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  • Choose a Website Theme with HostGator

    Monday, January 29, 2018 by

    choose HostGator website themesIntroducing HostGator's Website Builder Themes and Templates

    When the time comes to build your website you’re going to have a lot of different options to choose from. If you currently use HostGator hosting, then one of those options is going to be using the HostGator website builder. This beginner-oriented tool will help you quickly and easily build a beautiful website and get it online as fast as possible. But, is this builder the right fit for your site? Below we look at the core features of the website builder and highlight a few of our favorite themes you can choose from. HostGator Website Builder

    What is the HostGator Website Builder?

    The HostGator website builder is a free website builder for people who are currently using HostGator hosting. It’s feature-packed and caters to beginners who are looking to get their first sites online. Overall, the theme collection is quite expansive, offering you over 100 different mobile-friendly themes to choose from. Below we take a look at some of the overall features you’ll have access to when you build a site with this tool.
    • Easy to use drag and drop functionality with no development skills required.
    • Pre-built pages and sections, so you don’t have to be a professional designer.
    • Each theme is equipped with the 6 core pages every website needs.
    • Built-in SEO optimization so you can increase the chances of your site ranking.
    • Social media buttons to encourage your visitors to share your content.
    • Ability to customize things like your color scheme, font choice, images, and more.
    • PayPal integration to easily sell your products and services.
     

    Who Is the Website Builder Best Suited For?

    If you’re just getting started online and the thought of building your own website terrifies you, then let this builder greatly simplify the process for you. If you’re already using HostGator to host your site, then using this builder is a no-brainer. The Basic version is completely free and included with all hosting plans. You can quickly create a simple and attractive website. With the pre-built templates and extensive theme selection it’s very easy to build out your site, and all without any existing design or development knowledge.  

    Top HostGator Website Builder Themes

    hostgator website builder themes Now, there are over 100 different builder themes for you to choose from, so it would be impossible to highlight all of them here. Instead, you’ll find ten of our favorite themes broken down by various industries. If any of the themes below pique your interest, perfect, but if not, then feel free to explore the entire collection here.  

    Builder Themes for Real Estate Websites

    Luxury Apartments

    website builder for real estate This theme is perfect for those who run apartments complexes and are looking for a way to show off the highlights of their building. You’ll notice the beautiful background image that’ll immediately grab your visitors. The customizable sections make it easy to showcase your main benefits, any neighborhood highlights, complex images, and of course your company information and location.  

    Personal Realtor

    website template for personal realtor If you’re looking for the perfect way to make yourself stand out as a realtor, then check out this theme. You’ll be able to offer visitors a brief intro about who you are and why they should work with you before jumping into the details about the properties you have for sale. It’s simple but includes all the features you need to help you sell more homes.  

    Builder Themes for Restaurant Websites

    Classy Restaurant

    restaurant website template This minimalist theme will encourage visitors to come by your restaurant while providing them with all the information they need. Your visitors will be able to easily access your menu, learn about your restaurant, and even book reservations online. The enticing homepage image will help you represent your restaurant in a positive light.  

    Coffee Shop

    website template for coffee shop This clean theme is perfect for a modern coffee shop or cafe. The eye-catching homepage image is the perfect place to highlight what makes your business unique. The single-page scrolling feature makes it easy to highlight your menu, tell your story, and showcase your location.  

    Builder Themes For Business Websites

    Elegant Storefront

    website builder for small business This elegant theme is perfect for retail spaces that want to expand into the online space. You’ll be able to highlight your current inventory and what makes your store unique. Plus, with the e-commerce functionality, you can quickly begin selling your own products.  

    Online Business

    online business website builder Whether your company is awesome or not, you still deserve an awesome website template. If you run a creative agency or online business of any kind, this minimalist theme will let you highlight what you do in the cleanest manner possible. Showcase your portfolio, your services, and your USP with ease.   Builder Themes for Photographer Websites

    Professional Photographer

    photography website builder If photography is your bread and butter then consider using this theme to showcase your work. This theme is perfect for giving life to your portfolio and making your work more accessible. It’s clean and simple, so the design of the site won’t distract from your beautiful photos.  

