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Why You Need a Development Team

Why You Need a Development Team

Why You Need a Development Team

Going it alone is hard. Business owners are well aware of this maxim because it applies to every aspect of running a company. Building and maintaining a website is no different. Website builders help users get started, but the perfect site requires more than a basic template and a few words. Resources like articles and videos help, but the most useful resource of all is a development team.

Most business owners aren’t also web developers. You don’t have time to learn how to code and create a custom website that fits your brand. Maybe you’ll find a template that’s close enough to what you want, but what happens when you’re ready to grow into something new? What happens when your simple site needs to be much, much more?

This step is where going it alone becomes more challenging. Choosing the right content management system (CMS) is critical. Content management systems come with all kinds of tools and resources. 

Development teams know exactly how to leverage those tools and resources.

 

What is a development team?

Businesses starting from scratch need to determine what approach they’re going to take to build their site. Will they use a website builder and simple templates? Some do, but general templates recycled styles don’t help a business stand out in the crowd. In today’s market, every business needs an online presence. Building a site with a fundamental website builder like Wix or Squarespace is like putting an ad in the White Pages (no one really sees it). Using a development team is like putting up a billboard on Main St.

Development teams come in all shapes and sizes, but the leading roles are web developers and web designers. People like to conflate development and design even though they’re two very different aspects of a website. Development is the construction of a site, the custom coding and creation. On the other hand, design refers to the aesthetics of the website, the schemes, and the look.

We can break these teammate roles down into a little further detail.

 

Back-End Developers

The back end of your website is where all the magic happens. Every click navigating to another page, every video on auto-play, and every pop-up happen because a back-end developer built it. Businesses need them to create custom elements that will make their website functional. These elements include site security and other applications, so finding the right back-end developer is essential. Developers also help build the kinds of flexibility that allow site owners to receive and manage user information. 

 

Front-End Developers

Front-end developers focus on user experience. The back-end developer will create the system for running searches or navigation, but your front-end developer makes it look awesome. The spinning wheels, zoom in/out buttons, and feature locations (among other things)? All of that stuff comes from on the front-end. 

Finding an excellent front-end developer is every bit as important as your back-end. The user-experience helps define your website. Visitors will judge not just your site but your entire business based on how your site behaves. An essential part of behavior is across multiple platforms. Your website needs to function the same whether someone visits on a computer, tablet, or phone. 

 

Web Designers

Web designers work in tandem with the developers, but they work on different aspects that flow together. The designer creates the look and feel of your website. Starting with the overview “template” of ideas, a designer will work closely with you to organize color schemes, create custom graphics, and help with the overall concept. Your brand is on display, and your brand is your business.

Keep in mind that designers are not developers. While they may have some experience with coding, their function is to design, not build. Working with a designer is almost an essential part of building your website, but you can’t count on them to make your site function.

 

Use a development team to make a change.

Website builders like Wix and Squarespace are extremely limited. Users start because the platforms offer attractive templates and a user-friendly dashboard. After a while, people realize their website can’t grow with their business and look elsewhere. 

If you already know there’s no future with a site builder, why bother at all?

Luckily, there are ways to migrate away from these other platforms (see our guides on Wix and Squarespace). Moving can be a challenge if you’re looking to do more than just change the look of your site. Using a development team to help you make the move removes confusion and limits mistakes. Plus, you get the bonus of expanding your current functionality by using developers to create new tools. 

 

Why you need a development team

The DIY route is challenging. As we mentioned before, you need a website. With internet traffic trends the way they are, your site needs to shine above everyone else. It has to be functional and chic. You need a website that represents your brand without sacrificing the user experience. More than anything, you need to be able to make changes. No business is the same. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, so saving the ability to build custom features is essential.

Development teams do all of that for you. You get to choose the direction you want to go, work with the team, and watch as they turn your ideas into a beautiful website. The best part? You get to focus on the most critical aspects of your company, your customers. Some people believe they don’t have the budget for a development team. There are teams for all budgets, but all you need to remember is how much time and energy you’ll spend to build the perfect website. How many hours of work will you lose while you fumble through building a site? Compare your budget against how much money you’ll drop by not running your business and see how much it really costs to hire a development team.

