I Need A Website But Where Do I Start

I Need A Website But Where Do I Start

The 10 Most Important Decisions You Make When Planning a Website for Your Business

The Chocolate Moons Team

September 2, 2021


Before we list the 10 Most Important Decisions you need to make when planning a website for your business, sit down first and discuss with your business associate, sponsor or family how much you can afford to spend on this website over the next two years.

There are so many unexpected costs and although you may be unaware of these initially, if you choose the wrong developer or hosting provider, you will find the costs not just mounting up initially but exponentially.

A website is as important as a brick and mortar business. If you are prepared to pay tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars on shop fitting, hiring staff, utilities, equipment, accountants, lawyers, contractors and marketing people, you should consider making as strong an investment in your online business that you may have envisaged.

If you hire an excellent, professional and reliable UX Designer, they can talk you through the process step-by-step. Look for someone with great programming, creativity and marketing skills. Check out their portfolio and see if they run any boot camps where you can join other companies who are looking for a fresh website start. An excellent designer will incorporate into their training some, if not more, of the following recommendations:

CHEAP IS EXPENSIVE

 

  1. Understand what is the Internet?
  2. Understand how computer networks connect to each other.
  3. Choose a short, unforgettable domain name that represents your business and preferably with a dot com extension (.com).
  4.  Research a suitable Internet Service Provider that can provide you with access to the Internet.
  5. Your ISP or hosting service can sound (Wow!) terribly cheap, as little as $3/month. We would never, never recommend this. (See CHEAP IS EXPENSIVE above.) A shared hosting service means you are sharing the same server with other websites which may contain malware which could easily spread to your website. You can purchase a VPS (Virtual Private Server) or even a Dedicated Server (one that is dedicated to your website only).
  6. Finding a reputable Internet Service Provider can be difficult which is why we recommend a trainer who can advise you. Those recommended on the Internet tend to be ‘engineered’ by the search engines and can vary considerably in Price, Performance, Support and Reliability.
  7. Support | Support | Support. You need 24/7 support and this can be either phone (which appears to be offered less and less), through text messaging or immediate chat support. If you have a developer that only offers normal business hours support, that can work as well as long as you share the ISP account. The beauty of having an IT expert is they speak the same language as the ISP support and often the support you need is happening on the server and nothing to do with your own website.
  8. A reliable hosting service will take active measures to protect their customers’ sites. This may be the most important factor when deciding on your service.
  9. If you are going to be adding content yourself you will need a CMS website like WordPress if you do not have any coding skills. According to Forbes Magazine, 2017, WordPress accounts for more than 75 million websites. Over 500 new sites are created daily using the free version of WordPress (Tech Jury Business Software Solutions, 2021) and WP holds nearly 65% of the CMS marketplace, with Shopify at 3.2%, Joomla at 2.2%, Drupal at 1.5%, Wix at 1.5%, Squarespace at 1.5% and Bitrix at 1% (search engine journal 2021).
  10. Your online business is a reflection of your real world business. If you use a cheap service it will cost you in the long run, through lack of security and performance. If it looks like you built it on one of the less popular, cheaper platforms, visitors to your website will judge your business as untrustworthy or even unprofessional.

 

Chocolate Moons Web and Multimedia Design is happy to recommend a reliable UX designer or trainer who can talk you through the steps, and not only what type of website your business needs, but what to look for.
The Right and Wrong Ways to Text Message

The Right and Wrong Ways to Text Message

The Do’s and Don’ts of Text Messaging

Or…if only I never said that!

Donna Zinski

July 9, 2021


“The Pen is Mightier Than The Sword.” Several famous philosophers and writers have stated so through the ages. And today we know how powerful the written word has become, and sometimes dangerously so when it incorporates lies and inventive discourse.

We never got lessons about text messaging, right? We’ve made it all our own but we sometimes know when we’ve got a text message, or even an email, that just sometimes what the other person has said is, well, just not that nice.

