4 Website Best-Practices in 2018

4 Website Best-Practices in 2018

It’s a fiercely competitive world for businesses out there in the digital universe.

Our daily lives have become so entwined with the internet that it’s rare these days if a business that isn’t attempting to build a digital presence via their website.

The only problem is that in a growing digital marketplace, it isn’t enough to just show up.

Your website should be the tool you use to engage, captivate and convince every visitor that you’re the company they want to do business with.

Unfortunately, not enough businesses tap into this potential with their website design.

The truth is, there’s a ton of effort being put into web design and development that misses the mark and falls short. When done correctly, web design is a conscious effort to create an exceptional user experience.

If you’re building a new site, or maybe looking to update your existing one, some key features are a must for success in 2018.

Responsive Design for the Mobile Consumer

mobile websitesResponsive website design is a high starting point because it encompasses so many other features that are key to user satisfaction, like speed and usability. However, honestly, the responsive design isn’t an option going forward.

Last year, the time spent on desktop computers grew only marginally compared to the year before. Mobile devices, on the other hand, are whole other story with time spent on them jumping by about 25%.

As more businesses start to get on board with responsive design, we’re starting to see bounce rates drop. This is an indicator that responsive design provides the type of website functionality that keeps mobile users engaged and coming back for a repeat performance.

Plus, Google is pushing forward with its mobile-first indexing, which places priority indexing on sites that are mobile optimized. Responsive design makes the transition into the mobile-first index a non-issue.

Voice Optimization

voice optimizationThe surge in mobile usage is also changing how people are using their devices. Alexi, Siri and “hey Google” have become household names and optimizing for voice search is now crucial for SEO.

Take for example, how one of the top voice searches initiated by adults is to ask for directions. As a business owner, taking steps to make sure your website features voice optimized contact information guarantees that more of your customers can find you when they’re most interested in visiting your physical location.

However, say you’re an e-commerce business and aren’t all that worried about the local SEO perks that voice optimization provides. About 22% of voice queries are for local content. That’s sure an impressive number, but it also means that 78% of voice searches aren’t necessarily looking for something so close to home.

Voice optimization as part of the overall SEO built into your site design, is a crucial element, especially for local small businesses that can benefit from the SEO advantage.

Security Features to Build Trust

Security breaches happen all too frequently. Just take a stroll through the news, there’s a good chance you’ll see at least one mention of hacking or other types of cybercrimes.

Now, think about your website as if it were a physical storefront. It would be devastating if someone broke in, took your merchandise and compromised any sensitive information you had on location. Almost every business takes measures to protect their offices or retail locations from theft, so why wouldn’t you take the same measures on your website.

Often, security is overlooked because business owners don’t realize just how at risk they are. It’s a classic case of “it won’t happen to me.” However, cybercrimes are a genuine threat. They continually get more sophisticated in their approach, and they can go undetected, at least initially sometimes.

Your customers already know all of this, and that’s why they’ve become wearier than ever about sharing their information with a website that they’re unfamiliar with. To gain their trust, you need the critical identifiable safety features to put your customer’s minds at ease. Features like an SSL certificate, updated plugins and using a content delivery network will help to keep your security, and reputation, strong.

SEO Savvy

For quite a few people, SEO is synonymous with keywords and content. True, these are valuable components; however search engine optimization goes much deeper into the structure of web design and development.

A lack of SEO built into websites is an issue that we see all too frequently with the range of doing it yourself web design services. Pretty templates are beautiful to look at, especially once you customize it and make it yours. However, unfortunately, what you end up with is something that looks phenomenal but severely lacks performance.

For search engines to get in there and do their thing, your site needs to be easily crawled before it can be indexed. In other words, Google and its search engine competitors need to be able to make sense of your site and the content it contains, and specific features of web design make this possible.

For example, well-structured navigation that works with URLs. XML sitemaps and other components help search engines to understand better what you’re about. Google and the other popular search engines want to make sure that your listing is showing up in front of the people who want to see it. Built-in SEO features help make sure this happens.

Find A Web Development Agency with Your Growth in Mind

Your website is the ultimate representation of your business, and it performs many functions. It’s an all in one tool for attracting visitors, gaining their trust and building a solid gold reputation for your brand. Creating a website that does all this is no small task, which why you should trust it in the hands of a professional web development agency.

[GUIDE] How to Avoid Attorney Ethics Violations On Your Website

A Guide to What Your Law Firm Can and Cannot Say on a Website

Disclaimer: We are not attorneys and we are not providing you legal advice.  This is a guide that collects and summarizes resources related to attorney advertising that are widely available on the internet. If you have a question about what you can and cannot put on your website, 12khz, LLC strongly encourages you to seek out an attorney that can advise you.

Many attorneys under the age of 40 are unaware that the profession was only allowed to advertise its services following the Bates vs. State Bar of Arizona decision of 1976. Even after attorneys were permitted to advertise their services, ethics rules relating to advertisements for legal services have rigorously regulated what can and cannot be stated in advertisements and websites.

