of your strategies to stay up to date, the importance cannot be overstated.

Secure with SSL

We talked about the importance of choosing the right host. Part of securing your website is using a secure socket layer (SSL). The right host understands server security relies on installing an SSL certificate to keep your website safe. Shamrck provides this service at no additional cost for every plan.

Using secure socket layers can also affect SEO. SSLs help your web pages load faster, which is a significant factor used in Google’s search algorithms. Slow page load times can devastate your chances of showing up searches, so installing an SSL certificate is essential for maintaining a secure, fast website.

Keep Your Website Backed Up

 The day we started keeping records is the same day we started losing them. The “save” button on Microsoft Word is easy to find for a reason. Imagine all the data, work, and content lost over the years because someone forgot to click the save button. 

Now think about the level of content on your website. The pages of blog posts, entire email list, and possibly customer payment information all can disappear in the blink of an eye. Worse, customer contact and payment information are a treasure trove for hackers. Keeping your website backed up lets you take your website offline without losing any data. This ability is crucial if you notice a security breach or need to fix a bug. Shamrck handles website backup and restoration with all plans because we understand the disastrous consequences of losing everything.

Secure Usernames and Passwords

Creating specific usernames and complex passwords is a necessity. Many people use the same password over several websites and logins. Not a great idea. Hackers use a plethora of automated tools to try to retrieve passwords. If they can grab your password from any one of the websites you visit, everything is vulnerable. If possible, use different passwords for everything. Try using password generators to mix things up.

Updating passwords is essential, but do not neglect using different usernames where possible. Just by knowing your username and not a password, hackers can find ways to gain access to your accounts. Using the “forgot password” function or guessing passwords are surprisingly effective ways to slip past security. 

Why go through the trouble of breaching firewalls if hackers can simply guess the right username and password? Be cautious!

 

Secure Your WordPress Website

If there is one significant idea to remember, it’s that hackers are always looking for ways to access compromised, sensitive information. WordPress provides some tools to help take precautions, but the responsibility falls on you to secure your site. 

You have the resources you need, though. Keep your website updated, and only work with a host that uses a secure server. Your website will always be vulnerable (see Experian), but taking steps like the ones we looked at are an easy way to provide a lot of security. 

 

Shamrck is a world-class web hosting firm that handles website maintenance and security. We focus on providing an excellent customer experience through consistency and service. We’ve been doing this for a long time, and we’d love to talk more with you about our product. Schedule a demo today to learn more.

 

Shamrck Recipient Of United For America Luminary Fellowship

Shamrck Software has been selected for the United for America Luminary Fellowship dedicated to working with female owned enterprises. United for America, a movement led by Unilever joined with Luminary to provide resources to emerging small businesses. Luminary works...

7 Elements Every Business Website Should Have

7 Elements Every Business Website Should Have

7 Elements Every Business Website Should Have

Your business’ website is the face of the company. Many elements have to come together to make a successful website. How does your site perform? Sometimes, all we need is a little overhaul. Other times, we need to rebuild (or build!) from the foundation. The goal is to incorporate essential elements like mission statements, content, and reliable hosting into a website we can run confidently. 

Successful websites show up on the front page of Google searches and maintain a high number of page views. Does your website check all the boxes needed to be successful? Here are seven elements every business website should have.

 

Discuss your business core first.

Think of your 30-second elevator pitch. Do you go off on tangents about non-essential parts of your business? No. You stay on point and focus on your main value proposition. Does that mean you ignore your other products and auxiliary features? Of course not!

Your job is to build value immediately. The homepage of your site should be brand intensive with dense amounts of services you provide. Short descriptions are best for your services, but make sure they are teasers to get traffic to navigate to other pages. 

Yes, your secondary products are essential, and yes, they deserve attention. However, your website needs to start with the basics of what your business does.

 

Branded design

Few things are more critical to your company’s image than a detailed brand design. Your brand is how you want people to identify your business. Branding is how you become memorable and known in your field. Some people conflate branding with a fancy logo and a chic color scheme. 

