This is one of the questions you have to answer when asked to rate your website in the Plan Your Empowered WebsiteTM blueprint. (Don’t have yours yet? Grab it here, for free!)
Chances are, if your website was created more than a year or two ago, it doesn’t show up well on your smartphone’s small screen.
Worst case scenario: it is impossible to read and the visitor simply closes it right away.
Good enough: it’s a mobile-friendly website design that displays images and text according to the screen size.
Best case scenario: it’s a responsive design that automatically changes images sizes, font sizes, and reduces everything to a single column even if the website was designed with two or more columns (also known as having sidebars).
Did you know that Google recently changed their mobile search to rank a mobile-friendly website higher in their mobile search results? That means if you’ve got great content for your audience, and they happen to search for it on their smartphone (or tablet) and your site isn’t mobile-friendly, Google won’t show them your site! That’s a pretty big risk to take if you’re putting a lot of energy into making awesome content for your audience.
Can a plugin make your WordPress site mobile friendly or do you have to start from scratch?
A client who fell into that “worst case scenario” camp recently asked me make her website mobile-friendly.
At first, that may seem like a fairly straight-forward thing. There are WordPress plugins that can be used to present your website in a mobile-friendly way. The problem with these plugins: they’re really just a band-aid solution.
A slick, well-designed, responsive website will look mostly the same on any screen size, with the modifications as I mentioned above applied ‘on the fly.’ It’ll adjust the text and image sizes, and shift content blocks to be more ‘readable’ in a single-column space.
When you use a plugin in WordPress to achieve mobile-readiness, it just won’t work as well as it would if responsiveness were baked in from the beginning.
Let’s compare the pros and cons of using a mobile-friendly plugin vs. a responsive design.
Mobile-friendly website plugin
- low-cost solution (potentially free if you apply it yourself)
- quick solution – simply install the plugin and configure
- display different content for mobile visitors (if used correctly, this is a benefit when used to focus on your main call-to-action and by-pass the extra content normally found on your home page)
- rank better in Google mobile search results
- only available on WordPress websites
- plugin configuration can be confusing and/or limited
- any new plugin must be tested to make sure it works with all your other plugins and your theme
- plugins need to be updated – you risk losing your settings and/or potentially breaking with future updates
- your site will not look as ‘pretty’ on mobile which means you risk losing brand recognition
- potentially lose the impact of the images you created or curated to support/compliment your content – some mobile-friendly plugins simply don’t display images at all
Responsive website design
- maintain a consistent look and feel across all screen sizes
- no additional plugins required (see CONS with plugin)
- can be applied to any website, not limited to WordPress
- when set up correctly, uses ‘best practices’ and potentially makes your website run better overall
- rank better in Google mobile search results
- if your WordPress theme was not created as a responsive theme, changing it to be responsive is not a simple task. Likewise for any other type of website – adding the responsive element to the design after the fact is always going to be more complicated
- could potentially mean you need to start over with your website design/find a new WP theme
All the One Day Empowered Websites we create use responsive themes. This is non-negotiable. If your website doesn’t pass the smartphone test, let’s chat about how we can help you bring it up to current standards.
What would it mean to your business if your website suddenly disappeared?
Your website is crucial to your business marketing. It’s your main point of contact with clients, potential new staff and partners. It stands as your primary ‘credibility’ piece – your home on the web that shows you’re a legitimate, honest-to-goodness business.
Oh, and if you make all your sales online, it may be your only source of revenue.
Your website is key to the success of your business and you want peace of mind that it will be up and available for your audience 24/7 without interruption.
When your site is doing its job, it generates leads, new clients, and income.
When your site is down or no longer works correctly because it has been hacked, none of that happens.
All Websites Are Vulnerable
Websites needs updating. All websites.
WordPress websites, because of their popularity, are a particularly big target, so they need to be updated more often than others.
As you rely more and more on your website to help you build connections and grow your business website security is only going to become more important. More and more websites are getting hacked and attacked – from the big players like Twitter and Facebook to millions of small businesses everyday.