 

We’d love to chat with you a little more about why a development team is a perfect business solution. Reach out, and let’s get started!

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How Cheap Hosting Hurts Your Website

How Cheap Hosting Hurts Your Website

How Cheap Hosting Hurts Your Website

Cheap does not always equal value. Cheap shoes fall apart, and a low-cost computer crashes three days after you buy it. Cheap sunscreen gives you a sunburn so bad you painfully regret not buying better sunscreen. When it comes to web hosting, a cheap host can hurt your website in many ways. A bad host can cause a lot of damage from weak cyber-security to slow page speeds and everything in between.

Don’t get us wrong. Saving money is good. Opting for a more inexpensive hosting service is a plausible solution if you weigh all of the pros and cons. The problem is understanding the impact of certain inequities. Some disadvantages will severely outweigh the advantages, and your site will suffer. The best weapon you have is research. Luckily, there are some tools and resources out there to help (like this post!).

So, how does cheap hosting hurt?

 

Upkeep

A good host maintains a stable website status. That means minimal downtime for repairs or bug fixes. Websites need periodic updates to function correctly since plugins and systems are continually updating. A cheap host can lapse on essential updates that affect (possibly crashing) your website.

Worse, cheap hosts are known for terrible customer service. Your website is the face of the business. Imagine that someone locks you out of your storefront, and you have to wait three days for a locksmith. Imagine the business you’d lose! Think of poor customer service as the slow locksmith. You need your website up and running correctly. A cheap web hosting service won’t take the importance of upkeep very seriously.

Slow Page Speeds

When most people think of SEO, thoughts of keywords, and blog posts come to mind. While those are both essential aspects of optimization, page speed is one of the most crucial. The search engine algorithms look through hundreds of site attributes to rank the results, but some traits are more heavily weighted than others. Page speed clocks in as one of the most important because it shows your website is performing well. Google and the other engines will prioritize sites based on load times.

Why is that important for hosting?

A cheap hosting service may not scale well with your business. That means the more traffic you get, the slower the site loads. Slow page load times can kill your website performance. More than have of mobile users give you approximately three seconds before they leave, and the number drops every second after that. Don’t let your website take a tumble in the search results because your hosting service can’t keep up.

 

Cyber-Security

Cyber-security isn’t just a buzz-word, and your website can’t live without it. Cheap hosting services put security on the backburner because security protocols can require additional resources and bandwidth. Start with a straightforward question. Does your host offer a secure socket layer (SSL) certificate?

An SSL certificate is literally the bare minimum you can accept from a host. Malware attacks millions of sites each year, and cheap hosting services that skimp on cyber-security leave you vulnerable. Be sure to do your research because these hosts will put the security onus on you and make sure you are liable instead of them.

There are cyber-security steps you can take on your own to try to secure your website, but ideally, you’d like to work in tandem with a host that emphasizes security as well.

Less Control

Many cheap hosting services offer low price points because they limit what you can do with your site. You lose the ability to create custom coding to fit your needs because the host won’t let you make substantial-scale changes on their server. By limiting bandwidth and disk space, servers can run with less effort and cost, but you end up suffering through a mediocre website.

An excellent hosting service works with you to make sure your site, videos, animations, images, and all, work seamlessly all day every day. Limiting what you can do to build a custom site leaves you with nothing more than a template to type some words.

Hosting is worth the investment.

You can find hosting services in every corner of the internet. Some host on cloud-based servers with data centers all over the world. Some hosts are on a physical server in the back room of a dingy office building. Regardless of a hosting services’ claim of what they do and don’t offer, do your research. Ask questions about security protocols and bandwidth limitations. Learn more about their customer service team and how they handle updates.