You Must Have an Airtight Disclaimer On Your Site

Attorney-Client Relationships Might Be Established Through the Site…

In order to avoid potentially hairy situations in which a person that emailed you thinks that you have established an attorney-client relationship, you should add a disclaimer to address this on your site.  Law firms that want to take extra precautions can even add a checkbox to the contact form that confirms that the visitors acknowledge that they are aware that such a relationship is not established through website contact form submissions.

Your Blog Could Be Considered Legal Advice…

Be sure to include a disclaimer that informs the visitor that any blog content is not considered to be legal advice and to seek out an attorney (preferably you).  The last thing you need is for someone to make an ill-informed decision based on something that they misread on your blog, only to drag you into court.  A well-written disclaimer prominently placed on your site sidebar could potentially save your firm a massive headache.

In Many Jurisdictions, A Website Is Considered Attorney Advertising

Your law practice website should be marked as “attorney advertising.”  Your site should not include anything that you would not include in a TV spot, radio ad, or billboard. Any and all Attorney Ethics rules regarding advertising are applicable to your website.

Despite having these rigorous regulations in place, websites that violate attorney ethics 7.1, 7.2, 7.4, and 7.5 are extremely common.  This lack of awareness often leads startup law firms to rely on their advertising and web design agencies to ensure that they stay within the bounds of what they can and cannot state in their communications, and the firms are ill-prepared to advise them.

The result is that a large number of law firm websites are in danger of ethics violations. While the consequences are unlikely to be particularly severe, it could turn out to be a headache at the very least and a black eye at the very most.  Most attorneys would rather avoid having to deal with the state attorney ethics boards.

Some States Require Attorneys to Register Websites

It is important to know that some states require attorneys to register their websites with state agencies.  Below is an example of two states with such requirements.  Check to see if your state has similar requirements before launch.

  • Texas states in Rule 7.07(c) that attorneys must return paperwork including a copy of the site home page along with a fee before allowing the site to go live. This is only applicable to websites owned by the firm and not listings such as a Google My Business or Yelp listing.
  • Kentucky also requires attorneys to submit websites to the state Attorneys’ Advertising Commission. As enumerated in Rule 3.130(7.05)(1)) the site must be submitted, along with any applicable fees, to the AAC under Rule 3.130(7.05)(2) before publishing the website

Some States Expressly Do Not Require Attorneys to Register Sites

Pennsylvania leads the pack in states that do not require the filing of websites. Its state bar association characterize such requirements as being of “doubtful constitutionality” (see comment 5 to Rule 7.2(b)).

Avoid Any Material Misrepresentations About Your Firm

Source: Rule 7.1: Communication Concerning a Lawyer’s Services

A lawyer shall not make a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services. A communication is false or misleading if it contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or omits a fact necessary to make the statement considered as a whole not materially misleading.

The puffery that is common in other industries is almost certain to considered to be materially misleading on the website of a law firm. While a car dealer can state that they “have the lowest prices in the state!” without potentially running afoul of any regulations, an attorney can find herself in hot water for making such a claim. Be sure that any claims that you make are verifiable. The only likely way that you will be able to successfully defend yourself against an ethics violation will be if you can demonstrate the veracity of the claims you make.

This is not to say that all attorneys avoid such claims.  It is extremely common to see firms make spurious claims about their ability to close cases in record time, the experience that they have in certain areas of law, and their stature in the markets in which they operate. This doesn’t mean that you should try and test your ethics board.

Statements An Attorney Cannot Make on a Website

Though this is far from a complete list, we’ve included a number of common pitfalls for attorney websites that run afoul of state bar ethics rules.

Your website cannot include statements:

  • Guaranteeing or even implying an outcome with claims such as:
    • “We’ll get your what you are owed!”
    • “We’ll get your claim paid in less than 30 days!”
    • “You’ll finally be able to get rid of all your debt!”
  • Comparing an attorney’s services to another:
    • “We’re the best lawyers in Philadelphia”
  • That imply that a client can expect outcomes similar to past outcomes:
    • “We recovered $10 million dollars for a personal injury client!” – this is very common verbiage on attorney websites. The comments on 7.1 state you the attorney should include a disclaimer that clearly states something to the effect that past outcomes do not guarantee similar results for future clients.
  • Claiming that the lawyer is a certified specialist in an area of law unless he or she has been certified by an organization that has been accredited by the American Bar Association that is clearly identified on the website.
    • An attorney can say that he or she “specializes” in an area of law, but it is safer to say that he or she “focuses” on an area of law.
  • Making any “unverifiable claims” about the practice.  You cannot make statements such as:
    • “I work tirelessly on behalf of my clients”
    • “I am the most aggressive attorney in the state”
    • “We do workers’ comp right”
  • In some states, such as New Jersey, attorneys are barred from using drawings, animations, or music in advertisements.  The types of animated “explainer videos” that have become popular in recent years are in violation of 7.2.

