First Month of 2017 is Almost Over and Your Website Still Doesn’t Have Fresh Content

First Month of 2017 is Almost Over and Your Website Still Doesn’t Have Fresh Content

Another new year has begun and prior to January first, like most of you, I had a good few goals I wanted to begin come the turn of the year. I imagined myself doing them, I wrote a few of them down on paper, and I barely started two of them. And that’s me being honest.

That hype that you have about fresh and newness is the same attitude most of your potential customers and visitors are also expecting from your website too. Because they are expecting this, we don’t want to let them down. This is why I’ve started to renew the idea of writing a quality post at least once a week as well as post much more regularly my photographic work on my social media sites.

Being a creative you’d think that I’d have a ton of materials for my website and social sites all the time ready to go. Well, to be honest, as a creative we’re probably the most critical over our work than most others in different trades. So below are five great changes you can make to your website to give it a fresh look for the start of 2017.

1: Update Your Home Page Graphics and Hero Graphics

Whenever landing on a website your eyes are usually first intrigued by the images and graphics that are at the top. Those visuals may be accompanied by text to better describe the graphic or also with buttons that lead to other pages or to a call to action or product. Think about how much better some more relevant images could do for your website in better describing your products or services.

2: Change Some Colors

Not saying you should change your brand identity, but maybe use some of your highlight or accent colors in a different way. Be subtle but make a fresh impact that leads to something worth looking at or reading for your website visitors. I’m recently working with a client where their logo is their first name in gold and they have a couple of other websites that could use the same gold color in the logo to create a linking motive while keeping separate identities for each website. It’s kind of like finding an easter egg in a Marvel movie – when you see it, you smile.

3: Use Video

Video explains so much and when done right will capture and keep the attention of your visitors a bit better than regular text and more so than a static image. For those of you with products, how about creating a video that describes how to use the product, how it saves time, or even the difference of your product over a competitor product. Other video ideas could be you describing what the website stands for, why it’s relevant, or better yet video testimonials from past and current customers.

4: Create a Worth-While Call-to-Action

You’ve gotta create an incentive for people to come back. While “creating great content” is the common phrase you hear all the time, part of that content needs to be something that is engaging or offers some value. We’re all used to seeing the 10%-25% off stuff and even those sometimes don’t entice most consumers to buy alone. Why not offer something that your visitors will actually use. Try offering a free hour with the purchase of the first hour. Or suggest this product to two friends and you get this free.

5: Make it a Point to Post Once a Week

This may be the hardest thing to do. We’re busy, there are other things we must get done, we don’t have time, don’t want to make time, etc. I can give you plenty of excuses. But it’s 2017, there are too many services out there that you can sub-contract your busy work to. For me, Sunday nights are the best times for me to sit down and write out my posts and schedule my social media. I’m more in the mood to do it then and it helps me to get the weight off my shoulders when my week actually does start. Once you get on a roll with it, you’ll find how easy it is to keep going and making it a priority. Don’t forget to track with analytics to better curate your content.

Photo Credit to Pexels

Is Your WordPress Website Up to Date?

It’s been about four years now that we’ve been working exclusively in WordPress when building websites for clients. We switched over to it as a test with some websites that needed the ability to make content updates on a regular basis, then found it to be so much more resourceful than how we were building our regular HTML websites. And now WordPress sites take up about 26% of websites built on the internet.  Pretty cool right?!

For those of you using WordPress though will want to make sure you’re always using the latest version of the platform. There are a few quick reasons why:

  • New Functions and Features – With the version updates usually brings new functionality that makes the commonly used tools and options even easier for content creators. Image galleries are easier than ever before, content formatting is better, and so are the themes.
  • Security and Patches – Typically you’ll see these in the incremental updates to the versions, but these are always important to pay attention to. Because WordPress is open sourced and community driven, input from users of the platform are actually taken into account when issues are found. Yes even the small little hiccups matter to the developers because they’re able to track and culminate all of that data and package fixes that are then pushed through these updates for all to enjoy.

WordPress Support Request

What does this all mean? Don’t neglect your website. You may be one of the many owners that have several pending updates waiting for you to take action. Before you make those updates, be sure to read what is changing. It helps to understand this because there could be a reason why you shouldn’t update or possible test to see first if the updates will be compatible with your current theme, plugins, and custom settings.

Updates available on WordPress

You’ll want to check with your web consultant if you’re not sure, or you can always contact us and we can help with that too. Probably one of the more important things is to be sure and make a backup of your website prior to doing any updates. This could help in case something goes wrong or breaks, and then instead of troubleshooting, you can just restore a backup and then work out a plan for how to move forward.

Awesome WordPress 3.4: Theme Customizer

WordPress logo

WordPress 3.4 has a number of exciting new tools and features. Over the next several weeks I’d like to share some of the highlights with you. Please do note that the current version of WordPress is 3.4.1 -which includes some important bug fixes- but because these features were included in the 3.4 “Green” release, I’ve chosen to reference the core.

One of these new tools is the Theme Customizer, which provides a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor for some style and display options.

To access the Theme Customizer page, you can reach it via a link directly under the active theme area.Alternatively, you can find it in the admin menu bar beneath your site’s name when you are logged in and viewing your site. You should end up at a screen looking like this:

Wordpress 3.4 Theme Customizer


Looking at the options on the left side, we can see that there are a number of things we can alter. (I am referencing WordPress Twenty Eleven. Depending on your theme, there may be varying levels of support for this, so be sure to check what version of WordPress your theme is compatable with.)

