Website Ingredients

It’s Website Design Update-Time for Your Business

Is now a good time for a website design update? If you have asked yourself this question more than once, the answer is probably yes!

Take a look at the image above created by one of the world’s largest Tech Firms about 10 years ago. Looks like an antique, doesn’t it?

You may think that we are just another pushy website design company that wants everyone to get a new, website design update for their business every few months. This is simply not true. What we do want is for businesses with solid marketing goals, to consider a website design update every three years. Unless, of course, it’s an antique business that wants to intentionally appear outdated and old fashioned.

Don’t get me wrong. I love antiques. I love the whole idea of the historical conservation of beautiful objects, but even an antiques dealer needs to display their items-for-sale in a way that potential buyers can appreciate the fine details.

3 Signs of an Old Website

Does your website still display Flash®?

This Adobe product used to be hugely popular among website designers for animating the homepages of websites. but today, Flash is not supported on many mobile devices. This means that when your website is pulled up on a phone, for example, there may be a big, fat hole right in the middle of the page where the Flash document is supposed to be.

Do your visitors still have to download content?

Do visitors need to view important information about your business in a PDF rather than viewing it on a web page? This makes them go through extra steps to read what should be available at the click of a mouse. No need for a long explanation here. In this age of viruses and hacking, no one wants to download anything they shouldn’t have to.

Is your website built using tables?

We have all been on those websites that display tiny boxes filled with mice type and unreadable content… usually in neon colors with uneven borders. (see the image at the top of this page)

Tables are the once-popular, but old fashioned way, of building websites. They are inefficient, inappropriate for designing mobile-responsive websites. Today’s website platforms, like WordPress, enable designers to display content in a way that pleases the eye of the visitor on whichever device that they use. More importantly, a modern website pleases the eyes of Google, which looks at your content and decides if it’s worth ranking highly… or even to display it at all in their search engine.

So, is it time for a website design update?

While you can be a seller of old things, your website should be a new thing. It has to be mobile-friendly, load quickly, accommodate video, play nicely with social media, and generally go with the flow of today’s fast-paced, web-based world.

Call us for a website strategy session

The Other 5 Second Rule: 10 Website Homepage Essentials

There are two, totally different, 5-second rules. One applies to dropping food on the floor and the other is the most time a visitor will stay on a bad website homepage.

We always ask our new website clients this question. “If you only had 5 seconds to grab someone’s attention on your website homepage before they click back, what would you want them to see… and do next.” 

This question stumps them every time. Please reread it to see if it stumps you.

Modesty aside, we usually know within 15 minutes of speaking with a new client what’s needed to improve their homepage’s visitor retention. Here’s our own current checklist in case you want to make sure your homepage has chops.

Your Brand Identity: A Website Homepage Essential

We recommend a high-res, up-to-date logo or font-treatment to identify your brand right at the top. Crisp and sharp. A well designed logo is obviously important but so many of them are over-designed, left over from the 70’s or both. And don’t display a blurry, repurposed version of your logo and expect your business to be perceived as cutting edge.

A Phone Number

If you want people to call you, this obvious feature should be prominently displayed and have easy-to-read numbers. This is especially important on mobile devices, where the phone number is linked so visitors can click-to-call instantly.

Nice Navigation

Navigation is not the place to be super creative. It should be clean, functional and highly visible at the top of the home page. Keep your navigation organized in a way that people normally think and really makes sense for visitors in a hurry. Trying to find elusive information that you have cleverly hidden on your website will make visitors bounce from your homepage faster than a hungry kangaroo.

A Hero of a Headline

Your website needs to tell visitors what your business offer is all about and needs to do this in a few, very well-chosen, words. Easier said than done. Simple wording will do the trick, but it’s incredibly important that your words are descriptive, relatable and say exactly what you are selling or offering. If possible, touch a pain point or hint at an emotional desire. Put your headline in a nice BIG font that fits your brand and is easy to read. Designers call it an H1 and it should be at least twice as big as normal text. If necessary, hire a professional copy writer.

You can’t please everyone but research shows that if you know your target audience and can come up with a headline that pleases a mere 30% of your website visitors, you just may end up with some solid sales!

