A DIY (or Do-It-Yourself) website is not a good use of a business owner's time. This is especially true if you have little or no experience building an effective business website.
The Not-So-Great Options of DIY Websites
One DIY approach to the problem might be using a simple website template that lets you set it up with a few easy clicks. In most cases, templates are too inflexible for most business needs and have the same look-alike appearance of the thousands of other unremarkable websites on the Internet.
Another DIY approach is to bite the bullet and learn how to build a great website. In other words, you are learning to become a web designer yourself. This is a huge diversion of your time from your primary focus: growing your business. Even if you have the necessary skills, building the site still uses up your time and will continue to do so because the website will require maintenance and occasional redesigns to keep it current.
Delegating the task to an employee will free up your time but will displace your employee's time from his or her primary task. A website that is more than an Internet brochure or billboard is a large undertaking. It is anything but a quick and easy side task.
What Else am I Missing?
If you are building your own website from a template or from scratch, you are likely missing some very key aspects which will end up hurting your business rather than helping it. Knowing how to keep your website optimized for search engines is something that can take many months of research and is a constantly evolving field. Without keeping up with this information and knowing how to implement SEO strategies, your site will get left in the dust.
Most DIY websites also lack a mobile-friendly version, which is a huge drawback. Nearly 80% of all visits to websites today are from a mobile device, and if you have a site which is not mobile-friendly, you lose out on 4/5 people who try and visit your site. This will likely make those people either unhappy or completely disregard your business as an option for them.
Other reasons DIY websites are a big mistake include:
They aren't cost-effective. If you pay yourself a salary, your time is literally worth money. The same is true of any of your staff, especially when they're highly skilled. Building a DIY website by yourself or with your staff is essentially paying someone a high salary for doing a task for which they have little or no experience.
You aren't using your core strengths. Success requires using the strengths of yourself and your staff. DIY website design does the opposite in that it focuses on your relative weaknesses.
You are overworking yourself or your staff. Your workday and that of your employees are probably maxed out as it is, and building and maintaining an effective website is yet another burden. A good quality of life requires some balance between a work life and a personal life. Ignoring this leads to lower productivity and burnout.
Take the intelligent approach and hire a team of professionals to do the job for you. Contact us if you would prefer a stress-free approach to getting a custom built site with a content management system.
Crieff Hills Retreat and Conference Centre is a registered charitable organization committed to providing our guests – “a place apart . . . to come together”. The 250 acre site caters primarily to adult, youth, family and small business groups. Crieff Hills is located below Highway 401, directly south of Guelph. Our 160 bed facility includes Lodges featuring semi private rooms with a 3 piece bath. When staying in the Lodges, guests take their meals in our 1874 School House Dining Room. Our Retreat Houses are mostly century homes sleeping up to 24 people in bunk bed style accommodation with shared washrooms. Each Retreat House has a fully equipped kitchen as well as a meeting area serving those staying there. The Lodge and Retreat House facilities are ideal for most groups and are well used for special events such as reunions.
Our newest addition is The Pines which contains 570 square foot suites each with a full kitchen. These suites are situated in a quiet area of the property and serve the needs of those who wish to come apart from their world for a quiet restorative time. “a place apart . . . to restore your spirit”
Meeting space for overnight guests and day meetings is in our Conference Hall as well as in other small meeting areas. Dining in Maclean Hall is available for up to 100 people.
The variety of our programs reflects our passion to present Crieff Hills Retreat and Conference Centre as an eco-friendly place apart for spiritual renewal and leadership development. We welcome individuals, families, congregations, businesses, schools and agencies to enjoy God’s creation.
Crieff Hills Main Contact Person: Lawrence Pentelow, Managing Director
In August of 2008 we launched a capital campaign to build The Pines suites. It was clear that we needed a professional presentation web presence for our organization. We were looking for a solid and friendly company that would work with us not just for us. The WebWiz@rd was critical for us to collaborate in development and provide the tools to maintain the site. Every bit as important of course was the ability for our staff to work with and receive the support of REM staff.
What was it like working with REM?
