6 advantages of a WordPress theme for your small business website

6 advantages of a WordPress theme for your small business website

This has been one of the big factors in why WordPress runs on millions of websites and is the most popular choice for self-hosted websites.

Using customisable themes isn’t a new thing but with cleaner, simpler designs for mobile they make a compelling argument over a custom website.  Of course, they are not for every business  There might still be a need for custom website (a design built entirely from scratch) but for those who want a fast and cost-effective solution, using themed templates are the way to go.

As a small business owner, opting to use a template might be more beneficial. What are the benefits though and what might you get for your money?

We are making the assumption here that the installing, modifying and launching of a new small business website is an area requiring outside assistance.  If you have these skills already, good news as you won’t need as much outside help.  If you do get stuck, our support team are ready to help

1. WordPress themes can be considerably less expensive than custom websites

Using themed templates to create a website is a more cost effective option for many sites.  It takes less time to set-up and you don’t need to hire designers to create the overall look for desktop and mobile.. Themes also often come with their own ready-made features that you can use to fit your business.  This means you might not need to purchase anything else unless you want to add another feature to your website.

But not always.  Choosing the wrong theme or extensively modifying a theme will increase the time and costs to build.  Additional code will introduce additional bugs and require additional testing.  Sometimes this can end up being more expensive than a custom site from the start.  Write down your objectives for the site and ensure your developer or partner is offering the right advice based on time = money.  There is a sweet spot that avoids “wheel reinvention” and still provides the flexibility to shape the site to fit your needs.

2. Quicker to get going

Building a website, for the most part, is a long process. Design needs to be discussed. Features need to be coded and added in. Basically, you create something from nothing and it doesn’t happen overnight. It can take many weeks / months to complete an entire website.  In it’s simplest form, with a prebuilt theme, you can just download the theme you want, install it, and change certain elements like images and some colours.

3. Lots of choice

There are thousands upon thousands of themes that you can choose from. And while you might run the risk of seeing a website that uses a similar template to yours, it doesn’t really matter. This is because you can customise it. You can change colours or the order of items in your navigation bar.  You can add your own images or add more pages.  The point is, you can personalise your website to suit your needs and your branding. Choosing a theme relevant to your business makes things easier but some of the most creative sites will be using a theme originally designed for another purpose.

Again – it all depends on how much time you want to spend (or pay someone else) to replace the stock images, colours, typography and layouts and make the site personal to your business.

4. SEO and mobile is generally built into the design

Modern designs often have features built into them that optimise your website for search engines. This means that you don’t need to worry about the design elements that search engines use to help your site appear in web searches.  Themes can help your site to meet SEO standards.

5. Additional features are often included

WordPress themes can come with many built-in features to to help you promote your services, highlight content, get in touch or maybe even a few administrator options that make changing some elements of the site easier. Built in features remove the need for adding plug-ins, both removing additional complexity and optimising performance.

6. Updates Keep Your Site Functional

If you’ve purchased a WordPress theme from a reputable source, chances are, you’ll have free updates to keep you site secure and up to date. Note that whenever WordPress updates and decides to make changes, it might cause some problems to your theme. Updates from your theme developers are often fixes to resolve compatibility issues with WordPress or to further improve the performance of the theme.  So be safe be sure to only use themes that are being actively developed, have a large install base and are marked as compatible with your version of WordPress.

So what are the cons?

  • Its NEVER as easy as the theme developer makes out to recreate the sample site.  Even our developers struggle at times to get features working and fix issues –  with mobile especially
  • You need to be both experienced in managing WordPress and have patience.  Expect that some things will be a compromise and you will spend many hours googling if you are not a web developer
  • You spend too much time “tweaking” to make it look your own
  • ….or not enough and your business site looks just like your competition

WordPress themes can be a great choice and are worth exploring if you are looking to refresh your site of get something new built quickly. Tomorrow we’ll tell you why custom design may not be the best option for you.

Want to talk more? Don’t hesitate to send us a message or click on the chat icon if you have any enquiries.

How to make a WordPress small business website

How to make a WordPress small business website

Being the world’s most popular website content management system (CMS),  many small businesses use WordPress as their go-to platform for their website.  The power of plugins and open-source licencing has created a vast and rich ecosystem to allow for almost anything to be easily built.