There are qualities to some cheap hosting services, mostly, the price, but choosing who hosts your website is critical. The choice can make or break the success of your site and possibly your business. No, that’s not being too dramatic, either. A malware attack leaking customer information can land you in court, ruining your company. Slipping to the second, third, or fourth page of Google can make you invisible compared to the competition all because your pages load slowly.

Investing in a development team to build your website is a wise decision. Investing in a top-class hosting service is just good business. Don’t get sucked in by low price points and wild promises that are too good to be true. Pick a host that you can trust, even if it’s not the cheapest.

At Shamrck, we believe in value above everything else. A hosting service can be inexpensive and still have a customer-first mindset. We’d love to chat a little more with you about trusting your site to an excellent host. Reach out today, and let’s get started!

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How to Move From Squarespace to WordPress

How to Move From Squarespace to WordPress

How to Move From Squarespace to WordPress

Squarespace provides an easy-to-use website builder. There are some templates and drag and drop functions, but Squarespace isn’t anything special at the end of the day. Sooner or later, many users see the limitations and conclude that they’re better off moving away. If you’re looking to move from Squarespace, there are some essential things to consider. The move tends to be over to the more flexible WordPress.

 

Why is WordPress Better Than Squarespace?

WordPress is much more dynamic. Squarespace puts you in a box, and all sites are basically the same. With WordPress, the possibilities are endless. Using the right developer, you can create the perfect website designed to your specific standards instead of someone else’s. The intricate capabilities of WordPress are invaluable to a company trying to define an online presence. Squarespace limits your options to the point you can become frustrated over what should be simple features. 

The move from Squarespace to WordPress opens up a vast array of opportunities to improve your brand and increase your traffic. The only question is, why haven’t you already moved over?

 

Export Content

Of course, you already have content on Squarespace, and starting from scratch is not an option. The good news is that you can export much of your information automatically. You can easily export your blog posts and pages. Unfortunately, you can’t export everything so easily. 

Squarespace won’t let you export:

-Album pages, indexes, product, or events
-Blocks like audio or product
-Custom CSS
-Style changes
-Squarespace template

Even so, the bulk of your content can be uploaded onto your new site reasonably smoothly. Luckily, the aspects of the information you can’t bring from Squarespace is replicable in WordPress, and again, working with a design and development team will help a lot. 

To Export

  1. Log in to Squarespace and go to the “Settings” option on the left-hand side of the screen for whichever site you want to export (if you have multiple sites).
  2. Scroll down to “Advanced,” and from there, select “Export.” You’ll be asked for the export site, so be sure to choose WordPress if there are multiple options.
  3. Wait for a pop-up letting you download the information. *If you have multiple blog pages, you’ll need to choose which one to export before proceeding. 

 

Point Domain to New WordPress Install

If you purchased a domain, you’ll probably want to carry it over to your new WordPress site. The task isn’t difficult. You’ll need to change your domain’s nameservers to point to WordPress instead of Squarespace. 

The only word of caution may be to make sure you’re ready to make the switch ultimately. You can work with your WordPress host to set up a WordPress staging site. This way, you can handle any Squarespace traffic while waiting on the work to be finished for your full website. 

Remember to go to your domain registrar to change the settings too. Once you have your site built and domain pointed to WordPress, you’ll ultimately be ready to move from Squarespace.

 

Import Content to WordPress

Now that you have your .xml file, it’s time to import. 

  1. Head over to your WordPress dashboard and find the Tools menu. 
  2. When you click on Tools, you’ll see the import option below.
  3. Click import next and find WordPress at the bottom of the list, and then click Install Now.
  4. The link will change from Install Now to Run Importer.
  5. From here, choose the .xml file to import, and click the upload file and import. This step will get the upload process started. 
  6. The next page you come to will offer to create a new user for this upload, but your best bet is to select a current user from the dropdown list.
  7.  Check the import attachments box and submit!

 

The last step is to make sure your content is uploaded correctly. Check your pages and posts to ensure everything is where it’s supposed to be, and it looks good. If not, you may need to make changes page by page, or you can start the process over to try again.

