Thursday, January 18, 2018 by Kristen Hicks
Wednesday, January 10, 2018 by Alexis KrasinskiWe 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 CollegeThe 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 CollegeThe 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 ChicagoIt’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.
10 New Year’s Resolutions for E-commerce SitesYou’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.
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.
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.
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.
ConclusionRunning 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.
Spruce Up Your Website With This New Year ChecklistA New Year should come with new goals for your business. As you work through your end-of-year to do list - reevaluating your finances, hiring new employees, and deciding which tactics to embrace or toss aside in the year to come - it’s important that you make plans to maintain your website along with your larger business. Your website is the main way a lot of people interact with your brand, after all. “One of the most often overlooked components—yet one of the most critical—to any successful website strategy is ongoing maintenance. While the initial website project is critical to creating the right foundation, the ongoing maintenance and upkeep is where you’ll really see your website shine,” writes Don Cranford, principal and director of technology at Katalyst Solutions. If you’ve tended to let general maintenance of your website slide over the years, make it one of your goals moving into the New Year to correct that. Here are a few action items to add to your to-do list now to get your website in shape for 2018.
1. Evaluate your analytics.Analytics are the ultimate tool for examining the health of your website traffic. It’s vital for your team to understand how your visitors and qualified leads find your business. Knowing whether people come to your website from organic search, paid search, or Facebook tells you a lot about how your online marketing efforts are working. And keeping an eye on your analytics as part of regular website maintenance can save you trouble down the line. content audit can help you see trends in what’s working best in your content, and what isn’t getting the kind of results you’d hoped for. That knowledge allows you to shape a stronger content strategy in the year to come. In addition, a content audit helps you find opportunities in your content to update old posts to make them better, as well as re-purpose content you have into new formats. Either way, you'll reach new audiences and get more out of the work you’ve already done. Plus, you'll clean up your site by getting rid of old content that doesn’t match with your current goals.
3. Do user testing.You probably think about your website every day. You feel like you know it in and out and have a pretty good idea about what people see when they come to it. But it’s precisely because you know it so well that you can’t really imagine what the typical user experiences when they land on it. You need fresh eyes to figure that out. User testing helps businesses better understand what happens when someone lands on your website. Where do their eyes go? What are the pages and options they find it easy to see, and which ones do they have a hard time noticing without someone pointing it out? You may realize that people have trouble finding that “Contact” button you thought was so obvious, or that they have a hard time navigating to specific product pages. If people can't find what they’re looking for on your website, you’re losing customers. User testing reveals any problems you currently have so you know what needs fixing. And at this point it should go without saying, but in case it doesn’t, make sure you do user testing on mobile devices as well as desktop. Over half of all web use happens on mobile now. You want your mobile visitors to be as happy with your website experience as your desktop users.
4. Revive old (but useful) content.Your marketing team has spent countless hours creating content to educate and entertain your customers, and you’ll likely spend many hours more. But you can reduce your work a little (or at least make it go further) by looking for opportunities to improve or re-use the content you already have. Your content audit should help you identify the best content to use in this step – anything that performed well the first time around could be fodder for new content that resonates with your audience. You can add the latest trends to an old blog post or insert new data into an infographic containing outdated statistics. Or you can transform one content form into another. revisit your content archives and promote your old content anew. Your audience that’s been with you for a while may appreciate the refresher, and your new audience will get to see some of your old hits for the first time.
5. Revamp your homepage.Your website’s homepage will be the first impression you make on many visitors – you’d better make it a good one. Your homepage should accomplish a few main goals:
- Clearly communicate your brand’s positioning (why should a customer choose you?)
- Look professional (you don’t want to scare new visitors off by looking like you’re still in the 90s)
- Answer the main questions people may have (where you’re located, contact information, etc.)
- Make it easy for people to know where to go next
6. Review and improve your calls-to-action (CTAs).Every page on your website should be designed with a clear goal in mind. You should always know what you want your visitor to do next, and it should be obvious to them how to do it. The CTAs you include on each page have an important job to do, but you shouldn’t just assume they’re all doing that job. Check your analytics to see how often the people who visit your pages are taking the action you most want them to. Then do some experimenting. Work up different variations on your CTAs – try different visual designs, different wording, and different locations on the page. Try out different CTAs on different pages to see if some work better when paired with specific content. Do A/B testing to confirm which of the CTAs you try work best. The more data you have, the more you can refine your website so that people are more likely to take the steps you want them to.