The REM resources that assisted us in 2008 and who work with us today are without exception, friendly, easy to access, professional and eager to train and transfer knowledge to us and allow us a high level of independence for every day work.
REM has proved to be the right choice for us.
- Lawrence Pentelow, Managing Director
Learn first-hand how we can help you with your website needs.
Contact us today!
The Importance of Email Security and Strong Passwords
Email security and password safety is important for individuals and businesses alike. As online scams increase, it's important to protect yourself, your clients, and all confidential information.
Why Internet Security Matters
Internet safety means keeping private information in the right hands. If your emails, or your client's information gets hacked into or leaked, this will lead to future problems. It will also diminish client trust in your brand due to fear of information leaks. Sensitive information being leaked, computer damage, and even identity theft are risks of not taking internet security seriously. Long story short, it will end up costing you time and money to not take this stuff seriously.
How To Choose a Secure Password
When trying to keep your business safe, be sure to follow these tips to create a secure password.
Use a long password, at least 8 to 10 characters long with a mix of capitalized letters, numbers, and special characters. It is important to note that this is a minimum, and you should generally try and use as many characters as the password field allows, with as much variety in the characters as possible.
Whatever you do, do not use the same password for every account you have. Even if the password is extremely secure, if it gets hacked in one location, you will lose literally everything that you use that password for. This includes banking info, social media accounts, the login password for personal or work computers, and even online gaming accounts.
Do not use personal information about yourself as a password, such as your birthday or the name of someone in your life, as this information can easily be found and used to hack your account.
There are programs such as KeePass which allow you to store passwords in an encrypted way to avoid letting them slip into the hands of a hacker, all the while allowing you to keep them in a well-organized list for reference. It is terrible practice to physically write them down, but if you do decide to write down your passwords somewhere, consider using a code that only you understand to avoid prying eyes from attempting to use it.
If available, consider using a password authenticator. These are usually either physical devices (see image below) or are attached to an app on your smartphone. They work by generating a random number or password every 10-12 seconds which a user must enter in addition to a password when logging in, and basically provide an extra layer of security. These are common for some high security companies and banks, and employees are often required to use them to access workplace computers.
If you are not keeping record of the password, use a sentence or phrase as the main base for your password to allow you to remember it slightly easier. Create an idea involving a memorable person doing a unique action with an object, and form your sentence. Then, using that sentence select a few characters and add in various numbers and letters. For example, if your sentence was "the Joker lifted a toaster with his elbow" your password could be something like "JokLif4Toa@3lb."
Change your passwords every few months to keep yourself safe from hackers, and to interrupt any ongoing attempts to crack your passwords.
How To Recognize When an Email is a Scam
Along with keeping yourself safe by creating strong passwords, it's also important to determine whether or not an email is safe or not before clicking it. Make sure you know the sender before opening a message, and if you have never received an email from the sender, be wary.
Never open an attachment or links from an unfamiliar source. Check whether or not a link is legitimate by hovering over it (but not clicking it) and checking the bottom of your screen. Be extremely cautious of any links that are not a common .ca or .com domain.
If the sender is asking for money or giving you information about rewards, check facts and never share personal information through email unless you're completely sure it's safe (in fact in this case, it is best to just remember the saying "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is").
If you are recieving a high volume of scam and spam emails, consider using a spam filtering service such as FuseMail (which we offer starting next week as a part of our email package). These services will do most of the detective work for you, and you won't even see 99.9% of the spam emails as they will be stopped before they ever get to your mailbox.
Be sure to include opportunities for customers to share information or questions about scams in your web design, through forms or contact links. Ask them to let you know if any scam emails appear in their account attempting to impersonate you or your company. This way, your clients will know to trust you and you'll be aware of fraud attempts and possible disclosures of sensitive information.
If you have any questions about this, or even have personal stories about this you would like to share, feel free to reach out to us at our Support Email. You can also contact us here through our website.
3 Tips to Use The Psychology of Colour for Your Marketing and Web Design
Colour is one of the first things that people notice when perceiving something new. As such, it's important that your marketing content and your website use colour in psychologically relevant ways to entice your customers into seriously considering your product. Here are 3 great ways to improve your web design by using colour.