 

Import Images to WordPress

We discussed at the beginning that not everything shares over flawlessly. You’ll notice some or all of your images when you move from Squarespace did not load. You have a couple of options to add them back in. First, you can go one page at a time and upload each image one by one. That method can be a little tedious, though. Luckily, there are plugins available to help with the task. 

Plugins like Auto Upload Images will find URLs in your post and automatically upload the image files to your WordPress media database. Rather than going page by page, the plugin will let you mass select posts and pages and then do a bulk action to update all of your pages. 

  1. Go to your “Posts” page in WordPress
  2. Select all of the posts you need to update
  3. Use the bulk action dropdown and click Edit and then apply
  4. A new window will appear, but you won’t need to make changes. Just click Update.
  5. All the images from your Squarespace pages should now be showing up on your WordPress pages.

 

Configure Permalinks

Permalinks are how traffic finds your website. When you posted something on Squarespace, you received a permalink resembling something like https://example.com/blog-post-title. WordPress can mimic that or other types of dynamic permalinks through a quick setting change.

  1. Go to the Settings in your WordPress dashboard.
  2. Click Permalinks to open the menu
  3. Select the Date and Name option since it’s the most commonly used.
  4. Use the custom structure to recreate something close to the Squarespace link. Since theirs is usually a date-page-post, you can create a custom structure using a dynamic link. For example .com/%year%/%month%/%day%/blog/%post%
  5. Hit save changes to lock everything in place.

 

Recreate the Template in Divi

You can’t take your Squarespace template with you, and most people don’t particularly want to. However, if you’re in love with the look, you’ll be able to recreate it with Divi. Divi’s page builder option gives you a vast amount of possibilities to effortlessly insert rows, sections, columns, text, blocks, etc. Creating the look and feel flows smoothly, and Divi offers excellent customer experience to help. 

The Divi builder makes it easy to take your current content and build it into the same type of template you had or if you prefer, a brand new look. You have options like custom CSS, responsive editing, and simple drag and drop tools, among others. If you’re not ready to build from scratch, Divi also has an immense library of pre-created options. 

 

Leaving Squarespace

The move from Squarespace is inevitable for a lot of people. The system can be clunky, limiting, and expensive for what you actually get. WordPress provides a much better opportunity to make something with more flexibility that better represents your brand and lets you grow. The change can be difficult, though. Despite the step-by-step instructions above, your site and user experience can get lost in the shuffle. 

Professional firms like WPClover are here specifically to help you make your WordPress site precisely the way you want it instead of how someone else wants it. We’d love to talk more with you about how working with us can save you time and money, not to mention all of the perks that go along with a WordPress website. Reach out, and let’s get started!

 

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Using WordPress to Hang Onto Your Customers

Using WordPress to Hang Onto Your Customers

Using WordPress to Hang Onto Your Customers

So many companies only focus on signing new customers. They offer special rates and sign-up discounts or spend thousands on marketing. However, the real profit comes from customer retention. Why pay more money to focus on new clients when you already have a customer base.

Let’s look at it this way. Is it easier to ask a friend out to lunch or grab someone off the street? Obviously, you have a better chance of bringing your friend. Customers are no different. You have a much better chance of making a sale to someone you already know than qualifying a new lead.

This customer retention strategy is more important for businesses with a subscription-based product. You are far better off renewing subscriptions than going through the sales process with someone new.

Think of the work going into new clients. You have to market the product, generate leads, move through a sales funnel, and negotiate the sale. Each step costs time and money. Retaining current clients costs much less, and the more effort you put into retention, the more likely you are to gain referral business.

Fortunately, there are several ways to focus on customer retention without sacrificing your efforts to sign new customers.

Build Loyalty

First and foremost, sell an excellent product. A good salesperson can sell almost anything, but if the product is sub-par, customers jump to another company with a better offering. Selling a premier product builds trust with your brand. Loyalty is incredibly powerful for businesses. It’s what keeps customers with you even if there’s a cheaper option.

