Is your WordPress website safe without regular updating?

Wordpress Maintenance Update

After months of planning, prepping and lots of hard work your website is launched! Done! Checked off your list. Now you can move onto the next steps in growing your business, and you don’t have to worry about your website anymore.

Imagine going to your website and instead of your branding, photos and information, it’s an entirely different website! This really happened to a couple of businesses that we know.

Although this is often an easy fix by updating your website software, how does that look to potential customers? Did you lose business because they thought they weren’t in the right place? People move about the web quickly these days and they’ll be onto a competitor’s website and have forgotten about you in a matter of seconds.

Does this only happen with WordPress?

We’re huge fans of WordPress for its wide range of options, but with 30% of websites built with WordPress software, they can be common targets. WordPress developers are constantly updating the software to prevent hacking (free to you!), which means that you need to be updating to the latest software as often as possible.

WordPress websites usually employ additional software to get the features you want from your website called themes and plugins. Those need to be updated too.

Your responsibility as a website owner

If your website collects any type of information from visitors (and it collects more than you realize), you are responsible for keeping that data secure. Do you collect email addresses, have a contact form, sell products, or have client logins? Stay in compliance with privacy laws and keep hackers out to the best of your ability by updating your software.

Can I use an automatic updater?

Yes! We do that all the time, but it’s not always that simple. This year we saw unusual things happen to websites with one of the WordPress updates. To keep our clients’ websites looking professional, we had to employ custom fixes for each one that looked wrong. Because we learned about this issue almost immediately, we were able to fix the websites before most visitors saw them.

Sometimes themes and plugins are no longer maintained by the developers. When that happens, they become vulnerable and can no longer work with new versions of WordPress. With a consistent eye on your website, you can see when this happens and find a replacement.

Paying a professional to update your WordPress website may be less expensive than you think

Let’s face it, we can have the best intentions to take care of our websites ourselves, but we get busy doing our real work. Hiring a professional can be a valuable option and provide you peace of mind. With Harmony Graphic & Web Design maintenance packages, we keep a close eye on your website, check regularly for broken links and outdated software, watch for important updates coming, recommend feature and marketing improvements, connect you to analytics, are available for content updates and emergencies, and offer free hosting with a maintenance package.

Can I maintain my own WordPress website?

You can totally do this yourself if you want to. Not sure where to start? We’re happy to point you in the right direction or provide a training session. Email us to get on track with keeping your website secure!

You might be tired of the car analogy…but it sums it up!

When you own a car, it’s important to regularly maintain it by changing the oil, adding fluids, and replacing parts along the way. This ensures that you won’t get stranded on the side of the road. Regular maintenance of your WordPress website will keep your website protected, maintain your professional image, and prevent big headaches.

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Kristine StrangeIs your WordPress website safe without regular updating?

5 components of a great website

I’m often asked by friends and acquaintances who own small businesses what I think of their website and what they can do to make it better. Over the last 25 years I’ve been designing graphics and websites, and today I spend the majority of my time creating small business websites.

So what do I look for when I review their websites? I’ve created this simple list of the most important components of a great small business website. E-commerce websites have some additional components, but online retail businesses can use these criteria as a foundation. The first four items are timeless design and marketing concepts, and the last on this list is a constantly changing subject.

First impressions

When people come to your website, it’s really important that they know your business focus or product immediately. People bounce around the web quickly these days (1.4 seconds on average), and if they don’t think they’ve found what they’re looking for, they’ll click right out of your website and you’ll lose the business. Your branding should be clear as well. If a customer knows you, has seen your advertising or has been given your business card or a sample of your product, they should be able to tell they’re in the right place.

A professional looking website tells the world how you run your business, so this is probably not the time to let your brother-in-law who dabbles in IT put a website together for you. Make sure the design is modern and clear. A timeless design can buy you a few years before another redesign.

Style is everything when choosing a design. What appeals to your demographic? Or even better, what appeals to your ideal demographic?

Is it easy to find what you’re looking for?

Organize your web pages in a way that makes sense, also known as user experience. Visitors want to access everything quickly and easily. The fewer clicks the better. Remember what I said about how quickly someone will leave your website? Well, they’ll click right out if they don’t find what they need ASAP!

I have a theory that people use the menu on their computer and they’re more likely to scroll on their phones. Why not make all of the menu items accessible by scrolling down the home page with a little blurb about each page? I honestly think some people don’t even know how to use the menu on their phones. I won’t laugh at you if you’re one of them, so here’s the scoop. Mobile websites often have three little lines at the top that show the menu if clicked. (By the way, this is called a hamburger. Can you see it?)

And don’t you dare hide that phone number or your preferred way of contact. Put that front and center, or make a button in your mobile version. Don’t lose a customer because they can’t find a way to contact you quickly!

Mobile responsiveness

Speaking of mobile phones. Did you know that over half of web browsing is done on phones these days? (OK, you weren’t surprised because you see all of those people with their heads down over their smartphones…)

If a website is easy to read on a phone, it probably looks different than its desktop version. This is called a responsive website. I can’t believe how many websites these days don’t have a mobile version. This is a really good sign that you haven’t updated your website in a long time and it isn’t giving a good impression to visitors, let alone making it easy for them to read. Also, if your site isn’t mobile friendly, you will slowly lose any google ranking because websites with mobile responsiveness are preferred in google search results.

Calls to Action

If someone is clicking around on your website and what they find is interesting, they’ll want to contact you. Let’s make it easy for them to do so? Placing some contact buttons and forms throughout the website makes for more interaction with your visitors.

For those visitors that need a little incentive, why not make something available to them for free in exchange (ex: e-book) for their email address? This way you can contact them in the future if you have a sale or new product. Developing an email list with services like Mailchimp, Constant Contact or MailerLite is easy. Keep your business name on their mind by sending news, tips and coupons.

You can also track what buttons and forms are being used in Google Analytics, so you can either try some new methods or keep doing what works.

Search Engine Optimization

Last, but definitely not least, is search engine optimization (SEO). This is a subject for multiple long articles, so here’s the super short version. For starters, you don’t want to spend time and money creating a website if nobody can find it. At a minimum, your website needs to be optimized for your brand name.

Research the keywords that your potential customers use when they’re searching for your product or service and use them in your website’s headlines, page names and image names. (But don’t overdo it!). This helps search engines know what your business has to offer. In turn they’ll bring up your website in searches. Search engines like a lot of words in your content to really get to know you better, so make sure you write a good amount. Think of it like this, the images are for humans and the words are for search engines.

Break up your text with subheads (containing keywords!) so the text doesn’t feel so long. You’ll also want to make sure that you create SEO page titles and descriptions (also with keywords). These appear on the search results page, so write something that will entice people to click your link!

In addition, there are several things you should be doing outside of your website to encourage search engines to rank your site, such as social media, Google My Business and links to your website from other websites. Again, a subject for many lengthy articles.

Now that I’ve given away my secrets, it doesn’t mean you can’t ask me what I think of your website and how to improve it! I love being a website detective and discovering ways to improve your online presence. I’m passionate about giving businesses a professional image and supporting their success! Contact us at creatives@harmonygraphicdesign.com.

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Amy5 components of a great website