The top 5 mistakes People Make When Building Their Website


Every time someone calls me in to rescue their website project, I often see a pattern where the organization missed on a few steps during the initial development process. Often what brings down the project are just a few avoidable practices that the organization could make part of its own internal processes and avoid all the pain and hurt latter on of having:

  • A Stalled project – that lasts for months and months.
  • A Terrible looking branding website.
  • A Good looking website that misses the mark in terms of convincing potential clients / partners to work with you vs your competitors.

1. Delegating The Task To a Different Staff Member

This often happens where the Director is understandably too busy to handle the management of the project all by himself and thus hands in down to his manager / IT manager to oversee the project. In most cases this works IF the director doesn’t really care much about the design or functionalities to be incorporated within the website.

If however you really care about this but are still too busy, then always make sure to show up during the initial meeting so that you provide your input and direction to the managers and designer at the same time to avoid latter miscommunication where the manager distorts your creative vision when passing the message to the designer. Once you have given your creative input you can then be updated at critical milestones along the way and this way the end product isn’t a ‘surprise’.

2. Hiring The Wrong Person for the Job

Hiring a web designer today is easy – hiring the RIGHT web designer is however often the challenge. I’ve dealt with many projects where the designer abandoned the project halfway after getting another ‘deal’ elsewhere or for some reason getting bored with the project. We’ve also seen projects where the designer couldn’t get the design right or didn’t understand the client’s exact concept and how to bring it into reality.

The problem here stems from the fact that most of these people are not designers – they may be an IT person or even a software developer and Web Design isn’t their specialty even though they might have a couple of websites that they’ve designed. So unless you don’t really care about the success of your website always hire a specialist website designer.

3. Not Being Clear on Your Strategic Objective

During your initial meeting with your designer be sure to communicate your strategic objective. A strategic objective can be – ‘we want to use our website to pre-sell people so that by the time they visit our office they are sold on wanting to enroll with us’ or ‘we want to use the website to generate more leads for our sales department’. Once you know your strategic reasons for what you want the website to do for you, you then prioritize this list starting with the most important.

The reason you also want to be clear on this is that there will be times where you might have to trade off one thing for another, if you want to sell your 1 book on your website – then the slider can be traded for a lead capture form on the homepage, this is just one example where knowing your bigger objective matters.

4. Slow Feedback to Your Designer

During the course of the project there will be several materials that will be required by the designer as well as feedback on what you think of the ongoing work to prevent you from receiving a shock on the unveiling and to provide you with the opportunity to course correct the design before it’s too late or too expensive to make changes.

What we find happening in this case is a situation where you are too busy to submit whatever materials are required by the designer causing a slowdown in the delivery schedule. If you can have the designers help you with the content writing and photography even if it costs a little bit more.

5. Poor Understanding of what goes into a website

Finally its important to get to understand the various components that go into a website. Now depending on your initial objective these will vary. One especially huge mistake most organizations will make if they don’t have someone guiding them properly is the content development and production. You’d be surprised how many people can’t write the story about their organization and what they do – understandably this isn’t a strong suit for most people. And an even bigger one is where you try to control the flow of the project leading to a big fail in the end.

If your designer clearly understands your strategic objective of your website then he should guide you through out the process – clearly explaining what needs to go where and why. For instance if you wanted a lead generation type of website but are talking about galleries and sliders, then you in the wrong conversation and you should look to your designer for guidance instead of pushing the wrong idea and getting frustrated that it didn’t work out.

6. A Design By Committee Approach

This is probably every designer’s worst fear though you may not realize this as a client. The organization that prefers to hold a committee for every design change or at every design stage & doesn’t have a clear emerging leader within the committee who will make final decisions and stick by them will usually also end-up with an website that tries to cram everyone’s ideas and concepts into it and eventually no one is impressed.

The best way to structure your committee is to limit it to just 2 or 3 people but if you must have more people involved ensure you elect the person whose creative opinion you most respect – if there’s ever a stalemate this leader’s final decision will be the only one that will matter. 

Additionally have your design committee leader be the only interface between you and the designer. This will ensure that one of the committee members isn’t having his ideas implemented in the back while the rest are still deliberating. Usually in this case the project ends up increasing in cost because the designer is running back and forth between one committee member who has a ‘brilliant idea’ and another who wants what was done to be undone.