Can You Do Something to Protect Your Own Website?
It definitely IS possible for you to keep your website up to date, backed up, and secure. That said, it can also be time consuming and tedious.
As necessary as it is, website housekeeping takes you away from working on your business. You’re too busy to do it yourself, and because the technology and the nature of the hackers’ threats is always changing, it doesn’t even make sense to try.
You definitely have options when it comes to managing and updating your website. Your hosting company may seem like a logical choice.
They likely do it for thousands of customers every day, so they are definitely experienced. But, it also means they aren’t likely to notice if a plugin update breaks your site (which is a very real possibility) in a sea of 1000s which are updated by automatic scripts – not humans.
So what do you gain if you seek the more human approach? (Psst: Online Empowerment is run by a dedicated human!)
If you’re a client of Online Empowerment, then I already know your website intimately because I built it or have at least worked on it. That means I know something about those crucial plugins that may be specific to your site.
Even if you haven’t yet hired Online Empowerment to help with creating or revamping your website, if it’s on WordPress, I can get up to speed on it in a very short time.
And I may not work on 1000s of sites at once like your mega hosting company, but I’ve been using WordPress for over 5 years and all of my websites (including this one) are built on the same software.
I’m in the best position to keep your website up and running and open for business and I can do that with one of my Website Care Plans.
What Does a Website Care Plan Offer?
Three words: Peace of mind.
Let me take care of making sure your website is up and running smoothly so you can spend your precious time doing what you love – serving your clients and being more present for your family. And if, heaven forbid, your website gets hacked – or disappears *gulp* – I’m on top of it ASAP. I will have your site back in business as quickly as possible.
Just ask Rebecca Wong and Cheri Valentine. Each of these OE clients has experienced the scare of losing her website. And in both cases, I was able to restore and move them to a more stable server – and their businesses barely skipped a beat.
Working with me means your website will continue to support your business at a fraction of the time and cost it would take to do it yourself.
Good web developers are in high demand these days and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon. In order to provide the best level of service and support, I can only accept a limited number of Website Care clients.
I’d Like To Know More About You And Your Business
In all honesty, I’m only interested in working with clients who understand the value their website adds to their business. Hence I have made the website care plans available by application only.
Please review the plans at the link below and use the contact form to set up a brief chat and let’s see if we’re a good match.
This service is designed to offer you peace of mind and the assurance that you have a skilled partner who can help you achieve your online objectives.
Tomorrow, April 2nd, is World Autism Awareness Day.
I’ve got a story to share, and I’ve held it in for long enough.
Almost 3 years ago a burning mission came bubbling out of my inner being – it was just as powerful as birthing my boys in many ways.
I was involved in an epic journey that took place over 31 days. It was entirely online, but it couldn’t have felt more real than if I had been experiencing it in the flesh. As a result of that virtual journey I arrived at a profound awareness of my mission.
But, let me give you my backstory first.
My Family’s Autism Story
Six years ago, my first-born was about to start kindergarten in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
In the months leading up to September, I’d noticed some strange behaviours in my boy. He didn’t seem to know ‘how’ to play with his toys or other children at the playground. And even though he had been in full-time daycare for two years with lots of other kids, he was always happiest doing his own thing. Loud sounds really bothered him (to the point he would refuse to enter public washrooms for fear of the hand-dryer) and he had been through speech and language therapy because at 14 months he still hadn’t uttered a single word. (The speech therapy helped tremendously and you would never know today that he ever didn’t talk!)
But, within a few weeks of the start of school, my son’s teacher called me to discuss her concerns in that very loving way and with the experience only a veteran teacher possesses.
She confirmed what I had already suspected – that my loving, sweet, brilliant, intelligent boy most likely had Autism/Aspergers.
Within a few months, we received the diagnosis of High-Functioning Autism from the caring doctors and psychologists at the local hospital.
Personal Experience Influences Life’s Mission
And here’s where my mission starts to build up within me.
You see, we were reluctant to share about his diagnosis with anyone who didn’t absolutely need to know.