Just Do It.
Eat Fresh.
Love the skin you’re in.
I’m lovin’ it.

Immediately, you can name those brands, what industry they’re in, and the products they’re best known for. However, Nike, Subway, Dove, and McDonald’s didn’t get there overnight. That level of recognition comes with a mix of design and positioning.

Your website will play an enormous role in both. Site design is a crucial step toward an online presence. It defines the look and feel your traffic gets as soon as they visit your site. This first impression is your chance to make your brand as memorable as possible. Don’t overlook it!

 

Who we are

Every successful business understands it needs to be relatable. Your website provides an excellent opportunity to tell your story and your mission. Where do you come from, and how did your business get its start? Talk about your experience in the industry and your phenomenal team. Help your customers understand your company on a personal level. 

Channel all of that biographic information into your company’s mission statement. We know who you and your team are and when the company started. But what do you do? This space is another opportunity to showcase your core business beliefs. Express why your company exists and what you bring to the table.

The “who we are” section of your website is a place to show off. Share your expertise and why people should trust you with their business. Now is not the time to be humble. The competition isn’t. 

 

Contact us

Offering a way for customers and leads to connect seems obvious. However, there are a few things to consider. Try to avoid listing emails or phone numbers for security reasons. Giving an email address is asking for spam, so do your best to stick to communication forms. 

Most companies can use a generic contact form, but sometimes we need to capture more data or direct communication to a specific person. Builders like Formidable Forms help create more intricate forms to fit your exact needs.

 

Content management

Writing content for your website is essential. From your mission statement to the descriptions of your services to any blog posts, you need to load your site with relevant content. For one, a large amount of relevant content will help your site show up on search engines. The more pages you create are more pages for search engines to index.

Knowing you need relevant content isn’t enough, though. You need to do your best to read your target audience. Are you looking for industry professionals who will already know the jargon? If not, you’ll want to avoid acronyms and other technical lingo. Visitors who aren’t familiar with the industry will be lost and leave your website. 

Sometimes businesses fall into the trap of writing unreadable content just to fill up pages. This error leads to confusion or perception of laziness. Content may be the most important element of your website, so take the time to write thought-out pages. 

 

Optimized speed and performance

We discussed the need for content regarding SEO, but just as critical, your website needs to be fast. Page load speeds carry a lot of weight with search engines. Everything about your website may be better than a rival, but if you have a slow server, their site might perform better in searches leaving you one step behind. 

Not only does a slow page speed hurt your search engine status, but you’ll also lose traffic. Pages have approximately seven seconds to grab and retain someone’s attention. If your website takes four seconds to load, your chances of keeping a visitor on your site diminish dramatically. 

Your focus should be on a fast, reliable host. Keeping your website up to industry standards for speed and performance can make or break your site’s success. 

 

Maintain what you have.

Building a website is only the beginning. Everything you create needs constant maintenance. From updating plugins to writing new content, your site needs to stay fresh. Regardless of how amazing an article is, it’ll be replaced by something more modern in searches. Some pages will be (somewhat) evergreen, such as your mission statement, but blog posts and articles need to be updated frequently. 

One easy way to maintain fresh content is to stay up to date with current events and tie articles into topical situations in your industry. Trends are always changing. Make sure your site can keep up.

 

Summary

Successful business websites incorporate several various elements. Each one has its different purpose, but without them, you can fall behind the competition. Make your company relatable, and create a memorable brand. Make sure people can get in touch when they need to! Write relevant content with frequent updates, and make sure your website loads fast enough to keep people around long enough to read it. 

Building and maintaining a business site you can run with confidence takes a lot of diligence, but you can make life a little bit easier with a blueprint. Does your website have all the right elements?

 

Shamrck is here to help get your website where it needs to be. Schedule an appointment with our experts to analyze your website and discuss how to improve. 

 

Shamrck Recipient Of United For America Luminary Fellowship

Shamrck Software has been selected for the United for America Luminary Fellowship dedicated to working with female owned enterprises. United for America, a movement led by Unilever joined with Luminary to provide resources to emerging small businesses. Luminary works...

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