In this short article, we’ll go through essentials of what you need to know to create a WordPress small business website.

 

What is WordPress?

WordPress is an open-source content management system that allows you to create and manage your website online.  It’s easy to use and offers an impressive library of plug-ins that add functionality to the websites being created.  From simple blogs to full-blown e-commerce sites, any scenario you can think of could be built using a combination of plugins and custom development.

 

Name your website and choose your hosting

WordPress needs to be hosted and installed on a server for it work. Now is a good time to search for reliable web hosting services.  This is an area it’s best to pay a little bit more for – slow hosting will kill your site.  We use and recommend SiteGround.

 

Build your WordPress small business website using custom design or a pre-built theme?

Once you’ve chosen a web hosting service, the next thing to do is start building your website.  You can create the website from scratch (custom design) or you can use many of themes for WordPress.

If you have no coding knowledge, you can hire a web designer / developer to create the site for you.  As a bespoke offering this can take a while and prices may vary depending on the complexity of your site and its design.

If you opt to use themes, you can download and install it in less than an hour and you’ll have a working website. However, it’s always best to edit the theme you just installed to give it a little personal flair – or hire a developer to do this for you.

 

Extend your website’s functionality by adding plugins

Plugins are what make WordPress websites work efficiently. There are plugins that help with loading speeds. Some help you create contact forms. Other plugins add new functions to your website.

Installing a plugin is very easy. You can search for plugins within WordPress itself and install from there.

Quick tip: Keep a list of features you want your website to have. Use that to guide you on your plugin search.

 

What’s next?

At this stage, you already have a working website but it’s far from finished. In fact, it’s just the beginning.  You need to manage the site and its plugins, make sure that it is updated regularly.  WordPress security is dependant on you keeping your site updated.   Think about SEO and content to increase traffic, too.

Tomorrow we’ll talk more about using WordPress themes to create your small business website.

Small Business Website Problems and How To Fix Them

Small Business Website Problems and How To Fix Them

As a small business owner, your website is one of the essential tools you can use to promote and showcase your products.  It is an effective way of engaging your clients through the content you post in its pages. You can use it to tell your story and what your company is all about. Ultimately, it helps build and strengthen connections between you and current and future clients. More often than not though, small business owners tend to fail at managing and maintaining their websites. These can have a negative impact on your brand and could lead to you losing customers instead.

In this post, we will talk about some common small business website problems and how you can fix them.

 

1. Outdated and Poor Design

 

Website design has been constantly evolving since internet use boomed in the 90s. The introduction of mobile internet devices such as internet capable feature phones, smartphones, and tablets have changed the way sites are structured too. While most small business owners realise the importance of investing in a website to establish a web presence, design maintenance isn’t one of their priorities. Some websites are not optimised to be viewed in different devices. Keep in mind, a website viewed on a desktop or a laptop may look completely wrong on mobile. Consequently, old websites that have not been updated in ages will start to look clunky when compared to updated sites with modern designs. These will not only look bad but will be full or problems due to incompatibilities too.

Having an outdated website design or an unresponsive site doesn’t build confidence. In fact, it ruins your chances of converting your leads into sales.

Fix:

If your website has not had a change in more than a few years, you’re probably due for a design update. Customers need a mobile site that is as easy to use as the desktop version.  Google search prefers  websites that are mobile-friendly and the tech giant considers it a requirement if you want your site to come in search results.

A simple, clean responsive design that looks great on different devices is required.  This needn’t be expensive and in the age of mobile, simple designs are preferred. 

 

2. Forms That Don’t Work

 

So, you have a good design and everything looks cool on a PC and a smartphone. Someone wants to enquire about your products and services but your contact form just refuses to work. What happens now? Obviously, your potential customers might just go away.

Having fully functional forms provide your site visitors the opportunity to fulfil their own needs. Are they curious? Are they making a purchase? Forms help the client interact with your site and your business.  At this stage, you’ve already hooked them in. The only thing left to do is for you to give stellar support. Go the extra mile by making sure your forms are working and they are safe.

Fix:

Forms that don’t work may be due to many things. Some parts of the code might have been edited or deleted altogether. It might be a server issue. Or, something just changed and updated and it messed up your set-up. If you’re using a plug-in, this might be the case. An update could generate compatibility issues and render the forms useless. If you don’t have the confidence or the skill to go look into it yourself, you can have an expert investigate. Always consult with someone who has knowledge in these things. You might do more harm than good if you try to fix it yourself.