    Artistic Side

    artistic website template If you’re a more creative photographer or want to showcase your other work, such as paintings or drawings, then consider using this bright and enticing theme. The sample theme is geared towards running an art gallery or exhibit, but can easily be adapted to showcasing your personal work as well.  

    For Creative Portfolios

    Multifaceted

    template for artist websites If you’re a creative who works across multiple different mediums and formats, then utilize this theme to highlight your best work. It’s clean and simple, so there won’t be any distractions from your unique set of projects. The home page image is the perfect place to highlight what makes you unique, while the portfolio page will let you feature the diverse set of products you’ve completed.  

    Art

    art website template Are you looking for a way to showcase and sell your art? Then try out this attractive theme. This minimalist theme makes your art the central point of focus. You’ll be able to easily educate visitors about yourself and your art along with highlighting your most recent work.  

    More Website Builder Themes

    If we didn’t cover your niche above, don’t worry, there’s a huge theme selection that caters to almost every type of website out there, including:
    •    Beauty and Fashion
    •    Design
    •    Technology Industries
    •    Hotels and Travel
    •    Lifestyle Sites
    •    Music and Nightlife
    •    Simple One-Page Sites
    •    Weddings
    •    Simple Online Stores
    •    Sports-Related Sites
    •    Pets and Animals
    •    Construction and Other Trades
    •    Simple Blogs
    •    Business Consultant
    Hopefully, you have a greater understanding about what kind of themes you’ll have to choose from when using the HostGator website builder. Ready to start building your site? Click here!
  • 7 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Google Analytics

    Thursday, January 18, 2018 by
    why you should use google analytics

    Why Use Google Analytics?

    If you have a website, you should be using Google Analytics. There are no exceptions here – it’s a useful and important tool for every website owner.  One of the first things we recommend website owners do when launching a new site is get tracking set up for Google Analytics. But why is it so important? Creating a blog

    7 Reasons to Use Google Analytics

    Google Analytics is easy to figure out for even the greenest of new website owners and it provides you with loads of valuable information. Here’s a sampling of some of the most important benefits the tool offers.  

    1. You can see how people find your website.

    There are over 1 billion websites online right now. Each of them is vying for attention in the overcrowded world of the internet. For your website to do its job – whatever that might be – people have to be able to find it. Google Analytics has an entire section, Acquisition, devoted to providing you with information on how the visitors to your website found you.  Google tracks how many people land on your website after clicking on a link in search results (organic results), how many people come from links shared on social media, from other websites, from paid ads, and by typing your website directly into search. Google Analytics Acquisition Overview If you do any marketing to raise awareness of your website, this section shows you which of your efforts are working.  

    2. You can track what people do when they’re on your website.

    Getting people to your website is the first big hurdle you face, but making sure they stick around and come back is just as important. Google Analytics tracks that information too. The Behavior section in Google Analytics provides information on which pages people often come to first on your website, what pages they click through to next (if any), and how long they spend on your website. use Google Analytics to see how website visitors click through your website This information will help you understand which parts of your website are successfully getting traction and determine if you need to rework the design or improve your content to keep people around longer.

    3. You gain data on who’s visiting your website and how.

    Most websites don’t need to reach everyone.  There’s probably a specific type of visitor that’s most valuable to you. Google Analytics provides information on who the people visiting your website are in terms of demographics, geography, and their general interests online. use Google Analytics to see website visitor demographics In addition, you can see what browsers they use and what devices they’re coming from.  If your website offers a different experience on one device or browser versus another, you may be losing some visitors. Seeing how many people visit your site on mobile or through Safari lets you know how important it is to optimize for those people too.