7. Fix any checkout process issues.Everything else you design your website to accomplish leads back to the main end goal of sales. If you’re not driving revenue, you won’t last. To meet your sales goals, your checkout process must be frictionless. If you discover that customers hate creating member registrations, one solution is to try a social login. This one-click alternative will help consumers move through the checkout process faster. If you’ve noticed the checkout seems to stop at the moment the customer sees the cost of shipping, think about offering flat-rate shipping or free shipping for qualifying orders. Anything that stops the sale from happening is bad for business. Figure out what roadblocks are in your customer’s pathway and remove them.
8. Make sure your security's up-to-date.Every time a story about a data breach makes waves, people get a little more nervous about handing their credit card information over to businesses. You can’t help what happens in the news, but you can take steps to keep your own website secure and ensure all the private information your customers give you is protected. Go through our web security checklist and make sure your security measures are up to date. There are some easy ways to reduce vulnerabilities in your website to make your customer data safer. You owe it to your customers to do your part in protecting them.
9. Check your domain registration.This is a simple step to take, but one you have to remember to do every year. Contact your hosting provider to learn when your registration will expire. If it’s due soon, go ahead and pay for the renewal, and consider signing up for auto-renewals for future registrations. And remember to update any contact information—business name, address, and phone number. It also may be time to purchase a new domain for upcoming brand changes. So, ask your provider for details about availability and prices. Sometimes the smallest things in your business are overlooked. Make sure your domain registration continues so you can offer uninterrupted service to your customers
10. Reinvest in your brand community.This is less something that you do to your website, and more something that you do for it. As your business grows, it’s essential to keep your brand community engaged. Make a plan this year to give your consumers the engagement they deserve. Respond promptly to comments left on your blog posts. Take time to say thanks in response to positive reviews and ensure that no complaint goes unanswered. Interact with users on social media – plan to be quick and polite at least, but if your social media manager is up to it, try to be clever or entertaining as well. Experiment with starting a new loyalty program or making improvements to the one you have. Brand ambassadors serve as an extension of your company. If they’re not satisfied, you may expose your business to unwanted negative publicity. Get reacquainted with your target audience. A dedicated community opens the door to business opportunities.
A New Year, A Better WebsiteIt’s time to roll up your sleeves. The New Year is a time to reflect and reassess your business’s needs, and that includes your website. A better website is part of running a better business. A few tweaks now could garner you better results in the year to come and ensure your website can continue to do the important job it does for your business.
Monday, December 18, 2017 by Kristen Hicks
10 New Year’s Resolutions for Website OwnersWhether you own a website to promote a business or to share your thoughts with the world, maintaining it takes a lot of work – especially if you want it to reach a lot of people and keep them coming back. It can be easy after a while to go on autopilot and let the site basically run itself, but when you do that there are inevitably important to-dos you’re forgetting. With a New Year comes the reminder to do all the important tasks that need to be done that are easily forgotten in the day-to-day work of keeping the website up and running. To make your website better as you go into 2018, consider these 10 New Year’s resolutions for website improvement.
1. Do a site audit.When was the last time you went through the whole website page-by-page to look for errors or other issues? If it’s been a while (or if you’ve never done it at all), then schedule a site audit now. The only way to catch every little thing that needs fixing on your website is to go through and find the issues yourself. Look for typos and spelling errors, broken images, pages that load slowly, or things that don’t look right on different devices and in different browsers. It’s slow, tedious work, but that’s why it’s a good idea to get it on the calendar now when you’re in the mode for New Year’s improvement. Make the small fixes as you go and make note of the others to return to later, but set them down on your calendar so you don’t let them slide. At the end of this project, you’ll have a better, cleaner website that provides a more seamless experience to your visitors.
2. Do a security check.It seems like we’re constantly hearing about new security breaches. While bigger brands and government institutions are bigger targets for hackers and cyber thieves, that doesn’t mean smaller businesses and website owners can stay complacent and just hope for the best when it comes to security. Commit in 2018 to making your website more secure. That’s a good idea for all websites, and doubly important for any business website that accepts payment or other sensitive information from customers. You owe it to your customers and followers to keep their data protected. Start by making sure your website is backed up. If something does happen to it, you want to know you have a relatively easy way to restore it without having to start from scratch. You can invest in automatic backups with most hosting providers (HostGator offers CodeGuard for less than $2 a month). You should also look into a security program like Sitelock, which regularly scans your website for vulnerabilities so you can proactively take care of them before a hacker gets the chance to use them against you. If you’re ready to get a little more technical, review and complete the seven website security steps outlined here. By doing things like keeping all your software updated and fixing any vulnerabilities in your code, you can make it that much harder for any hackers to touch your website.