The top box drops down to provide the description of the current theme–though there isn’t an option to change it here.

The second allows you to alter the site’s title and tagline. If you make a change to either, you will notice that the preview on the right instantly updates. This is the case with all edits done from the customize page — hence the WYSIWYG feature — though none of the previewed changes take effect until you click the “Save and Publish” button on the top of the toolbar.

One of the coolest functions of the “Theme Customizer” tool is the “Color” option. This allows you to preview and select a change in color scheme– for example, Twenty Eleven has a light and dark color scheme built in– header text color, background color and link color.

WordPress Theme Customizer Color option

Clicking on one of the swatches displays a color wheel, which allows you to slide and select your color, or you have the option to input a hex value if you already know what color you’d like.

Layout does just what it says–allows you to select from the theme’s default layouts. It is important to note that this change seems to cascade throughout the site, so if you select “No sidebar”, you will not only be removing it from your homepage, but from your blog as well. If, however, you want to set all your pages to the same template with minimal amount of clicking, this is definitely the way to go.

Header Image lets you select a header image from the defaults, uploads, or upload a file. The uploader is much like the media uploader, allowing you to drag and drop the image or select it by browsing. The uploaded tab shows you images that you have uploaded previously. The default tab allows you to view all header images packaged with your theme. You also have the option to remove the header image entirely.

Background Image is, again, self explanatory. This gives the same options as the header image (upload, remove and, depending on your theme and your prior changes, uploaded and default). Once you make a selection, you are given the options of background repeat (change if or how your image tiles), background position, and background attachment (if the picture scrolls with your content).

While an option available in the Settings>>Reading menu, Static Front Page with the customize tool is easy to find. You also can preview how the front page will look if you switch it to a static page, or if you want to display your posts.

The option to customize your WordPress theme via a WYSIWYG editor gives you even more freedom and control over your site. If you don’t know CSS or don’t want to mess with the theme’s style sheet directly, you are no longer forced to choose a theme simply based on available color schemes or background. Are you a theme designer/developer? Then check out “Add Customizer Support to Your WordPress Theme” to learn how to add customizable options to your own theme.

New Technology and the User

I've seen the future. It's in my browser

The other night, I made my browser draw a circle. To be honest, there was more to it than just that, but that’s what my fiancee saw, and she–being an “end user” of web technology– was nowhere near as impressed as I was.

I’m talking, of course, about HTML5 Canvas, the ability to essentially “draw” on an area of the browser.  This has the potential for a bunch of cool things, including  games or web applications.  In fact, HTML5 and CSS3, which are still technically “in development” have the potential to allow for a lot of innovation to the web.

Which brings me to my point–users, whether they are clients or family members, will probably not understand the significance of HTML5 Canvas or geolocation, but there are certain times when they should be made aware of the benefits of newer technology.  This could be explaining to a client the benefits of HTML5’s markup (particularly on a static site they update) or sharing an HTML5 based game with someone in your family.  While they may not fully appreciate all the features of newer technology, they may be able to see how it benefits them and appreciate the smaller bits–especially if you make it relevant to their situation and keep the explanation short and simple.

The fact is that technology will always be changing and evolving. The web isn’t any different. Being able to understand and share these changes is one of the great parts of being a web developer.

I drew a circle.  Want to see?

Its Valentines, Show Your Website Some Love

“Hey remember me? We haven’t talked in months. Domain Tools says I haven’t been updated in 7 months. People are visiting me and apparently my content isn’t as relevant as it was when I was first built.” Well I could go on about what most websites scream when visiting them. From the ones with missing or incomplete addresses, web forms that error when you hit the submit button, to the prices that are out of date or don’t match what was quoted on the phone or in the store, misspellings and grammatical errors. If I’m hitting a soft spot, don’t feel too bad, it’s quite common.

One of the main things I stress to our clients at Design Theory, is that your website should never lay stagnant. We should be updating it regularly with fresh content. If you have a promotion going on, it should be on your website in a predominant way to attract your visitor’s attention. If you lowered or raised the prices for your products, that information needs to updated immediately or else you could cause some trouble.  You have a professional website, don’t make it look cheap with misspellings and small errors. You could be losing valuable business. Web forms are the silent killers too because unless you go in and check regularly, you may not know that it isn’t working properly.

So in the spirit of love, we compiled a list of resources for you to use with your website for FREE!

Vector Icons: Icons can dramatically improve some graphic elements on your website. Especially when you don’t have the budget for a graphic designer to create a bunch of small graphics for you.

Valentines Candy

Facebook and Twitter Plug-ins: If your website isn’t “social” it needs to be ASAP.



Analytics: If you don’t know how many people are visiting your website, which pages are most popular for their content, your bounce rate, and referral links, I’m here to tell you to put some love into your site tonight and check out Google Analytics.

Google Analytics

Call to Action: Normally you’d find a good call to action on a strategically typed and keyword-filled landing page, but you can also have these on your website’s home page. However you use them, use them. Encourage your visitors to give you their contact information in exchange for something of use to them.

Social Media book graphic

Have any other Website Valentine’s Date night items you can “talk” about with your website? Share them in the comments field below.