Archive for Web Design

Take A Fresh Look At The Home Page Of Your Website Through A New Filter

The real voyage in discovery is not seeking new lands,
but seeing with new eyes.” ~ Marcel Proust

New Eyes Create New Opportunities
Social Media and our new online world of inter-connectivity integrates our personal and professional lives whether we like it or not. I love it! Do you?

The merging of our work and play, online and offline worlds in the 21st century is a new fascinating choreography for many.

We know how to build relationships with our prospects and clients offline. How do we do that successfully online without stepping on toes? How do we do that in the Social Media territories of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and now Google+? What online adventures are open to you now if you see with new eyes ? From a practical point of view, have you looked at your online flagship – your home page – with new filters?

At one level, by embracing the new online technologies, I’ve been able to see and share events and the intimacies of marketing strategies in the making and bold new business success plans with colleagues and clients on different continents from San Diego, California to Auckland, New Zealand. This was just not possible before in the age of the fax machine and telephone. I didn’t need to travel to new lands physically. I did need to change my routine to fit in with the timezones of my clients or the events. I discovered the vast new landscape of opportunities for web entrepreneurs from the comfort of my coastal home office.

This visual insight (there’s a full size version below) with words by Marcel Proust reminds us of another opportunities at deeper levels – each of us in a different way. Doubt the French novelist had any inkling of the new galaxy of the Internet when he penned this wisdom around the early 1900s. Or the multiple meanings his words have in the 21st century. His creative tools were very different to the many mediums available now to express ourselves from YouTube to the avalanche of new Smartphone apps from tweeting to vlogging (video blogging).

When in my photographer mode, I often explore the digital wizardry of the creative filters whilst working in Photoshop. I’m sure you’ve noticed too, how adding a filter can completely change a photograph or subtly enhance an aspect. What filters do I see my world through? What filters do you see your world though?

What happens when you try a new filter?

New Eyes Create New Opportunities

At a practical level – take a fresh look at the home page of your website through the filter of your prospect:

Is the value you are offering crystal clear and how your visitor will benefit?

What do you see first? Is that your most important message?

Is your call to action compelling and prominent?

Is your personality reflected in your choice of colors, visuals, font and words?

Is it easy to feel a connection to you (and you team)? Is there a photo of you? Is your name prominent?

Is it easy to reach you? Are their links to your contact form and Social Media sites?

Through our days and nights of work and play, online and offline, inner and outer journeys we are all seeking at multiple levels. I invite you to watch what happens when you try a new filter! Bon voyage! Send us a “postcard” via the comments.

About Tina Cook

Web Designer, Social Media and Online Marketing
Coach. Be more profitable online with a high performing website designed to reflect your special talents and personality.
Increase your income with rock solid marketing strategies
and the power of social media and online video.

Create a Website your Visitors and Prospects Will Find Useful (and Attractive)

Create a Website your Visitors and Prospects Will Find Useful (and Attractive)-TinaCook.tvThe huge benefits of creating a website that is useful and just-what-your-prospects-are-looking-for seem so obvious yet it’s often not the first priority of most busy small business owners and entrepreneurs. As their attention may not be on the ever-changing online trends, they need to rely on savvy web designers and online marketing consultants to give them the top advice to ensure they take full advantage of the opportunities online. Often the shifts are small and subtle and simple. But if you aren’t watching the ball you’ll miss the catch.

Some may also still be attached to the past when websites were merely online brochures or were all about you rather than how best to serve your prospects and clients. Occasionally web designers get carried away with what they love the most – the design – yes we have all been guilty of giving too much attention to the look instead of prioritizing the content and our web surfer’s needs and expectations.

So how do we find a successful mix of being visually attractive and incredibly relevant?

Jump into the shoes of you web surfing prospect -Tinacook.tv

The first gear shift to make is to jump into the shoes of your web surfing prospect and think like your client or customer-to-be.

Ask yourself:

“When my prospect goes to Google what do they type in the search box?”

“What information are they looking for?”

Focus your content on the needs of the clients and customers you wish to attract and serve.

Here’s some ideas to help you follow the footprints of your target market and find the clues to make your content relevant:

Tune into their wavelength-TinaCook.tv

1. Listen

Tune into their wavelength. When you hear the same question a few times from your customers – a beep, beep, beep should go off! Write the question down. It’s a fabulous opportunity for you to get writing and answer in your next blog post. Many more of your prospects will have the same question.

Or if they are looking for a resource, add it to your resource page.

For example, my clients asked what the advantages were of choosing WordPress for their website so I wrote a post on that exact topic.

Most of the entrepreneurs I serve haven’t mastered PhotoShop so I researched free photo editors for them and added this resource to the “Tools” section of my website. There are so many amazing resources online and many are free. You can assist your customers by testing them out and finding the ones that work the best. This will save them valuable time and they will really appreciate you.

Ask your visitors what they need help with the most-TinaCook.tv2. Ask

Set up a poll or a survey on your website and ask your visitors what they need help with the most?