Finally when setting up the committee agree on when you will be meeting with the designer to discuss the progress and agree on any changes in direction.

 

 

how to secure your website and prevent a major hack. The 5 simple steps you can implement today…


Do you worry about having your website hacked? Does this keep you from either getting your first website or even keep you worried that it might happen some time in the future? This article will cover some of the issues associated with this, including:

  • What happens when you are hacked?
  • How to prevent your site from getting hacked
  • What to do once you’ve been hacked

First off what is hacking anyhow? This is simply when someone gains unauthorized access to your website. They may then choose to copy some information from your website, put up information in your website that shouldn’t be there, delete your entire website or redirect people from your website to another website.

So how do you prevent this from happening to you? More particularly how can you as a normal end user keep your site secure?

Your Internal Staff & Website Security Protocols

Often times your internal users pose the biggest threat to your own website. If you’ve been to any cyber then you have probably found a computer that the previous user forgot to logout, or maybe there was a power outage and the person left, unaware they were still logged in.

  • The same is true of your website, your staff will have to be extra careful not to leave the website accessible. Some of the things you can do is make sure they access the website from designated computers that have been secured with good antivirus software.
  • Secondly if you encounter power outages or the computer is often used by many people including those not authorized to access your website – then have them login in private mode through your browser. that way your active session isn’t saved.
  • Additionally if your computer is also accessible by other people don’t save your password in the browser.
  • Finally when assigning each user an account – please make sure they set strong passwords that will probably have capital, small letters, numbers and symbols.
  • Finally keep changing your password to keep them guessing.

you should have internal processes to deal with your own people who may have access to your website.

You also want to ensure that you have put in place good systems or processes for dealing with your staff when it comes to your technology. If you have a disgruntled staff member you will want to quickly login into your website and deactivate their login credentials. This also means that within your organization you will want to be at the “admin level” in your website and have everyone else below that level to prevent massive damage to your website.

keeping your website systems up to date for that added website security

Like other software your website runs on a system that also needs to be upgraded constantly – the reason for this is that not only does the latest upgrade have new features that give your website more power but they also have security fixes for loopholes that have just been discovered. So not keeping your website’s system up to date means you are taking risks that can be easily avoided. Most updates are usually released once or twice a month.

Build extra layers of security into your website

Finally if you’ve taken the initial measures mentioned above you can add extra layers of security to your website by using:

  • Security plugins – these act like an antivirus software for your website, if you are on WordPress you could add utilities like Better WP Security and Bulletproof Security.
  • Purchasing an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate (on Google or Facebook you see https://www.google.com). This provides an encrypted link between your website and visitors thus ensuring that any sensitive information being sent over remains private.
  • Rent a cloud based web application firewall.

backup your website regularly

Finally you’ll want to keep your website backed up regularly, if you are too busy to do this have your developer to it for you. If you update your site a few times per month then a weekly backup is okay. If its more active then a daily backup is the best. Remember you only know the value of your backups when you have lost your content and need to get back online as fast as possible.

Next time I will cover what to do once your site has been hacked.

 

9 Steps to Building an Amazing Website For Your Organization


1. Strategy

The first part to building your brand online is understanding that your website will be the central hub for your organization. The second thing is to also understand what the purpose of your website will be. It maybe that you have a website and you have 20 other micro sites / landing pages that you are using as independent sites to market specific products. If this happens to be your primary website then your web designer should help you gain some clarity on your unique selling proposition, your key call to action, and then this will help you determine how you want visitors to progress or move through your website. Depending on the overall strategy you will be able to see what you will need to have in place.

2. Designing A Website You’ll Be Proud To Show Your Partners

When it comes to the website design itself – an easy thing most people do is simply check-out their competition and decide how they want theirs to look like. While this is a good approach you don’t have to limit yourself to only your industry. If you have no specific preference you can have your designer show you several samples after interviewing you and getting to understand your organization and your marketing positioning.

3. Ensure you are Fully Accessible On Phones & Tablets

Since most people accessing websites today are doing so from mobile devices, then you will want to ensure that your website is able to “fit” in these devices by getting a mobile version of your website or making the website responsive – meaning its able to adjust based on the device.