    4. You can find the most popular pages on your website.

    Pretty much every website will have some pages that get more traffic than others. And you’ll also have pages that keep people on the site or achieve conversions more than others. If you have content that’s ranking high or getting shared a lot that brings a disproportionate amount of your traffic, Google Analytics will help you identify it. Just as importantly, if some pages do particularly well at converting visitors to email subscribers or customers, Google Analytics helps you identify those as well. find most popular pages on website using Google Analytics When you can pinpoint the pages that are working the best for your various goals, you can analyze why they work and shape a strategy for your website moving forward based on past successes.  

    5. It helps you track conversions.

    Different websites will have different actions they most want visitors to take. You can set up conversion tracking in Google Analytics for your website based on the actions you most want visitors to take, such as filling out a form, signing up for your email list, or making a purchase. For most websites, this data will be the most important measure of whether your website’s doing it’s main job. Google Analytics will help you gauge what’s working on your website to achieve conversions and why.  

    6. It’s free.

    If you have a limited budget, everything else on this list could sound awesome without convincing you it’s worth shelling out money for this tool. But you don’t have to shell out anything. Google Analytics is 100% free. No matter what your budget is, you can afford it – guaranteed.  

    7. It’s easy.

    If you’re not very tech savvy, hearing about great software tools can make you think how nice that sounds for other people who can figure out how to use them. But Google Analytics is very intuitive for even newbie website owners with basic level tech skills to figure out.  

    Get Started with Google Analytics

    To get started, you only have to set up an account with Google Analytics, add your website as a property, and add the tracking code provided to the pages on your website. That’s a simple copy-and-paste job, and with Wordpress sites you have a couple of installation options that are potentially even easier than copy and pasting the tracking code on each page. Using Google Analytics once it’s set up is similarly simple. You can learn a lot just from clicking around in there on your own, but you can also find instructions how to see a few of the most important metrics here. If you could use more guidance, there are lots of tutorials and educational resources available to help walk you through how to find what you need in Google Analytics and even find valuable information you didn’t know you needed. There are lots of good reasons to use Google Analytics, and no good reason not to. Go ahead and get it set up on your website so you can start understanding how people interact with you online and measure the success of your website.
  • New Year, New Look: 2018 Web Design Tips for Your Site

    Thursday, January 18, 2018 by
    New Year Web Design Tips for Your Site

    10 Tips for Web Design in 2018

    While there may be some constants in the world of design, what works best in web design often changes. The typical website style of the 1990’s looks outdated today and some current trends inspired by the rise of mobile would be completely confusing to web users of 2000. In short, web design evolves and it’s worth it for website owners to stay aware of changes and trends over time. Make sure your website stays current and intuitive this year with these ten web design tips for 2018. best WordPress hosting

    1. Go for journey-driven design.

    You’ll be hearing a lot about mobile-first design this year, especially as Google rolls out its mobile-first index. For some websites, that will make building mobile-first websites a top priority, but Smashing Magazine makes the compelling point that even this trend isn’t one size fits all. If the majority of your users are on desktop computers when they visit your site, they should be your priority. At this point, all websites should be mobile friendly – there’s no doubt about that. But every website should be designed to work well for the particular audience that’s going to be visiting it. If prioritizing the mobile experience of your website in any way makes the desktop experience worse for users, then you want to be certain that more of your users are coming from mobile before you make that decision. Analyze the particular journey of your visitors – both through your analytics and things like user testing – and base your design on that.  

    2. Do user testing.

    People are just not as good at guessing at how other people will behave as we tend to think we are. Even for web designers with a lot of experience under their belt, it’s worthwhile to take the hypotheses you have about how people will interact with a website and test them out. For example, a CTA link that seems extremely obvious to you could be easily overlooked by visitors used to interacting with websites that have a different layout, or the menu you thought was easy to navigate could actually be confusing for others. The only way for you to figure out how people will actually react to a website’s design is to put it in front of them and see what they do. While this isn’t necessarily a new trend, it’s still a good tip: make sure user testing is part of how you do web design in 2018.  