Statements Your Firm’s Website Should Include

Disclaimer

Some states have disclaimer requirements if you include client testimonials on your site.  It has been argued that using client testimonials can be an ethically murky area, but recent rulings have largely landed in favor of attorneys including these testimonials.  By including a disclaimer that touches upon these various requirements, you can stay on the safe side:

  • California — Requires a disclaimer such as “this testimonial or endorsement does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter.” Rule 1-400, Standard (2)
  • Florida — Requires a disclaimer communicating that clients may not get the same or similar results. Rule 4-7.13(b)(8)(F)
  • New York — Requires the disclaimer: “Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.” Rule 7.1(e)(3).
  • South Carolina — Requires the advertisement to “clearly and conspicuously state that any result the endorsed lawyer or law firm may achieve on behalf of one client in one matter does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients.” Rule 7.1(d)(4)
  • South Dakota — Requires a disclaimer substantively similar to the following: “This testimonial or endorsement does not constitute a guaranty, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter.” Rule 7.1(c)(12)

Stock Images Can Be Considered Material Misrepresentations of Your Firm

Models & Stock Images

If you are working with web designers that are not familiar with Rule 7.1, be sure to inform them of the rules pertaining to the use of images.  If an actor or model in a stock photograph is displayed on your site, it is required that the disclaimer disclose that the images are not of actual clients.

It is also important that the web designer not include any stock images that could be reasonably confused with attorneys.  Using a stock image of a man or woman in a suit that could potentially be misconstrued as being one of the attorneys employed by the firm is in violation of these rules.  Some web design companies attempt to make their clients’ firms look bigger than they actually are, using stock photography that is not reflective of the firm. This is considered to be a material misrepresentation and could result in an ethics violation.

What is an MVP Website? What are its Benefits?

An “MVP” Website is an Ongoing Experiment

A minimum viable product (MVP) is a product that is developed quickly and placed in the market with the intention of learning consumer wants and revising the products to meet those wants.

An “MVP” website isn’t meticulously developed until it is perceived to be perfect; it is developed with the intention of seeing how people interact with it so that it can be changed.  Developers collect data on how people interact with the site and revise the site accordingly.

The primary benefit of developing an MVP website is that one doesn’t run the risk of meticulously developing a website only to find that it doesn’t accomplish what the owner wants. An MVP website is developed quickly and inexpensively and elements are placed in response to what the developer learns about its user. This differs drastically from the traditional process of developing a website, launching it, and not changing it until an overhaul is requested after some period of time.

Born from the Lean Startup

The Lean Startup is a methodology born from the lessons of lean manufacturing and agile product development. It offers a marked departure from the traditional “stage-gate” method developing software. The author, Eric Ries, developed the Lean Startup as a way to eliminate waste from the software development process and avoid spending time developing features that no one wanted. The Lean Startup methodology has proven itself invaluable and has been used in unexpected industries, such as the development of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

How an MVP Website is Built

The web design project begins by building a site quickly and inexpensively. Upon launching, the owner begins to test a number of hypotheses that he uses to develop the website.  He may begin with a hypothesis such as “users will purchase more widgets from our site if we use a super simple header with a search bar” and split test the feature on the site.

One version would feature the search bar and the other could feature something like a coupon. The developers run an a/b test run and the results determine whether to place the bar or the coupon in the header.

The process of split testing various elements of the website continues and the developers focus on developing a “work-in-progess” website rather than spending all of the project’s resources in the initial design phase.

Some Common Features

  1. The site is often built with some sort of pagebuilder such as Divi. This allows the team to easily and quickly make changes to the website. Some criticize these pagebuilders as “bloated,” but that criticism is largely unwarranted.  These themes can be optimized to load quite quickly and the agility that they offer the website owner outweigh any drawbacks that their detractors point out.
  2. There is a robust tool to collect user dataHotjar is widely used service, as is CrazyEgg.
  3. The site uses tools and methods to split test headlines, forms, landing pages, and copy.  There are tons of software that are covered in this article: https://kinsta.com/blog/wordpress-ab-testing-tools/

The Benefits of an MVP Website

  1. Actual user data guides the design process, not gut feelings or what a designer likes
  2. The site is built rapidly and launched.  Precious time is not wasted guessing what people will respond to.
  3. It allows a site to “fail fast”—if  no one wants or needs what the website offers, the developer can learn this without spending a fortune

The Drawbacks of an MVP Website

  1. You only have one chance to make a first impression; if the MVP website is particularly underdeveloped, it could damage the brand in the eyes of consumers
  2. It is hard to gain buy-in from decision makers that are accustomed to waterfall methodologies. It may be difficult to convince your boss to put up a “work-in-progress.”

Do You Use the Lean Startup Methodology in Web Design?

I’d love to hear about the MVP websites that you have developed. Leave your comments below!

Oshine vs. Divi WordPress Themes

Oshine vs. Divi… which is better for you?

The short of it is that Oshine is a lot more intuitive, but Divi allows for more customization. If you’re a tinkerer and are willing to take the time to learn a new WordPress theme, Divi is probably the right choice for you.  If you just want to get up and running and get your site up quickly, my recommendation is that you go right for Oshine; rest assured that it is an easy alternative to Divi. Let’s get into some of the details.

