Improving Websites to Achieve Your Goals
Digital communications are now an indispensable part of business activity, and websites are the core of every organization’s digital identity and marketing. Open Road Digital conceptualizes, designs, and deploys websites for professional service firms and associations, helping them market their services, support their missions, and amplify their thought leadership.
Our services include:
- Auditing digital operations, including websites and social media
- Redesigning websites to meet organizational goals
- Optimizing existing websites to improve organizations’ existing digital investments
- Helping firms understand the technical aspects of their digital assets
- Training and empowering personnel to create and use digital assets to their full potential
Your Website Should Always Be 97% Complete
For a couple decades, there has been an unspoken approach in the business world: spend a lot of money on a new website and then it’s “done.” Whew.
But that’s not the right attitude. A website is an asset, like an automobile, that needs regular maintenance. More importantly, the clients and audiences you serve change. So, it’s important to always feel that a website is a work in progress.
We maintain that your website should always be “97% complete.” Why? First of all, 97% is very close to 100%. We believe you should aim for your website to be as perfect as possible, at all times. It should perform as your central marketing asset. However, no website is ever “complete.” Having an attitude that it is “almost there” helps you to stay focused on your mission and how you can always be improving your digital marketing and communications.
Your site should be regularly updated with new content, you should always be asking “how can I improve on this to achieve my goals?” and you should be sure your website’s code is regularly updated.
Your Website May Simply Need to Be “Optimized”
Do you think you need to redesign your website from scratch? Maybe you need a website “refresh” rather than a brand new site. “Website optimization” is what we call it.
Sometimes a brand new website is warranted. At other times, what is needed is what we like to call “optimization” of your website. Optimization normally entails a steady stream of updates and improvements to a website. These updates can include:
- migrating to an improved web hosting platform that provides secure HTTPS connections with an SSL/TLS certificate, as well as regular backups and staging capabilty
- Upgrading of core software, including themes and plugins
- Removal of unneeded plugins
- Improvement of the UX (user experience) of a website
- Revision of the website to improve SEO and “conversion optimization” – the ability to get visitors to take valuable actions on your site
Website Hosting and Security
Chances are, you lock your doors at night, you have homeowners or renters insurance, and you know where the keys to your house are. Can you say the same for your website?
Unfortunately, many website owners have problems like these:
- They don’t have access to their web hosting account. That’s like not even knowing where your front door key is.
- Their site is not on a secure HTTPS connection, a situation that is becoming increasingly problematic. In fact, starting in 2020, non-HTTPS sites may stop being shown on many web browsers.
- Their website is not backed up, or they don’t know where the backups are. The fact is, if you lose your website data (text content, images), it is a disaster.
- Too many people have access to their website. Only those you trust should have access.
- Outdated or deactivated plugins remain on the site, waiting for a hacker to use this situation to their advantage. Out-of-date software is like a house that looks abandoned – like with thieves, sites like these are ready for hackers to exploit.
It’s not surprising that website owners share so many of these situations. After all, the technical aspects of website ownership are not always a priority. Oftentimes, people don’t pay attention to these things until the site stops working properly.
We help website owners gain control of their sites: improving security and getting their house in order. We analyze website software, determining which software is outdated, which plugins are out of date, and which are unnecessary and should be removed. We provide recommendations on which web hosting companies and plans that are most beneficial for each situation.
The end result? Peace of mind and an authentic feeling of ownership of a website so that it suits your strategic purposes. After your website and hosting situation has been cleaned up, we offer annual maintenance service plans to make sure that your website runs optimally and is always as secure as possible.
Website Maintenance: Change the Oil!
There is a fallacy that is out there: a website gets built, oftentimes after an arduous web design process, and then it gets ignored. For a long time. And then it starts to break down.
The fact is, a website is no different that your automobile. An automobile that gets regular maintenance – changing the oil, rotating the tires, and so forth – runs properly and helps avoid scary, expensive, surprise visits to the mechanic.
Every website should be monitored and maintained to make sure that the software remains up to date. For WordPress websites, this means:
- WordPress core software should be updated when core updates are released every few months.
- PHP, the core scripting language of WordPress websites, needs to be kept up to date. This is usually done through your web hosting plan.
- Plugins, those nice units of code that give websites additional functionality, such as homepage sliders, metadata, malware monitoring, and more, need constant updating when the plugin developers release new versions of their products. Unused plugins also should be removed from websites.
- Theme software, which is basically the “template” of a WordPress website, should be updated when theme developers release new versions.
By making sure that these features are regularly updated, you gain the peace of mind to run your business or mission without worry.
Website Analytics and Performance
Do you know how your website is performing? Once a website gets built, the questions start to arise:
- How many visits does your website get?
- Which web pages are most popular?
- Did that new landing page you created get enough clicks?
- Which websites link to your site?
- When was my site last crawled by Google?
Questions like these can be answered using cloud-based performance or analytics software. Usually, Google’s free cloud tools such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console can answer many of these questions.
We can help you set up these tools and train you how to make use of them. By using analytics software, you learn how to make your website more useful, allowing you to improve the UX (user experience) of your site and to integrate it more fully into your existing marketing activities.
We also see many firms with inaccurate or limited information on Google My Business (GMB). Google My Business is usually accessed through Google Maps. Ever found a business through Google Maps and found inaccurate information, such as an old street address or wrong photos of an office building? This is usually because an organization has not claimed their own business using Google’s free Google My Business service.
We help you claim your business on GMB and update accurate, meaningful content to help support your mission.