Another tip is to always make sure that the forms you use are secure if you plan to get information through fields that people can fill in with their information. Having a secure connection for financial transactions and a confidentiality clause or terms of agreement can make your site visitors feel at ease.

 

3. Poor SEO

 

Who wouldn’t want more visitors to their websites? Many small business website owners complain about their site not attracting enough visitors. The question is whether they’ve made efforts to make their website discoverable on the internet. 

An effective marketing campaign might be able to boost visits to a page but it can cost more in the long term. The quickest way to find things in the web is to use Google or a search engine. For this to work, websites should be structured specifically for search engines to recognise and recommend. This is what Search Engine Optimisation is all about. Sadly, website owners fail to do this and their sites fail to appear in web searches.

There are factors that affect SEO and these can the focus for development to improve visibility.

Fix:

Have an SEO campaign that improves your search visibility. This means using all the right keywords, having updated quality content, a responsive and secure website, among other things. There are tons of benefits of having a secure website. Developing your website around the elements that affect SEO generally improve overall website performance.

 

4. No Social Media Presence

 

Another problem that small businesses have a hard time trying to solve is their social media presence. Business accounts are created but they are not being updated regularly or they are not being utilised to their full potential.

Social Media can be a powerful tool in digital marketing and it provides another channel for interacting with potential and current customers or clients. This also makes the business ‘more human’ as lighter topics, conversations, and stories can be utilised to spark interest. Social media can give a business the face and the soul that it often needs.

Fix:

Link your website with all of your social media accounts and do the same for each platform you use. Create a social media strategy document. It doesn’t need to be a formal and final word file but it can be a work in progress until you develop clear goals and objectives. This is where the use of all of your social media accounts will revolve. Share articles and stories that are relevant to your business and add a personal spin to it. Just be creative and update regularly. Interact with clients and those who post questions. Being a responsive business owner pays in the end.

 

Your business may be unique.  Your small business website problems are not.

While no 2 businesses are the same, website challenges are common.  With the right resources and the expertise required to solve the more technical bits of owning a website, management and maintenance shouldn’t be a headache.  We have years of experience managing websites for businesses and have a range of support packages to help remove the headache.

If you have any questions or are interested to find out we can help improve your small business website, feel free to contact us.

WordPress 4.9.1. Security & Maintenance Update

WordPress 4.9.1. Security & Maintenance Update

WordPress 4.9.1 is now available. This is a WordPress security and maintenance release for all versions since 3.7.

We strongly encourage you to update sites immediately.

Site Essentials or Site Management customers will have this upgrade applied shortly.  If you have any questions, please email support.

Not with us? Ask about a free trial.

More details about this update can be found on the WordPress website

10 handy SEO setup tips for new sites

10 handy SEO setup tips for new sites

For this TechTuesday article we’ll focus on the technical aspects of SEO related to site structure, link format and page layout.  By applying these tips you will set your site up to increase both traffic and awareness in search engines.

One of the most important rules is to make your site for humans, not a search engine bot.

SEO is an ongoing commitment and all new content much be checked as it is added.  If you don’t want to worry about this, remember that Site Management clients benefit from a monthly SEO health check of new content and site setup.

SEO Setup Checklist

  • Add your keyword to your site title tag. Try and make the title meaningful and relevant.  Also add your keyword to your site meta description and again, make it compelling
  • Ensure every page has only one H1 tag and ensure that it sits above any H2 / H3 tags
  • Use a reasonable page length – aim for over 100 words.  Use plain english and write for your audience, not a search engine bot
  • Add descriptive ALT tags and filenames to all images
  • Make sure your site is mobile friendly – use Google’s mobile test tool
  • Install Google Analytics and create an XML sitemap and submit it to Google Search Console
  • If you have a WordPress site you can get analytics in your dashboard by installing Google Analytics for WordPress plugin
  • Install an SEO helper plugin.  Our favourite is Yoast SEO
  • Check Google’s Search Console, Screaming Frog and Browseo to find crawl, duplicate content, missing titles and other errors
  • Create a robots.txt file and submit it to Google Search Console