Sub-heads with Oomph

Your sub-head should complement your headline with a few words of highly-descriptive copy. Don’t go off on tangents trying to explain everything. Focus on telling them why your offer solves their problem. They are the only ones still listening to you… so speak to them with honesty and integrity!

Make your sub-heads just a little bit smaller than your main headline. We designers call them H2s or H3s. These larger fonts work well on mobile devices because those tiny screens are hard to read!

The First Call-to-Action

Think of your website as a funnel that you want visitors to dive into head-first. You’ve already gotten them past the headline and sub-headings. Now you need a few, above-the-fold CTAs (Calls-to-Action).

Why? Because easy-to-see CTAs are like GPS directions to the rest of your website. You’ve invited them on this trip and if don’t tell them where to go, they won’t show up at your door wanting to be your next customer.

All your CTAs should be noticeable, attractive and contrast with the rest of your page. It’s a very fine line between noticeable and a screaming. A clashing color might frighten away your precious visitor.

Keep it simple. Only a couple of words are needed. “Call for a consult”, “Get a free ebook”, “Sign Up Now”. That sort of thing.

And be kind to your mobile users. Make your CTA button just big enough to tap with an index finger. Keep the button far from anything else so fat-fingered visitors don’t push the wrong button, get frustrated… and leave.

Eye-catching Imagery

Research says that most people are visual thinkers.

It’s true. Many of us, me included, relate better to images than we do with words. Photography and videos that explain an offer are ideal. Stock photos are good too (they’re way better and cheaper than they used to be), but there’s still a lot of cheese out there, so stay away from those generic ones. If you can afford to hire a photographer or videographer, go for it, but be sure to choose someone who understands your goals, has a reputation for being easy to work with and has a portfolio you like.

Only use high-quality images and be sure to reduce their file size or else mobile users will be crawling through your website. Also, make sure you add alt text to all your images which is imperative for good SEO.

Last-Chance Call-to-Action

Okay, so your site visitors have passed some tests. They like your headline, they relate emotionally to your sub-head, understand your description and are madly in love with your visuals.

Obviously. they did not click on your first CTA because they wanted to keep reading. Now they are confident they are on the right website homepage and are ready to engage with you. It’s time to give them a second chance to win! They may not become a direct sale immediately, but if they provide you with their personal information in exchange for tailored answers to their questions, then you have a real lead.

The Features, Finally

The benefits of your business certainly come with features, but all of your features don’t need to be on the homepage. Some website homepage designers use a features button to lead an interested visitor deeper into the website, but a few of your most desirable features, below the fold on your website homepage, can spark some major interest. Keep the words simple, and use graphics, as usual.

Boast Your Success

You are a winner and your customers love you. Make sure you show credentials and awards if you have them, but showing off how your customers think of you is way more powerful.  Link to reviews, ratings sites and include relevant testimonials wherever you can. Prospective customers will imagine themselves as one of your happy customers and, as an added bonus, your existing customers will love that you published their words on your site.

In Conclusion

In addition to well-written content that outlines and touts the benefits that your business can provide to new customers, making sure you include these elements can lead to a beautiful, functional and effective new website homepage.

I Think You’re Under-Complicating This! The DIY Website Dilemma.

Building a DIY website is tempting. But before you embark on this journey, please read my take on this seemingly inexpensive road.

For the moment, the internet is a very chic place to hang out. Your social life is at your fingertips and your spending craves are satisfied in seconds. From job searches to social media groups chatting about cat hair-dos… it all seems so delightful. But, as we all have experienced, these highly-public tubes are often complicated to navigate, filled with icky bugs, viruses, hackers, thieves and dark roads that should not be traveled.

Websites, on the other hand, are private and controllable. Having your own website is like having a kingdom surrounded by high walls to protect all the bustling things going on inside. It’s all yours and as a website owner, you can climb your highest tower and shout to the whole world who you are, what you do and why everything will be perfect when they shower money on your business. No one can shout back unless you want them to. The only thing they can do is leave; a DIY website owner’s very worst nightmare.

Learning to build websites is a full-time job (and you already have one)

We love building business websites. It’s an honest living that helps entrepreneurs and business owners boast proudly about what they offer. Or what they sell. And, as our chosen profession, learning how to build intelligently was well worth the time as now we are building many of them. Because of our education in the field, we can face ourselves in the mirror each morning and call ourselves professional website designers without cringing.