    3. Keep it clean.

    Clutter is both confusing and ugly. Clean website design looks better and makes a user’s experience better. Research has shown that websites with cleaner designs have a lower bounce rate. And when there’s not as much on a page to distract visitors, the main message and CTAs you want to communicate are easier to see and follow – they’re not drowned out by everything else. On Warby Parker’s home page, your attention is simply drawn to a couple of images that highlight their glasses and a few clear buttons that urge you toward the next steps to take. This kind of clean design works, so simplicity is a good design principle to stick with this year. example of clean design on warby parker website

    4. Incorporate accessibility.

    For too long, web design was focused on the experience of the majority while leaving out people with disabilities. Little by little, more organizations and designers are becoming aware of how traditional web design has failed some portion of the population and are starting to work to make the web more accessible. Experts have come together to outline inclusive design principles that designers can follow to make sure they’re creating a web experience that works for everyone. This isn’t just a good idea morally – it’s good for business. If you’re alienating potential customers now without knowing it because your design isn’t accessible, you’re losing sales. Accessible design brings your website to a new audience and it can earn you the loyalty of people used to be being left out by most website design.  

    5. Create visuals with more depth.

    Most of the images we encounter on the web are 2D, but that’s changing as more web designers use shadowing and depth in their design to bring some extra dimension to the images on websites. Adding a little more depth to your images might not make a huge change in how a visitor experiences your website, but it can help draw attention to certain parts of the page and make the objects on your site feel a little more real to the people viewing them. See how Asana does it:

    image depth example6. Make your design interactive.

    When you visit a site that changes as you interact with it, you feel more engaged as you move through the site. Parallax scrolling provides a more interactive experience as visitors scroll down the page and there are other features you can use to trigger animations or other functions based on how people interact with the page once they’re there. In addition to these interactive additions just creating an overall cool experience, they also make your visitors feel like they have more power to control what they’re seeing on the website as they move through it, which makes their experience on your site a more positive one.  

    7. Commission original illustrations.

    It’s getting increasingly difficult to stand out on the web, but original illustrations can quickly give a website some unique personality. If you hire an illustrator and stick with a particular style, the type of drawings they create can become a part of your overall branding. It’s also a good way to add original images to your blog posts (like we do here at HostGator). example of create original images for blog posts

    8. Put the customer first.

    Many of the other tips on this list relate to this idea, but it’s worth bringing up on its own merits. We’ve seen a lot of examples of web design features that everyone knows people hate (autoplay video, pop ups that block the text, etc.), but websites still frequently use them anyway. If people hate the time they spend on your website, they’re unlikely to stick around or come back. And they’re that much less likely to take the additional steps to buy something from you or sign up for a mailing list. Your web design shouldn’t just be focused on getting what you want out of customers – whether it’s ad revenue or purchases (although that should be one of your considerations) – it should prioritize providing a positive experience to your visitors. Design so that your website is easy to use, answers your visitors questions, and never annoys.    

    9. Get creative with typeface.

    Don’t feel like you always have to stick with the most common familiar fonts. Consider getting bolder in the typeface you choose. Make sure it’s readable (you don’t want people leaving your website in frustration that they can’t read what it says), but an interesting typeface is another way to add a dose of personality to your website. You can even try variable fonts to highlight important terms on the page and add some animation to your wording. variable font typeface example

    10. Create a content hub.

    Many businesses have made content a top priority in their marketing model. But even in cases where a lot of budget is going toward creating new content, the blog and other content formats are often tucked away in hard-to-spot links on the rest of the website. For businesses ready to commit to making content more central in the user experience, consider creating a content hub that brings all those valuable pieces of information together in a way that makes them easier to spot, browse, and discover. Here's an example from the folks at Uberflip: content hub example