Part of building loyalty is creating a relationship with your customers. Coupons and occasional discounts go a long way to remind your client base you care about their business. Newsletters and updates let them know what you’re up to and what they can expect in the future.

Newsletters and coupons can only go so far, no matter how good your relationship is with your customers, they have to be happy with the product.

Customer Service

Customer service is how your clients stay happy. Provide excellent service, and your clientele will remain content and loyal. Think of all the times you’ve been frustrated with a product, so you call or email the business for help, and no one answers. Poor service is one of the top reasons customers leave. Hopefully, your customers aren’t calling in too often to complain, but if they do, have an effective system in place to handle issues.

Customer service is more than just reacting to issues, however. Businesses who can be proactive with their customers tend to build more loyalty and create more long-lasting relationships. Rather than waiting on a problem to come up, companies can reach out and offer new products and services at a personal level.

Excellent service starts with taking the time to put a plan in place and find the right people to work with your customers. Strategies on proactive customer service include things like personal phone calls or weekly newsletters. Luckily, these strategies can be automated, so you get to set up shop and go back to progressing your business.

Use WordPress to Help

As with most things WordPress related, there are plugins and integrations to help with retention strategies. Plugins like WP Subscribe help you build an email list of customers, and Shareaholic helps your social media reach. Using a professional WordPress solution firm assists you with which plugins will work best and how to include other helpful features.

We discussed the importance of an email list earlier. Newsletters and digital coupons are integral to showing your customers you’re active and care about their business. Developers offer dozens of plugins designed to generate an email base. Pop-ups, account creation, and incentives (e-books, coupons, etc.) are the most common ways businesses grab customer information. The next problem is how to use that information.

You can create your own system for distributing emails to your customers, but companies like MailChimp and Constant Contact make it much more manageable. You can create custom emails, generate drip campaigns for sales, and queue several emails to go out at set dates.

Managed WordPress solution firms like WPClover help integrate your email service accounts with your WordPress website. This seamless integration means you have all of your email distribution resources under one roof.

Another fantastic tool for automating your email distribution is through Zapier. Zapier is a business automation tool that creates workflows to help you be as hands-off as possible. With Zapier, you can integrate your sales tools with your email services. Then when you make a sale, Zapier will automatically trigger a workflow that sends your customer an instant “thank you” email. This quick response shows an immediate attempt to build a relationship with that customer.

Relationship = Retention

From building loyalty to providing customer service to utilizing technical tools, retention requires hard work. Retention strategies come in many different shapes, and each business needs a different plan. You know your business better than anyone, so figure out how best to build your relationships. Do your customers expect a friendly, personal phone call? Does your enterprise rely on online communication to touch as many customers as possible? What strategy makes the most financial sense for you (keep labor costs in mind!)?

There is no single, right answer, but you can get some help. A significant part of utilizing a managed WordPress solution product is creating a strategy for generating contact lists and reaching your current customers. Their professional expertise helps to map out strategies that work in your industry, and as a team, they can build your solution for you.

Building relationships with your customers is crucial to your company’s success, but it doesn’t have to be a full-time job. Understand the strategies and tools in front of you, so you can become more productive without sacrificing your need to generate new customers.

We’d love to talk to you more about how managed WordPress solutions include custom retention plans for your business. Reach out today for a consultation, and we can see if we’re the right fit.

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3 Reasons Slow Page Speeds are Killing Your Website

3 Reasons Slow Page Speeds are Killing Your Website

3 Reasons Slow Page Speeds are Killing Your Website

Page speed is one of the most overlooked aspects of SEO. Slow page speeds lead to higher bounce rates and lower conversion rates. The user experience tanks before visitors get a chance to browse, costing you repeat traffic and potential sales.

 

Page speed is also a part of how Google ranks your website. Slow speeds can hurt your SERP despite how fantastic your site might be. Great content and innovative products are useless if no one can find you!

