6 Key Factors to Look for in Small Business Website Solution 

small business website solution

If you are thinking of taking your small business or company to the next level, it's best to have a website where people in various places can find you.  But there's always this fear of spending a lot of money on website development and design which deters many starting businesses to do so.

Aside from understanding the process that go with website development, a small business owner always has low-cost options to choose from. By searching the web for small business website solutions, you'll be able to see a myriad of sites offering this service.

To help you discern which company will best fit your needs, here's a list of factors to look for:

(1) Has great, experienced web designers on-board

Many of today's web solution providers have outsourced remote teams of web designers who are not just skilled, but also have years of experience and extensive portfolio. Don't be surprised if you'll find web designers who have worked with various companies on and off the internet. Many small website solutions also employ the expertise of freelancers and remote professionals because of their flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and experience to working with clients in various industries.

(2) Uses the best open source tools

One of the reasons why open source tools are more widely used today is the flexibility they provide to both the providers and their clients. These tools are also often supported by a robust community of engineers, designers and developers.

It’s easier to customize a website, or a portion of it, without being tied to a very strict, and sometimes limited, platform. You have total control over your website when using open source tools. It also allows providers to lower their costs, making their web design and development services more attractive to clients and more lucrative for them.

(3) Offers customizable web solutions

A customized website is necessary to meet your business' needs, so you'll be able to build your brand and attract potential customers. However, a good-looking website and great products or services are not always enough to generate sales. You'll need the help of small business website solutions provider to help you deal with the other aspects such as marketing and all other technical tasks at the back end.

(4) Offers cost-effective web solutions

Web services that offer social media marketing, content management, search engine optimization, hosting, and support are very valuable for small businesses. Often times you'll find owners who do not know where to begin when it comes to these web solutions.

Providers offering such services at reasonable prices tends to get more small-to-medium businesses as clients since they know what their clients need and can afford. You may also encounter pricing structures based on your budget, making it easier and faster for you to take your business one step further.

(5) Has proper communication channels

Coordination and communication are essential in developing your website. There should be a clear indication that this is present within the provider's side and with yours.

A cluttered team of developers, designers and marketers are not the ideal people to work with and it's possible that their communication channels are also problematic. You'd want a small business website solution that's delivered to you seamlessly. It can only be done if communication is constantly smooth within their team and with you.

Having an interactive customer chat box is just one way to initiate a possible exchange. An actual contact page for sending email messages right away is another direct communication channel with customer and provider. And of course, there are details about their office numbers, physical address, and email address.

(6) Provides great customer support

Great customer support is essential for any business. With regards to web solution providers, their customer support team should be able to provide the much-needed information that customers need from the moment they touch down on their homepage. During the course of a website development or other on-going services, their customer service representatives should be able to address any customer inquiry in a short amount of time. Much better if the support is given on a real-time basis or at least within 24 hours.

Do you need small business website solution? Talk to us and we'll help you take your business onto the next step and beyond.

View User Profile for Power Site Power Site is subsidiary of Fast Track. It's a robust, customizable website solution package especially developed to help small businesses how to leverage their website as a marketing tool. Follow Power Site on Twitter as @FTPowerSite.
Posted by Power Site Friday, March 27, 2015 10:16:00 AM Categories: B2B B2C small business tips SMB web trends website

6 eCommerce Website Design Trends to Watch Out For 

ecommerce flat design

The predominant use of mobile devices is one of the factors that drive mobile-friendly eCommerce web design to become a necessity, rather than just a 'fringe' benefit to online sellers and users. With the prominence of mobile devices and users, it is easy to assume that the latest eCommerce web design trends are based on this premise.

Here's a list of eCommerce website design trends we've seen so far:

(1) Responsive design for both mobile device and large screens

While mobile devices may have a direct impact on responsive web design, it's important to design for larger screens as well. This allows further flexibility and more visual impact, particularly for users of widescreen devices such as smart TVs and desktop computers.

Responsive design also enables eCommerce sites to showcase more visually appealing products and use compelling layouts to optimize the design for better user experience and, possibly, higher conversions.

