Change Control Principles

We all have to make changes to our websites from time to time. It could be a straightforward change to prices or text, or it could be a relaunch of a whole new site. There are some fundamental principles around how we do those changes which can

  • save time
  • save money
  • reduce stress
  • convey professionalism

Plan Ahead

Change Control PrinciplesPerhaps the most fundamental aspect in making a change is measuring the impact and taking enough time to plan ahead so that wherever possible the change is proactive and not reactive. Making changes ‘on the fly’ may affect other parts of your site or cause confusion with your own personnel or customers.

Document your Changes

Take note of what you do and when you do it. Later, when you are measuring the effectiveness of a change it is easy to confuse dates. This also effectively provides a ‘handover’ to colleagues if you are absent or leave your role.

Don’t make changes too frequently

If you are able to spread out changes, then it will be clear how each change independently impacts your business. This may not be possible if you want to present one ‘set’ of changes so that customers only see one design shift.

Schedule Changes Sensibly

This is certainly the case if your change is going to require some ‘downtime’ in the system or site. If your peak hours are 9-5 Mon-Fri, then try to schedule changes at the weekend or overnight.

Communicate Effectively

Within your own company and particularly to customers. You can promote the updates in advance so that regular visitors to your site will expect a different ‘look’ on your launch date. Effective communication will reduce the stress of getting to know a new process and will reduce the load on customer service afterwards. Use your social media accounts to create a buzz around new features or design. You could even ‘trail’ a sneak peak of the ‘new look’.

Provide Customer Service

change control blog contact details copyWhen making changes, update processes and procedures as well as Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). When there is a potential for confusion or new education, ensure a helpline number or email support details are visible and easily accessed.

Break it Down

Change Control PrinciplesComplicated changes may be able to viewed as a series of small revisions. In this instance, even if one component fails, other parts of the change may still be on track. If you hoped to accomplish tasks A, B & C, would A & B alone be enough to move forwards? This analysis should all be a part of the planning process.

Have a backup plan

What happens if your changes don’t work or are not well received? Make sure you know how to either revert back or create a workaround. If personnel are key, ensure you have cover or on-call resources.

Measure Effectiveness

change control blogIf your change was designed to increase traffic to your site or increase calls to your business, measure the success. Take time beforehand to quantify your goal and then review after a reasonable time. You may be able to use analytics to help with this.

Be Flexible

When everything goes as planned, great! It takes experience and confidence to adapt when things go wrong. Bring in your experts, make sure you have done your research up front and then be prepared to improvise.

If you’re looking for help with Change Control Principles and adapting your website, why not contact us today  info@trulium.com

Website Design and Call to Action Buttons

Every marketing website is designed to provide pertinent information and to promote the products or services being offered. The ultimate aim of this online storefront is to convert interested site visitors into customers. The most obvious and easily measurable success is a direct ‘buy’ button on the site although for the companies which don’t have the desire or ability to process online payments or for businesses where sales are converted later in the process, just encouraging viewers to take that ‘next step’ is a positive move forwards in the right direction.

It may be ‘call now’ or ‘get directions’. All of these types of buttons are CTAs or Calls To Action.

 

Why have a CTA?

The purpose of a CTA is to keep the customer interaction with your website, steering the visit closer towards the next level – finding out more information, calling a sales representative, making a purchase etc. Without any Call To Action, your potential client could be more likely to leave your site and shop around.

 

A variation on the theme

If someone is wondering whether or not to buy, they may be more willing to click on a button that doesn’t commit immediately like ‘save for my wishlist’ or ‘save for later’. If the site is set up with this design feature, this action can enable the site to flag the saved item and remind the customer next time they login.

 

Think Color

Red buttons can scare customers away as it looks more like a warning than an invitation to make a purchase.

website design

 

Green is generally thought to be the most inviting (sending a subconscious ‘go’). Think carefully what color you want:

  • stand out
  • fit in with your overall site color scheme
  • contrast with the text so it is clear
  • when in doubt, scan around popular websites that you like to shop from and take their design as inspiration for your own unique design
  • try a few colors out and see which you prefer
  • ask colleagues for their opinions
  • if you are using a picture, make sure it is clear on all devices, not just laptops. Using a picture instead of text can overcome language barriers

The Details matter

The buttons themselves can look totally different with tiny style changes. As well as color, consider:

  • button size
  • round edges or straight
  • shadows

website design

Use CTAs sparingly

The more buttons and CTAs there are, the less eye catching they will be as they will take up too much of your online shopfront. This can also appear too pushy. One clever way to use your website design is to hover or float your call to action button as the page is scrolled. Beware that it doesn’t detract from the page text – especially on mobile handheld devices.