Think about it. How much time have you spent learning new things in your lifetime? I don’t know about you, but everything I know had to be learned, by me, first. No one else has ever offered to learn things for me so if I want to stay relevant, and competitive, the learning will never end.

Now, for most of we humanoids, the learning process is exciting and makes us feel happy and accomplished. It’s an endorphin thing but, because there are so many things to learn within our own field of interest, it might be wise to let others handle certain tasks. This is especially true when something only has to be done once or twice, like sewing a wedding outfit… or building a website.

Things you will forget when building your own website

The inbound marketing methodology, which today is widely seen as the best way to find new customers on the internet, requires that every business has a “really good website destination”. Websites are the hub of successful internet marketing. They are usually the first and last stop before making a big purchase or commitment. It’s the place where we make up our minds to spend our hard-earned money.

There are many little pieces that go into building a good website and doing a good job on these individual elements, such as content writing or picking visuals, is extremely important. But making sure that all these elements function holistically, and show up at the right time to convince a customer, is a tricky proposition and takes experience.

This careful placement and timing will determine how well a website will look, feel, react, interact, inspire, motivate, and, finally, close the deal. So, why is it that so many businesses still turn to their newest, least experienced employees and tell them to go build a website on GoDaddy or Wix?

Why do some business owners try to do it themselves?

DIY website businesses think they are saving money. Really?

I get it. It’s tempting to tell a bored intern to “go build us a website”. Young people must be technical geniuses, right? Well, they might be, but without a solid understanding of website strategy, the kid might actually put up a website that chases customers away.

Then there’s the entrepreneur who enjoys the challenge of learning new things. But when it comes to IP addresses, domain names, pings, hosting packages, registrars without phone support and server crashes, the thrill might be short-lived. Getting a link to actually go somewhere is an amazing high, but understanding the psychology behind a visitor’s click, or figuring out why everything on your mobile device version is gigantic, can be frustrating and a complete waste of precious, entrepreneurial time.

When it comes to websites, “okay” is a four letter word

There is no getting around it—a website built by an amateur will look amateurish. With mobile-responsive designs and ever more elaborate desktop layouts there is too much that can go wrong, too much to troubleshoot, and too much at stake to settle on a website that’s just okay. Is “good enough” how you think about the rest of your business?

We seem to do our best work for companies that are not startups. They typically have 5-50 employees, know who their customers are and have solid, achievable long-term goals. If you’ve been in business for a few years and aren’t still bootstrapping your budget from the change jar, don’t waste your valuable time on something you know nothing about.

Invest in a professional website designer and leave the minutia to the pros. You won’t regret it.

Save your valuable time and money! Call Chroma Sites Today.

Order Up! Now Serving Restaurant Websites

Today, everything about a restaurant has to be perfect — from the moment someone lands on the web page until the moment they tip the wait staff. Restaurateurs realize that while their food must be wondrous, their brand must be also.

Most restaurants do have websites, but so many of them are sad and neglected because of the time and expense involved in maintaining the constantly changing food menus or events pages. Until recently, restaurants had to rely only on Facebook, Yelp, and other review platforms to bring in hungry, new customers.

Today, with a user-friendly platform like WordPress and our complementary website training, we can design a gorgeous, food-inspired website that a busy restaurateur can update all by themselves.

A Foodie Website Study

The Hideaway in Ridgefield, CT is a classic example. They are a gastropub that opened in 2012 and spent the first few years establishing their food reputation. They made do with a dated, template website featuring only a few pages of badly displayed content. The website was only about 3 years old, but it looked kinda’ tired as many restaurant websites do.

So, when word of The Hideaway’s great menu started spreading throughout the region and hungry patrons started lining up to get a table on weekends, they decided it was time for a website upgrade.. and came to us for help.

We think they made the right choice. Things change quickly in the website world – both in visual style and in functionality and we pride ourselves on keeping up to date with the latest and greatest plugins and features. Our website design toolbox is perfect for many types of businesses including growing eateries. Plus, helping a business get to the next level is something we know a lot about. Here are a few of the things we brought to The Hideaway’s table… Get it?