4. Drive More People To Your Website

If you are more serous about trying to drive more people or traffic to your website through google search without having to pay Google for advertising, then integrating a news or blogging or Sermons (for churches) system is the way to go. The news system will also ensure your website stays current and provide something new for a returning visitor to see.

5. Keep Your Partners Up To Date With The Latest News & Offers

If you want to engage with your clients even more – then you may wish setup your email newsletter system. If you already have one in place you may also want to ensure the email that goes out is designed and customized with your letter head, layout and colors that match the the feel of your website.

6. Promote Solutions / Events To Everyone Passing Through Your Website

Sometimes you may wish to Promote an Event, a particular Program, a Class, a new Product or a Solution. Or you may simply be promoting your new Lead Capture page.

Since many people visit your website from your Facebook posts, email marketing, google search etc, and most of these people will ‘enter’ your website through some other page other than the homepage. so in order to ensure that everyone coming into the site will see your latest event or promotion you use Banners / sliders placed at specific vantage points around the website.

7. Achieve Branding Consistency Across Your Social Media Pages

If you have are are looking to quickly open your Facebook, You tube, Twitter, Google+ or Twitter Accounts then you might also wish to have it properly branded and showing a customized message instead of simply putting up your photo.

You might want to help people who are visiting your page to find your contacts easily or checkout your latest offer right when they land on that page – usually the cover photo is the first see they see, so maximize that space by communicating something of value.

You may also use that space to drive them to your website – where they learn properly about you. or you can “point” them to a particular landing page on Facebook for capturing leads etc.

8. Setup any other special back end systems

Like your Portfolio management systems to have a special area where you showcase your work, Testimonials management systems – to build credibility and trust when a person first visits your website etc.

9. Launch, Manage & Promote

Finally you want to launch your new website, continue to update the content with a simple easy to use system & most importantly send out a few engaging emails linking back to the latest stories or updates on your News section and with your banners promoting your latest event or offer. Thus leading to more visibility & inquiries from web visitors and past clients alike.

The Ultimate Marketing Strategy


 

Source: https://www.slideshare.net/fstephan/software-craftsmanship-imperative-or-hype-7724070

One of my most influential mentors when it came to sales was Chet Holmes (RIP), who’s sales philosophy can be found in his classic “The ultimate sales machine” where he wrote about the 12 pillars to become successful in building the sales machine. Prior to that I’d had scatter brain chasing multiple strategies and tactics to try and help me improve my marketing.

One time while listening to Dan Kennedy drawl on on YouTube about marketing,  he said that everyone was on the lookout for lots of information and content while really ‘one line’ of the right information would suffice. In the information marketing world which he focuses on – most people are looking for more information and most people looking for training see more value in big training manuals, long courses and longer sessions than in a simple summarized idea. So they then make more money selling longer but less valuable courses because people only see value in length, edutainment and certifications even among the entrepreneur audience (which is surprising) rather than a focus on direct sales and results.

His simple system (not easy, just simple), consistent boring repetition and massive accountability has proven to be the secret sauce that’s not so secret.

In the beginning of learning how I could improve my marketing and selling skills, I’ve come to see that the idea presented by Chet and Dan actually holds true – you really only see results through the boring repetition of one or just a few tactics over and over again. Mastery is only achieved from this consistent boring repetition of a very simple activity.

While Dan Kennedy has mastered selling people what they want (i.e. “do you want more content so you feel good paying more $$$ for this course? Then here it is, oh and here’s an extra bonus plus an extra bundle…” – in the end the most valuable idea get buried in tons of mundane content). Mike Ferry in the real-estate training space has simply focused on a very simple system and consistently hammered in the same simple system and content over and over again which is why he’s influenced my current system than any other sales coach out there.

We see the same theme recurring in the most successful people in any field over and over again, from Warren Buffet to Michael Jordan, they all simply focused on a few simple principles and repeated them over and over again until they achieved mastery in just those few things, while most of their competitors got distracted in the shiny objects syndrome of the latest newest technique and they therefore didn’t stick around enough to see the results and gain mastery.