A Sagapixel Website Is Built with Oshine or Divi

WE BUILD LOTS OF SITES AND NEED TO GET THEM DONE FAST

We build a large volume of websites for small businesses in NJ. The majority are have small budgets, which means that we need to get them up quickly and efficiently; if we don’t, we either a. don’t make any money or b. have to jack up the prices to levels that are unaffordable for most of our clients.  For this reason, we use Oshine and Divi.  Both feature visual pagebuilders that allow us to see what we’re doing as we do it, greatly speeding up the development process—no need to keep a separate window open to check edits.

THEY COME WITH MOST OF THE PLUGINS THAT WE NEED

Both themes come packed with most of the modules that we would ever need to build a site.  I like this particularly because I don’t like relying on third-party WordPress plugins; often, you don’t know what you’re getting when you install them.  By having a suite of modules and plugins preinstalled with Oshine or Divi, we decrease our reliance on third-party plugins and decrease the security risks associated with them.

OSHINE AND DIVI MAKE IT EASY FOR OUR CLIENTS TO EDIT THE SITES THEMSELVES

Most clients don’t like the idea of being entirely reliant on a developer to edit text or images on a site.  Many WordPress themes can be a pain to make such edits to, resulting in diminished abilities to split test landing pages, longer times to get new content up, and major headaches if they ever need to change developer.  With Oshine and Divi, we can provide tutorials that show clients how to make edits to their own sites, allaying any misgivings that they have about being reliant on a developer to edit their sites and enabling them to be more proactive with editing their websites to support their marketing.

THEY CAN BE FAST WHEN OPTIMIZED

We regularly get Google Pagespeeds of 80+ and even up to 100 with both themes, so people that claim that they are “bloated and slow” simply don’t know how to optimize them.  Compress all of the images, minify the CSS, Javascript, and HTML, set up a good caching plugin, get good hosting, and you’re going to have a fast site.

How Are Oshine and Divi Similar?

  • Both contain visual pagebuilders
  • Both come with tons of modules to add features and effects to your site
  • Both come with importable demos that can serve as a starting point for your website
  • Both allow for tons of menu layouts

What Does Each Theme Have That the Other Doesn’t Have?

OSHINE
  • oshine bg overlaysBackground overlay option.  Oshine allows you to add an overlay to any section or column; this can allow you to add some color to a photo without putting it into Photoshop.  Divi has a similar feature, but it affects the entire column, including any text that you may have included.  This is how we get the effect to right.  You can get the same results with Divi, but it is way more complicated than it is with Oshine.
  • Way more portfolio options.  Portfolios are where Oshine really “shines” (funny, huh?)  Just go to the Oshine website and take a look at all of the different beautiful layouts that you can use for your portfolios.
  • Minification by checking a box.  This is a newer feature, but I love that Oshine enables CSS, Javascript, and HTML minification by checking a box.  All WordPress themes should have this.
  • Slider Revolution.  The free version comes with the theme, which is really nice.  Granted, you can always download it and install it with the Divi theme, but it’s nice to have it already there when you install Oshine.
  • Setting an entire column as a clickable link.  Aita Law’s “Areas of Practice”I really like being able to set an entire column as a link (similar to the image above, only something that you can use to click to another section on the site).  An example of this would be what we did with section on the home page.
DIVI
  • Photoshop-like editing of photos.  Divi basically comes with a “Photoshop-lite” module that allows you to adjust saturation, hue, brightness, and a bunch of other attributes of images on the site.  Oshine only allows you to adjust the darkness of the image through the overlay feature.
  • Custom Login.  Divi allows you to customize the login screen; Oshine does not (you need a 3rd party plugin)
  • Blog modules can be set by category. Oshine is very limited in its blog module.  Divi allows you to organize a blog by category; in other words, you can set a module in one column to only feature posts from one category and allow another column to be about another category.  Oshine does not have this feature.
  • Audio player.  Oshine doesn’t have this feature.
  • CSS modules per section and column. Oshine does provide a custom CSS module under the theme options, but Divi gives it to you right in the editor.  This is nice since you don’t have to continuously switch between tabs or screens.
  • Cool section transitions. This is probably the coolest design feature that Divi has and Oshine needs.  Divi allows for sections to have cool geometric transitions between sections, freeing designers from having to do custom CSS to get away from the 90° angle rectangular section transitions.  Styling a section transition as seen below can be a major pain in Oshine, but is a breeze in Divi:

divi cool transitions between sections

Divi has many more features, but Oshine is easier to use

Most experienced web designers will likely prefer Divi, but Oshine is probably better for the novice that wants to take a step up from paint-by-numbers WordPress templates. It’s comparable to a Wix or Weebly that enjoys the flexibility of WordPress.

How To Fix The “Expiration Not Specified” Message In Google PageSpeed Insights

[Solved] How to Address the “Expiration Not Specified” Message In Google PageSpeed Insights

We’ll give you some lines of code to add to your .htaccess file and walk you through the whole process.