(2)  Hidden menus

Hidden menus are the norm, particularly for mobile devices. This de-clutters the user's view especially when browsing a site using a smaller screen. For eCommerce sites, a hidden menu is essential for showcasing visually appealing products. Whether you're site is optimized for mobile or widescreen computers, using a hidden menu can provide ease and clutter-free navigation for your customers.

(3) Large images

The main goal of eCommerce websites is to sell products. The best products should be presented well and this can only be done by using high-quality images that will catch the attention of customers.

Today, we see a rise in the use of large images, ranging from product photos to site headers and backgrounds. It's more than just a 'wow' factor to use large images in various pages of a website. Visually striking images can cause a stir in a positive way, especially for online sellers of colorful goods. This also means having great product photos to use in order for the images to pop and capture full attention of customers; thus, helping to sell more.  

Don't be surprised to find features and enhancement for image on product pages such as tilting capabilities and 360-degree rotation tools. While the use of 'zoom' feature is still predominant, it actually takes a bit of time for the user to do so; whereas large images are ready for viewing with ease.

(4) Large, flexible typography

Along with large images is large, flexible typography which works very well with responsive design. Many eCommerce sites are now using large typography for added visual impact and customer engagement. Going big and bold with typography is on the rise, but it should also be done with respect to responsiveness to ensure the flow of text works well for both small and large screens.

(5) Tiled navigation

Tiled navigation with great imagery is more appealing to customers, and it’s becoming more and more popular among eCommerce websites.

Tiled navigation offers a preview of each product listed on a single page - making it easier for customers to see more of what you're selling without navigating away from a page. Think of window shopping done online and in a matter of minutes. Higher customer engagement and click throughs are more feasible, especially with the use of high-quality product images and well-written descriptions.

(6) Video content

Video content involves the use of popular platforms such as Vevo and YouTube embedded onto product pages to demonstrate or discuss specific items to customers. Such video platforms are also used for marketing purposes to attract more customers.

PayPal's homepage is a good example of using video content as background. There's a bit of text that mentions the benefits of using PayPal, but we see real people at work or doing business which depicts the typical PayPal user.

The elements of a proper eCommerce website design can help you to sell more, especially if done right and with the future in mind. If your eCommerce site is lagging behind in terms of design and usability, maybe it's time to update it to meet the demands of your customers.

We can help you make an eCommerce website that's both trendy and ready. Get in touch with us today!

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Posted by Tuesday, March 10, 2015 6:28:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C SMB web design web trends

Website Custom Development: Why Businesses Need It and What Benefits Do They Have 

website custom development

Today's business owners understand the need for an online presence. Whether online or brick-and-mortar, it’s important to connect to its target audience in order to attract more customers.

In order for a business to have online presence, it’s important to have a website that's strategically built in terms of what it offers to consumers. Some small businesses will only have a Facebook Page and/or Twitter account. They don't have real .COM websites, but blogs hosted by either WordPress or BlogSpot.

If you haven't been able to put up a website, now is the time it. But, it should be a customized site to better represent your business. Here are some of the main reasons why your business needs a full .COM site:

  • A customized website gives your business a unique look and the design represents your brand. This may consist of a custom-made logo, color scheme, features and user-friendly interface in which a website custom development provider can do for you.
  • With your target customers in mind, you and your design/development provider can create a simple and easy to understand site structure.
  • A fast turnaround time is always possible with an outsourced web development provider. They are able to provide a dedicated team to build your site within a specific time frame, so you can provide the web pages your target customers are searching for.
  • It's less likely that you'll see a similar or duplicate site design. This allows you to give a good impression and unique experience to your site visitors.
  • You can always add and update your site's features as your business grows.
  • You can also save on costs since most web development companies operate online - which means you don't need to call them often via phone, no commuting or gas expenses, and their overhead costs are fairly low. The key is proper communication, so the development team knows exactly what you need and what they have to do, based on your requirements.

Among the major reasons why businesses fail to have a .COM website is the cost. However, in this day and age, it's important to have a site that caters to both the needs of the business and its customers. That's why a website custom development is the best solution to meet these needs and to make a mark in a specific industry.
    
The competitive nature of being found online is reason enough to delve into outsourced web development. The cost of having a great website is no longer too expensive even for a small business because there are many providers such as Fast Track who are offering competitive prices based on the type of work required.

