What would happen if your website crashed?

Website Disaster Recovery Plan: Do You Have One?

What would happen if your website crashed? No business owner ever wants to experience it — just the thought alone is chilling. However, preparation for a website disaster should be on the forefront of any business owner’s agenda when it comes to their digital marketing plan.

What could cause your website to go down?

A sudden loss of a website indicates some type of error. There are many possibilities for the cause of this error — malware infection, WordPress error, misconfigured plug-ins, lack of payment for hosting or domain services, server failure, improper coding, and simple human error. There could even be a jumbled combination of these problems.

How long does it take to recover a crashed website?

If you lost your website for any of the above reasons, it will take time to recover. There are generally two scenarios to consider:

  • Scenario 1 — You have backed up all files, themes, and text. If you have done this, then it is just a matter of how quickly you can resolve the cause of the crash and replace the information. This could be a few minutes, hours, or days depending on the speed of your technical team and your company’s ability to pay for services.
  • Scenario 2 — You have backed up nothing. If this is the case, then expect a much longer wait to restore your website. It could even be weeks. Not only will the process to rebuild your website take much longer, but it is highly unlikely it will have the same look, copy, and design as the original. Always check with your hosting company first. Most good hosting company keep daily server backups which will allow you to restore your site. On the bright side, this could be an opportunity for a complete site makeover.

What is the impact of a lost website to your business?

Websites are one of the most important components of marketing and sales for many of today’s modern businesses. Losing a website could have significant impact on your business. You may lose current or potential customers, have difficulty retrieving recent order information, and/or lose valuable files such as graphic designs, PDF documents, and more.

All of these losses carry financial impact as well as employ much labor to reclaim. Additionally, any downtime for a public website suggests poor management or technical skills…leading to a dampened brand reputation and customer relationship.

The solution: A website disaster recovery plan

Although you may never be able to fully protect yourself from a website failure, there are steps you can take to prepare and plan for a recovery.

A prudent business owner will see the high value in having a disaster recovery plan. The immense amount of time, money, and brand reputation that is at stake makes the effort to produce a recovery plan seem very small.

What should be included in a website disaster recovery plan?

Before drafting a website recovery plan, you’ll need to know what’s required to create your website. For this you’ll need a detailed list of service providers and technical support staff. This list could include:

  • Domain name registration
  • Hosting provider
  • Web development staff or provider
  • Graphic designer
  • Content writer
  • Photographer
  • Product specialist
  • Email account provider (often the same as the domain provider)
  • Any passwords needed. (Web Hosting account, email passwords, etc.)

You should also have a clear idea of the purpose of your website. What are your sales funnel goals and how do they translate into your web design? This may reveal additional providers for specialty apps you want on your website.

Next, your disaster recovery plan should also include regularly scheduled back-ups of your existing website. Many hosts provide this service, but it is also best to perform the task yourself. You may want to switch hosting providers in the case of a failure.

If you have a WordPress website it’s a must that you are using some form of backup service continually. If your WordPress site breaks, it’s usually because of a plugin, but the last thing you want is to spend a week trying to find a developer to fix your problem, while your website is unusable. To back up my client websites, I use BackupBuddy from iThemes or Vaultpress. Both can back up your site daily, and  if something happens, you can have your website back up within 1 hour or less.

The final portion of your website recovery plan should include elements of your customer relations and public relations. With any website failure there will be at least a few minutes of downtime.

  • How do you plan to inform your customers about this loss?
  • And where will you direct them for questions?

Also consider your social media outlets as a way to disseminate information regarding downtimes.

Creating a website disaster recovery plan is a crucial component of returning to business-as-usual following an unplanned event.

Continue reading other helpful digital marketing ideas on my blog!

I use WordPress to Build Websites (And You Should Too)

Why I Love WordPress

If you are thinking about creating a website, I can’t recommend using WordPress highly enough.

Here’s why I love WordPress and you should too!

Understandable

The absolute best thing about WordPress is the simple and understandable platform for users. The site builder interface is perfectly suited for novices, yet offers advanced options for those with an interest or need for more developed solutions.

WordPress makes it easy to get started with a website or blog. Anyone with basic computer and internet skills can do it. WordPress offers thousands of theme options, intuitive building blocks, and an open source platform so you can host with whichever company you want.

Easy SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an absolute must for any successful website. Entrepreneurs, blogging fanatics, and established business men and women are all equally subject to the algorithms created by search engines. These algorithms dictate which sites are shown first for certain search terms and phrases.

WordPress has several built-in features, and many more plug-ins (more on that next), to make SEO easy. Tagging pages and images is just the start!

For more details on the best and worst modern SEO practices, read my last post titled The Small Business Owners Quick Guide to SEO in 2015.”

Lots of Plug-Ins

Plug-ins are little software extensions to make special features happen on your website. This is where it gets really fun to play with WordPress.

Since WordPress is an open source site builder, many developers have made thousands of plug-ins to do just about anything you want. Interactive calendars, games, form submissions, advanced SEO, appointment setters, and social media plug-ins exist to make your site impressive and drive results.