 

Statistics

Measure the click through rates and interactions with your CTA buttons. Over time if one button location or CTA message proves more popular (and therefore better at converting viewers into customers) then look at trimming away the less popular CTAs.

 

Final Thoughts

Call to Action are a tricky balance of tempting a customer to commit without being too overwhelming. If you need help with your website design and are looking to incorporate CTAs, Trulium has the experience to help take your online presence to the next level. For website design or website redesign, contact us today to get started.

Website Content Expiry Dates

When your business website has been serving its purpose for a while, it’s easy to go into ‘autopilot mode’ and just let it be. If nothing seems to be going wrong and you aren’t hearing any complaints then it is natural to assume everything is OK.

In truth, there are very good reasons to periodically check your website because whereas those very familiar with the content may skip over blocks of text, a potential new client will be reading it from a different standpoint and will notice all the out of date material. This looks unprofessional or neglected and they are then less likely to continue exploring your site, products and services.

Let’s get specific, here are a few examples where maybe the content should be removed or swapped out.

Seasonal Promotions

If it’s the middle of winter, your site probably shouldn’t still have a link to that ‘summer cool down’ promo you ran over the summer holidays. It was a great promotion at the time but it is really easy to leave the link in there and forget to swap it out for your ‘winter warmer’!

The exception is if your business takes advance bookings and you are currently taking bookings for next summer, in which case make sure you’re happy with the same price being applied to next year (if the price is quoted) and make sure the text makes sense for advance bookings.

Broken Links

Managing internal links within your own site is easy and when the status quo remains, you can expect these all to remain in great shape. If your site has external links (linking outside your site to another), then  they should be checked from time to time to make sure they are still valid.

The flip side of the same coin is that when you have a website redesign or you switch up your page names (to improve your SEO for instance), think ahead to those websites pointing back to yours. It is courteous and professional to either let them know the changes or apply redirects. This is especially the case if they are sites which could refer traffic back to you to get new clients – each broken link is a missed opportunity.

‘Old Brand’ images

When you have re-branded your company profile with a new color scheme or a new logo, look out for images on your site which still feature the old scheme. Whilst they look nostalgic to you, they dilute your current brand to a new visitor.

Old Testimonials

website content testimonialTestimonials are fantastic – they are golden snippets on your site where real customers give you glowing feedback, truly influential in the eyes of a new business prospect. If you don’t have recent testimonials or if you are not able to frequently update them online then consider a testimonial without a date attached.

Dated Music

If you have audio clips or music on your site, it’s safest to stick to timeless tracks. Likewise, if you are referencing a track, stay away from terms like ‘newly released’.

Now the good news

A few tips to help you look ‘evergreen’

  • Plan ahead with expiry dates in mind. If you always run a contest in December, stay away from Thursday December 1st 2016 and instead write your start date as December 1st. That way, the material can be reused year on year.
  • Work out a page naming convention that works for your business and stick to it. That way, when products are retired or replaced, you can easily isolate the pages affected.
  • If you make revisions to a document or file, use version numbers instead of dates as they will carry you through without looking outdated.
  • When you get a new employee, it is likely that one of their first jobs will be to get to know your business by exploring your site. This is a valuable opportunity to get ‘fresh eyes’ to click around your site and report back if anything looks amiss. They will value your trust so it is a win-win situation.

If you’re ready for a new website or a website redesign, Trulium can help you with your project. Contact us today if you’re ready for a change: info@trulium.com

What is the purpose of your website?

Why do you have a website?

Nowadays it is so commonly taken for granted that everyone and everything has a website, it’s easy to forget the fundamentals of why you have one and what is its purpose.

The answer varies from business to business and the lessons we can learn by addressing this question can help us understand how much time and investment it is worth spending on the website and your online presence.

Broadly speaking there are several types  of sites and their goals differ.

Educational Websites

Sites which pass on information or knowledge. This could be directions, methodology, background information, instructions. The education can be provided without enticing visitors to take a deeper look at products or services offered. For these sites, it is more common for clients to seek out the site than for the site to promote them (hence lower investment).

Entertaining websites

The curse of every office manager – sites which you visit to play a ‘quick’ game or browse through some news items, check out the latest fashion trends or find out the showbiz gossip. The sheer volume of traffic makes it worthwhile for the game developers to keep finding new incarnations and for news sites to update throughout the day to keep drawing visitors in to their online world. These sites often rely on word of mouth to reach a greater audience and may be popular only until ‘the next big thing’ inevitably takes over (in the case of games).