In your search for website custom development provider, you'll find that there are a lot of solutions that have great features that can benefit small to medium businesses. When you’re looking for a solutions provider, look for the following:

  1. A customized website comes with custom features and design. Based on your agreement, the developer/designer will be able to match your specific needs and vision for the site.
  2. Free services included when you work with a website custom development team. These vary per provider, so make sure to ask if anything for free is included in your agreed package.
  3. A cost-effective customized website because you pay for the services rendered and not for tools - which they already have.
  4. Support services. These are likened to after-sales services which you can avail of especially in time of need.
  5. A developer that can help you meet the requirements of your business.
  6. You work together with a tenured team or individual who knows how to implement your ideas and goals for the website. This happens when there's constant communication, proper planning, and coordination.

Outsourced web development and design is the beginning of your business's online journey. Providers such as Fast Track can help to give you a better understanding of where and when to begin, and how this project can take your business to the next level. Consider these benefits and your needs when speaking to the web development team in order to achieve a smooth process throughout the project.

20 Free Site Evaluation Tools for Small Business 

free website evaluation tools

Improving the quality of website is crucial for small business owners. You may have all the features that a site could have, the topnotch content your copywriters have written specifically for your target market, and a user-friendly interface that any visitor on your site will find helpful. However, if your site is loading too slow, not properly optimized for search and visitors, and is not being linked to by relevant sites, it would be difficult for visitors to find you on the web.

To ensure that your site will be found in the soonest possible time and manner, you can make use of free site evaluation tools to help improve your website's performance and quality.

Built With

Built With is an excellent SEO tool for finding 'hidden' technical details about your site. It can provide information about your server details, hosting, name server, email service, CMS platform used (WordPress, Magento, Drupal, etc.), and many others. Built With can also go deeper in determining if your site uses plug-ins, which JavaScript libraries are used, if there are widgets and analytics tools, and others. It can also give you a quick look at the site's meta data (meta tags, descriptions), meta robots, and if there are Open Graph meta tags.

Google Page Speed Insight

Google Page Speed Insight generates a report which suggests how you can improve your site's load time. Simply enter your site's URL in order for the tool to generate this report. The report is broken down into either a Desktop or Mobile report.

Screaming Frog

Screaming Frog is an SEO spider which crawls websites and reports any errors. If there are bad links, it will generate a report with the 302's and 404's it finds.

Copyscape

Copyscape's free tool can find duplicate content. Enter your site's URL in order for the tool to check the web for any duplicate pages. You may also use any of its free banners on your site to deter anyone from copying content. 

NTopic

NTopic is a tool which lets you see the relevancy score of a page's target keyword. You can use this tool in finding out which target keywords your competitors are using, so you can use them to your own advantage - such as creating content for marketing purposes and short social media descriptions.

SEMrush

SEMrush is quite popular among SEO professionals. It can generate reports that are rich in data, but the most relevant is the report for keywords. Like NTopic, you can use SEMrush in finding out what target keywords are being used by your competitors.

Word Stream Free Keyword Tool

The limited free edition of Word Stream provides suggested keywords based on broad matches. This free tool also provides relative search volume estimates and generates a list of longtail keywords which can be very useful in your content marketing efforts and blog posting.

Get Listed

Moz now owns Get Listed, which is a tool that crawls the major business directories online, and extracts business names and locations (via zip code), and identifies missing listings in the results. This tool is great for showing your clients missed opportunities and low-hanging fruit.

Open Site Explorer

Open Site Explorer is a great tool for competitor analysis. It generates a list of inbound links and provides their own SERP ranking score - Page Authority and Domain Authority - which is regarded to have the highest correlation to SERP rankings.

Anchor Text Over Optimization Tool

This is a tool for discovering potential anchor text issues quickly. You can check for over optimized anchor text for incoming links.

Similar Web

Similar Web can check for missing data that are not included in Google Analytics. It provides estimates such as traffic, referring sites, ads, etc.

Circle Count

Circle Count is the number of people on your Google+ circle. You can use it to track followers and shares.