Why? Because we didn’t want it to limit him. We didn’t want to colour how others perceive him, or most importantly, how he perceives himself.
Most* High-Functioning Autistics and Aspergers (some claim they are the same, the only difference in my boy’s case is his speech delay ruled out Aspergers – which technically is no longer an official diagnosis) are quite brilliant, and my boy is no exception. Academically he is very strong (although he struggles to see the point to doing his homework!). Gym class is not his favourite as he can be awkward at times. And cooperating with other children his age can be difficult.
*You’ll soon discover that sweeping generalizations in the Autism community are frowned upon. There’s a saying that “once you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve met ONE person with Autism.” Every person living with Autism displays their challenges in unique ways. But there are certainly a LOT of ways they are similar.
As I’m seeing where my boy struggles in school and in life (he doesn’t like change, especially unexpected change – but he’s getting better at managing when things don’t go as expected) I’m thinking about his future and where his path might take him.
Ultimately, he’s really great at some things, and not so great at others.
Aren’t we all like that?!
Since I am a computer programmer by training, I know how a logical mind can be put to good use.
I see all the possibilities for my boy’s future.
And yet, my fear is that his challenges may prevent him from being able to find gainful employment.
He wouldn’t have trouble finding a job because he’s incapable of doing the work, but because the hiring manager may not be able to see that he’s capable if he gives off a wrong first-impression. Or perhaps he will find a good job, but the environment will be too challenging for him to succeed.
My Mission: Change the Professional Landscape for People With Autism
By 2020, my mission is to change the workplace landscape for young adults with Autism – so that they are seen for their strengths, being adequately compensated for their skills, all within a supportive, adaptive environment where they can thrive.
It seems I may be on the right track as the UN declared the theme for this year’s Awareness Day is “Employment: The Autism Advantage.”
But wait a minute – what does that have to do with “Online Empowerment” and website development? For the past three years I’ve been asking myself the same dang question.
The answer came to me last week. And when I’m ready to share that answer, you’ll be the first to know about it!
For now, please join me in supporting World Autism Awareness Day by wearing BLUE, lighting up blue if you can, and asking questions. The more we know, the closer we get to true acceptance.
I’m going to leave you with this thought: 1 in 88 children (1 in 54 boys) are diagnosed with some level of Autism, and their numbers are only growing.
Now you know 1 – my son, if you didn’t before.
I’m not asking for money (but if you feel called to, you can donate to AutismSpeaks.ca in Canada, or AutismSpeaks.org, or search for your local Autism community and find out how you can help), all I’m asking for is more awareness – ask questions if you don’t understand – and acceptance – my boy is perfectly quirky and there is absolutely nothing “wrong” with him.
He just experiences the world differently and is doing his best to navigate it by ‘neurotypical’ standards.
Will you help me ‘change the landscape’ for all of our future selves? I hope so.
I invite you to share your Autism awareness story in the comments or on social media and tag me (@CorinnaRake).
Take heart – sending your newsletter doesn’t have to be complicated, and you don’t have to do it alone!
In 3 Steps to (Re)Launching Your Email Newsletter I covered what it takes to set up that e-newsletter of yours. Now it’s time to focus on what it takes to produce regular issues.
What’s involved to send your newsletter? Follow along the fictional story of Jane, a mompreneur who has it all together (or at least looks like she does!) as she prepares to send her regular message to her list.
Jane is ready to send her first newsletter. She’s gone through the 3 steps to setting up her email template and process and has identified:
- WHO she’s talking to: moms with young children who have businesses (or want to start) selling items on etsy
- HOW she’s going to talk to them: she’s going to write her own articles that include tips about selling on etsy; the same content will also be available on her blog
- WHEN she’s going to send her brilliant tips: every Tuesday afternoon
Based on her needs, MailChimp was her best email delivery option, but she also considered Aweber (this article helped her make up her mind).
Because she values brand consistency and she knows her community values companies that have the right look, Jane hired someone to help with setting up and connecting her MailChimp to her website, and also had an email template created to match her website’s branding.