Responsive and Mobile Friendly

WordPress has always been open to the newest technologies, changes in SEO, and modern graphic styles. That openness has resulted in embracing smartphone, tablet, and other mobile internet users by offering the ability to create responsive and mobile friendly designs.

Learn more about the benefits of including a responsive or mobile site>>

Established and Progressive Business

WordPress is an established business with 10+ years experience offering innovative website builders for consumers. Their long history of success is a good sign for anyone who wants to be sure they’re working with the best.

I have been personally familiar with the company for many years and can attest to their creativity and customer support. WordPress is also constantly checking for ways to improve their offerings while maintaining the best security — they really seem to have your best interest in mind!

Customer Support

WordPress takes customer support very seriously — a characteristic that should be standard with every web company, but is surprisingly difficult to find. WordPress reaches out to their customers in a variety of useful ways including email support, live chat, forums, a tutorial page, and a helpful how-to blog with tips.

Trust me when I say that not all site builders offer easy assistance. Many do not respond to emails or provide limited user guidance. This has never been the case with WordPress and I anticipate this company will remain at the top of their game for many years to come.

Multi-Functional

Lastly, but of profound importance, WordPress is designed for use in both blogs and websites. Competitor site building platforms typically offer one or the other, or a combination that is lacking in performance.

With WordPress you’ll get a highly function website, blog, or both — depending on your goals. Start with a blog and add a website later. Or start with a website and add the blog later. Whatever you choose, you can be assured that with WordPress the results will be stunning!

Do you need professional assistance updating your WordPress site? Get in touch with me to find out how I can improve the security and style of your site for as little as $65 per month!

How To Keep Your Website Fresh

Tips on Keeping Your Website Fresh!

The most engaging websites are those that draw in repeat visitors and retain them for an active and exploratory session.

Here are several easy-to-implement ideas to keep your website fresh and engaging.

Blog Posts

If you have a blog, be sure to maintain it with regular posts. These could be monthly, weekly, or daily depending on your goals and schedule availability. (Read this interesting article to see the surprising results one blogger experienced statistically and emotionally when he increased from weekly to daily blogging.)

If you haven’t yet started a blog, come up with a calendar for the next 3-6 months before publishing. This will help you avoid getting writer’s block and keep you motivated.

Here are a few ideas for simple blog posts that can add value content on a weekly basis:

  • Round-up of themed ideas/products relating to your industry. (Example: “15 Best Electronic Assembly Tools for 2015”)
  • Commentary on latest industry news bit. Provide basic advice with forecasts and your expert opinion.
  • Directions or video for unusual ways to use your product. Survey social media fans to get ideas.

Photos From Events

Did you recently host or attend an industry related event? Share photos! These photos may show the personality of your staff or retain a strict business appearance — you decide the tone of your business style. If you attend a conference, be sure to find out if photos are allowed before snapping away.

Create a basic photo album, but be sure to add descriptive headlines and notes to present an overall storyline. Share it on your social network with a link back to your site.

Slider Pics On Home Page

Most WordPress themes allow you to place a slider on your homepage. If it doesn’t, you can add a plugin like the Soliloquy slider plug-in, so you can add sliding images to your home page highlighting various new features, articles, products/services, and press releases. If you publish a new blog post, you should put up a new slider pic replacing the old blog post reference. Keep about 3-5 slider pics rotating. More than that will usually be less effective. Readers may need to see the same image rotate through twice for it to catch their attention.

Hire a designer or web developer to create a template to allow you to easily change out the text and photos on slider pics. This way you can always add new slider images as frequently as you may have need. One example of a sliding image feature can be seen on the LuckyFish Media home page.

Stay Inspired

One of the best things you can do to keep a creative outlook for your website is to visit others. Artists regularly use a similar practice to stay inspired, visiting galleries and museums to see refreshing imagery similar to or very unlike their own.

Take a few minutes each week to visit your competitor’s sites and your favorite industry sites. What new features do you see? In what ways have the graphics or images changed? What are they blogging about? Keep a notebook, tablet, or smartphone handy to jot a few notes. Put into practice your favorite ideas or present them to your web developer for consideration.

The Dos and Don’ts of Updating

Regularly review your site every 3-6 months to consider changes. This helps your website maintain more relevance with readers and with search engines algorithms. When updating your site, be sure to avoid certain website mistakes including outdated content, lack of calls to action, and/or inappropriate font text and size.

Need help keeping your WordPress site current with latest malware protection and plug-ins? Let LuckyFish Media handle your WordPress site updates!

3 Website Mistakes to Avoid

We’ve all come across ancient websites and nearly laughed aloud at the old style of graphics, simplicity of design, and often boring content. With ever-changing expectations for website design, how do you know if you site is making mistakes like these?

Take a look at these key website mistakes to avoid to be sure your website is ready for modern audiences.

1. Out-of-Date Content

Providing website visitors with out-of-date content is one of the worst pitfalls for marketing your company image and value.

For example, if a user clicks your “News” tab and finds that the latest piece of news is from 2013, he or she is going to believe your entire website may not have been updated for years. This calls into question everything about your business  — standards, product usefulness, dedication to the industry, and plain and simple professionalism.