Share Tally

Share Tally provides a bird's eye view of a web page's social activity. You can generate an instant report of social sharing activities all across major social networks. This tool can help you determine which social media network is performing well for your own website or your clients'.

Follower Wonk

Another of Moz's free site evaluation tool is Follower Wonk. It is a Twitter analytics tool which helps you precisely analyze any Twitter user. You can generate reports based on geographical locations, keywords, and many others.

Pingdom Full Page Test

Pingdom Full Page Test is a site speed analyzer which identifies bottlenecks and measures site performance in seconds. It also tells you the best places on your site that need updates, so you can change it and reap rewards with little effort.

Hubspot Marketing Grader

Hubspot offers a free marketing grader which evaluates your site by grading its weaknesses and strengths by assessing the landing pages, social media connectivity, and many others. It will also compare your site to competitor sites to help identify the areas where your competitor attracts customers.

SEOQuake

SEOQuake is a toolbar which can be used on Google Chrome, Firefox, and Opera browsers. It analyzes internal and external links, provides Alexa and Google Index scores, and PageRank. It can also measure keyword density of web pages and provides diagnosis of areas on your website which might be needing improvement.

Hubshout

Hubshout has a website grader that provides in-depth site evaluation and backlink scorecard which is specifically useful in checking if your site is at par with your competitor or not.

WebsiteOptimization

WebsiteOptimization has a technical site evaluator and SEO analysis tool that tests your site to see if it's optimized. It also provides suggestions on how to improve your site. You can also make use of their spell checker for your site pages.

Site Evaluator

Site Evaluator provides a free comprehensive evaluation of your web site and analyzes over 60 key metrics that can tell you how to improve your site’s visibility, traffic, and revenue.

A site evaluator is more than just a handy tool to find out about your own website. You can always check your competitors, your clients' websites and their competitors to help you improve site performance and quality.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 6:05:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C marketing tips SEO Site Evaluator SMB web trends

3 Essential Keys in Designing a Website That Rocks 

You never get a second chance to make a really great first impression on your customers. 

And, your home page is the key to making that great first impression – at least online. Your home page should really set you apart.

Think of it like the virtual front door of your home … almost like your face to the world.  If someone doesn’t like what they see, all they have to do is hit the back button. And that’s the last thing that you want to happen. 

So, I scoured the internet and came up with some things to keep in mind when designing your site.

Visuals:

essential keys in designing a website

  • Whether large or small, use beautiful images with a slick layout. 
  • Place featured items boldly and neatly in an easy-to-see position and where you’ll see the greatest amount of web traffic.
  • The most attractive homepages feature their products and services in a well-organized, clean and clutter free format.
  • Sometimes a home page can feel like a story book or tells a story

Content:

keys_webdesign_content

  • Make sure that your site design communicates immediately what the site is selling.
  • Consider adding updatable information on the home page to keep visitors coming back.
  • Consider adding content such as featured items, attractive slides, and price tags, articles, images and other content in an interactive format.
  • Grids and columns can help to guide the eye.
  • Have a unique brand look and feel that sets you apart from your competition.
  • Consider a large banner to convey the message and segmented sections to break up the content.

  • Consider a design that’s clean with easy to locate menu items.
  • Use categories neatly placed for easy navigation.
  • Neatly placed social icons make it easy to share.
  • Using a “Latest Posts” tab gives viewers more content to consume.
  • Consider a video embedded into the main visual area of the home page
  • Using a “sign in with Facebook” button

Technology Advancements
keys_webdesign_technology

Use updated technology to create a greater immersive user experience, such as

  • Continuous scrolling tiles
  • Interactive menus
  • Uses parallax scrolling

Check sites such as www.costa.co.uk, JayZ’s Life and Times and the Seattle Space Needle and Discover Tennessee for scrolling and interactive menu samples.

keys_webdesign_sample

There are so many amazing examples of great web design, and finding a style that suits your brand may appear challenging.  Your goal is to create a great looking home page that provides site visitors with a user friendly experience.  Take the time to learn about your customers, create a site that they will love and you should have a great experience!

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Posted by Monday, February 9, 2015 10:40:00 AM Categories: B2B B2C SMB web design web trends website
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