Let’s fix the message “Setting an expiry date or a maximum age in the HTTP headers for static resources instructs the browser to load previously downloaded resources from local disk rather than over the network”

  1. Log into your hosting
  2. Go to your .htaccess file
  3. Add this code to the .htaccess file:
    1. # BEGIN EXPIRESExpiresActive On
      ExpiresDefault “access plus 10 days”
      ExpiresByType text/css “access plus 1 week”
      ExpiresByType text/plain “access plus 1 month”
      ExpiresByType image/svg+xml “access 1 month”
      ExpiresByType image/gif “access plus 1 month”
      ExpiresByType image/png “access plus 1 month”
      ExpiresByType image/jpeg “access plus 1 month”
      ExpiresByType application/x-javascript “access plus 1 month”
      ExpiresByType application/javascript “access plus 1 week”
      ExpiresByType application/x-icon “access plus 1 year”# END EXPIRES
  4. Save the .htaccess file.

Read on if you need a bit more guidance…

Site load speed is important for two reasons: user experience and SEO.  Needless to say, with Google getting ready to penalize mobile sites for slow load times, it’s important to make sure that your site is as fast as it can be.  But you already know this.

So you’ve gotten this message…

Setting an expiry date or a maximum age in the HTTP headers

and you want to see this:

90 google page speed

Although you may think that doing this with a plugin would be easier, my experience has been that it is not easier.  WP Cache wouldn’t allow me to do this at all and W3 Total Cache ended up crashing my site, leading to several hours of trying to fix whatever it broke.  Ultimately, adding a script to my .htaccess file did the trick.

Log into your file manager on your hosting

You should see this screen at the root of the website that you are trying to work on:

screenshot of file manager within cpanel

You are going to edit your .htaccess file by adding the following code:

# BEGIN EXPIRES

ExpiresActive On
ExpiresDefault “access plus 10 days”
ExpiresByType text/css “access plus 1 week”
ExpiresByType text/plain “access plus 1 month”
ExpiresByType image/svg+xml “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType image/gif “access plus 1 month”
ExpiresByType image/png “access plus 1 month”
ExpiresByType image/jpeg “access plus 1 month”
ExpiresByType application/x-javascript “access plus 1 month”
ExpiresByType application/javascript “access plus 1 week”
ExpiresByType application/x-icon “access plus 1 year”

# END EXPIRES

Save it and check that it worked

You should make sure that you saved the .htaccess file, then try PageSpeed insights.  There’s a good chance that you just hit the green!

The Easy Way to Increase File Upload Size in WordPress (No Need to Code!!!)

The Easy Way to Increase File Upload Size in WordPress

Fixes a common issue with Godaddy and Namecheap hosting without touching a php.ini file

Godaddy and many other shared hostings’ default settings are set to not allow for files over 2mb to be uploaded.  This is very easily remedied by changing some basic settings within cPanel.

You do not need to start messing with pnp.ini files or even know how to code.

Many of Google’s top results on how to increase the file upload limit will have you running in circles and looking for the location of the php.ini file on Godaddy?” (which you won’t find) when all you need to do is change a setting in the php settings.

This guide will walk you through everything…

 

If you prefer to watch a video, scroll to the bottom!

How to Fix “File Exceeds the Maximum Upload Size for This Site.”

Addresses the “exceeds the maximum upload size for this site” error on Godaddy, Namecheap, Bluehost, and a number of other common shared hosting providers.

You probably got this infuriating “uploaded file exceeds the upload_max_filesize directive in php.ini.” with Godaddy hosting:

increase file upload size wordpress cpanel godaddy

By default, many budget shared hosting sets a file limit of 2mb for file uploads.  They do this to prevent your average newbie from uploading massive 24mb photos to the server when they should be uploading photos under 1mb.  If this is the case with you, reduce the size of your photo.

Where is the php.ini file in Godaddy?

You don’t need to create or touch a php.ini file to address this issue in Godaddy hosting.  For whatever reason, the top results all tell you to create a pnp.ini file and start coding, though there is a much easier way to address this.

You do not need to create any files and you don’t need to know how to code. You can simple log into your cpanel, change a few settings and you should be ready to go.

Step 1 – Log into Your Cpanel

increase file upload size godaddy

Log into your hosting and scroll down to the “software” section of your Godaddy cPanel.

Step 2 – Click on “select PHP version.”

increase file upload size in WordPress

While you’re in here, it’s probably best to make sure that your hosting is set to version 7.1, but make sure that you check that your theme and plugins are compatible with it (I assume no liability for you messing up your site, by the way, so make sure that you have a valid backup of everything before you change anything).

On this screen, you’re going to

Step 3 – Click on “Switch TO PHP Options”

set file upload sizes in cpanel on godaddy for wordpress

Step 4 – “Increase your upload_max_filesize”

The three number in orange are the numbers that you need to change.  Click on each one and a drop down will appear; select the new value and click “apply” (if you forget to click apply, it won’t take).  Once you’ve changed all three values, click on the save button below “upload_max_filesize.”

