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Nothing worth doing… or Mistakes business owners make with their website and how it may be costing you money

Nothing worth doing… or Mistakes business owners make with their website and how it may be costing you money

We all know the sayings.  Time is money, nothing worth doing is easy, let the experts be the experts.  As a business owner, you may have romanticized about the idea of spending all of your time doing what you love.  Spending coffee-filled mornings on the laptop answering emails.  The truth is that there is very little time for coffee or emails; you must wear many different hats in a day, especially when you are running a small business – and unfortunately, none of these hats can be silly.  You are your own marketing, accountant, PR, secretary, account manager, project manager, etc.  This leaves very little time to actually do the thing that got you into starting your own business in the first place!  As business owners, we become obsessed with the need to do everything ourselves, to be able to wear all of those hats proudly and with confidence.  We strive to save money and do a great job all at the same time.

This also becomes a cycle that begins taking more and more time away from the actual “business” part of the business.  It eats into hours of potential productive time while we learn that new role, or try and accomplish a task that someone who is an expert in their field would take a fraction of the time doing.

Sometimes, it’s better to hire someone to wear that hat for us.

We’ve been bombarded with services that offer the “do it yourself website.”  It costs next to nothing and you get a website.  I already talk about treating your website as the biggest marketing tool you have, but beyond this, not hiring a professional website builder to build your business’ website may be costing you some serious money.  Here are some costly mistakes, and how easy it is to make them.

 

1. No Call to Action

It’s simply incredible the amount of websites out there that serve to get potential customers to purchase a product or service without actually asking that potential customer to purchase the product or service.  Not telling a visitor of your website what you would like them to do can leave a customer looking elsewhere when they were ready to make a decision.  On top of this, a large portion of small businesses do not even list their contact information on the front page.  These businesses are turning people away at the door.

 

2.  No Ongoing Support

The best way to avoid costly security breaches is to make sure the website is protected in the first place

Chewie Media has changed our preferred method of building sites to a monthly plan instead of a lump sum in large part because it keeps the websites updated and maintained.  Have you ever visited a site and had the link go to a completely different page or domain?  This is the result of that website being hijacked – and with no trained professional to prevent it, that website is down and inflicting damage on the company’s brand and credibility.  If this hijacked website gets too out of hand, Google may even choose to “de-list” the website, making it difficult to get that website back on search engines without costly emergency support.  The best way to avoid costly security breaches is to make sure the website is protected in the first place.  Preventative care costs a mere fraction of what it would cost to fix once it has happened.

 

3.  Set it and Forget it

Similar to number 2, most businesses have a “set it” and “forget it” mentality to their website.  They get it online, breathe a sigh of relief, and then let it sit for a year.  A stagnant website is a dead website and if visitors never see activity, they are quick to move to the next site which does have activity.  With so much to choose from, they can be as picky as they want.  Which brings us to…

 

4.  Poorly Designed and Developed Websites

A properly designed website can give you the confidence to bite off more than you thought you could chew… and that’s really what we’re about here.

This is a big one.  There are so many websites out there now that it is imperative to at the very least look as good as your competitors, and ideally set yourself apart from competitors.  Website design influences the first feelings a person will ever have about your company *cue warm and fuzzy music*.

This is your storefront.

This is what will inspire confidence in your future customers.

This will set the tone for your entire relationship with them.

Yes it sounds daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.  A properly built and designed website can have you handing out business cards and dropping your domain name with confidence.  A properly designed website can give you the confidence to bite off more than you thought you could chew… and that’s really what we’re about here.

Have some honest friends and colleagues look at your existing site through the lens of a first time customer.  What does your site say about your business?  Does it say what you want it to say?

 

5.  Doing it yourself

Cheap website solutions and do it yourself options are attractive to the checkbook at first, but spending evenings and weekends figuring out how to use whichever special form of “drag and drop” the website service is using and then getting everything to sit just the way you like it can add up quickly.  Time that could have been better spent on the business.  On top of this, every update further adds to this tally.  Unfortunately, all of that hard work still doesn’t hold a candle to websites designed and developed by professional website builders – and if your competition is using one, they are going to be the ones that stand out, not you.

 

6.  No Analytics/No Metrics

How many people visited your site yesterday?  How did they find you?  Where did they find you?  What did they do on your site?

