It was an honour to be in the Brandon Sun’s Business section covering our support of the 51st Brandon Home and Leisure Show as “Digital Media Sponsor” and basically the plan to put our money where our mouth is as far as what it is for a business to cover themselves on social media.
After putting together well over a 100 websites, as designers it’s easy to take for granted all the past experience and accumulated skills built up to do a good job – we do this every day, so it seems second nature! After standing back from a productive brainstorming / whiteboard session with clients, we can appreciate all the details to consider before designing a site. Here are just a few that might apply to any website!
We look forward to pulling content from most parts of the website here in some manner to allow visitors to “pick their path” to the information they came for, whether it be the latest blog post, event, or “call to action” to visit an important page some might miss in the navigation. Some will be new visitors, and some will be return visitors looking for only recent updates – don’t put up barriers to either!
There will be at least two screens for most blogs – a page listing excerpts of all blogs up to a point, and a page to show the full version of a single blog post beyond the excerpt. We can’t forget blog posts will fall into archives based on years and months and even categories.
Should we list in a full calendar view or just a bullet list of events? Should there be full descriptions of the events or just dates and titles? What will we be able to display if we show the full details of an event? Will the event calendar be print friendly?
Will the client be taking photos of events, etc.? They will need to be able to upload images with as little worry as possible as far as resizing images – we aim to make things as “set it and forget it” as possible!
As much as we hope visitors will share content, it doesn’t happen as much as you’d like, but that is no reason to ignore social sharing. If anyone is going to share content, it will be the client, so we have to keep in mind what we’ll be doing to keep things “share friendly”! In this case it will most likely be related to the blog since the blog will have the most current promotions of activity. A good plan will be to post social sharing buttons at the top of each blog post, not necessarily for visitors to share content, but for the site owners to use themselves to quickly share content. We will create buttons for their preferred social networks ahead of time (take a look at our page! We do that too!).
The client loves to use search functions on their favourite sites – so why not this one? We use WordPress as our #1 content management software and has a great native search function, but this time we plan on investigating advanced functions like search suggestions based on what you are typing (like when you start typing in Google search).
We discussed how a website should answer common questions you receive all the time, which is especially helpful over the phone if you can refer to the website as you talk or if you aren’t in the position for a conversation at that moment, or you need to email a link rather than email a full response. That being said, a contact page can help answer YOUR common questions when visitors make first contact. In this case we’ll add extra fields to the contact form to find out simple information beyond Name and Email that can put a totally different (and productive) spin on the response.
All of the above just scratches the surface. By this point we are already thinking about SEO, what we might need to code (simple or difficult), how friendly certain things will be on smart phones, as well as the overall feel of the site – in this case it’ll be a very information driven with information creeping “above the fold” on the homepage, like a news site, rather than a large feature image (though we might be able to work both in together!).
Do you have a website project in mind? Don’t know where to start? Give us a call or email and lets get planning!
Actually, this isn’t a new scam – a quick Google search will show it’s been around for awhile. We opened ours today and had a great laugh (we’ve posted the full fake invoice below). You might not find it as funny, but if you read no further, feel free to take it easy.
SCAM ALERT: Full DirectPages411 Fake Invoice
This scam from “DirectPages411” lists as originating from “PO Box 463 Montreal, QC H2Y 3H3”, but seems to reach both US and Canadians alike. We find these type of scams are probably aimed at the front line folks in your business – the letter is opened, it says invoice, toss it on the bill pile and hopefully it’ll make it’s way through. Of course, it might scare the pants off the uninitiated and plays on popular web service names like “411.ca” (https://411.ca/pages/fraud). The term “411” might ring enough of a bell that a lot might give it a pass.
Once you’ve put your business online, you might find yourself up against all kinds of scams. The most common for us and our clients is the old “Domain Registery of Canada” scam detailed in a past blog post right here. That scam walks a legal grey line. Its pretends to be a domain renewal, however, buried in the text of the scam states “this is not a bill”. Anyone who falls for this fake domain renewal invoice can find themselves transferring their domain to the scammers and having to renew it annually at inflated rates. Sending a payment to this organization will result in phone calls from them to coordinate transfer of your domain name to their management. The good news is you can cut off communication right away, keep your domain name, and learn a hard lesson. The bad news is you’ll probably lose your payment, but consider yourself lucky!
Bottom line: read your mail, research anything fishy (phish-y), and don’t send money unless it’s verified! And like we tell our clients – if it’s related to your website or online presence, ASK US FIRST!