You Have Increased Your Max File Size Upload

This is a really easy, fast fix, but for whatever reasons, the top results on Google all tell you to create a pnp.ini file, which often doesn’t work to fix the issue with Godaddy’s file upload limits on shared hosting plans.  I’d like to help people avoid the headaches involved with this and finally start outranking those other convoluted, yet ineffective solutions, so please comment and link to this post so that we can get the word out that there is an easy fix to Godaddy’s 2mb limit on file uploads on shared hosting.

 

How to fix “the uploaded file exceeds the upload_max_filesize directive in php.ini” in 5 Easy Steps

  1. Log into cPanel
  2. Click on “select php version”
  3. Click on “switch to php options”
  4. Select “upload_max_filesize,” increase it to 64mb, and click apply
  5. Save

How to Come Up with Web Design Ideas

How to Come Up with Web Design Ideas

There are a number of approaches when trying to get inspiration for a new website.  From visiting websites such as Awwwards, to Googling “best contractor websites,” to checking out Pinterest, there are a few ways to find sites to get your prospective customers excited or simply get your creative juices flowing.

CSSMania

This is the place to check when you’re trying to get a good idea quickly.  There are tons of sites and themes listed there and it is really easy to get to the sites that the site features.  It also allows you to look at sites from specific categories, which can be helpful if you’re looking for a layout that will be most appropriate for a specific niche.  The downside is that some design firms have paid to place their less-than-perfect designs on this site, so you may have to shuffle through some bad designs before you find the jewels.

Slider Revolution Templates

I love Slider Revolution.  When I am working on a site that really needs to jump out at the visitor when he or she first lands on it, this is where I get started.  As you can see in the link here, there are many really cool templates that this plugin offers.  While I seldom use the templates out of the box, they can often serve to get me thinking of different ways to display the images that I’m working with for a specific project.  By looking at these different designs, I can pick and choose different elements that will help to better communicate whatever I am trying to convey through the layout.

Awwwards

This is another website that has great designs.  The sites that are featured on Awwwards tend to be some of the coolest, most beautiful sites done by some of the most talented and creative UX designers in the world.  Take a look at some of the featured sites and get blown away by the talent out there.

The downside to using Awwwards to get started on a project is that you’re likely to find a number of projects that will be a bit too avant-garde for your typical local landscaping company.  If you’re trying to get rolling on a project like that, the sites that you find here may be a little TOO nice for your client.  Also, the site is designed to collect votes on the best design, not to provide inspiration; as a result, it can take a few clicks to actually get to the sites that are featured.

One Page Love

This is a very cool concept for a web design portfolio site; it only features single-scroll websites.  The sites on One Page Love tend to be excellent designs that are usable for your average local business, and it is easy to actually get to the sites.  It’s definitely a site that you should check out if you’re looking to get UX inspiration for a long-scroll page or single-scroll site.

Are there any sites that you can recommend?

What sites do you use to get the creative juices flowing?  Comment below and let us know!

Can a WordPress Theme Help Your SEO?

Can a WordPress Theme Help Your SEO?

Your WordPress Theme Cannot Help Your SEO, But It Could Hurt It

There is no WordPress theme that will give you an SEO boost, but picking the wrong theme could prove to be a slight hindrance to your efforts. A poorly coded theme could potentially result in a slower load time, which could have some undesirable effects:

  1. It can raise your “I clicked on your result and got tired of waiting for the page to load, so I went back to Google” score
  2. The algorithm could register it as a slow-loading website and decide to rank faster sites higher than yours, especially on mobile devices.

Even if you did pick the “wrong” theme, that doesn’t mean that you need to scrap it for a new one. Read on.

There Are Ways To Speed Up Your Site

Start off by seeing where you are as far as your page speed.  Google provides a tool called Pagespeed Insights that will:

  • tell you how fast (or slow) your site is
  • how to improve its speed

And best of all, it’s free.

WordPress Plugins to the Rescue

While you’re unlikely to ever get a poorly coded WordPress theme to rank particularly high on PageSpeed Insights, you can definitely get it to a respectable level.  Just for comparison, these are the results for bbc.com:

pagespeed insights for bbc.com

Follow the recommendations for possible optimizations and you’re on your way to a much faster loading website that is unlikely to lose (impatient) visitors.

The most common recommendations that we see are:

  • Optimize images

  • Leverage browser caching

  • Eliminate render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content

  • Enable compression

  • Minify JavaScript

There are a number of free and paid plugins that can help you with all of these recommendations.  In the next section I’ll go over a few of them.

SHORTPIXEL

This is my go-to when it comes to image optimization.  It will optimize all of the images that you upload so that they are as small as they can be without losing quality.  I don’t build a WordPress site without it.

AUTOPTIMIZE

This is a popular plugin to accomplish the “minify” recommendations that everyone seems to get with PageSpeed Insights.

WP CACHE

WP Cache is a massively popular caching plugin.  There’s no way that you haven’t heard of it unless you’ve been living under a drupal rock for the last 5 years.

Ultimately, Pick The Theme That Will Help You Create Something Great

Even if your theme isn’t blazing fast out of the box, as long as it coded well enough to not weigh down your load time, your focus should be more on the quality of the site that you’re going to be able to build with it.