Use specific colours according to your company needs
Use red to stimulate arousal. Using red has also been found to stimulate appetite, so if you're a restaurant or food based company, implement red throughout your menu and website.
Consumers tend to respond positively to the colour blue, as it's a calming and pleasing colour. It's a trustworthy colour, and men tend to prefer it. Try including blue in headers, or important areas on your website that you don't want your audience to miss.
Green is typically associated with health, movement, and growth. If you're a fitness-based or nature-oriented company, using green will help foster a connection with your customers.
Because purple is associated with royalty and luxury, it's often used to promote beauty products and other high-end goods. If you want customers to perceive your brand as extravagant, try including purple in your logo and headers on your website.
White is associated with tranquility and cleanliness, and is often associated with creativity because of its neutral appearance. Use white space for all your website's written content. Do this by separating your content into smaller sections, to make for easier reading.
Keep in mind that your web design should always use colours that your target market responds best to. Analyze and record data for any changes in colour you make to ensure you achieve the best results.
Consider your target market's age and gender
Women and young people tend to perceive colour better than men and older people. As a result, use colour more sparingly if men and/or older people are your main demographic. Keep in mind this doesn't mean you shouldn't use colour at all, instead try focusing on a few specific colours to engage your customers.
Having a strong association with a specific colour can help create a learned association between your brand and that specific colour
By having this strong connection, consumers will think about your brand whenever they see that specific colour. For example, consumers tend to associate a specific shade of blue with the luxury jewelry brand, Tiffany.
To create a similar pattern of thinking with your customers, make sure that you select specific brand colours to use throughout your website, marketing initiatives, and packaging design. This will help build a connection and will likely result in a learned association connecting your brand to your brand colours.
We always try and consider the psychology behind our Web Design and how it will interact with your target audience. If you want to be sure that all aspects of the design process are considered when building your website, contact us and let us take care of the process from start to finish.
If you owned a store, you would probably do regular maintenance on its interior and exterior. Failing to do this would reflect poorly on your business. The same goes for a vehicle or even your own home. Maintenance is an ongoing expense because things wear down. This is why most people don't question the need for it. On the other hand, a website doesn't have a physical existence. It is software that's rendered on the browsers of viewing devices. This means it isn't subject to wear and tear and is why so many business owners see web design as a one-off expense.
If the world never changed, then you could treat web design as a set and forget process. Of course, that isn't true. The Internet and the people using it are constantly changing. These changes include:
Search Engine Changes
Google changes its algorithm every day. Sometimes these changes are related to website design. If your website doesn't render well in the viewing devices of Google's users, Google will send little if any traffic your way. If you have any broken links or images on your site, this is a major red flag for most search engines, and they will basically mark your site as not being maintained/up-to-date.
Search engines now take many things into consideration when showing potential viewers your site. These things include everything from the location of your business, the reviews you have on social media, and your SEO keywords/description, right down to the descriptions and titles that you give your images and links on your site. It is important to keep these things up to date, and contantly be aware of the analytics of your site.
Viewing Device Changes
iPads and iPhones don't support flash, and neither does Google Chrome. If your site uses flash, then a good percentage of Internet users can't use your website. Many viewing devices today have small screens. People using these devices have no desire to deal with websites that aren't mobile friendly. If you want to utilize video, it is best to embed these files directly from YouTube. This not only will help with the compatibility of viewing these files for your users, but will help your video get more coverage/views by being posted in various locations (i.e. your website, directly on YouTube, perhaps shared via other social media sites/forums).
Web Design Trends
Not staying current with design trends and modern layouts will date your website and affects the viewer's perception of your business. As a customer, if you went to a website looking for a product or service and were greeted by a website that looked like it was made in the 90's, you would most likely get the impression that this company couldn't be bothered to update its site, so you may be suspicious that the products/services on the site were also out of date. Keeping your site looking slick and cutting-edge will give the impression that you put work into keeping things updated, and by that logic that your products and services are also updated.