Social Media

Hugely popular, these sites keep you in touch with your personal or professional circles of friends and colleagues. From private accounts which can be shared with a select few, to public marketing campaigns reaching millions, the influence and popularity of social media continues to increase. Social Media Marketing is a critical component of a modern business plan.

Business Websites

Business WebsiteThis broad swathe of sites are looking to promote and market their product or service to new clients as well as retain their existing client base. The website acts as a virtual storefront and a gateway to communicate 24/7. In some cases, the website is the only viable storefront. For instance, a small business on a low budget that doesn’t have a physical office. Likewise, if you’re a landscape gardener integrating waterfalls and rockery design, it’s hard to display in the middle of Colorado in the winter – your website offers the opportunity to not only showcase your offering without seasonal limitations – you can choose the very best images when the sky was a perfect blue to invite clients to imagine the same in their garden.

The site could initiate a connection between a client and the business or it could be a website where sales are processed directly.

Likewise, where customer service is of high importance (as it always should be), enabling your customers to contact you at least via email or through a form on the website makes up to some extent for only having a customer service agent or employee at the end of a ‘phone line 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.

These are the websites which are most likely to invest in SEO – search engine optimization and web site design as the site can generate business which translates into your profit . Customers expect

  • a credible business to have a website
  • consistent branding
  • ease of navigation
  • quick page load times
  • responsive design (being able to access the site from a mobile phone or tablet)
  • to find the information they need without too much digging around
  • clear information

Your site may also directly save you time and therefore money if you provide an interface for orders to be tracked, results to be checked, progress to be determined online, quotes to be started.

As a business, you are hoping to be found on a search engine results page and be given a chance to present your site when clicked on. It sounds easy, in practice there are usually competitors in every field and clients looking for professionalism and trust – it’s rarely only about price point.

If your website is not fulfilling the purpose you intend, let us help with a plan to get your online presence back on track, contact us today  info@trulium.com

DIY website pitfalls

There are so many websites that it must be easy, right? If you’re looking to create your own website and take the DIY approach, there are some considerations to weigh. A website redesign can be just as big a project as a website design from scratch.

  • Time – creating your own website may be more time consuming than you thought. If you have prepped your content and know what you want your site to say, you’re off to a great start. It is rarely as easy as plugging in text though, plan on a steep learning curve and some frustration if you are looking to ‘go live’ within days.
  • Being found – Search Engine Optimization is a skill which takes time, experience, experimentation and analysis, it is also a moving target where what works today might not work next month. When building your website, SEO should be integral to your website design and forefront in your mind, not so that it drives the content of your site, but so that it reinforces the message you are sending out. If you want to be found with particular search strings, it’s not as easy as mentioning those key phrases in as many creative ways as you can think of.
  • Doing what appeals to you (and only you) – maybe you like a vibrant pink background, flashing lights or a soundtrack from the 1980’s. You have to forget about what you like to appeal to a general audience and there are serious studies on which colors are turn-offs and what palettes are more aesthetically pleasing. Being unique is not always good – it can scare people away and look unprofessional.
  • Cheap templates can look … cheap – if budget is your biggest consideration then a cheap template may serve its purpose, although it might take significant customization to make you stand out. If you are unable to customize it yourself, you’ll still need help.
  • It can’t do any harm to try – the only thing worse than not having any website is to have a terrible website. It can harm your brand and potentially not only draw in no new business, it can tarnish your reputation with partners.
  • Who can help down the line? You’re up and running, everything is great and then one day a client calls to say they can no longer see your site or the links don’t work …. do you have someone on hand who knows the history, took the backups (or coached you) who can help once you come to rely on your website.
  • website designBe responsive! – if your site is not friendly for clicks from a tablet or mobile phone, you’re not engaging so many potential clients. It’s not just the future, it’s the now.
  • You need to balance what you present with how long the screen will take to load. If it takes a few seconds to load big images and lots of links,  your audience may give up on waiting. There are tricks of the trade and there are compromises to be made, it takes experience to know where trade-offs are inevitable.

 

We are Website Design Experts

You are the expert in your business, if you don’t have the time or the inclination to become an expert in website design, let us help you with a plan. Contact us today  info@trulium.com

 

Your Website – what first impression are you giving?

