The Top 20 Reasons Your Business Needs Web Development

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I find still hard to believe that many businesses still done have a strong web presence. Especially when it is the single most cost effective marketing tool you can, if used properly, can grow your business rapidly. Where can nearly 5+ billion people get instant access to your company with just one search? Here are some things to consider as to why you need ongoing web development in your business:


Online Strategy 101: Begin With The End In Mind!


The most important part of the web design process is the very beginning. The initial stage of a design project is where you decide what your priorities are and what the site is supposed to do. Developing these priorities and the plan for moving forward is usually known as strategy.

Strategy begins before a web design shop does anything. It should start with your internal staff who will be on the project brainstorming notes on both your current website (including the features you want to keep and those you don’t) and your new one (what should it include?).

Web strategy doesn’t require fancy documentation or snazzy presentations. The best web strategies often start with a piece of paper and a pen. All ideas are valid at this point, and putting them into a formalized business document can make them feel concrete and final. So just write things down.

Diagrams are also really useful. Examine your online sales process, or the one you hope to have. Make a flowchart of how you think the customer experience should ideally go on your new site. Start with their initial visit to your site and take it all the way through the completion of their purchase.

What you’re looking to create is a content mission. What functions should your website serve? What problem or problems should it solve? These questions should be considered not only from the viewpoint of your own company, but also from that of your consumer.

Once you’ve got your strategy down, then it’s time to bring in your web design firm. They will be able to quickly and easily digest your strategy into a set of recommendations and a development plan that meets your needs.

Our Po!nt: Taking the time to plan your online presence will make the end result all that more effective.

Your Homemade Website Isn’t Cutting It Anymore

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It’s hard to believe that in 2011 Americans spent $200 billion online and projected that total would rise to $327 billion by 2016. Mainly because of the convenience and in large part because the web makes it easy to compare companies and prices.  The opportunity for retailers is huge no matter your size.  The fact remains that you’re not going to get your share of the pie with a DIY website.

A recent report from Forrester Research confirmed what just about everybody in business already knew: Americans are buying online and they are buying a lot.

Among the report’s interesting findings:

  • 53 percent of Americans made an online purchase in 2011.
  • 58 percent are expected to make an online purchase in 2016.
  • People believe they get the best deals when shopping online.
  • Tablet devices like the iPad have spurred online impulse buying.

If just these sort stats don’t make you want to reevaluate your e-commerce efforts—and perhaps plan a redesign of your website, they should.

An attractive, well-organized website, with a back-end that functions seamlessly and a shopping cart that makes the purchasing process as easy and intuitive as possible will do amazing things for your bottom line.

Ten years ago, building a quality e-commerce website was a highly expensive proposition. You had to hire an outside firm to do it. Today, businesses can use any number of open-source platforms to build a complex, yet relatively inexpensive e-commerce site.

But just because you can do it yourself, should you?

I say no. It’s too critical to your business not to get right. Granted, I work at a Web design firm, but hear me out.

These cookie-cutter websites that people are peddling for $1000 or less may be fine for some kid with a blog or a pizza parlor looking to put their menu and phone number online, but for most businesses, they just look cheesy.

Here’s the thing about cheap, template-driven websites: They look like every other cheap website out there. And that cheapens your brand. It makes you look like you don’t take your marketing and messaging seriously.

Custom designs are always going to cost more but the result is something you’ll never get from a generic template: a site that’s been designed to drive real business for you. That requires a team of people including an information architect, a designer, a front-end coder, a back-end developer, a quality assurance expert, and a project manager to coordinate all of the work.

But first, you must find the right design team. Look for one that understands your business and how to best promote your business online. When you are interviewing potential designers, make sure they can point to specific case studies of successful projects they have completed for other clients.

The design process should always start with a planning phase: That’s when your designer should demonstrate an understanding of your business, the competitive landscape, and the goals for the project.

This is followed by the design stage, where your team will map out the look and feel of the site and lay out the navigation and functionality requirements.

Finally, after all of the site specs are agreed upon, the front and back-end coding will begin. At this stage, the quality assurance process tests the site’s functionality across a variety of browsers.

It’s not a fast or cheap process. (And, by the way, it doesn’t end there: The next step involves driving traffic to it with sound marketing strategies.)

If want to be in business, then you need to be online. But if you’re doing a bad job of it online, you have no business being in business in the first place.

5 Facebook Marketing Essentials

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Facebook UpdatesHere are 5 Facebook marketing tips you should be sure you have already done to your Facebook Page in order for you to continue to be relevant on the web and to have a Social Media presence that drives for traffic to your site:

The Cover Image
You will notice that the Cover Image now dominates your Facebook page!

From a design standpoint this 851 x 315 pixel image (strange dimensions – must have been a programmer that determined this) so dominates the design of the page that you need to make sure you use this space effectively. There are some rules that Facebook will enforce, such as no calls to action, or sales and no references to “Like” or other Facebook terms.

You will also have the ability to tuck a profile kind of square image (180 x 180) into the cover. The sizes and position of these images are fixed but you can get pretty creative with this space. The main bit of advice is to get an image that says a lot about what your brand is all about.

The About Box
The About tag offers a nice branding opportunity for your companyDown below the Cover Image is the About tab. This box links to the traditional about page that has always existed. However, you now have the ability to dictate what show up on your Facebook homepage in this box.

Edit your about settings to dictate what shows on the about tab
If you’re set up as a local business in your Facebook About settings then the default for the About box is your address and phone. This may be fine, but if you would rather have a tagline and link to your website, then edit your About settings. Keep the text short, about 90 characters including web address, so that it doesn’t fall off the page.

Tab Calls to Action
Create custom calls to action for your other pages and apps
To the right of the About box you’ll see images for all of your current pages and apps or what used to be called tabs. You can now have 12 apps and pages listed and the first four will show up on this bar.

Here’s the cool trick for this one. Now you get to create images for these apps instead of simply using the default app or page images. So now if you want to send someone to a page to grab a free eBook you can use an image to create a call to action. You simply open the page and hit edit settings and then upload a 111 x 74 pixel image that you want to represent your page. You can rearrange the order of the tabs to make the four most important stand out.

The Pin
You can pin an item to the top of your page for 7 days
Another way to bring focus to something you are marketing is to pin a story or item to the top of the page. As the admin you can pin a story for up to 7 days and will appear as your top story.

To pin an item you simply click on the edit button to the top right of a story and hit Pin to Top.

The Star
When you star or highlight an item it spreads across both columns
Facebook lines the posts and updates on your page up in two columns. If you want to bring special emphasis to an important post or highlight a product launch you can hit the star in the upper right corner of the update to highlight it.

This makes the post spread across the page and brings special emphasis to it.
Make sure that you update these features today – or have us do it for you! We’ve seen a traffic spike from Facebook due to some of these more marketing friendly little tweaks.

In the end though it’s still about the content. Make sure you continue to invest in the wall and creating visually and mentally stimulating content.