So your website is launched. Your digital marketing plan is in place and the web designer is on call to assist with new product campaigns. What if you want to embed a video or make some small changes? How do you know when to bring in the hired guns or to roll up your sleeves and do the hard work yourself? Small businesses looking to lower overhead can save money with their web designer by performing small maintenance routines themselves.
To Hire or Not to Hire
Let’s face it, once your site is live, you still need your web designer. You will probably want an experienced designer to revisit the site at least once a year. For a designer the process is more than simply looking for dead links. They will be able to tinker at a fundamental level, improving your website’s speed and making subtle changes that improve web user retention.
There are some simple fixes you can perform on your own. Most of these can be performed with easy instructions provided by your designer.
• Refresh the copyright. Nothing says “if we don’t care, then why should you?” like a copyright from last year. Web users looking for information know that fresh knowledge is discovered on a fairly regular basis, even in established industries.
• Fix broken links. Even if you are performing maintenance with HTML or Java, the code to fix links is extremely simple. A broken link is even more telling that your site is cruising on unloved.
• Content management. Content management is very different from creating custom content. Moving links, deleting a paragraphs of irrelevant information, or alter spelling and grammar mistakes are easy fixes that should not wait.
• Event updates. Unless you are advertising your Event of the Year or you are advertising an event with multiple stakeholders, you should know how to add event information on your website so customers can plan ahead.
• Social media updates. Twitter and Facebook need regular updates. Remember that small businesses are celebrated for their close proximity to the customer and top-tier knowledge in their area of expertise. Using social media is more than shelling out coupons. Talk to your customers. Consumers love personable accounts with a professional sense of humor. Give tips and brief how-tos. Shout out to your best customers and link pictures and snippets of success stories. Taking the time to engage builds the most valuable customer commodity of all: loyalty.
On the flip side, knowing when to call your designer and copywriter is its own art form. There are some easy signs that now is the time.
• Certain web pages load slowly. The new trend in web design is less information, faster. Many users have limited data access, especially through mobile plans. On the flip side, less data means less for you to manage. Sleek, fast websites are in. If some of your web pages are loading exceptionally slowly and you can’t figure out why, this should be addressed immediately. This is especially true if the page is a crucial step in the sales funnel.
• Traffic has been on a steady decline. A downward trend may not spell out a complete site overhaul, but it may mean your content or keywords are outdated. Poor SEO and outdated content also results in a lower search engine rank. Sometimes a design company with a strong background in digital marketing is necessary to revamp your strategy.
• Some functions are no longer used. Apps and plugins won’t last forever. Sometimes companies abandon old projects and stop supporting the software, and eventually features stop working. In other instances, customers stop using a feature in favor of something else. One example is social media share buttons.Their ability to deliver has been on a steady decline, and many designers are advising their clients to get in front of the trend and avoid using them. Old features slow down your site and make it look outdated.
• Your site lacks mobile support. More people are online with mobile devices than with desktop computers. Unless you are working with a template, launching mobile support for your site is extremely challenging.
Now the tricky part: actually performing your own maintenance. Your designer can help you understand what they used to build the site so you can begin learning how to make updates on your own.
CMS. Designers can install content management systems to help you more easily make updates of your own. With a CMS, you can easily implement site searches, make text changes using editors, and access all of these features through dashboards that are typically simple to navigate. For small business owners lacking deep technical knowledge, a CMS is the way to go.
Create event landing pages. Large events with multiple stakeholders often need a website that can be scrapped upon the event’s conclusion. Blocsapp is a simple web design tool that may not be ideal for a permanent business page designed from inexperience but is more than enough to inform customers about upcoming events. The same goes for Microsoft’s WebMatrix.
Learn basic code. The benefits of learning to code, even basic programming skills, are varied and at first glance may not be readily apparent. Coding skills help you by providing insight into your website’s infrastructure, help you learn advanced techniques like building contact forms and create custom apps, and ultimately saves time and money when discussing project needs with your web designer. Here are some useful tools for learning code and creating apps.
• Codecademy. This website is highly interactive and teaches users with a hands-on approach. The site covers a variety of languages from PHP, Java, Python, Ruby, and more. The tutorials are extremely thorough. It begins with basic instructions and examples, has hints when you get stuck, and will point out your errors. This is perfect for beginners.
• Code School. For those who have already gotten their feet wet, Code School provides in-depth training. This website will explain programming best practices to make your code more efficient and better at spotting errors.
• Xcode. This is a program with code testing, editing, and app-building all rolled into one. It features command line tools for writing code, debugging and performance apps, code analysis tools, and plugins for further needs. You can write and launch iOS apps with ease.
• Como. This is the true DIY app maker for businesses. Not only does it provide an easy platform for creating, maintaining, and fixing apps, but it has a host of design tools to spice up your program. In addition, Como provides tools to help launch advertising and marketing campaigns on social media platforms and websites, purchase physical promo materials, and allows you to launch your app on all mobile platforms.