There are WordPress plugins that make setting up a poll on your site a breeze. One I like is WP-Polls.

Set up a poll or a survey on your website-TinaCook.tv

The online survey service SurveyMonkey (there are others) has a free version to you can try out. This is very powerful and useful for more detailed surveys and the results are collated in a format that is easy to assess. You can also embed the survey on your website which is always a better option than taking your visitor off your site.

People are searching online for solutions and information 24/7. Create a website that helps the people you wish to serve solve their problems and you will be rewarded with loyal clients (not to mention more tweets and likes) – all leading to increased business for you.

Do you have a story to share in the comments of how you heard your clients’ questions and acted?

About Tina Cook

Web Designer, Social Media and Online Marketing
Coach. Be more profitable online with a high performing website designed to reflect your special talents and personality.
Increase your income with rock solid marketing strategies
and the power of social media and online video.

The Advantages of Choosing WordPress for Your Website

WordPress is King -TinaCook.tvWordPress rules as the king of the blogging platforms and content management systems! It’s the “most popular and fastest growing publishing platform on the web” confirms CrunchBase. Of the world’s top 100 blogs in Technorati’s index, a mighty 50% use WordPress and no other platform is a close second. These were the findings of a study by Pingdom completed earlier this year. Their graphic displays more of their results:

Pingdom's graphic showing WordPress is King of the Tip 100 blogs

In case you aren’t aware, there is WordPress.com which is hosted and WordPress.org which is self-hosted. You definitely want to be self-hosting your website using WordPress.org.

The advantages of using WordPress.org as your publishing platform are many:

1. Easy

It’s so easy to publish and update your content. (If you can use MS Word, you can use WordPress.) The dashboard and visual editor are very intuitive. Your blog can be integrated into your site plus it’s the best blogging solution with an advanced CMS (Content Management System).

There’s no need to learn HTML or code.

If you think of the olden days when you had to master HTML or complex programs to publish websites online, like the olden days when all meals were prepared from scratch. (Hmm, childhood memories of whiffs of freshly baked shortbread!) In those days you had to master many skills, like making your own pastry. Remember your mother or granny kneading the ingredients? Today you can buy ready-made pastry.

Packaged Pastry - The Advantages of Choosing WordPress for Your Website - TinaCook.t

A white sauce was cleverly created from just the right amount of butter, flour and milk over just the right amount of heat. Chips came from potatoes, not a frozen packet.

Chips Packet - The Advantages of Choosing WordPress for Your Website - TinaCook.tv

Very few people make their own white sauce, chips or pastry today, we buy these foods pre-packaged to save time and to make our lives easier. That’s similar to WordPress, many of the ingredients that make up the functionality of this powerful system come pre-packaged in the form of themes, widgets, plugins to save you time and to make your online life easier. And WordPress updates bring more cool and time-saving features – like the couple of clicks to create the menu for your navigation bar or being able to re-size your images.

You don’t need to be a master cook or web master to have a WordPress website.

2. It’s Free

The free open source, vast worldwide community powering WordPress continually improves the software making it more secure, adding more functionality and coolness. You’ll never be charged when you reach a certain size, it gives you access to its code and this massive open community project will continue to grow and outlive us all.

3. Good for SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Search Engine Optimization is such a buzz word and rightly so – it’s vital that your website is found online. Many have tried to out smart Google’s algorithms and Google keeps adding checks to stop the gaming of their system of selecting which posts or pages reach the top of the search. There are multiple good strategies to improve your ranking in the search. One of the best practices is to post relevant and engaging content for your target market regularly. WordPress makes this very easy to do in many ways.

4. Flexible

You can update your website from any computer, anywhere in the world and multiple users can work on your site simultaneously. (But not on the same post or page simultaneously though WordPress warns you.)

5. Complete Control

You have complete control of your website. Other blogging platforms may place adverts on your site, may not allow you to use your site for commercial purposes and could be terminated (or be taken over.)

6. Integrate with Social Media

Thanks to the ingenuity of many developers, it is very easy to integrate your Social Media with your WordPress website and spread your marketing message further than was ever possible previously. Plus engage and talk to your visitors, prospects and customers and clients.

7. Thriving Community

There’s a thriving community of WordPress developers creating themes, free or Premium (paid for) which can be customized to enhance your branding. I use Premium themes developed by iThemes because they are totally flexible and excellent.

8. Extensive Functionality

Your website is now your business center.

Plugins make your website work for you. The plugins, free or Premium, add extensive functionality to your site. (There’s a plugin for that!) From increasing your SEO (Search Engine Optimization), to adding security features, to adding audio, a poll, to making it simple to create slideshows or photo galleries, shopping carts, forums, maps, and more.

9. Internet Compliant

WordPress adheres to all the Web Standards and keeps your website Internet compliant.

Do you use WordPress for your site? Love to hear your comments or questions.

About Tina Cook

Web Designer, Social Media and Online Marketing
Coach. Be more profitable online with a high performing website designed to reflect your special talents and personality.
Increase your income with rock solid marketing strategies
and the power of social media and online video.