For business, not only can Facebook help you focus on Facebook users by targeting user demographics, it also tracks based on stats pulled from users who remain logged into their mobile Facebook app. When was the last time you logged out of your app? It would defeat the ease of use if you logged out every time you used it, so be certain, you are being tracked! Disturbing to some, interesting to business, below is a graphic example of one of those stats – who is literally physically passing by your door, and in this case, our door!
Find the Age, Gender and Home Location within 165 feet of your business!
Finding Local Insights today might not be a new feature, but it’s definitely interesting. As a business, it’s a great idea to take a peek at your various third party online presences / services you might have online. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and services Google Analytics (to name a few) consistently add and improve features that can have an impact on how you do things. The “Insights” section of your Facebook Business Manager is where you can find all your Business Page stats and how you can develop your FB marketing strategy.
We love finding ways to “connect the dots” between all the various services used to promote business online. We are just like you, we don’t want to waste precious time on a marketing avenue on a dead end. Keep an eye here as we connect those dots!
Facebook has a feature you might have missed on your Business Page – Services. A Services tab has been around for awhile, but what we really like is the ability to bring your features to the front, right near the top of your page before posts. We think, just like on the home page of a website, folks want to know what you do ASAP, then delve deeper, or if they are truly motivated, they might see a your service and call right away to find out more.
To get started, click the “Services” tab on your page (I SHOULD be under your feature photo). If you don’t have any services already, you’ll see a prompt to add new services, like below:
Next you’ll be confronted with a simple pop up. What we like the best is the ability to skip listing your price (but of course you can) but you can replace a price with a text message. Websites are too complex to list a package prices (most of the time), so we invite the client to ask for a quote. Don’t forget to upload an image as well! We were lucky enough to have icons that fit perfectly and continued our brand.
Add your details, and don’t forget the photos! Photos sell!
Keep adding as many services as you like and you’ll get something like this!
If you need help with your Facebook page, we can help you set it up or even manage it day to day! Call us today!
In writing our post helping you “Get Paid Online“, we signed up for “Square” – another service helping you accept credit card payment much like PayPal. We received our “Square Reader” and plan on doing a box opening and operation video. If the results are underwhelming we’ll do a detailed blog post 🙂 But be patient, our iPhone 4 is ANCIENT and I’m due for a new one that will likely be required to support the Square software! More on the Square Reader in the coming weeks!
As of July 5th, 2016, the Canadian public and business are facing a mail strike in three days. Small businesses will lose as they see cheques stop arriving at their door, but the public also loses as they see the prospect of businesses using alternate, more expensive methods of delivery like UPS or FedEx, and passing costs on to their clientele. While we can’t help get your packages delivered, we can tell you there are ways for small business to bring in their money! There are AFFORDABLE alternatives to cheque payments, and strike or no strike, it’s still great to provide alternatives for payments to your customers, and we’ll show you a few examples!
The first is our current favourite – PayPal. Years everyone asked if it was secure or if you needed a PayPal account to use it. Both are non-issues nowadays. PayPal is secure, and though it was true you needed an account in the early days, that is no longer the case. The good news is the PayPal name and reputation is ingrained in the public psyche as the “go to” for online payments, m. Most only worry about their online transactions when they AREN’T handled through PayPal. You can probably associate PayPal’s success with the success of Ebay, both of which fall under basically the same ownership.
PayPal offers many ways for small biz to get paid, but the best are “self serve” solutions that put your clients in control, and options for you to run cards through manually on their behalf.
Reaxion Graphics online payment page.
One client option is an option you can find right on our own website at https://www.reaxiongraphics.com/payments/ – we’ve been using this for nearly 7 years. It does involve third party programming not found on PayPal’s website, but clients can go to that page, enter their invoice information, and be forwarded to PayPal.com to complete their payment with or without a PayPal account (though having an account will make transactions faster without having to enter credit card and personal details already provided by the user’s PayPal account). Configuring a solution like this to accept payments on your website is easily setup by your website provider (feel free to ask us!). Good news is the payment process is easy for everyone, though PayPal does take 2.9%, but there is also no credit card terminal fee and maintaining a PayPal account is also free. That means even if you get a credit card payment once a year, the only cost is the percentage PayPal takes, so why not always offer that option? Signing up and attaching your bank to retrieve your money is easy, but a matter for a future post! It should also be mentioned you don’t have to have a payment page to get paid, you can send invoices or payment requests through PayPal that lead to the same end.