    Conclusion

    Not every web design trend is right for every website, but by paying attention to your options and the trends that come into play each year, you can pick and choose what works for you and keep your web design current. Consider which of these tips you can use to provide a better user experience to your visitors in 2018 and get to work. Want expert help keeping up on the latest web design trends? Sign up for HostGator's professional web design services.
  • HostGator Announces 2018 Scholarship Winners

    Wednesday, January 10, 2018 by
    Internet Education Scholarship We just wrapped up our second inaugural scholarship and are excited to announce the winners! We had over 200 applicants from colleges and universities across the country who answered the question, "How has the internet impacted your education?" Three winners were chosen to receive a $1,500 scholarship to be used towards their education expenses. Our business relies on the internet, and we understand how impactful it can be. We wanted to provide a platform for students to share their experiences on how the internet has influenced their education. The following winning essays were chosen by HostGator staff based on the quality, originality and creativity of their answers.  

    Katie Holmlund, Morningside College

    Katie HolmlundThe internet; one can’t escape it anymore. There are those who view it as a corruption and there are those who view it as a godsend. I, for one, am one of those who consider the internet a saving grace. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to go back to school. The internet has given me the ability to be who I really want to be and not be stigmatized by judgmental teachers who are only in the classroom to gain a paycheck; I have had this happen at my previous university. In the traditional classroom, college level, I suffered tremendously. The constant lectures would lull me to sleep. I wasn’t able to absorb any of the material presented. Needless to say, I did not do very well in my courses. I passed, but barely. There was so much pressure to be on time to class, to sit still, and pay attention to the monotone professor speaking about complex equations that Einstein would only understand. And the note taking was insane! I received carpal tunnel from having to write down everything that the teacher put on the board. No note sheets were handed out. The notes were pointless anyway since it was all done in my sloppy handwriting that I couldn’t read to save my life. With the internet, learning comes easier. The material is still in text form and most classes require textbooks. But, note taking isn’t required. The teachers present material in PDF format or attachments that can be read over and over again and are legible, unlike my repulsive handwriting. Another great thing about online education, the grades are reported much faster and feedback is constant. The assignments, I found, are more challenging than any traditional classroom test. The assignments also allow me to demonstrate my knowledge using various platforms. I’m not doing strictly paper and pencil tests. The internet allows me to use PowerPoint, videos, Prezi, and other methods that can deliver my full potential. With these assignments, since they require a lot of work, we get extended work time. In my previous college experience, we would be assigned an eight page paper and it would be due in two days. With the internet, since information can move a lot faster, that eight page paper would be due in five to six days. There is less of a time constraint using internet education. The internet has also the amazing bonus of flexibility. Being a single mom, flexibility is a must when it comes to education. Internet, or online education, allows me, and other students, to complete courses at our own pace and on our own time. This, in a traditional setting, would never happen. The internet has revolutionized education. It has made it a lot easier for anyone to advance themselves and provides a lot of opportunities for those wanting to make that advance. Without the internet, I would not be able to go back to school to gain my Master’s degree and provide a better life for my son.  