However his relentless focus on his one simple system has garnered him critics who have said that he only has one system that isn’t  great for some personalities; the current times and overall value in paying to learn the same system over and over again, however what none of them can say is that they have produced the same massive results in their clients that he has – both in sales volume and the bottom-line net. His simple system (not easy, just simple), consistent boring repetition and massive accountability has proven to be the secret sauce that’s not so secret.

How To Select The Right Font For your Website


When designing your website, you might have wondered, “what font should we use? or do we just stick to basic – arial?” The right font depends on several factors such as your branding and the consistency you want to establish in keeping with your image. Additionally you also want to consider the message that you’ll be conveying for instance – stable, strong, sophisticated, elegant, gentle, ‘techy’, playful and so on. We also want to ensure that our font is going to be readable all while conveying the message that we want it to convey.

Understanding the psychology behind the right font

In order to understand the message and the feeling that we want to convey we have to understand the psychology behind fonts. Check out the infographic below to understand this.

Limitations to fonts on the web vs your computer

Contrary to what you might think, you can’t necessarily use all the fonts that you find on your computer on the web as well. Additionally while the fonts on a particular website will render properly on your screen – it might render differently for someone with an older computer, so what they will be seeing isn’t exactly what you are seeing on your end. To help mitigate this we use font stacking, meaning the client computer will be given the option of using the recommended font and if the computer doesn’t have that font installed, it falls back on the second font and  then the third which will tend to be the most basic font.

Probably the easiest way to add your font to the website is through Google Fonts. The only limitation of Google Fonts is that you might not necessarily find that super unique font you want to use, however you can always to try to find a font similar to what you’d wanted to use.

If you have a very particular font that must work and which isn’t available on Google Fonts then the best option would be to buy/download the font then upload it to your site and directly link to it on your website. Whichever method you choose to use, at the end of the day the goal is to ensure you convey the right message and feeling to your website visitors.

how to use your website to shorten your enrollment / sales cycle


however most of us have also ended up with too many people who were taking too long to enroll or “think about it”. If you are like me then you may have realized that while these people were for the most part eventually enrolling into your organization or buying your products or services, they were also taking too long to do this.

We have all at one time or another found ourselves with many people interested and inquiring about our organization or the services we offer, however most of us have also ended up with too many people who were taking too long to enroll or “think about it”. If you are like me then you may have realized that while these people were for the most part eventually enrolling into your organization or buying your products or services, they were however taking too long to do this.

The problem with this is obvious if you are new in the area or if you are introducing a new package or service to your community. First off the longer you take to find new users the more you increase your chances of failure either from giving up on the idea that you feel isn’t working or from the encroaching expenses.

1st off – understanding your enrollment / sales process

The sales process is the series of steps you take to enroll a new parent, patient or client into your organization. Contrary to what many people think enrolling a new person isn’t based on luck but is a process just like in a manufacturing plant. For instance your sales process might start from an advertisement in the newspaper that leads to getting an inquiry where you then convince the led to come in for a consultation or visit where you then sign them up.

Now what if, this person is still not ready to come in? Or after they come in they are still not ready to go with you? Do you throw them away and forget about them?

Integrating your website into your sales process

1. Pre-Sell them on why you are the best option compared to other options that they have available

Lets say you first got your initial lead or inquiry, then right after your first phone conversation your goal should be to try and direct this person to your website so they can find out more about you, see how you are unique compared to other people & most importantly for you, to help you determine if they are a good fit for you. This is especially important since you don’t want to meet with everybody who claims they are interested. If you have served other people in the past then you would know that not all customers are equal and that there are those you would rather not take on due to either the stress they might inflict on you or simply because they might not be able to afford and end up negotiating too much and devaluing the service you provide. Your website should thus serve to position you the right way while also building rapport and trust with them.

2. Post selling them after your appointment

If you finally met with the interested person then the next step whether or not they enrolled or didn’t is to followup with them right away, this has 2 effects:

  1. If they just enrolled then it helps reduce the buyer remorse that they might feel latter on by reminding them the reasons they chose you in the first place.
  2. If they didn’t enroll the extra ‘touch’ could be just what they needed to tip them over.

Needless to say the structure of what to say, when to say it and what medium to use to say it, is also very critical.

