Why It’s Important to Update Your WordPress Plugins

By | NJ Web Design, Uncategorized, Web Site Design, WordPress | No Comments

Plugins are not a “set it and forget it”.  A typical WordPress web site has six to ten plugins installed.  In order to keep your site running with minimal downtime, your plugins should be updated as the plugin developers release new versions.

WordPress UpdatesWhy You Need to Keep Your Plugins Updated

  • Updates typically include security fixes that reduce a site’s vulnerability to hacks.
  • Out of date plugins can become incompatible with WordPress themes and WordPress updates. This can cause errors in your site.
  • Plugin version updates not only include new features, but also fix known bugs.

If you plan to go out on your own and perform the updates, here is what you need to know:

  • Back-up your site first.  Just in case an error occurs you can always restore the previous version
  • View the New Version Detail from your dashboard so you know exactly what’s included in the update.
  • Update one plugin at a time.  Test the site to insure everything is working before updating the next plugin.
  • Perform updates during non-prime time.
  • Security related updates should be performed first.

If a plugin is old and has not been updated by the developer in a very long time, then you can assume the plugin might have issues as WordPress is updated.  It’s best to search out a newer plugin with the same functionality. If you want to protect your site and insure it runs at optimal performance, WordPress plugins, themes and WordPress should be fully updated at all times.

For those that don’t want the hassle of performing updates and/or don’t have the time, BZA’s low cost WordPress Support Plan can be the answer.  Our plans start at $150 per month.  Learn More>

How to Transform Your Contact Page Into One of the Most Valuable Pages on Your Website

By | NJ Web Design, Web Site Design, WordPress | No Comments

online-formWhen done correctly, a simple contact form that captures your visitors interests can turn into one of the most valuable pages of your website.

Why You Need a Contact Form

The contact form, also known as an inquiry form, is designed to capture the interest of your visitor and will allow you to prioritize and research the lead once you get the form information.

Most out-of-the-box contact forms have just a few fields and lack compelling information to encourage the visitor to complete the form.

Where to Link the Contact Form

As a best practice the contact form should linked on the main navigation. It should not be buried as a sub-menu item under the About Us page or any other page. Most importantly, it should be linked with an action button from your main services or product pages. The benefit being, while the visitor is on a page of interest, they are visually encouraged to go to the contact page.

Designing Your Contact Page for Results

I hear many clients claim “no one will ever fill out a form”. That is totally untrue. We live in a 24 x 7 world, and prospects, at all hours of the day, what to check that one item off their list. That item might be inquiring about your products or services.

Here are a few tips to consider when designing and creating your contact form:

  1. Provide at least one introductory sentence to the form. Tell your visitor why they should complete the form and what is the benefit to them.
  2. Reassure them the form is quick and easy to complete and information will not be shared.
  3. Ask the most important qualifying questions; Name, title, company, email, phone, website, area of interest, timeframe and budget. These important fields should be required and not optional.
  4. Don’t bother asking how they heard about your company.
  5. Don’t include too many open ended questions, where the user has to type an answer.
  6. Utilize drop-down choices or radio buttons to speed the form completion process.
  7. Keep your form to 10 fields or less.
  8. Generate a friendly Thank You page that will tell the visitor when you will be getting back to them.

Integrate Your Contact Form

You can easily set up Google Conversion Tracking on your contact form within your Google Analytics. This will allow you to measure how many forms have been completed and the source of the visitor.

If you are using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System to track leads and sales activity, the form results can be integrated into the CMS. Web-to-Lead forms efficiently simplify the process of capturing visitor information from your website and getting it directly into your CRM system. This insures accuracy of lead information, speedy follow-up and eliminates having to re-keystroke lead information.

Good design along with careful selection of the form fields can make a big difference both to the user experience and your company’s bottom line.

Four Telltale Signs Your Website is Hurting Your Sales and What You Can Do About It

By | NJ Web Design, Web Site Design, WordPress | No Comments

Original article authored by Barbara Zaccone was published in the Summer 2016 Issue of the New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners (NJAWBO) Bottom Line Newsletter.

Website salesPoor First Impressions Lead to Visitors Abandoning Your Website

Visitors abandon websites for any number of reasons, including poor design, outdated content, crazy colors, poor quality images, images that don’t relate to the message, and of course, content (messaging) that has visitors guessing about what your company offers. The list goes on and on—but to keep things simple, let’s focus on the top four telltale signs that your website is hurting your sales.


Website Suffering From Old AGE

Let’s start with the most basic question: How old is your website? If it’s five years or older, you’ve already crossed over into the “my site is hurting my business” zone. So much has changed in five years. Just think of the cell phone you were using five years ago (hint: slide out keyboard or Blackberry). Besides, in April 2015, because of a strong mobile marketplace, Google announced that search results on mobile devices would favor mobile friendly websites. Now mobile friendly websites are getting the attention they deserve. If you are not sure if your site is mobile friendly, give it the ole Google mobile friendly test.

THE FIX: Build a new website and make sure it’s mobile friendly.


Cluttered Home Page

You know what a cluttered home page looks like when you land on one because you want to get out of there—fast. So, if your home page contains 10 or more tabs, call out boxes, small pictures,
lots of text, side bars, sliders with buttons, and way too many choices—this is a sign of an old and cluttered website. Because too many choices confuse visitors, they’ll hit the back button. Today’s style is modern, clean, and uncluttered. Large meaningful images should complement the content. For easier home page navigation, cut down on the number of tabs and choices. Today’s sites are lean and mean, and the eye is always drawn to a clear CALL TO ACTION.