    David Ledo, Clear Creek Baptist Bible College

    David Ledo The word “impact” does not give justice to the mark that the internet left on my education. The internet has dramatically changed my life. I was born in 1989 to Vietnamese immigrants who knew nothing about technology. Two years later the internet also came into the world. I was not able to see the internet at its infant stages because I myself was an infant. However, I was alive and fortunate enough to see the internet become commercialized and accessible to everyone. My parents were refugees from the Vietnam War so they could not afford the internet or even a computer when they were starting to get popular. However when I enrolled in public school, I was able to use a computer for the first time in the library. That is the first time in my life where I connected to the entire world. That moment would forever shape the course of my life. The internet changed my landscape, gave me access to infinitely valuable resources, and fueled my imagination for the rest of my life. The first time the internet shaped my education was when I was in kindergarten. I was having a hard time adjusting to school because I did not know the language. My parents barely spoke any language when they first came to America. They had full citizenship but they struggled to learn a second language at their age due to the lack of resources. However, I was more fortunate since my school started their first “ESOL” program. The English teachers were able to teach me English for the first time simply by emailing people for hand typed resources. Things like Google Translate did not exist back then. Thanks to the internet, I went from a kid of an immigrant who spoke no English to being one of the brightest students in the school. As soon as I was able to grasp English, I was able to understand complex concepts and ideas that made school actually enjoyable for me. For the first time in my life, I could understand the other kids. This event may seem small and insignificant but it opened a very large door for me that I could not open on my own without the help of the internet. The second time the internet surged my education was when I was a bit older. I was around seventeen when this happened. By this time, there was a large increase in the amount of typing, programming, and computer science. I took a typing class and after one year, I was typing at around ninety words per minute. During this period, I found out my dad had lung cancer. I was the oldest so it fell on me to be the man out of the family and go to these doctor appointments with my dad because my mom did not understand much English. Within three months my dad died. My mom could not make ends meet on her own so I quit school to take up two jobs to help pay for bills so that my two younger siblings could have an education and future. The irony is that I had one of the highest graduation test scores before I dropped out. I was convinced I could not do anything else in my life until someone recommended to me that I get my GED. I did not have any books or the means to buy them. My entire paycheck was going to my mom to help us survive. That is when an old school guidance counselor told me to check out the internet. She told me that there a vast number of test prep and academic self-study tools online. I went to my local library and checked out the website links that she sent me and within a month, I had my GED. I was overwhelmed after that honestly. I never thought that I would be able to go to college. I realized if this was on the internet, what else would there be. The next thing I know I was applying for college through the internet. This is extremely cliché and kind of embarrassing to say but I have to say it. The internet gave me hope. It gave me a future. Older generations do not realize the impact of the internet. They feel like technology is making people distant and is the cause of social decay. The reality of that situation is not true. A creation is not responsible for its creator’s faults. If you read the classic English novel of Frankenstein, you would realize the dilemma and principle that it presents. The internet allowed me to learn English. The internet gave me a second chance at education. The internet connected everyone on the planet on one virtual common ground. You can reach anyone with the stroke of a keyboard through email. We are not only able to spread our ideas and opinions across the planet, but even students who have a failing immune system who could never be in a classroom is able to have perfect attendance through a webcam. The internet did not impact my education but instead saved it.  

    Richard Wu, University of Chicago

    Richard WuIt’s hard to overstate the internet’s prevalence in education. The sharp tap-tap-tap of keys replace what was once the scratching of pens on paper in my university’s musty, old lecture halls. Notes are now passed around in the cloud on a Google Doc shared with ten other classmates. The professor stops mid-lecture to play a Youtube video. Come finals, I hit the books. At least, online textbooks, which are open alongside Quizlet, CourseHero, and Facebook, where my study group anxiously exchanges practice problem answers. The courses aren’t easy, but studying sure is. I can click from Youtube video to video before I find the perfect tutor (thanks, Khan Academy) and review lecture notes stored on Dropbox. But for my grandparents in Inner Mongolia, education growing up was inconceivably inaccessible. My grandpa, or yeye, had to join the military to receive a free education. Every morning in military school, the chalkboard was erased. Without an iPhone to take photos of lecture notes, yeye covertly carried the clunky chalkboard from classroom to quarters for additional study time. That’s how he learned how to write. In the States, to realize my passion for social businesses, I applied to HBX CORe, an online business certification. Students from nearly 40 different countries logged in at our convenience, easily looking back on coursework days after lecture. My nainai, or grandma, picked flowers under an open window of the elementary school she couldn’t afford to attend. By ear, she memorized the poems being recited in an unsuspecting classroom. When class dismissed, nainai accosted strangers to briefly lend her their books to match the phonetics with written characters. That’s how she learned how to read. In sharp contrast, I learned my first Spanish words with Duolingo, the gamified language app. With beginner spanish under my belt, I was able to pursue my interests in NGO consulting hands-on, booking a flight on Expedia and living in Peru through AirBnB. I had Google Translate to buoy my speaking abilities and digital Lonely Planet guides to direct me through historical sites. I still chat with friends made there on Whatsapp, where we exchange bits of both English and Espanol. The tools and resources available in the cloud have bridged access and brought ease to the previously unimaginable. My interest in NGO consulting wasn’t bound by case studies. With powerful language-learning apps, I could actually go to Peru and work alongside an NGO. To realized my passion for social entrepreneurship, I didn’t wait to earn a MBA. Rather, I could access a wealth of business courses anytime, anywhere. With internet access, there are no longer barriers to knowledge. Chalkboard notes can be revisited at the tap of a finger; poems overheard can be stored in an audio clip. The tenacious desire for education of my yeye and nainai compel me to never take my education and what I can make of it for granted. I will continue to grow and learn: to do right by them and to do right by me.
  • 2018 New Year’s Resolutions for E-commerce