3. Do a thorough analysis of your analytics.Even if you already check Google Analytics regularly (which is a good habit to have as a website owner), it’s useful at the beginning of a New Year to do a more thorough review of the data. Zoom out to look at larger time parameters than you usually do. Look for trends in the data for the entire year, and see how they compare to last year and the year before. By looking at the big picture and taking the time to really sit with the analytics and perform a thorough analysis, you can find some important insights and takeaways that you might miss just looking at the weekly or monthly results. Use the analytics to get an overall feel for the pages that are doing their job and those that aren’t and investigate to figure out why. Expect to walk away from your analytics overview with a list of action items you can take to improve the results on your website.
4. Change all your passwords.General advice on this subject is that you should be changing your passwords once or twice a year. But most people don’t actually bother. If it’s been awhile since you updated the passwords for your various logins, then it’s time to go ahead and make a change. If you have employees or other colleagues that work on the website, urge them to do the same. And while it makes your life harder, go ahead and make the passwords for your various logins unique – don’t use the same password to access your FTP that you use for the WordPress login that you use for your credit card accounts – if a hacker figures out one of them, they gain access to all of them. Clearly that would be bad news.
5. Find and update all broken links.Have you ever clicked on a link only to land on a 404 page? Or worse, an error page with no information at all? Broken links cause frustration and are often one of the culprits behind high bounce rates. And inevitably, any website that’s been around for a while is going to have some. You can use a free tool online that will automatically check your whole website for broken links so you know where to go in and fix or remove them. While you’re at it, revisit your 404 page. Is it helpful? Is it boring? It doesn’t have to be. You can make the experience of landing on a wrong page on your website useful and even fun by creating a great 404 page. Ideally, not many people will end up there, but if they do, they’ll be less likely to leave your site altogether.
6. Do UX Testing.The way people use the internet is changing all the time. Even if your website offered an intuitive experience when you first designed it, that could have changed by now based on changing user habits. The only way to ensure your website provides the kind of experience people find easy to use and that it’s helping drive them toward the actions you most want them to take is to do user testing. Bring in some customers or friends to provide outside eyes. Have them spend some time navigating the website. Make observations on how they use the website and whether or not they seem to have a hard time finding anything they’re looking for. If you have an e-commerce business, have them test out making a couple of purchases to see if they find anything difficult about that process. And make sure you include mobile testing as part of the process – many of your visitors will be coming to your website from mobile devices, so it’s crucial that you provide a good experience there as well.
7. Decide if it’s time for a website redesign.Every so often, your website will need a full-on website redesign. If it’s a been awhile and you feel like you’re due for a refresher, then really think about what you want to get out of your website. Clearly define your goals and think about things like the visual style, layout, and color schemes you like on other sites and might want to emulate. Then start looking into web design services. A new website for a New Year can be an exciting way to refresh and improve upon what came before.
8. Make your website more mobile friendly.Mobile internet use has overtaken desktop browsing. Having a mobile-friendly website is no longer optional. If you haven’t already taken steps to make your website intuitive and user friendly for visitors on a mobile device, then that should be a top priority in 2018. Make one of your resolutions not to put it off any longer.
9. Start a blog (if you don’t have one yet).Blogging gets a lot of attention in marketing circles for good reason. Fresh content gives you more chances to engage with your visitors and gives them more reason to keep coming back to the website. If you’re trying to build an email list, promising regular content updates gives people an incentive to sign up. And since Google likes fresh content, blogging is good for SEO. Be warned that blogging takes a lot of time to do well (or money if you opt to hire out a lot of the work), so if you make this one of your New Year’s resolutions, you should be prepared to really commit to it. Before you start writing, create a blogging strategy. Think about the types of topics you want to cover and how often you plan to post (don’t be overly ambitious here – your blog won’t go far if you burn out soon after you start it). If you can commit the time and/or budget to maintaining a blog, it can be a powerful tool to make your website more popular and valuable.
10. Update your marketing plan.The web is a crowded place. If you want your website to keep getting visitors (or start getting visitors), you have to put some work into making it easy for them to find your website. The beginning of a New Year is a good time to revisit your marketing plan and make any needed updates. To start, evaluate what’s working now. In the Acquisition section of Google Analytics, you can see how people come to your website. This gives you a snapshot of how well your SEO and social promotion efforts are working out for you. Combine those analytics with the metrics provided by any marketing software you use (e.g. a CRM or email marketing software) to get a bigger picture of how well your current efforts are paying off. Also consider if there are any new online marketing techniques or channels you want to try this year. If there’s a social media channel you’ve avoided so far that’s blowing up in popularity, maybe 2018 is the time to develop a presence there. The online marketing world is constantly changing, so use this opportunity to explore new trends and see if they’ll work for your website. We can’t guess at what will happen in 2018, but you can make sure you’re going into it with a stronger, better website. Use the beginning of the year to do some clean up and make some improvements. Your website and its visitors will both benefit from the changes.