These are import questions that you should be armed with when making changes to your website.  Activity on your site can tell you what pages are popular and effective, as well as what pages may be causing people to leave and why.  Finding out where your customers are coming from can inform your marketing decisions by focusing on certain areas, or even keywords.  This can also help inform if you should run a sale on a specific product.  Say 50% of your customers are coming to your site in search of widgets, you would know that a sale on your most popular widget might increase sales.

It is amazing how many businesses do not have this information.  A properly built website can provide this information and more – making your website begin working for you.

 

7.  No Mobile Optimization

More and more traffic is now being delivered by mobile devices.  38% of our visitors are using smart phones to find us.  Despite this trend, a very large portion of websites, and especially small business websites, do not have the capability to display properly on a phone or tablet.

There are more pitfalls than this for a business looking to build their website, but this is a great start and a good starting point.  As with most things in life, you get back what you put in – put in the effort with your website and it will become your best marketing tool and amazing storefront.

I genuinely care about your web presence and about making it the best it can be.  Leave a message in the comments below if you have any questions, or contact us with your exiting project or questions if you would like to know more about what we can do to make your website exactly what you want it to be

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To the Moon and Back: Accepting Dogecoin and other Crypto Currencies on your E-Commerce Website.

So confusion, such community, much… moon?  If you’ve been paying attention to online technologies, have a family member or friend who does, or are beginning to investigate the world of online stores in general, chances are you have heard of Bitcoin.  And maybe Litecoin.  But there’s another one that you should hear about if you haven’t already.  An accessible, fun, and not so serious cryptocurrency that is driven by an equally accessible, fun, and not so serious community.  This currency has been labelled as “dead” to “next big thing” and everywhere in between.

Those are both not entirely the case, and I’m here to tell you why you should accept it anyways.

 

And what if all you had to do to become accepted by this community as a go-to source for the very product that you sell, was to accept this community’s particular form of currency that can be exchanged for any other currency on the globe?

 

What if I told you a community is out there that you don’t market to, that boasts a massive membership of over 90,000 active members and even more anonymous members, has more transactions per day than any other online community of its type, and is fanatically searching for ways to make even more transactions.  And what if all you had to do to become accepted by this community as a go-to source for the very product that you sell, was to accept this community’s particular form of currency that can be exchanged for any other currency on the globe?

I bet you would tell me that you want a piece of this pie.

The currency is named Dogecoin, and it has positioned itself as an entry-level Cryptocurrency – a Cryptocurrency-lite if you will.  By now, everybody is familiar with bitcoin, but Dogecoin enjoys a unique position of being developed to be a transaction-based currency.  The members of this community want to spend this currency on goods and services, not hold onto Dogecoin in an attempt to get rich like some cryptocurrencies.

This is good for you.  Dogecoin users want to spend money.

Dogecoin offers you some unique opportunities to people and companies who choose to accept it, some of those are:

  1. Near-instant transactions
  2. International transfers of any size at almost no cost (currently less than one cent)
  3. Customers can not charge back like credit cards and paypal.
  4. No base acceptance fees
  5. No vendor lock in – Dogecoin does not care what other forms of payment you accept
  6. Fast and easy setup with no additional or up-front costs (just need a computer and minutes of your time to get started)

All they need is for some businesses, perhaps yours, to take the next step and accept their currency.

 

Dogecoin can be exchanged to national currencies.  You can do this easily by yourself or use the automatic conversion offered by some payment processors (of this will be explained further below). You can also just keep your Dogecoin and spend it.

Right now, Dogecoin members and users have some shops set up to sell a collection of random items, but these products are by and large products that are available in a swap-meet like setting.  What they are clamoring for is bigger, they need more – they need actual stores.  Looking into the community, you can see what appears to be 90,000+ active members of the community.  All they need is for some businesses, perhaps yours, to take the next step and accept their currency.  We at Chewie Media have begun accepting Dogecoin, and are excited with the opportunity this brings, as well as the ease in which we can exchange any Dogecoin needed for Canadian funds – or to spend that Dogecoin on other goods and services.

 

Accepting Dogecoin has given them a boost in sales and in exposure, and they are now enjoying being part of a growing community of stores that have become adopted by this fanatical and fun currency-based community – or “shibes” as they prefer to be called.

 

The process is relatively simple.  The official Dogecoin website describes what it takes to get started.  From there, as a business owner, you can accept Dogecoin and convert it to funds of your choice using Vault of Satoshi.  As web developers, Chewie is fully able to help you accept Dogecoin and set up the necessary infrastructure, much like we did for our clients atA llure Boutique and Sex Boutique (careful, the subject matter may be not safe for all viewers).  Accepting Dogecoin has given them a boost in sales and in exposure, and they are now enjoying being part of a growing community of stores that have become adopted by this fanatical and fun currency-based community – or “shibes” as they prefer to be called.