 

Briefly explained, page speed refers to the length of time it takes your website to load webpages. Articles, blog posts, product pages, and all other pages log speeds, and fast load times can benefit (or hinder) their performance. If your pages are not loading quickly, consider getting a site health check. The tool will help gauge your current speeds, but more importantly, it will help give you ways to improve your website.

 

Why is it such a big deal? Here are three reasons slow page speeds are killing your website.

 

The pages won’t show up on search queries.

 

Page load times aren’t a new qualifier for page rankings, but in 2018, Google announced the factor would have a more substantial impact on mobile rankings. We focus on mobile in particular because the majority of traffic is coming via mobile devices. In 2018, according to a study by Perficient Digital, 58% of visits to websites were from a mobile device. The majority of those visits come via search queries.

 

The lesson is that page rankings for desktop and on mobile are weighting page speeds more heavily than ever. Despite better content, your website may drop below competitors’ pages based on nothing more than load times. As we all know, more than 90% of clicks from a search come from the first page. If you fall below that, your website starts to become invisible.

 

  1. Visitors are the worst critics of slow page speeds.

 

The most reliable critique of your website isn’t Google’s scoring algorithm. It comes from your traffic. We measure success in clicks and bounce rates. We want to know how many people are visiting our websites. How long are they staying on the site? Are they visiting multiple pages? Page speed plays a vital role in getting definite answers to these questions.

 

The bounce rate is when someone visits one page and immediately leaves a website. We use traffic analytics to track bounces and make sure our pages are performing well. High bounce rates are a visible red flag for administrators and content managers. Not only are people leaving the site quickly, but we also don’t know why.

 

The problem may be the page design, or they may not like the content. They may give up on the website if the page loads too slowly. There are several causes, and we can’t tell by only looking at numbers. We have to test different changes to the page to see what works.

 

Luckily, if it’s the page speed, we can find out with a simple test, and take steps to fix the issues. However, we’ll get to that later.

 

  1. Web traffic is very impatient.

 

The main reason slow page speeds are such a killer is the fact that web traffic is very impatient. When we search for information, we expect to see it immediately. Providers measure WiFi speeds in megabits per second. For reference, a megabit is one million bits (a unit of data). Most carriers provide anywhere from 15Mbps to one Gigabit (1,000 megabits) per second. If that sounds like a lot of information, it is. Wireless providers like Verizon’s LTE regularly provide from 2-15 Mbps meaning download speeds are incredibly fast on mobile carriers.

 

This availability of blisteringly quick speeds only makes our standards as users higher. If a website can get 15 million bits of digital information to us in one second, we have high expectations. If not, we get bored or frustrated and leave. This exit can happen in four seconds or less. The industry threshold for eCommerce sites is less than two seconds.

 

According to a Nielsen Family study, websites have between seven and nine seconds to make an excellent first impression. If we can’t grab their attention in seven seconds, they’ll likely visit another site. Imagine now that they spend four of those seven seconds waiting for the page to load. It’s essential time we can’t waste.

 

The proof that slow page speeds drive away traffic is right there in the math. You only have seven seconds. Make them count!

 

How to improve

 

If it turns out that slow page speeds are the cause of your high bounce rates, fear not! There are resources to help fix that. Start by getting a health check to see where the problem areas are. Lead by shrinking or eliminating images. Use a cache, which saves data for future reference. In other words, the website won’t have to load from scratch each time the same person visits the page. Work with a development specialist to find different ways to help your site perform better, and stop losing traffic due to slow speeds!

 

 

Slow page speeds are painful. They hurt your page rankings with search engines making your website harder to find, and they cause high bounce rates meaning people won’t stick around for the rest of your content. They drive away impatient traffic that doesn’t want to wait the four extra seconds for a page to load.

 

Making an effort and correcting some small issues can have a significant impact on website traffic. Remember, you don’t have to be an expert developer to make these improvements, but it never hurts to ask for help. Get a page speed check, and use it to help find the problems you need to solve.

 

 

When you’re ready to get started improving your slow page speeds, schedule a meeting with our WordPress experts, and we’ll help you get it done!

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