As a good rule, you should at least consider revamping your website design from the ground up once every 5 years or so. This can be stretched if your site caters to an older clientelle, but may need to be done even more often if you have a strong focus on young users or have a national/global presence.
In addition to the Internet and its users, the businesses that use websites also change. Products and services can change. Market changes and the need to stay competitive force businesses to change their marketing and sales processes, which in turn should be reflected in their web design. For example, making your products and services available for purchase online at this point in web history is almost mandatory, and expands your customer base immensly. The only way this may not be the case is if you offered a product/service for which the price was highly subjective, but even in this scenario you would want to provide a way for your potential customers to aquire a quote or speak with a sales representative.
What the above arguments point to is that you can't treat your website as a one-time expense. Although it doesn't suffer from wear and tear, the world around it doesn't stand still, and your website shouldn't either. If you feel like it is time for your site to have some new life breathed into it, let us know and we would be happy to make it happen.
How to Create Great Informative Content for Your Website
A website has a number of critical elements, and a serious mistake in any one of them can be fatal to the site's effectiveness. Page loading speed, the site's ease of use, and the design of the overall site are all important, however one critical website element that doesn't get sufficient attention is its content. Too often, content is written to simply fill in an area where it's expected.
For example, the about-us web page is often filled with dry hastily written content about the company. It will list statistics, the company's important people, and may include a verbatim copy of the company's mission statement. It will appear dry, forced, and usually rather unauthentic.
While this gets the job done quickly, it does little to gain the trust of the visitor. It doesn't differentiate the business from the thousands of other businesses with an Internet presence. The problem with this about-us page is that it's written in a way that's uninteresting to the business's target market. In addition it's too much about the company and makes no mention how the viewer will benefit by frequenting the website and becoming a customer.
What Web Content Should Do
Because the Internet is so vast with so many options for its users, these people are the exact opposite of the captive audience. Your content must attract visitors and gain their trust. Doing this requires providing value free of charge in the form of information. Giving away value for free may strike some businesses as a foreign concept, but it's just the cost of online marketing. Rather than paying advertising money to reach your market, you pay by providing value instead.
What type of content is this? Generally, it is useful information that helps the viewer solve their pain points. Pain points don't always refer to overcoming a hardship. It could be a desire to improve some aspect of one's life. Of course, this content must be related in some way to the solutions provided by your products and services. For example, let's say you run a Yoga Studio and are creating content for the website. It might be a good idea to include at least a few pages of content about the postures/style that you teach, including informative images and helpful tips. Don't give away everything, but give the user a taste of what they can expect by coming in for a class. Some of the content should include information about how your products and services help the viewers solve their pain points.
What Web Content Should Not Do
Your website will have landing pages with persuasive content that sells your products and other offerings, however this must not be the nature of all of your content throughout your website. As mentioned previously, your website must attract and gain the trust of visitors so that they become loyal customers. Blatant advertising on every page will not do this. You should especially avoid the use of pop-ups and large sales pitches that stand out in bright colours, as this appears extremely tacky and unprofessional.
On pages that display your products, don't focus on their features. While feature information should be available, placing it front and center won't make your products attractive. Benefits are what drive sales. Describe your products in terms of how they benefit the person's life, that is, how they improve their life or make it easier. Take each feature of a product or service and convert it into a benefit.
The one biggest mistake of a DIY website is that it's not built by professional web designers. This may seem like an obvious answer, but professionals have acquired their expertise from years of experience building profitable business websites. Web design is both a science and an art.
A website that outperforms those of your competitors must satisfy many requirements. Eight of these are:
It must look professional or have the appearance appropriate for your market.
It must differentiate your brand from your competitors.
It must be optimized for search engines such as Google.
It must attract the user and make them want to stick around.
It must get repeat visits.
It must gain the user's trust.
It must not cause user frustration, such as slow loading pages, an unintuitive interface, or poor compatibility with the user's viewing device.
Its design must employ conversion optimization techniques.
While there are many templates that allow you to build a website with a few clicks, they won't satisfy all the above requirements. That requires expertise and experience. A DIY website will underperform and will likely do this in a big way, causing both you and your potential customers frustration. It will probably not be mobile friendly, may have a poorly designed UX, and will look like it was thrown together rather than have been carefully designed and programmed.