Now, there are a few perceived negatives about the process.  Conversion costs roughly the equivalent of credit card acceptance fees, and holding onto Dogecoin long-term is a little more volatile than holding onto Canadian or American funds.  Dogecoin’s value is largely based on supply versus demand, and without being attached to real-world precious metals such as silver or gold, the value does fluctuate since it is still in its infancy.  Overall, though, we weighed these very same concerns in our offices and decided that accepting Dogecoin brings about sales which we would normally not make, and that was worth any sort of risks that may come with it.  And besides, it’s based off of a dog (client’s dog rule), and in case you haven’t noticed by now, we’re a big fan of our dogs.

Ask us how Dogecoin can fit into your overall business plan, and how you can start accepting Dogecoin for your goods and services today.

 


*Special Note*

A great big thanks goes out to Murals by Larochelle for lending us her Dogecoin-inspired artwork for our banner image.  Check out her website – she is a very talented artist and we are so fortunate that she keeps her finger to the pulse of the digital community enough to have already painted a set of four painting on the very subject!

 

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Expectations VS Reality – The “Client’s Dog” rule and giving your website a chance

We develop and design websites every day that we are excited about.  This isn’t fan-service or corporate speak for “we take your project seriously, so hire us.”  This is the truth.  Sure, we work on projects that have parts of the project that we aren’t crazy about.  I’ll admit that too.  Sometimes a design or development requirement occurs that makes our concern level rise about the project.  The joke in the website design industry and around the office which I will now refer to as the “Client’s Dog” rule is that every client wants something on their design that can be seen as inappropriate or out of place for the design.  Sometimes this is a mascot.  Sometimes it is the owner.  Sometimes this is a picture of the owner’s boat, favorite sport’s team, or other interest.

Usually it is a pet.

 

We realized as we reflected on our role in facilitating that rule, that we have also embraced this rule for a couple of other clients with strong success

 

We realized a while into referring to this rule that this is in fact a rule that we have broken to the nth degree with our business.  Chewie is a pet, and the business does not only have her on the site, but is also actually named after her.  In this case, she is my pet. We realized as we reflected on our role in facilitating that rule, that we have also embraced this rule for a couple of other clients with strong success.

And we also realized something important that day.

Despite the state of any project we are involved in at any given time, and despite the level of “Client’s Dog” that is taking place within a project – we are universally excited about the project that goes out into the world.  Every. Single. Time.  We get attached, we work programming magic to make things better or more robust than the project calls for.  We make lists capable of handling hundreds of items, when there will only ever be 4 items.

 

We build websites that we want to see on the internet.  And because of this, our excitement usually mirrors that of our clients’ excitement.

 

We make images that expand and contract automatically when these images will hardly ever change.  We build websites that we want to see on the internet.  And because of this, our excitement usually mirrors that of our clients’ excitement.
And this is where the thrust of this entry is found.

Websites need to be given a chance.  We’ve been conditioned that since everything is so quick with technology, that our amazing website that has everything and the kitchen sink will also be able to climb the ranks of google in one day and sit atop that lofty throne like the champion that it is.  Unfortunately, this is not always the case.  The case is that the brand new site that just got created is now competing with all of the other existing websites out there of its kind.  And those have been around for a lot longer and have a lot more content and a lot more money spent into crafting how content has been created to show up when someone looks up anything to do with their site.

 

This helps organic listings.  We make sure meta-tags, descriptions, relevant content, location tags, and structure all fall in line with what google likes.

 

Google is not instant.  It will crawl a site, but it will take time to decide on how your site should be ranked.  Age has something to do with it, frequent, relevant content has something to do with it.  And sometimes it just takes a while to see how the site will be situated in the rankings.  Having a properly built website is the first step; we make sure that is taken care of.  This helps organic listings.  We make sure meta-tags, descriptions, relevant content, location tags, and structure all fall in line with what google likes.  The second step is of course your content: updates are important.  The third step is SEO and advertising.  This can be done with google adwords and campaigns.  This also can be done with advertising – the more people that hear about your site, the more visitors you get, and the more Google ranks your site.

 

Rome wasn’t built in a day and unfortunately, Google rankings can’t be as well.

