Can My Facebook Business Page Replace My Website?

Facebook Like LogoDo you really need a website for your small business given the popularity of Facebook business pages? I understand why small business owners would be tempted with ditching their websites and just using Facebook for the online presence: websites are expensive and Facebook is free, the Facebook interface is easy to use and is hugely popular. All of these things can be true HOWEVER, there are a number of good reasons that relying solely on Facebook could negatively impact your small business marketing.

1. The control is in your hands.

Anyone that has used Facebook knows how frustrating Facebook policy changes can be. Ultimately, Facebook makes decisions that best suit it’s own business objectives. With your own website you have full control of the content and it’s presentation to best serve your clients, customers, and business objectives.

2. Facebook is big but Google is bigger.

700 million users visit Google everyday and perform searches for products and services. And the best way for those users to find you is through your own website. Google does not do a good job indexing Facebook pages. Our experience time and time again is that business owners who go the Facebook ONLY route are no where to be found for keyword searches.

3. Never to return again.

Keep in mind that once a Facebook user visits and likes your business page most likely they will NEVER come back to your page again. Their interaction with you and your business will solely happen via your news stream. So all the infrastructure and information you build into your Facebook page will be largely unused. From our experience, when Facebook users want to find out more information about your business they go to your website. This bears itself out in Google Analytics where we see Facebook consistently as a top referrer back to the business website.

 

Of course, there are things that Facebook does brilliantly and we wouldn’t recommend killing your Facebook business page, but, Facebook ONLY isn’t a solution for your web presence. The best strategy is ALWAYS a multi-channel approach anchoring all your efforts with a well built and informative website.

What are your thoughts? Comment below

WEB DEVELOPMENT STANDARDS & BEST PRACTICES IN 2014

There are many ways to build a technical product. There are also many ways to build a bridge. The engineering profession has evolved enough over the years to understand the importance of best practices and a set of standards. Web development, on the other hand, is a very new discipline and a set of standards is often overlooked when IT products are built.
It’s just as important to build a technical product “right” as is it to build a bridge up to code. Loss of revenue, damaged customer relations, and lawsuits stemming from stolen customer information are just a few example consequences of poorly designed, hacked-together IT projects. These situations are not uncommon when web best practices and standards are bypassed. A poorly designed website is hard to distinguish from a well built one in the eyes of a layman; we therefore encourage our clients to consult a team of professionals for their IT projects.
Sticking to best practices and hiring a team of true web craftsmen when building a technical product always pays off and far outweighs the extra effort associated with solid foundations.
Our team follows the set of best practices below to ensure a delivery of standards for compliant, user friendly, accessible and secure IT products.

content

CONTENT IS KING

The most important part of a successful website is content. The second most important part of a successful website, is again, content. Jokes aside, you hear it and read it over and over “Content is king”. Our jobs as web craftsmen start by brainstorming ways to make this content accessible on the web. Understanding the overall Digital Strategy of the organization and how the particular product will fit into this strategy is a good start. Hard work and collaboration from copywriters, user experience specialists, web designers, product owners and web developers is necessary in order to ensure success. With emergence of mobile web, it’s more important than ever to work across these disciplines to be able to deliver well-organized, lean, searchable, readable, beautifully designed web content.

seo

SEO

Before we get to show off our wonderful new website, our users have to find it. This may seem like a daunting task considering there are 35 billion websites currently on the Internet. Finding pages is made easier by search engines and by adhering to SEO or Search Engine Optimization best practices. Well-organized, quality content is still one of the best SEO practices. Search algorithms strive to help good content find its seekers. Google’s search algorithm updates in 2011 and 2012 were both aimed to eliminate Black Hat SEO tactics and let the best content win the search race.

simple

KEEP IT SIMPLE

Once the user finds us, the site’s challenge is to guide the user to the information quickly and easily. Understanding our content and usability expertise will help us create simple navigations, search features and “no-brainer” features. Putting explanations and how-to’s on the site may be a good indicator of non-straightforward design. Simple usability studies also guide us. It’s amazing how much insight a simple usability study of 10-15 participants can discover. The “keep it simple” paradigm also applies to web forms. We need to always keep in mind what particular information is essential to accomplish our goal.

Keep these pointers in mind:
Users hate filling out forms.
Users hate filling out forms on mobile phones even more.
Users will not fill out web forms unless incentive is given.
As the number of fields increases, so does the number of users who will abandon the form.
No fax numbers please – some users may not know what a fax machine is.
Do you really need 4 different phone numbers? (home, alternate, business, cell)

 

mobileNET

MOBILE NET

Now web is accessed through a widening range of Internet enabled devices that are spreading like wildfire. Mobile Internet is taking over. Mobile sales exceeded desktop sales. Internet traffic from mobile phones is predicted to take over desktop Internet traffic in 2014. The mobile Internet should change our content, and therefore change the way we build and design websites.

simple

RESPONSIVE DESIGN

A technique called responsive design is one route to contextually aware web products. It helps us format the content to automatically adapt to the screen size. Responsive design allows us to maintain a single copy of the content.

Commonly implemented changes to mobile content using responsive design are:
Increased font size for more readable content
Adjusted container to fit a mobile screen
Enlarged clickable elements suitable for tapping
Adjusted or completely transformed navigation
Cropped or removed images

But how can we scale down all that content previously displayed on a wide screen to a screen that fits in the user’s pocket? The answer is, we DO NOT scale down content to fit a mobile phone. We instead focus on the content, its most important messages, and design for mobile first. Once we have our mobile design, the content can be augmented and transformed with the addition of info, graphics, images and other elements to fit the additional real estate.

lean

LEAN/EFFICIENT DESIGN

When designing for the mobile web, in addition to small screen sizes, limited bandwidth and low processing power, impatient on-the-go users pose additional challenges to web developers. A study showed that 74% of users would leave if the site took more then 5 seconds to load. Lean, efficient websites that focus on serving the Internet’s new impatient citizens are becoming imperative.

come-back

WILL YOUR USER COME BACK?