A DIY website might have performed satisfactorily in the 1990s when few businesses were using the Internet and we didn't have the advanced design tools now available to us. Back then, any website at all was a novelty, and a DIY website had little, if any, competition. It has been two decades since then and the Internet has changed. The best business websites are built by professionals, and are made to look cutting edge.
In addition to revenue lost from poor website performance, a DIY website loses money because it displaces the small business owner's time. The owner has a business to run. Your expertise is managing and growing your business. This isn't going to happen automatically without your input. The more productive hours you put into your business, the faster it will grow.
"In this age, which believes that there is a short cut to everything, the greatest lesson to be learned is that the most difficult way is, in the long run, the easiest." Henry Miller
There are lots of website templates available for businesses to use, and programmers craft many of them with style rather than functionality in mind.
Website templates offer an affordable, simple solution for organizations with limited funding and time to invest. Modern businesses must have online representation. To meet these needs, most start-ups will turn to website templates.
However, Template Limitations Spoil the Final Product
How does this happen?
Templates aren't flexible. Site owners aren't able to get creative without programming experience.
Templates often hide clunky programming issues below the surface that cause slow loading and other problems.
In order to meet basic business needs (like removing ads, having more freedom to customize, using SEO analytics and other marketing tools and securing a domain name and hosting), you have to pay more or get by without these things.
Even the most beautiful template can look cheap after you've edited it. This is especially true if you choose to change several graphics or fonts. Most non-designers lack the talent to combine and create tastefully on web platforms. Colours look different. Sites display differently on various devices.
Sometimes people recognize your template from other websites. It's hard to create a unique brand identity, (especially crucial for modern businesses) if users recognize your template from another site.
Mobile devices are the most popular tool for browsing online today. Some companies advertise templates as responsive. However, many finished websites still don't look right on every device because they are not mobile friendly.
Lastly, SEO is an important business marketing strategy. There are levels of tailoring that an SEO expert can do below the surface to enhance your online positioning. However, just like templates offer limited customization in visual areas, many won't offer your SEO expert the freedom he or she needs to customize your site for marketing.
Make the right choice now, so you're not forced to later.
Contact us today at REM Web Solutions. A custom website is worth the investment. Trust is essential for success in online sales and marketing, and at REM you can trust us to create a stunning, professional, custom designed website that will enhance your online presence.
The Internet changes rapidly. There are many forces driving this such as the never-ending updates of the major search engines, the rising expectations that consumers have of online businesses, and major changes in how people access the Internet.
Styles evolve as well. It's very easy to discern websites that are decades out of date. Even the code used for building websites changes. Much of the old HTML code (HTML tags) commonplace in the 1990s is either deprecated or superseded by more useful forms. Keeping up with this change is important if you want your website to remain relevant and profitable.
Exactly how often you should redesign your website will depend on the market you serve. However, few competitive businesses allow more than a few years to go by without some kind of redesign. Here are three indicators that your website needs a redesign:
It Isn't Mobile Friendly
Most consumers today use their mobile devices for online purchasing and for locating nearby brick and mortar businesses. If they need to buy something, conduct business, or do research, they're not going to wait until they get home to their desktop computers (if they even have one). They also won't put in the effort and time of scrolling through a website meant solely for desktop computers when so many mobile friendly websites are just a few clicks away.
The Design Looks Out-Of-Date
An antiquated design sends the wrong impression to visitors. It projects obsolescence or amateurism. Visitors may assume the business lacks resources if it can't maintain a current looking website. People also get used to and even expect websites to reflect current design styles. For example, why would someone spend money at a site that's filled with the HTML tables of a 1990s website or the gradients and big glossy purchase buttons of the 2000s?
The Design Doesn't Reflect Your Current Success
If you still have the same website you first used as a Startup, you are leaving money on the table. Increase your leads and sales by reinvesting some of your profits into a more optimized and professional looking website. There is always room for improvement.
Get more out of your website by giving it a much-needed redesign. For more information or assistance, contact us today.