Many websites avoid dating content at all. Others regularly date items such as blog posts, news releases, and more. The important key is to regularly review and edit your site. If you choose to share news articles featuring your company or product, do so regularly. If you don’t have anything fresh to share, maybe it’s best to remove that portion of the site.

2. Lacking Calls to Action

Do you know what feature distinguished Facebook from other social media sites in the early race to domination? It was the “Like” button. Before Facebook introduced the “Like” button in 2009, users had to textually comment to show interaction with a post. The “Like” button is a simple call to action, but gets highly responsive results. One study of the “Like” button suggests that the history of “Liking” goes much deeper than the history of Facebook. This goes to show that a well researched call to action is worth investigating.

Informing website visitors what to do next or providing an interactive way to communicate preferences greatly lowers bounce rates and improves conversions. These next-step suggestions are called “Calls to Action”. Calls to action may be an anchored text link, an image button link with text, or a sentence including a quick link. Examples of each style:

Take a look at each page of your website, are you lacking calls to action? If so, this is one crucial component of your website you’ve got to improve immediately!

Which call to action style should you choose? Actually, the best way to answer this question is through testing. Set-up an A/B split test to present two different calls to actions to your site visitors in equal shares. Monitor which call to action style gets retains more visitors and/or leads to conversions. This will provide the best insight to which strategy, wording, colors, etc. are best for your particular business needs.

3. Inappropriate Font Size and Type

Font size and type play an important role in the emotions a website evokes on its readers. And now is the time to consider making font changes since recent browser support changes have made more font options a reality.

In a study about fonts by Microsoft and MIT researchers, many important findings about font size and type were discovered. More aesthetically pleasing fonts result in a happier mood and greater reading engagement. Secondarily, the happier mood encourages better cognitive abilities post-reading. Essentially, what this means is that it’s important to consider the font on your website if you want to influence your visitors in a particular way.

Different fonts may also evoke certain cultural emotions. For example, Helvetica font is what is used by the US government on tax forms. This association may produce unwanted side effects in mood. On the other hand, scripted fonts produce more romantic feelings, but are not easy to read for large bodies of text. In general, San-serif fonts like Arial and Calibri appear more informal than Serif fonts such as Times New Roman. A knowledgeable website designer should be able to help you consider which font is best for your purposes and audience.

Font size is just as vital as the type. Too small a font may be difficult for many readers and come across as intentionally misleading (as in the case of the “fine print” on giveaways.) For years it has been noted that font size 12pt and above is ideal, however many contemporary websites are moving towards fonts 20pt and larger. One recent study on font size suggests that these large fonts produce positive emotional responses. Again, these positive emotional responses are crucial to the actions of your website visitors.

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Should You be Managing Your Business Website?

Having the right person handling your website can take care of potential issues. 

Depending on your skill level and availability of time, you may or may not be the right person to manage your business’ website. If you don’t do it, who should you select?

Here are a few important considerations when choosing the right small business website manager.

Internal Employee

It is likely that at least one employee in your business may have some untapped skills that could be useful for your website. These skills may include content writing, web or graphic design, marketing, and/or coding. If you suspect such a person may exist on your team, discuss your ideas with thim to gauge their interest. You may give small tasks for him/her to complete at first, working on a trial basis until you feel confident of the right fit.

On a personal note, I actually did this for a previous company I worked for when they found out I had WordPress experience. That being said, I don’t recommend going to your employee and saying “I heard you have this skill, congratulations you are now our website designer”. If you believe an employee could help you in a certain area make sure they are compensated for the extra work. Don’t just add more work to their plate. It doesn’t make for a happy employee.

You’ll also have to consider the limitations of your current personnel. You may find you have an excellent graphic designer who is horrible at blog writing. Or you may find a marketing genius who knows nothing about coding. It is likely you’ll need to supplement any internal support with a hired specialist to fulfill all the needs of your website.

Freelance Contractor

A freelance contractor is anyone working as a self-employed individual, taking on small or temporary jobs. There are many websites that help connect freelancers with those who need to hire for a particular project. Over the years I’ve learned that not all freelancers are created equal. Freelancers are generally very good at one area of web development, but may not be the answer if you are looking for someone with knowledge of website design and SEO/Marketing.

Freelancers are great for short-term projects. In the case of managing your website, you may hire a freelancer to assist in getting it set-up at the beginning. However, it is unlikely that a freelancer will be the best fit for a long-term management relationship. Freelancers can sometimes be fickle — leaving certain jobs if a better opportunity arises elsewhere, etc.

B2B (Business to Business) Website Manager

Hiring a professional to manage your website may be the best solution. This ensures that the correct level of expertise, care, and time are given to your website as needed. A professional website manager often has access to certain resources that an internal employee or freelancer may not be able to offer. Also, a professional website manager should be able to offer a variety of services to meet 100% of the goals for your website — email and social media marketing, blog content writing, design and coding, and general website maintenance.

No matter who you select as website manager, you’ll want to always have access to your analytics data. This allows you, as the business owner, to make key decisions regarding the direction or your website.

Are you considering hiring a professional website manager for your business site? Take a look at the LuckyFish Media services to see if we’re the right fit for you.