3. Keep nurturing them till ready or next time

Even if you fail to turn them around with your communication from step 2, you then launch into your ongoing nurture program where you take these leads and keep staying in communication with them till they get ready or even if they went with a competitor you still want to remain in their radar in case something changes.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for most organizations will be in categorizing the various leads, past clients and general contacts that they have dealt with into different buckets and then deciding on the most relevant content to drip on each category.

An important thing to note here is that your website should always be the hub of all your communication & content.

 

How To Use Your Testimonials & Reviews To Turn Doubtful Prospects Into Long-term Clients


We’ve generally heard testimonials from open air preachers, tv commercials of the woman who used a particular detergent and it cleared some tough stains and even from friends who’ve used certain recipees that really turned around their meals. Most small and medium sized organizations will however shy away from using testimonials mainly because they aren’t aware of their power over their marketing and the effect it can leverage on your word of mouth and referral marketing.

The best testimonials are those that will explain in emotional detail the pains that the person went through in such detail so much so that other people who are going the same problem will be able to identify with that exact problem and mentally proclaim “hey that’s me”.

Most of us have had raving customers who have experienced our wonderful service and most of these happy customers will often tell their friends when they start looking for your particular service. Unfortunately most of these people also have a finite number of people in their network that they might tell, for instance they might only tell 10 people of your wonderful service or even that they simply know someone that they trust in your line of work. This is where officially gathering the testimonials works. A simple example for instance is where a church has had miracles in the past and the testimonies from those healed and so on are gathered and printed out as a small booklet or magazine which is then given to hundreds of potential believers – this little pamplet is then able to amplify your testiminial which may have been proclaimed once but is now being repeated everytime a person reads this.

Now imagine being able to do this for your school, church, ngo or company? In fact it’s already being done – people on social media are already mentioning you & your service whether in a good way or a bad way – but getting in control of the process will definately help you control the narrative and  amplify your marketing results.

So which testimonials work

The best testimonials are those that will explain in emotional detail the pains that the person went through in such detail so much so that other people who are going the same problem will be able to identify with that exact problem and mentally proclaim “hey that’s me”.

To be able to however elicit this reaction from the most number of people you will need to realize that our audience will also consist of different categories of people each with different problems – however the overal categories may be only three. For instance your church members might have people who are looking to resolve their “Lack of love”, “Lack of a job” and a “Lack of spiritual fulfilment” . What this means is that your testimonials will then follow a certain vein covering the three topic categories.

For instance your first testimonial may be “how i saved my marriage” the second maybe “how I got a job” and the third maybe “how I found a husband despite being blind” note that the third is covered under the first topic category but the title is still unique unto itself. This way you can now use 20 testimonials each unique but all covered under your 3 key topic categories.

If your testimonial can get them to that point, then you will have them ready to listen to the next part of the testimonial which is ‘What I did’ – that ties to you and your organization.

Another way to pick the testimonial categories is to simply look at what objections you might be getting during your selling process. for instance they keep saying that you might leave their project halfway through and not deliver – your tesimonial would therefore run alon gthe lines of – “I had doubts that he could deliver, but I gave him a shot and he surprised me with the end result.”

As you cab see testimonials dispel doublts, they speed up the sales process and also reveal problems people didnt even realize they had. Knowing  what you now know how do you then go about the process of collecting these testimonials? I’ll be sure to cover this in a future article.

The truth about the cost of websites


Many people looking to get a website will often be confused with why there is such a variance in the cost of websites. They will initially encounter web designers who propose to get their entire websites done for as little as 10k, all the way to several hundreds of thousands and often they won’t understand why this is so.

So how can you ensure that you get value for your money, avoid being duped and and eventually get a sucky website? There are 3 key factors that play a role in the pricing of websites:

1. Skill level of the web designer

It goes without saying that once you’ve found a web designer you will checkout their portfolio and make sure you like their works and design style. additionally you will want to checkout how long they’ve been doing this for and how many projects they’ve handled. Also are they really a web designer or a broker?

What you will find is that the longer their experience and the more projects they’ve handled the more likely they are to be more stable and are in this for the long-term and that this is a full time job for them, which is really what you want when you call on them a few years down the line. However with this stability and experience comes a more expensive person since not only are you more certain to get a great looking website based on your original concept but you are also likely to be happy with the overall service.