Photography

We started with some photo shoots. Heidi, one of the owners, hired a local photographer for the general interior shots and we spent a few hours shooting The Hideaway’s historic building, once a dynamite shack for the early railroad and later a strip joint. Later, she brought in a food photographer and food stylist as this is a very specialized field.

The chef brought out dish after dish of beautifully plated food — sumptuous items like grilled corn with their husks still attached, a fresh, tuna burger covered with sesame seeds, and a gorgeous chicken pot pie baked to a golden brown. Drinks were photographed too and everything came out so fabulous, we couldn’t wait to get them up.

Copywriting and visual content

The second step was all about the website’s copywriting. For restaurants, this task is often challenging because the unique personality of the established must be clearly articulated. We interviewed the owners and the chef so we could add their perspective to the mix. We also wrote a page about the history of the establishment featuring old photos and before-and-afters of the current renovation.

All this is was well worth the time because lots of well-written content on a website is very important for SEO (search engine optimization).

It was time to begin the design!

The Home Page

The decision was made to feature a dramatic, black background to show off the splendid colors of the food photography. We then added a rotating slideshow on the homepage to make their website visitors very hungry. Romantic photos of the bar and dining room, with fireplace blazing, were also featured right up front to show potential patrons the incredible ambiance of this restaurant. Also, we added four sections below the homepage slideshow which were introductions to other important features of this particular restaurant… food, drink, events and history.

(This website was so much fun it was almost building itself!)

The Hideaway's New Mobile Website

Menus

The owners emailed us their new menus for the fall season. These included all their categories including starters, salads, entrees, brunches, lunches, kids fare and much more. The bar had its own separate menus and included descriptions and pricing for every kind of wine, beer, cocktail, and specialty drink offered. These details are very important for both palate and pocketbook… and must always be accurate and up to date.

User-friendly websites make for very happy patrons… even before they show up to be seated. All of our websites are mobile-friendly because many people locate restaurants while in the car or on a tablet. And, because the owners can update their menus themselves, the visitor will always be able to trust that what they see is what they will get.

Events & Entertainment

As we said earlier, The Hideaway has music on the weekends that they wanted on an events page. This was easy to do until we decided these events had to auto-disappear off the website when the music ended and the late-night crowd went home. Showing off our technical abilities is fun and this worked out very well. Now the owners can upload an event schedule for the next few months… and never have to worry about taking it down!

Reviews

Every good restaurant wants to feature their excellent reviews because reviews are the most important marketing a restaurant can have (and they’re free to boot). The Hideaway, with their lines out the door, had plenty of great reviews scattered all over the internet and social media sites. All we had to do was track them down and create a special page to feature them on. Take a look!

Complimentary WordPress Training

After a smooth launch, we offered the owners our customary round of WordPress training and now the proprietors can make routine changes to their menus and events on their own. The owner told us that their new WordPress website is absolutely gorgeous and the very best tool to grow their business! This self-maintenance aspect will help them keep it that way.

We loved this website project and will absolutely search for more local establishments that want to update their online presence. Let us show off your craft beers, marinated oysters with our mouthwatering, homemade menu bars.

View the website at www.thehideawayridgefield.com

Give us a call and let’s talk about your restaurant website!

If You’ve Got a Good Website Recipe, Don’t Go Mobile from Scratch

“Go mobile friendly” sounds liberating. Untethered from the desk and free to roam the world, while staying connected to what matters.

To a business owner with an old website, however, “going mobile friendly” sounds more like ulcers and headaches.

Just a few short years ago you had a great website: convincing copy, killer graphics and it actually brought in new business… but now, it’s obsolete…

We feel your pain.

It’s the story of many of our new clients. They LOVE their website, and still aren’t completely sure why they need a new one, but Google has spoken. And mobile is mandatory!

You Don’t Need to Start from Scratch

Even though it’s true you need to go mobile friendly with your website, it doesn’t mean you need to start over again. If you’re happy with your current site, all you really need is a mobile website conversion.

At Chroma Sites, we help businesses go mobile friendly by providing mobile conversions that include all of the latest website features and technology, at typically less than half the cost of a redesign.