Another PayPal option is their “Virtual Terminal” that allows you to key in a client’s card at the same 2.9% transaction rate, which is THE BEST when you have a client on the phone waving money at you! The only downside is a fee of about 3.1% + $0.30 per transaction + a montly fee of $35, but the fees do go down as you use it more per month.
Square sends a free “swiper” for transactions.
Here is a new one to us (but not to others), however, it could be an upcoming new favourite – Square. Their shtick is to send you a free card swiper to attached to your smart phone, and they process payments at a lower cost than Paypal at 2.65% or allow you to key in card numbers at 3.4% + 15¢ per transaction. In considering this article we did the signup in less than 10 minutes, but be warned, there will be a few questions about your personal credit history to verify you (who gave you a car loan in 2014, did you open this credit account in 2014, etc.), but the clincher is if you fail that verification test they won’t send you a swiper, they’ll only allow you to key in card numbers.
Another awesome suggestion for payments is to use “INTERAC e-Transfer” payments. These are payments directly from your client’s banking institution to yours. There is no transaction free for you, only the sender, which ranges between free and $1.50. We encourage this form of payment, since like many businesses, we pay hundreds of dollars in transaction fees otherwise, but it is also a good courtesy to offer clients permission to minus their transaction fee from their payment.
So what’s the best choice? Obviously the INTERAC option is the best with it’s low cost. Though we can’t vouche for “Square” since we are a new signup, their fees do top them slightly over PayPal, but here is the catch 22 – as we look at a mail strike you will have a bad time receiving your free swiper in the mail! So if you are in a time crunch and want to hedge your bets, PayPal is the winner in this short term crisis!
Canada Post is having a tough enough time as it is right now without the strike, and businesses forced to do business other ways will continue to hurt Canada Post, but businesses have to pay the bills too and (un)lucky for us, they already get paid online! We’ll see how long this strike goes. Hopefully it will be averted before it even starts, but it doesn’t look that way. It will be interesting to see if this will turn out to be one of those watershed moments that really turn the tide even further away from traditional postal service.
Questions? Let us know! Most of our knowledge is based on first hand experience and experience helping our clients! We will be posting more in depth on these payment methods in the future!
Things are getting real in the area of mobile friendly websites (websites made to work on your cell phone or tablet without “pinching and zooming – they fit nicely).
Much like the growing pains we went through in the early 2000’s where websites were “the thing to do” but soon became the thing “you have to do”, we are currently about ¾ the way through a similar journey in the realm of how websites relate to the mobile Internet revolution.
I won’t look up when the big tech blogs marked the beginning of the mobile phenomenon, but in our smaller market of 50,000 people, mobile friendly websites started to become a question in consultations around 2012, and early adopters were on board in 2013. We decided to make it an option in 2014 with most new sites, big or small, going mobile friendly (we still give the option to opt out for budget). I’ll say it right here, if you don’t develop your new site mobile friendly right off the hop, it’s like the new car that depreciates the moment it leaves the lot, you’ve got last year’s website right now.
Google Loves Mobile Friendly
That’s right – Google loves mobile friendly. Google also loves its mobile users (anyone that searches from a mobile device) because they know that mobile users are overtaking desktop computer users online, and that means YOUR users too! Google, believe it or not, cares about user experience and serving content that works best for the user, and that also means content that works best on the user’s device. Google cares SO MUCH that they are about to lay the smack down on websites that are not mobile friendly with a new ranking algorithm that penalizes websites that aren’t mobile friendly. Check out the example below. Doing a search for “Brandon Websites” first on a desktop computer, then iPhone, check out the ranking difference in each based on it’s mobile browsing friendliness!
OK, so the rank change is one spot, but realize the new Google algorithm hasn’t taken place yet – we have no idea what sort of damage is in store. Here’s the cuckoo in the coalmine, otherwise known as an email directly from Google to people like us about the antiquated websites we manage for some of our clients, which in no uncertain terms states “These pages will not be seen as mobile-friendly by Google Search, and will therefore be displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users.”
So what’s the deal? Google has been nice for the last couple of years but has gotten to the point of not fooling around when it comes to mobile search rankings and anyone clinging to the idea mobile web isn’t the thing you have to do. In my opinion, if you are first for a search term with little competition (i.e. you have a niche), you’ll probably stay there, but if you are at the bottom of page one and on the slippery slope to page two, this news should make you a bit clammy. The smart money is to go mobile and pop up ahead of everyone else driving last year’s model.