In addition to what is mentioned above an experienced designer can help you solve some real business problems using the website since they are also involved in their own marketing and sales efforts.

2. Level of service you require

I’ve met people who initially explained to their web designer that all they needed was something “very simple” or “just standard”. Now often they will say this during the initial negotiation phases so that they get the best deal. Additionally while they might get several quotes and then go with the cheapest usually they haven’t communicated the full scope of the project other than the usual standard features. The problem with this is that once the project is underway their very basic project suddenly becomes a high maintenance project with multiple changes and multiple people from the organization and even friends of the client that will start giving them their input and suddenly you start modifying the concept you wanted initially into something else, needless to say this now costs the designer their time and pretty soon (since this was a fixed scope project) they start loosing money and start dragging their heels and looking for their next project elsewhere. The best way to avoid this however is to ensure you know what you really want, look at other websites and get the concept you want then secondly involve your other stake holders during the initial meeting with the designer to ensure they all communicate the ideas they have across during this initial meeting. then finally you can agree on a good price for both you and the designer.

In certain cases you might not have the full scope of the project in mind or you might be representing a board or directors who for some reason don’t want to involve themselves in the creative meetings especially in the beginning. Whenever you have this the best solution as an organization is to simply pay on a per hour basis which will obviously be more expensive but its the cost of being able to execute different ideas from different stakeholders or to get the full scope of the project where a clear one doesn’t exist in the beginning.

Personally I like splitting the project into 4 stages. The 1st where we discuss with all stakeholders and get the concept. The 2nd stage where I produce the initial version of the website then the clients can see the initial design and give their input (again all stake holders present to ensure all ideas are captured). Then a 3rd stage where their changes are implemented and the rest of the website is done. Finally a 4th finetuning stage after the launch for an additional 30 days to iron out any additional issues.

3. Scope of work

Although I left this for last it’s also one of the most important things that will affect the cost of your website. Any experienced web designer has obviously been asked to design a Facebook knockoff with 2 or 3 special features and the real kicker was when they heard how much the person was willing to pay…now you know why some designers throw tantrums especially if they initially agreed to such a project unless it was all just for fun.

Scope of work for a website project will often involve detailing to the minute level what you want to see at the end of the day and not just some vague generality. It’s often best to open a similar website and point out a specific exact feature if you have one in mind than just mention it verbally in the passing. One of the things that I like to do when scoping out the project during the initial meeting is to not only open specific websites but to also sketch out the website and the different pages based on your concept. What I’ve found is that once everyone is looking at the screen and also once it’s on paper there is a higher level of clarity.

Hopefully this has opened your eyes to understanding the true cost of what goes into a website. If you are looking for more insight or have a few more questions please get in touch using the form below.

A Look at 3 Interesting Animated Side Ad Banners


First off, Most of these ad banners were either featured on related websites e.g. small business and tech websites for the tech products and others were mainly re-targeting ads I’d seen based on previous research, this means they didn’t need to provide a lot of descriptive information like for instance explaining what is QuickBooks and what does it do. These appeared on sidebars of other websites, mainly content websites like forbes.com. Most of these we swapped in mid 2016. 

The cleanest of the 3 below is obviously the QuickBooks banner, which highlights both the new offer “40% off” and also the call to action “buy now” since it’s sold online. The Headline they choose to highlight their benefit is also interesting to look at “Easy accounting for SMBs”. Although personally the only reason I would use QuickBooks could be 3 fold:  1.”The most Popular accounting software”  2.”used by over 1,000,000 companies” and 3.”The standard software tool for most accountants, hence lower costs managing your company’s books”. That said, as with all ads, they probably tested their strongest benefits and used the other benefits on the other slides of the animation.

The use of animated banners was obviously powerful in getting noticed quickly on the websites they were advertised on. 

An Amazing Sales Page Design Swipe


Recently I was checking out a sales page for an offer from Grant Cardone and unlike most sales pages you can tell he’s spending quite a bit to have the modern look and personalization which I should beleive is helping with increasing the conversions on the page.  I just had to swipe it for that reason alone. Unlike most sales pages the page isn’t all that long, they’ve cut out segments like explaining who this is etc probably because the page is being seen by people who already know who this is and who have been following his work, so the page is going straight for the close.