This may never have been their intention. So, to avoid any misunderstandings, let’s cover a few do’s and don’ts:

 

  • If you are short-sighted, or far sighted, and get woken up to a text message that requires a quick but important response, wear your glasses. I’ve done this and responded to some really sad news with a smiley face by mistake!
  • Don’t answer any text message when you’ve just woken up. Do not put the snooze button on. You’re still not awake.
  • Don’t use caps on. Apart from the fact it looks like you are shouting (maybe you are), strictly speaking your shouting never stops. It’s also difficult to read.
  • You don’t need punctuation. Text messaging is meant to be quick and short. Follow Twitter rules and keep under 280 characters.
  • Group messaging: Be careful here. If it’s business and doesn’t require a lot of feedback …… perfect. But if it’s an opinion and you’ve sent it to a large group, most may not want to get notified every couple of seconds.
  • Never criticize the originator of a group message or anyone else making comments on a group message. The originator may have made a genuine mistake sending it out to so many. If you don’t want to hear a hundreds pings, drop off the message. See below for instructions.
  • Try and get several thoughts in one-only message. Don’t send five or six messages one after the other. More unnecessary and annoying notifications.
  • Those funny ‘laughing out loud’ LOL texts should be kept strictly for good friends. You wouldn’t say to your boss or client, in person, “I am Laughing My A*s Off!”
  • Some single words come off as insensitive or just plain rude. Like “Thanks” or “K” as if you don’t have time or can’t be bothered to write Thank You or Yes, That’s Fine, in full.

And now for the good stuff:

  • Yes, use emojis. That person you are texting with can’t see your face, can’t hear your voice to judge what the intent is behind your text, but adding an emoji can change the whole sentence completely……in your favor and give it some real context. Just don’t go mad with them.

We Are Sorry

 

We are sorry you were unable to complete your invoice transaction. Please phone 425 822-7532 if you need help.

Thank You.

CHOCOLATE MOONS WEB AND MULTIMEDIA DESIGN

Long Term Planning and Measuring Success

Long Term Planning and Measuring Success

6. Long Term Planning

Step 1.  Research Your Competition

The best way to research your competition will require some help. You can use existing staff members, friends, even hire a few interns.

Get together with your team and analyze your competition. The easiest way to do this is:

  • join their social network accounts
  • visit and analyze their website
  • visit their establishment if they are a store
  • brainstorm

Bring you team in and brainstorm:

  • What did you all like
  • what do you think works for the competition
  • what doesn’t work for them?
  • what is their ‘Story’
  • what is their brand, does it work for them?

Don’t forget to check out YouTube. Research, Research, Research.

Step 2. Conduct a User Analysis

Invent a prospect for your business.  When choosing an imaginary prospect, invent someone you think would be interested in your product or service.

Then access the demographics, psychographics and webographics of this person. You can easily find this information on the Internet.  Their demographics will provide you with their race, ethnicity, gender, age, education, profession, occupation, income level, and marital status. Never discount these important facts because you will need to be respectful towards any potential customer. Be inclusive.

Webographics will give you some valuable information on your targets, such as what platforms they use, their favorite browsers, and how tech-savvy they are.

Psychographics gives you an insight into their habits, and hobbies, how they like to spend their money, and even investments.

Step 3. Interview

You can ask several friends to participate with this but cold interviews are the best.

You will need at least ten interviews. Ask for their approximate age, income, marital status, location, level of education, how they would find your product or service, the amount of time they spend on the web, what devices do they use most often to access information on the Internet, their tech level, and social networks.

If you find some of your questions may be too prying or awkward, make a reasonable guess.

Devise a list of questions to ask them. DO NOT put answers in their mouth. If they are not sure of an answer, DO NOT HELP THEM.

We recently conducted an interview with a counselor who wanted a new website. We randomly selected some students and faculty at a local college to help with interviews. And with permission of course.

We asked them what counseling did they think people sought the most. Their top two answers from 15 people were loss of a job and chemical dependency. 

We did receive one computer Internet addiction!

Think clearly about one or two questions that will help you identify when, how and why they will choose your product or service over others. Particularly, how they will find your product or service in the first place.

Plot your interview results out in a chart under headings. See the example below.

 

Interview chart showing results of an interview including age, gender, income, education, ethnicity

 

Now you have completed your Brainstorming Sessions, your Interview Process charted and your User Analysis completed, you should have a clear idea who your potential customers are, your Target Market. You can now put together your Planning Document.

The Long Term Planning Document

You can start planning out your marketing campaign for the year by using a Google sheet or Excel spreadsheet.

On your document start with your goals. For example, at the top of your sheet write out how many potential customers you wish to attract to your store. From this number you need to know how many website and social network leads you are going to have to achieve to attract this number of customers. If you wish to attract say 200 new customers you will probably have to engage at least 2,000 new visitors.

How you are going to market to them? This may be in the form of newsletters, Facebook posts,Tweets, Pins and Instagram posts. You may even have thought about giving a sales talk, semester or video blast.