Over time it’s easy to become so familiar with your website that you lose sight of how it appears to a new visitor – a potential client clicking into your site for the first time. That first impression could be the difference between winning their business or losing them as they click into a competitor’s site.

What to avoid

  • excessive load times
  • be responsive and mobile readylimiting your audience by not being responsive – if your site can’t easily be viewed from a phone or tablet, your online visitor will find a site that is simple to navigate and read when it is convenient for them
  • error messages
  • outdated content
  • poor quality images
  • a confusing layout which makes the site (at least appear) difficult to navigate. This includes a page ‘heavy’ on text with no natural breaks or images. Nobody will read the entire page before they decide to find out more, they will jump between headings and scan the site to decide if they like it enough to keep looking
  • a generic site which hasn’t been branded – when a search pulls up your site and your potential customer clicks in, they scan the page to check they recognize a logo, location or slogan which reassures them they are on the business they thought they were

 

The next consideration is what first impression you would like to give. Are you trying to present information or encourage your visitor to explore your site?

If you are trying to draw clients literally to your place of business, consider maps and clear directions from major nearby cities.

First impressions count imageWhen your business is visual eg. florist, artist, designer, showcase your work so that a glance conveys your colors, style and design. Put your best images in the most prominent place as they are your ‘hook’ to spark more interest in exploring your site. Brand the image if necessary so that it is clear the image is your own and not a generic stock image. If you can’t choose or your product range is diverse, consider a scrolling gallery with 4 or 5 images which rotate.

Checklist

Imagine yourself in a potential client’s shoes (or ask someone you trust who is not familiar with your website for their opinion) and consider:

  • do the colors appeal
  • are my service or product clear to see
  • do I appear an expert in my field
  • does the site look professional and trustworthy
  • is any of the content out of date
  • do I have better images to represent my brand
  • is it clear how to contact the business
  • are the navigation menus intuitive
  • are there distractions drawing a client away from my content (eg excessive links or ads)
  • does the site reinforce the other branded material you are distributing? (business cards, shop front, advertising)
  • is there a link to social media so that it is easy to ‘follow’ you

 

first impressions countA website that looked great a few years ago may look tired to your audience today. If you are spending money on SEO (search Engine Optimization) to drive your site higher up the rankings, you need  positive first impressions to capitalize on your advantage and persuade prospects they have found exactly what they need as soon as they find your site.

 

If you’re ready to revisit the first impressions you are giving , contact us today  info@trulium.com

Does my small business need a website?

If you’re the owner of a small business wondering whether or not to take the plunge and launch a website, it can seem a daunting task. Is it worth the hassle? Will it be cost effective? Here are ten reasons why your business needs a website.

  1. Customers expect a credible business to have a web presence. If a potential client is comparing vendors, often that is done online and if they have heard great things about you but can’t find your website, you’re missing out on an opportunity to start a dialogue. A visit to the company website is commonplace before visiting the business even if only to get directions.
  1. 24/7/365 It’s unlikely your business is open all day, every day. Your website gives you the chance to reach new customers even when your doors are closed. If you’re in a business where you’re attracting tourists, they may be in a different time zone when they’re scouting hotels or restaurants, meaning even if they can’t speak to you on the phone, they can email or inquire easily.
  1. It is clear this is the way forward. There will never be a day when this becomes bad for business – new platforms may crop up in social media and there will be advances in design, but it is clear the norm is to have a website. If you haven’t got one already, it’s not too late.
  1. It reinforces your brand. Take your content and use your logo, your name, your marketing to present it in a ‘digital shop front’. When searching the web, even seeing your name in a list sparks recognition and builds a link from the thought process to clicking in and finding out more.
  1. It needn’t be forty pages. A concise, professional site is better than an extensive, poorly designed site. It’s the quality of the content which will rank you in the searches and keep people coming back.
  1. You can leverage testimonials. Referrals are vital to build your client base. Presenting reviews from real people is a great way to earn trust. Readers will effectively be introduced to you through the eyes of someone like them – a client.
  1. Re-invent your business now. Maybe you’ve been established for a few years, your services or products have changed over time, your focus has shifted slightly to better suit the times or changes in your field. Creating a website helps you drop the legacy of discontinued products and encourages you to revisit who you are today.
  1. Your website becomes a great ‘home base’ for exploring your other promotional material – with links to social media like facebook, your website can not only be used to display the ‘link’ buttons but you can display the feed so that once you routinely post 1 day sales or offers to facebook, they will automatically be displayed on your website giving you extra reach with minimal effort.
  1. With ease of shipping and competitive costs, a small business doesn’t need to think locally. Even if you rely on people being in the immediate vicinity like a coffee shop, are they likely to look for you before they arrive? If you sell a great product can it only be used nearby or would someone be prepared to purchase from you and pay extra for shipping? The website gives you reach.
  1. Save money on traditional advertising. It’s expensive to design and print colorful brochures, videos or handouts. Flimsy black and white tri-fold leaflets are unlikely to impress. A website gives you freedom to market your wares in vibrant color, with a soundtrack or video links if you wish. It can also be updated and maintained to stay evergreen (unlike the brochures you printed before the prices changed or you noticed the typo on page 7).