7 Pieces of Advice Before Hiring a Web Design Company in NJ

We eat and breathe web design, hearing all kinds of horror stories.

Most of these terrible experiences were avoidable.  If you follow this advice, you are much less likely to get burned by your website developer.  There are a number of good web design companies in NJ, but there are also a lot of hacks and flakes.  Here’s how to spot them…

Visit Their Most Recent Web Builds.

Check if everything seems to work, if there are any obvious problems.  Also, check the same websites on a mobile phone; this will give you a good idea of the company or web developer’s ability to develop a mobile as well as a desktop site.

How Fast Are The Sites?

Go to Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool and plug in some of the urls.  The resulting numbers should be above 55; anything lower and it’s a sign that the web designer did not really do his or her due diligence in optimizing the performance of the website.  If they cut corners on the optimization of the site speed, what other corners may they have cut?

Check Their Online Reviews

Google the business and see its Google reviews as well as any other Yelp or BBB reviews.  Any reputable company will have at least 5 reviews on the internet from former clients.

Do Not Pay Over 50% of the Website Cost Up Front.

This goes especially for one-man operations.  We regularly get calls from clients after they have been burned by local web designers that disappeared halfway through the job.  You don’t want to be out a large amount of money if the same happens to you.

What Are the Hourly Rates For Any Future Work?

There is a good chance that you will need them to make some adjustments to the website as time passes and you don’t want to get any unpleasant surprises.  Typical hourly rates range from $50/hr-$150/hr depending on the market where you are located.

Ask About Instructional Materials

Ask whether the company or individual will provide you videos or instruction on how to make minimal adjustments to the site.  Does your site have a news, blog, or announcements section?  You should be able to handle this yourself and the web developer should be willing to provide you some sort of instruction on how to take care of it.

Ask Past Clients About Their Experiences

If you really want to vet the web design agency, send a message to the website that they built.  Ask about the experience that the client had, how quick the agency was to respond, how happy they were with the final outcome.

How Much Should A Website For a Small Business Cost?

How much does a website cost?

This post focuses mostly on the costs of building a website in the South Jersey/Philadelphia market, but is applicable in most of the Northeast.

There are analogs to this question in virtually every industry, but in this post, I’m going to compare the process of getting a website done to that of buying a suit.  Just as your choice of suit says something about you in a job interview, your website says something about you in the “micro job interviews” that your potential clients put you through.  The choices that you make in the colors, layout, and copy on your site will impact the impression that your potential clients have of you in the same way that the cut, fabric, and color of your suit does.  And just as there are tons of options as far as suits are concerned—tailored, designer, off-the-rack, etc.—there are tons of options when building a website.

The options

When you’re putting up a website, there really are three general options:

  1. A custom website “made from scratch”
  2. A website made from a template that was customized to your needs
  3. A DIY solution such as Wix.

Each of these three options have their own advantages and disadvantages.  Here I’m going to quickly break them down for you.

Custom Websites: Typically $10k for a basic site, $25k-$50k for more involved sites such as ecommerce

Custom websites are built from scratch to fit your exact needs.  If your site has some special requirements that are unavailable in a template, this is what you will need.  This is the equivalent of going to a tailor to have a custom suit made; you pick a fabric, get measured quite thoroughly, and come back a couple times for fittings and adjustments.  You can also expect to spend significantly more than you will for an off-the-rack suit from Ralph Lauren.

Having a custom website made is a similar experience.  It takes much longer that using a template, it costs a lot more, and if you didn’t have any special requirements, there is a chance that you’ll end up with exactly the same result as you would have otherwise ended up with.

There are three conditions that should be filled when deciding to have a custom site made:

  1. You have a budget of at least $5k-$10k
  2. You have very specific requirements that cannot be properly implemented by a template
  3. You can wait several months to a year to deploy the site

We do not build these kinds of websites at 12hkz, but we do have some partners that do.  We would be happy to put you in touch with an agency that you can trust to deliver a top-notch site that meets your exact needs.

Websites built with a template: $750-$2000 for a typical small business website, $5k+ for involved ecommerce sites

The couture equivalent of a site built with a template is an off-the-rack suit.  If you are built like the majority of Americans, you can walk into a Macy’s and find a Calvin Klein or Tommy Hilfiger suit that looks great on you.  Most of the small businesses that work with us in the South Jersey and Philadelphia region are your “majority of Americans” whose website needs can be met by a website with a customized template.

Many of today’s templates come with pagebuilders that allow the web designer to make significant customizations to the site, allowing you to get something that is pretty close to a custom website.  Most agencies have vetted the templates that they work with, so you should rest assured that the site will load quickly and be up to snuff technically.  The costs are usually dictated by the amount of content that needs to be created for the website.

A website built with a template should work given the following conditions:

  1. You have a budget of roughly $1000-$3000
  2. You need a site up in a questions of weeks, not months
  3. You don’t need the site to do anything particularly out of the ordinary

These are the kinds of websites that we build.  If you would like to see some of our past work, you can check out our portfolio or talk to someone in the office.