What are you going to present? Decide on the subject matter. Let’s say you want to introduce a new line of summer wear in your store. New Summer Wear is a very specific subject. Write a blog or a news item that covers this topic. But, within the article include lots of related content. This could be sub topics such as accessories, swim suits. hats, shoes, makeup, sun screen, sandals and even a section about how to pack for a vacation. The list can be endless but you now have lots of different content to post throughout a two-month period leading up to your summer sale.

How will you present these items initially? Through a magazine, a fashion show, are you partnering with another store? Are you purchasing Ads in magazines, Facebook, or in Google Ads? Plan all of this out well in advance on your spreadsheet.

What is important about subtopics is that they can improve your website newsletter’s search engine placement. The more subtopics you have linked to content, the more hits you can expect. The more hits or clicks you get, the higher you will rank. The higher you rank, the more visitors you can expect. The more visitors you have, will result in more leads. And finally  you can expect those leads to convert to new customers.

Give your spreadsheet your topic page title, and underneath add you subtopics. Across your page you should have columns that identify dates for your blog, your e-blast, your video or fashion show, call to action, Google Ads, and all your social network campaigns. Date them. And start monitoring your metrics. You will soon identify what is really going to work for you.

This is the beginning. Your Process for Success.

Organizing Each Individual Project

We have already covered this but if you missed it you can read about Building A Roadmap in the Planning Your Content document.

 

7. Audit Metrics and Trackers

Google Lighthouse

For beginners this is a good starting point for improving the quality of your webpages. You can run web audits from the Chrome Browser’s DevTools.

Moz

We have used Moz for years. It doesn’t mean it’s the best, just that we are comfortable with it.

Google Webmaster Tools

Say No More!

Google Search Console

For beginners this is a good starting point for improving the quality of your webpages. You can run web audits from the Chrome Browser’s DevTools.

Cool Tabs

For non professionals Cool Tabs is easy to use and offers a centralize system to store, view and manage data from your social media and hear what customers are saying about you on the Internet. You can even add the app to your Chrome browser.

Marketing Tools Part 1

Marketing Tools Part 1

A CMS website allows many individuals of differing levels to edit your website.

Efficiency

To be efficient lets get serious now. The most important tools are:

  1. A collaborative website
  2. Social Marketing one-stop tool
  3. Planning applications

1. A Content Management System Website

Lucky for us there are lots of options for collaborative websites. The best in the business has to be WordPress.

This is a Open Source Content Management System which allows access by many individuals of differing levels to edit your website. What is stunning about WordPress is that you have access to hundreds of thousands of different templates, plugins and widgets. Plugins add extra functions to your website, like, for example, a calendar or even a ticketing system.  Widgets are, in general, smaller pieces of code that sit in the website’s sidebar. You often see a widget that shows a selection of your blog posts in the sidebar.

Don’t be confused with WordPress.org and WordPress.com  WordPress.com is a complete web service. Great if you are a novice or just want to learn the Ins and Outs of WP. But is fairly restrictive as far as design goes. And you can’t access your database as you can with a WordPress.org website. You may need to in the future.

You can build your own WordPress website from scratch on most hosting services. Or a reliable developer or hosting service can do that for you. It is very dependent on how skilled you are at page builders, UX design, and the many different types of landing page and content pages available.

The other two CM systems are Drupal and Joomla. But according to statistics, currently there are more than 1bn WordPress websites. That must say something about its reliability. There is also a BUT. Because it is so popular, you need to ensure you incorporate some sensible rules and some recommended security software for your website.

A CMS website allows many individuals of differing levels to edit your website.

2. Social Marketing Tools

  1. The top of the list has to be Hootsuite.  At Chocolate Moons we have used Hootsuite for four years. We are not saying its the best but it suits our business. You even get user statistics and a 30-day free trial period. Plans start at $29/month for 10 social profiles up to $599 for 35 social profiles. They also offer Enterprise by quote.***
  2. Sprout Social is a single hub social media marketing tool. It includes Instagram. Offered to users starting at $99/month. ***
  3. Buffer is really affordable and starts at $15/month for 8 social accounts and 100 posts. The Premium level is offered at $65/month again for 8 social accounts but 2,000 scheduled posts. and Business level is at $99/month for 25 social accounts and 2,000 posts. ***
  4. We haven’t covered 3rd party add-ons to social networks but there are many apps that allow you to conduct extra searches on social network platforms. One example would be Tweepi which allows you to reach more Twitter followers than through Twitter itself.
  5. WhatsApp Business App is one of the most powerful Facebook tools you need in your social network arsenal. In our Measuring Metrics section we discuss several other marketing tools for you to research.

 

***Prices at press time January 2020.

 

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