website development from Trulium

 

 

 

 

If you want to find out more, contact us today  info@trulium.com

7 Ways to Improve Landing Page Design

A landing page is a simple, single web page that is designed to execute a single purpose. That purpose varies, of course. They’re essential for email collection, promotion for events, and even getting people to sign up for services. As simple as landing pages are, it’s important to keep them concise and to the point. Design is crucial for effective use of a landing page, and anything that reminds people of MS Paint should be re-evaluated immediately.

There are 7 ways to improve results when designing, and critiquing, your landing page:

  1. Announce What You Want
    A clear call-to-action is the biggest road to success on a landing page. The last thing you want a prospective client to do is guess.
  2. Announce Who Are You
    The very first step to ensuring that your questions will be satisfied is transparency. Your logo should be listed at the very top, right where everyone can see and confirm it. Be sure to list any trusted clients/partners in plain view as well.
  3. Show, Don’t Tell
    An unfortunate truth of busy professionals is that they don’t have time to read. Give them exactly what you mean and need in as little words as possible. Photos work nicely on the brain when it comes to sparking interest and keeping attention.
  4. Plain is Better
    Stuffing a million elements into one webpage (heavy with thick fonts and bold colors) is like giving your visitors a quick exit. There are plenty of ways to introduce typography and color into your landing page, but be sure to keep it as easy to navigate as possible.
  5. Keep It Simple
    Keep the amount of fields you introduce to a minimum. Ask the simple questions first and then, in further steps, introduce the more complicated ones. Questions should be condensed to minimize the amount needed and the amount of time spent answering them.
  6. No Brick Walls
    Give people exactly what you tell them they’ll get, every time. Promising a ‘free site review’ on one page and then demanding their email first is misleading. Heavy sighs are usually the only result of hard-to-get landing pages.
  7. Prove It Works
    A/B testing is basically putting two versions of a web page out to see which does better. It can help you solve that tricky ‘what’s working on this page’ problem that so many people go through. It gives you a direct view of what is getting results and what is setting you back. There are plenty of free tools to help with this, including Google Analytics. Some landing page apps also offer A/B testing, like Landerapp.com.

A well-designed landing page should be both quick for you and quick for your target audience. Keeping things simple, direct, and tested will assure that your landing page is delivering exactly what you need: results.

Why Your Website Needs A Responsive Design Now

Carapace Homes, one of Trulium’s Responsive Design case studies

Do you want your customers to find you whenever they’re on the go? At Trulium, a Denver-based SEO and design firm, we certainly do and we believe you probably do, too. That’s the beauty of Responsive Design.

The process involves crafting a site so it can be viewed on multiple devices — whether readers are viewing your site using a computer, mobile phone, or mobile tablet. The name comes from the fact that the site will respond to the screen size of the device you are on, whether it’s a desktop monitor, a tablet, or a mobile phone, and it adjusts accordingly.

In today’s busy world, where more people than ever are using mobile phones, tablets, and devices, here are good stats to consider:

  • 90% of American adults have a cell phone.
  • 58% of American adults have a smartphone.
  • 32% of American adults own an e-reader.
  • 42% of American adults own a tablet computer.

(Statistics from the PewResearch Internet Project, January 2014).

In our opinion it’s these kinds of numbers that make it crucial for boosting e-commerce and keeping your business on the map. The process requires careful planning — you have to think about what your viewers will see in each format, but it’s ultimately worth it and it gives you many advantages:

  • Visitors will be able to view your current and future site.
  • Your site will require less ongoing maintenance.
  • You won’t need to build a separate mobile version.

In our example above not only can Carapace Homes’ customers now find them no matter which device they are using, they can utilize customized tools on the go to learn about Carapace’s building communities. That’s pretty sweet and it makes good business sense, too.

To learn more about this subject or how Trulium can help you with your next project, give us a call.