DIY solutions like Wix: free to a few hundred dollars

These solutions are created for people that need to get a website on the internet, but really don’t have the budget to pay a professional.  They can be customized to be attractive, but in order to do so, a discerning eye is needed.  The technical knowledge required to get a site up is minimal, but the results can be very good.

This solution is optimal given the following conditions:

  1. You have a very limited budget
  2. You aren’t concerned with standing out from competitors
  3. You are somewhat technically-inclined and have an eye for design

A word of warning

This pyramid is one of the most fundamental truths in business.  You can only get two aspects of it at any time.  If someone is offering you all three, odds are that they won’t deliver on at least one.

How To Add A Tap-To-Dial To Your WordPress Site For Free

We’re going to show you how to add a tap-to-dial to your website.

There are a few ways to add a tap-to-dial to your WordPress website.

APPROACH #1: Just add a link

Adding a tap-to-dial can be as easy as adding a link.  Let’s say you have a post where you simple want to add a “Call Us — 856-701-7947.”  Accomplishing this can be as easy as this:

  1. Highlight the text
  2. Click on “add hyperlink”
  3. Type the link as tel:856-701-7947
  4. Click “apply”

how to add tap to dial in wordpress website

APPROACH #2: Write the code

If you’re not putting the link in a post or page, you may need to write some simple html.  This is how you do it:

  1. Call us at <a href=”tel:856-701-7947″>856-701-7947</a>

The 856-701-7947 will come up as a hyperlink that will allow a smartphone to automatically dial it.

APPROACH #3: Use a cool plugin

There’s something to be said for this.  I’ve found the times that we’ve used these plugins on the websites that we’ve developed here in South Jersey, the green “tap to dial” button at the bottom of the screen tends to get more clicks than the buttons in other parts of the phone.  It might be worth testing.  It will look something like this image to the right.

The plugin that we used to do this is called “Call Now Button” (I know, hard to remember).  Setting it up is as simple as you could ever want:

set up tap to dial with plugin in wordpress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is no reason to not have a tap-to-dial on your WordPress site.

If you currently don’t, it’s because either:

  1. You hired the worst web developer in the world
  2. You are too lazy to Google stuff (and you never read this post)

Get your tap-to-dial up on your site and start getting more of your customers on the phone.  If you’re too busy to handle it yourself, contact us.

7 Things You MUST Do Before Doing SEO for a Law Firm in New Jersey

These first tips are applicable regardless of where your practice is.

1. Claim Your Google My Business Account.south jersey seo company

This is your free business listing on Google.  Click here to claim it.

When you’ve searched for a service and saw the big box in the upper right hand side of the search engine results page (like the one to the right), that information was populated by Google My Business.  If you want your firm to pop up there, claim it and maintain it.  Post pictures, respond to reviews, stay active.  If you go to the Google My Business Dashboard, you’ll notice that there are analytics that let you know about people that called you, viewed your business, or asked for directions.  It’s good to keep tabs on this.

2. Get A Mobile-Friendly Website

If your site is not mobile-friendly, you’re missing out on cases.  If you’re really hurting financially, get a site from Wix.com or Squarespace.  If you’re ready for a big-boy website, make sure that it’s not only mobile-friendly, but that it also has tap-to-dial markup and tap-to-email.  It’s really simple to do and shouldn’t cost extra.

3. Set up Google Analytics and Search Console

Have your web designer set up your Google Analytics and Search Console.  Even if you have not idea how to read it, the data will be valuable in the future when your firm grows and you’re ready to hire a marketing agency.

4. You are a lawyer, not an attorney, law office, or law firm

When you start doing your SEO or Adwords, know that people look for “lawyers in ______.”  They are not searching for law offices, attorneys, or law firms, so if you focus on these terms in your online strategy, you’re going to chasing a smaller piece of the pie

These next few tips are insights that we have from working in the Greater Philadelphia region

5.  SEO and Adwords work wonders for B2C practices like PI, family law, or worker’s comp, but not so much for B2B practices such as real estate law or tax law.

Corporations are not really hiring tax attorneys that they find on Google, but the private individuals that work at those corporations do hire lawyers from Google.  If you cater to this population, SEO and Adwords will almost certainly be worth it.  On that note,

6. Adwords works and you should have someone do it for you.

If you have a good Adwords manager, you’ll get clients tomorrow.  If you’re curious about seeing some of the numbers that you’re likely to see if you DIY your Adwords account, check out this other post that we wrote about the topic. In a nutshell, Adwords can be hit-or-miss for a novice, but can be a major moneymaker if you do it right.  Following us on Facebook or signing up for our newsletter can help you get there if you really want to do it yourself.

7. People in South Jersey are including town names when they search for lawyers

This is good to know when doing your SEO and Adwords.  You will find that keywords targeting specific towns that you serve tend to be a little cheaper than the broad “worker’s compensation lawyer”-type keywords.  If you are focused on the town where your practice is located, we have found that ads running location extensions tend to extremely well, so be sure that they are set up

 

 

 
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