 

But this all comes back to expectations.  We expect this to be instant.  The doors open and suddenly the internet basks in the glory of that new website.  New website smell bursts through the google ranks and into the homes of the entire population of planet earth.  This doesn’t happen though, Rome wasn’t built in a day and unfortunately, Google rankings can’t be as well.

However, this isn’t a bad thing – this is a great thing.  This means that you can appear at the top as well.  Just continue doing the right things: building a quality website, doing quality work as a business, and being good to your clients.  And much like your company, your website status will grow.  Spend some money on SEO, but get the word out there too.  You will see monthly visitors grow.  And this is the important metric – not total visitors, but comparison from previous months.

Because even if 200 people see your site in a month sometimes, that is 200 more people who know about your business than a month before.  And the next month those are 200 or more people again.  Your website is an amazingly powerful marketing tool that can be used to get your message out to everybody that can possibly get to your site.  But it’s still a tool.

So give it a chance. 

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Back in the saddle again (or “What happens when your host is no longer fulfilling your needs”)

Okay, here we go.  I know, we broke our rule on blog writing… again.  We but we adhered to another cardinal rule in business: keep your clients happy.  And we did this over the last 2 months as we positioned all of our offerings to reinforce this core value at Chewie Media.  A pillar in our services ecosystem that this became most obvious was our hosting offering.

Chewie Media offers a completely managed hosting service for a nominal fee, or completely included in our monthly website plans.  This is part of our desire to take the headaches out of website building and design.  Being a completely managed hosting service, this can sometimes incur significant time investment from us during times of site migration, unexpected content loss by our clients (hey, mistakes happen!  That’s what we’re here for), or the occasional security breach (I’m looking at you, SSL).  We also have to make sure we are up on some of the latest requirements by governing bodies such as the new Canadian anti-spam laws which put some of the onus on the website hosts running email services, such as us.

 

Drupal has been a cornerstone of our development platform for years, and some of our developers, primarily myself, have been working with Drupal for almost a decade.

 

I mention all of this because we ran into an issue with our service provider – we lease out servers as a way to provide more value for what is paid, and to ensure that one singular point of failure would be unable to bring down any website.  This issue had been cropping up now for the previous few months – websites were responding slower than expected and large-scale websites were noticeably sluggish.  We were unhappy with this situation and had worked previously with techs at this service provider to remedy the situation.  All attempts to fix this sluggish response was met with responses such as “Drupal is known to be slow, this is a software issue.”

We knew this wasn’t the case; Drupal has been a cornerstone of our development platform for years, and some of our developers, primarily myself, have been working with Drupal for almost a decade.  Drupal can be slow if configured incorrectly, but in the right hands it can be snappy and powerful.

Eventually we had to look elsewhere.

 

if we are available to our clients at 3:00 am in the morning during an emergency, then our service provider should be right there as well if things get hairy (and not the good, four-legged kind).

 

We went with a company which has been known to work with Drupal and other CMS frameworks, and has had significantly good reviews.  Scratch that, we actually ran tests on multiple providers before settling on this one.  We decided to test out a different offering from MediaTemple, Bluehost Virtual Servers, and StormOnDemand Virtual Servers.  We decided number one had to be speed, but a close second had to be service; if we are available to our clients at 3:00 am in the morning during an emergency, then our service provider should be right there as well if things get hairy (and not the good, four-legged kind).  Our third option was customizability; how well would we be able to customize things to get precisely what we wanted out of the service provider.

Sparing the details, we were amazed with what we got out of the service and technologies provided by StormOnDemand.  They completely overshot what we had experienced from our other two test cases, and confirmed our suspicions that all of the websites we were hosting should be able to respond quicker.  For most of the websites we host, we encountered a 200% increase in speed.  This increased to 800% for large-scale websites, and over 1000% for e-commerce websites – the results were simply staggering.  As we began focusing on e-commerce websites and other large-scale sites with over 10,000 pages per site, this was an amazing development!

 

We believe in the long run, the payoff in performance and added client satisfaction should more than make up for the amount of time invested by us up-front.

 

Why this was exciting to us was that we were then able to provide this increase in service back to all of our clients without charging a dime.  However, the man-hours to make this change were significant, but this is one of the differences between self-serve hosting for your website and fully managed hosting by us.  We believe in the long run, the payoff in performance and added client satisfaction should more than make up for the amount of time invested by us up-front.

Making a change like this, while also providing our usual website development and design services to our clients has kept us busy, but we hope to not use this as an excuse with neglecting our blog in the future.  As always, I am here to answer any additional questions you may have; I’m watching the facebook and twitter feeds for all of your website questions.

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