Regardless of what’s already built-in to your existing website, we will build you a mobile-ready and Google-friendly presence that includes ALL this:

  • the best content management system on earth, WordPress
  • a business blog with all the bells and whistles
  • interactive social media sharing buttons
  • a super-simple contact form tailored just for your business
  • a design that looks a lot like your old website on desktops and laptops (only better)
  • new mobile layouts, designed specifically for tablets and phones of all sizes
  • all of the same pages, posts & menus
  • and everything else that comes standard with every website we build

Don’t Start from Scratch. Go Mobile Friendly the easy way

Untie your website visitors from the desk and watch your business soar!

Talk to us about a mobile conversion of your website…

The 3 Types of Mobile Conversion. Which One’s Best?

It’s been a month since Google’s mobile update, but the frenzy surrounding this important algorithm change is still piping hot. At this point, if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re probably convinced it should be, and soon.

Trying to figure out the best way to get your website converted into a mobile-ready platform can be very confusing. So, I have prepared a quick summary of the 3 most common options for a mobile conversion… and how to choose the one that’s right for you.

A Quick Intro on Mobile Conversions

Before we dive in, it’s important to note that there is a difference between a “mobile redesign” and a “mobile conversion”. For the purposes of this article, we will assume that you are relatively happy with the content on your website and how it’s structured. In other words, the only thing we need to tackle right now is your website’s lack of support for smartphone viewers and the chaos Google’s latest algorithm update has caused. Okay… let’s do it.

The Mobile Plugin

The mobile plugin is the quick ‘n dirty way to get your website mobile-ready in a hurry. If configured properly, it should help you pass Google’s inspection… but that’s about all it’s good for.

The big problem with mobile conversion plugins is that they provide a hideous, non-customizable and irrelevant website to your visitors. So, while they may be able to find your website on their phone, they’re also likely to leave very quickly if they can’t find what they’re looking for.

Plugins offer no branding, no page layouts, boring navigation… and some will even hide your pictures.

If you just want the cheapest option, this is the one… but remember you get what you pay for.

The Mobile Redirect

A mobile redirect is really just a fancy way of saying “a separate mobile website”. For many big companies, and especially companies that specifically target mobile users, this is an ideal solution.

In short, a separate mobile website allows you to tailor your browsing experience specifically for mobile visitors. They are often designed to load as fast as possible, which means eliminating extraneous information, graphics, and even pages that might slow things down. Some mobile sites go so far as to ditch all but the essentials, leaving only directions and a phone number. Not a happy sight for the millions of Americans who ONLY browser the web from their phone.

This type of mobile conversion isn’t for everyone. In addition to rethinking your entire website just for mobile visitors, you’re left with a-whole-nother website to maintain and keep current.

If you have a good amount of money to spend, and can spare the time to make sure it’s done right, this might be the option for you. If not, move on.

The Mobile Responsive Design

If you’ve been looking into mobile lately, you’ve definitely heard the term “responsive”. Greatly simplified, a responsive website is one that automatically adjusts to the type of screen it’s being viewed on.

Ever evolving technology and 2015 software allows us to hide and rearrange elements on a website to fit on any size mobile device, beautifully and naturally. From the smallest Blackberry, to the biggest phablet, to the newest iPhone… sections of your website gracefully re-stack themselves to fit the page!

A responsive mobile conversion has a few major advantages over the other two.

1. You only need one website.

The site that visitors see on their phone, is the exact same website they see on their computer. It may look a bit different (as various elements are are sized specifically for smartphones), but any changes you make will appear on both mobile and desktop versions. Your website is always up-to-date, with the latest blogs, prices, events, news… and everything else.

2. Mobile visitors have access to everything.

As I mentioned before, many mobile websites only include the bare essentials. Responsive websites give mobile access to everything on your entire website. And, as more and more people are browsing the web exclusively from their phones, it’s crucial that you keep those visitors in mind.

3. Custom mobile designs actually look like your desktop website.

Branding is a tremendously important aspect of an online web presence, and few things exemplify your online brand like your web design. Responsive websites are designed to use the same designs, colors, elements, fonts and styles on both the mobile and PC versions. What that means is that your website actually looks like it was built for your business

The vast majority of mobile plugin and mobile redirect sites are built from plain looking, boring templates, that makes your mobile website seem like an afterthought.

We can show the world your website as it was meant to be seen. And, you can have a quote in less than a minute.