Thanks to the email list opt-in box that’s on the sidebar on every page of her website, prospective clients have been joining her list and now it’s time to really engage them with great content.
But wait, what should Jane do? What are the steps she needs to follow to get that email out to her list?
You need to think about three general areas when you’re producing your newsletter: Content, Audience, and Delivery. Throughout these recommendations I’ll be referring to the previous post about (re)launching your e-newsletter, so be sure you’ve gone through those recommendations first.
Start with Content
- Decide on the topic - Ideally you have created an editorial calendar, or at least a list of topics you will talk about, so you don’t have to start from scratch with every issue.Your editorial calendar will be more specific than those initial ‘broad strokes’ categories that you would have listed when going through your initial “WHY” for your newsletter.Remember to be specific. Narrow down your topic that you can present it with no more than 3 main points.To return to our fearless newsletter creator Jane: she has decided to write about the right way to using image when you list products on etsy.
- Now that you have a vision and a clear direction, it’s time to generate the content. How you do that depends on what you decided in HOW you’re going to talk to your audience.If you’re curating content, you’ll start researching based on the topic of the week and then you’ll write the copy that links all of the ideas together. If you’re writing your own article, get your 3 main points sorted out and get writing!
- Your writing isn’t done until you craft a subject line that inspires people to open your message. Leave extra time for this – even professional writers will tell you that coming up with a subject line is the hardest work of all. Here’s a handy PDF that might help with this, generously created by Michelle Shaeffer.
Jane is going to write her own tips article and talk about how to make the most of the size, quality and lighting of the photos used in your etsy product listing.
EXTRA CREDIT: Include at least one pinnable image to go with your message (preferably with your article title and website on it somewhere).
Your Audience: What Do They Need to Do Next?
- The next step is key: decide on a strong Call-to-action (CTA). Every newsletter needs to offer a logical ‘next step’ for your audience to take.Sometimes your whole message is created with your CTA in mind (because, for example, you have a program launch coming up and want your list to claim their spots first).
When your attention isn’t on one big offer you still want to direct the reader to do something when they reach the end of the email. Maybe it’s appropriate to link to one of your products or affiliates. You may simply want to ask them to share the article through social media or forwarding it to a friend.
Jane has a new package for busy moms who want to start selling on etsy: she helps them get set up on the platform with custom graphics and more. So, her CTA is “sign up for a 15 minute consultation” so she can answer prospects’ questions and also helps them decide if she offers the solution they really need.
Delivering that Email is About More than Clicking “Send”
- Add content & image to newsletter template. You won’t be composing in your email program (too many things could go wrong so be sure to write and edit your work in a reliable, stable word processing program). Be aware that it might not be as easy as copy and paste because certain text programs (like Google Docs or Word) will include invisible formatting. This make take some knowledge of HTML code. If you’re stuck, contact me and I can help you out!
- After everything has been copied and uploaded, send a test message to yourself. In addition to making sure that everything looks ok, be sure to click on each link to ensure they work.
- Tweak and perfect – but don’t make yourself crazy!
- Schedule to send at appropriate time based on what you know about your readers’ habits and needs. For example, if you’re targeting busy career moms about making improvements on their home, send that email on a Friday afternoon or a Saturday morning when they’re thinking about how the house is a disaster and they need to add on!
Jane logs into her MailChimp account and creates a new campaign message using the template that was created to match her website’s branding. She copies her content into the message, uploads the image(s) and sends herself a test message. Once the message looks the way it should, she schedules it to send out on Tuesday at 3pm.
Your Turn to Make it Happen – Send Your Newsletter
Yes, there’s a lot to think about when you commit to sending an email to your list on a regular basis, but I promise it’s worth it. Leaders in content marketing from Chris Brogan to Copyblogger’s Brian Clark all sing the praises of email for one simple reason: it still works best.
The good news is that it is possible to outsource the aspects of the process that stress you out or distract you from your sweet spot. Contact me to talk about how I can help you (or find you the right help) so you feel empowered and supported every step of the way.