    Thursday, December 21, 2017 by
    New Year Resolutions Ecommerce

    10 New Year’s Resolutions for E-commerce Sites

    You’re wrapping up the busiest time of year. You do deserve a rest, but it can only last so long. 2018’s about to start and the beginning of a New Year is the best time to sit down and figure out all the things you need to do to make your e-commerce business better in the year to come. To get more out of 2018, here are a few good New Year’s resolutions to consider for your e-commerce business. best dedicated server hosting

    1. Perform a thorough analysis of last year’s results.

    The best place to start with your New Year’s resolutions is by committing time to thoroughly review what you did last year and how well it worked. Bring together all the analytics you have – from Google Analytics, your e-commerce software, and your marketing software products – and analyze what the data has to tell you. See how your results throughout the year relate to particular marketing campaigns and initiatives you tried and figure out which of your current efforts are working and which are falling short. To get better, you have to understand where you are now and where you’ve been in the past. Your data is the tool that best helps you do that so you can improve upon your past results in the year to come.  

    2. Revisit and update your business plan.

    Now that you have a good understanding of last year’s results and what got you there, you can create an informed plan to make sure next year’s results are even better. Revisit your company’s business plan and make updates to it based on the results of your analytics review and any changes you’re interested in pursuing in the coming year. If you’re hoping to expand your product offerings or start targeting a new audience, make sure your business plan includes specifics on how and why to do that. While the plan you create in this step won’t be set in stone, it will help shape your marketing and business practices in the coming year. Getting this right can make a big difference in how well you pull of your goals in 2018.  

    3. Start personalizing your customer experience.

    Every person that comes to your website has distinct interests. Not all of your content or products will be relevant to every visitor and if most of what they see whenever they land on your website is of no interest, you’re likely to lose them. On the other hand, if you can use technology to deliver an experience tailored to what each visitor likes, you’re more likely to keep them around and get them to convert. There’s data that backs up the power of web personalization. One study found that companies that provided a personalized web experience saw an 18% increase in sales. If you haven’t already starting bringing personalization into your marketing and website experience, then make 2018 the year you do so. With the right technology and data, you can promote products that you know each visitor is most likely to be interested in based on their past visits to your site and their general browsing habits. When you make it easier for customers to learn about the products that are most relevant to their interests, their experience improves and your sales are likely improve with it.  