Say that our satisfied customer found our site, and found the info they were seeking. Is it time for our web team to celebrate? Not quite. We like this user and want him or her to come back, right, Let’s ask ourselves this question: Would users log back on to Facebook if it didn’t have new information every time they logged on? The website’s information has to be constantly updated to maintain user interest. So, a website with easy-to-update workflow is essential. This workflow should be discussed early on in the process to have a clear plan for ongoing website maintenance. The client should never have to compile word docs, excel sheets, pdfs or worse…power points describing desired changes to the site. Because the moment they complete that painful exercise, the website is out of date again. Content management systems let the end user be the king of the content allowing them to update the information in real time. It’s ok to let the client take over the content; they are experts in their domain. Apart from up to date information, users come to expect an experience referred to as WEB 3.0. They want a customized experience. They want to contribute. They want to see what others think. So incorporating third party feeds can be beneficial to our user engagement.

analytics

ANALYTICS

Your visitors are coming back to your site and using the site as you intended, right? How do you know? Incorporating web analytics provide essential insights into the website’s usage. Using this insight, the customer experience can be fine-tuned. Popular pages and popular modules can be identified, as well as pages that tend to lose visitors. We can act on this insight by linking popular pages directly from the home page or even turn them into a homepage. We can find out why some pages are underperforming and make a decision to merge or even completely delete them.

Security

SECURITY

Your users have to trust the product to volunteer their information. A website’s appearance can provide a feeling of security. Security best practices help us design sites that counter the ever-multiplying web security hazards. Let’s face it, no website can ever be 100% secure, just like no fence is too high to climb with the right equipment. We therefore strive to build a high enough imaginary fence to discourage hackers from trying. To figure out how high we build our fence will depend on what’s behind our fence. Do we store a few phone numbers, emails; do we have credit card numbers or social security card information? Do we store health records of cancer patients? In each case the height of the fence will be proportional to the sensitivity of the information stored.

What you could have missed on your website!

why-my-website-sucks

When you made the leap into the business world you knew you needed a website to grow your company. In order to achieve global domination, building your dream website is a must in your steps to success. Now that you have some skin in the game, you might feel some type of way about the return in the investment you are receiving.

As business owners, we write the plan out over and over, thinking we’ve covered every aspect. All the while, we may miss small details along the way. All the details are in the universe and you have to pay attention to all aspects of your business and site.

Here are some key questions to ask yourself about your site: important things we tend to skip over.

 

Are you co-branding?

Co-branding is when you have built your site on a third party platform, think bigcartel, wix, square space, blogspot, these are just a few of the many. When you have built your site this way, you will leave their information all over your site. This also means the odds of you building your site from scratch are slim to none. Does your URL have the co-brand companies name in it? If yes, you need to forward and mask that, look for simple steps on Go Daddy’s website. Next, on the footer of the site, does it say the name? If so, you can remove that simple line in the code and replace it with yours. Not something you know how to do? We can help .. Just Contact us

Are your policies displayed?

So many small business skip over the formalities of putting their return policies and privacy & terms of service on their site. All of these pages express a right to trust for your potential customers or clients. Let’s not fail to mention it’s very important to have them posted for legal reasons, make sure you have them displayed on your sites footer. Lastly, include these links on your site map page. An easy Google search can show you step-by-step how to implement return and privacy & terms of service.

Can you hear me? Can you hear me now?

Did you know contact forms can be broken? Simple coding errors can happen which leads email to be broken. Missing out on a plethora of emails that result in angry customers thinking you are not responding? Make sure you have your business email, contact page and a letter social icon displayed on the sites footer. You want your customers to know you are accessible, and people run to social media to speak about bad customer service all the time. Get ahead of it all by allowing your customers to have means to reach you at allotted times.

Are your social media icons pointing to your pages?

Several of my clients integrated the icons onto their sites but failed to link them to THEIR actual profiles. They were just pointing to the actual social media websites, or also mistakenly pointing to the co-branding sites social media page. Make sure yours are pointing to the correct sites. In addition, check your social media bio’s to make sure your URL is pointing to your current site. I have seen this not happen too

Are you guiding your customers?

When someone lands on your site, are they given directions or are you letting them be a kid in a candy store with free reign? If we are dealing with the latter, its time to create and use immediate calls to action. Think when you have shopped one of your favorite brands, they more than likely directed you to do something within the first 10 seconds of being on their site. You need to do the same, perhaps point them to your new merchandise or service. Launch a new line? A banner should be up telling them to view it. You need to guide your viewers into immediate action or you will lose them. These are really great for holidays or if your launching a limited edition item.

How many clicks until you get to check out?

One-two-four, or twenty clicks until your customer has placed their order? Your checkout conversion rate needs to be no more than four clicks to check out, if you can get it to two or three, amazing! Added steps make customers leave. Notice a high bounce rate on your checkout page? It might be because you require registering, or that you?ve directed them to a third party site to pay, only to be redirected back to your site. Keep checkout to a minimum, and add direct pay options like Stripe. Make sure they can add a discount code at the same time they are entering other information.

These are all super simple things you can start working on today in order to make your site visitors feel more comfortable doing business with you.

What on this list excites you most to help you see the results it can bring to your business?