    4. Beef up your security.

    Big brands keep getting unwanted attention and scrutiny because of data breaches that put their customers’ personal information at risk. Data breaches are bad for customers and brands alike and can really hurt your relationship with the people you most need to earn the trust of. Just because your business is a smaller target than Experian or Uber doesn’t mean you can let security slide. Your website collects sensitive financial information that your customers expect you to take responsibility for protecting. You should take their trust very seriously. Go through our website security checklist to see what steps you need to take to make your e-commerce site more secure, and make a note to revisit the checklist in a few months and do it all over again. Don’t let 2018 be the year you fail your customers by letting their information slip into the hands of someone malicious. Website Security Checklist

    5. Revisit your pricing.

    Pricing is always a tricky subject. If you charge too much, you’ll lose customers to competitors. But when you charge too little you could be leaving money on the table. If you set your prices a while back and haven’t taken time to revisit them in a while, then let the beginning of the New Year be your chance to see if there’s room for a change. Plan on doing some price testing so you can see if you can get away with bumping your prices up without losing customers. It can be scary making a change like this – you don’t want to alienate customers that have been with you awhile – but if you do it right, you can easily increase your profits without spending much more or having to do more work.  

    6. Do user testing.

    Your website seems perfectly intuitive to you, of course, but this is one of those areas in life where your opinion only matters so much. You need to figure out if your website is easy to use for your customers and, just as importantly, if it successfully drives visitors to take the actions you want them to. You can hire a UX firm to do user testing for you and help you develop an updated version of your website designed to better serve both your visitors and your goals. If the cost of hiring outside help for this is beyond your means though, put together a plan for DIY user testing. You can gain some of the same insights as a UX firm on your own and put what you’ve learned into practice moving forward. AB Test Pricing

    7. Research new software solutions.

    A good e-commerce business needs good software to thrive. When was the last time you really thought about how well your current software is serving you and looked into whether or not there might be something better out there for you? Evaluate all the software products you’re using now – your e-commerce software, your marketing software products, even your accounting software – and do some research to see if another product that offers additional functionality or a lower cost might be a better fit for your needs. Making sure you have the right tools for the job and know how to use them effectively is an important part of business success. Make it one of your resolutions to confirm you’ve got that down.  

    8. Start a customer referral program.

    If you don’t have one yet, a customer referral program can be a powerful way to bring in new customers. People always trust recommendations from friends and family members more than they trust the word of a business; so giving your current happy customers an incentive to talk up your brand to others is a smart way to bring in new business. Use the beginning of the year to design a plan for your new customer referral program so you can launch early enough in 2018 to get some real returns from it. If you do it right, it will strengthen your relationship with the customers you already have while helping you grow your business exponentially.  

    9. Grow your email list.

    Speaking of strengthening your relationship with your current customers, your email list is still one of the best tools you have for doing that (and starting a relationship with new prospects). You may already have strategies and campaigns devoted to growing your email list. If you do, revisit those and look for ways to make them stronger. If you don’t, now’s the time to sit down and work up a plan. You can promote your email list on your blog, on your product pages, on social media, and on your main landing pages. Consider creating gated content or hosting webinars as additional ways to grow your list. And figure out discounts or other incentives you can offer to encourage interested followers to take that extra step. Your email subscribers are some of your most valuable prospects, the more of them you have, the better it is for your business.  

    10. Look into new partnerships.

    While it’s easy to think of other businesses as competitors, businesses are often stronger together than apart. Use this time of year to think about the types of partnerships that could be valuable to your brand and start seeking them out. That could include affiliate partnerships that further promote your brand to relevant audiences, content exchanges with other businesses in your space to build links and reach new audiences, and partnerships with other local businesses to collaborate on events or other types of promotion. When you collaborate with other businesses, you benefit from the work they’ve done to build up an audience and earn their trust. It’s a valuable way to extend your reach and make some important business relationships in the process.  

    Conclusion

    Running an e-commerce business always feels like a lot of work, and no matter how busy you are, you know there’s always more you can be doing to make it better. It can be hard to find time to try new things, but don’t let that be an excuse. Make the beginning of the New Year – the time most devoted to seeking out ways to be better – your opportunity to try out new things and find creative ways to improve. 2018 can be a much better year for your business than 2017 was, but only if you do the work to make it happen.