THE FIX: For a cost-effective and professional design, you can choose from hundreds of popular WordPress premium themes. A theme can be customized by a professional developer, giving you a site that is true to your brand.


No Social Media

You can argue until the cows come home that you don’t feel social media applies to your business, or you don’t have the time to do it. But businesses are run by people, and people spend more time on social media then ever before. Social media influences buying decisions, broadens your reach, and is an important part of your overall online presence. If you don’t have any social media sharing icons or feeds on your website, here’s what it says about your business: “Don’t connect with us. We are unapproachable—not friendly. There is nothing new going on in our company. We have nothing to share. Leave us alone.”

THE FIX: At a bare minimum you should have a company LinkedIn profile. Then, depending on your audience, pick one or two other platforms. Top choices include Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, and Instagram. Go narrow and go deep.


Imagine what a professional, lean, clean, and mobile friendly website can do to add credibility to your organization and showcase your capabilities. A different user experience could get that phone ringing. There’s no better time then NOW to get started.

What is Wrong with the PowerBall Website? Everything.

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By Barbara Zaccone

You would think that with over a Billion dollars in the kitty, PowerBall.com web site would have a modern look and feel along with a few bells and whistles.  But this web site is stuck back in the 2010. You might not think that is not very old, but just think of the cell phone you had five years ago.  The powerball.com web site goes against every best practice rule for web site design.

PowerBall-website

What You Can Learn What Not To Do From the PowerBall Website

The site is not mobile friendly.  It is unimaginable that a site this popular is not optimized for mobile devices and only shows a desktop version.  Quoted from their website “Powerball.com is best viewed by Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox using a screen resolution of 800 x 600 or higher.”  What about Google Chrome?

Remember the days of splash pages?  To get to the web site home page you have to click through a splash page.  That is so very 1999.

What about scrolling text.  Back in 90’s, to get a message across you would use scrolling text.  Well you can find that today on the powerball.com web site. With some many options that grab user attention like video, engaging graphics and transition sliders, there is NO reason to use scrolling text.

Confusing user interface. A good website design provides concise information and guides the visitors through intuitive navigation.  The powerball.com web site is all over the place. The visitor is blinded by so many options, it’s enough to give you a headache.

Lack of hierarchical navigation for ease of access to information.  The powerball.com home page center section contains a series of 12 equal size boxes.  What’s important? What’s priority? In addition to there are 28 home page clickable options.

Overall Poor Design.  What gives this site away is the use of backgrounds and gradients.  Back in early 2000 these were all the rage. We have gradients in the main navigation tabs, gradient site background,  gradient scrolling text background, main header pattern background and finally we have pattern backgrounds behind some of the home page center boxes. It all adds up to _________.  You can fill in the blank. A better option would be to utilized the most popular flat design style which is clean, uncluttered and the gold standard among industry design professionals.

Last and Final Pet Peeve. When was the last time you were on a reputable company website and you saw a banner ad?  Why does powerball.com need advertising revenue of their website. Crazy.

There is so much more I could add to the list.  But I think the major points above should get the point across. Good luck to all that will be in tonight’s drawing.  Feel free to share you thoughts.

White Space – an Essential Element of Website Design

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Benjamin Moore recently unveiled its 2016 color of the year: Simply White. An Architectural Digest article on the subject described Simply White as “the shade that captures today’s spirit of polished minimalism”.

White Space is Never a Wasteof Space

As I read the article I began to think about the effects of white and white space on a website.  In the world of media and clutter, one welcomes a calm place in which to rest our eyes and focus. Remember sites with bold patterned backgrounds, white text on black, blinking icons and beveled and embossed fonts?  Today’s most professional and elegant sites embrace “the spirit of polished minimalism” and let their message and product images take center stage.

White space is an essential active element of website design and is responsible for readability and content hierarchy. White space is not wasted space.

How Does White Make You Feel

White is clean, polished and professional. There is nothing like a crisp white shirt or a fluffy white spa towel.  White is not trendy, it goes with everything and when used as the dominant color makes you feel relaxed and fresh.

White space creates a feeling of sophistication and elegance. The correct amount of white space on a website can contribute to your brand positioning.

White Space as an Essential Element of Web Design

Similar to the way white walls frame a piece of artwork, white space and a white backgrounds on a website can frame your message.  Your slider images, your bold deep blue headlines and purposeful colorful icons will help your visitors stay focused, relaxed and feel organized while on your site.

Give your website visitors a break from visual overload and go Simply White.

Can You Still Generate New Business with a Poorly Designed Website?

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If you are reading this you might be one of those companies whose website is five or more years old. So much has changed in five years. Just think of the cell phone you were using five years ago. Many B2B companies have neglected their website through the years, due to budget constraints, lack of focus and lack of a website content management system. Once everyone in the company agrees how bad the site is they don’t even want to touch it and often don’t even promote it. They just pretend it’s not there.

Fast Forward to Today

Thanks to a strong mobile marketplace, websites are now getting the attention they deserve. Especially since Google announced in April of 2015 that search results on mobile devices would favor mobile friendly websites.

Responsive-website2

What your Website Says About your Business

The goals of any website is to convert visitors into customers. The factors below play an important role in getting your phone to ring or NOT.

Does Your Website Have? What Visitors Think
Old Photos – typically small and of poor quality Website is dated; perhaps the company is not doing well financially
Home Page Very Wordy – too much clutter and content Confusion about what the company provides. The impatient visitor quickly goes to a competitive website
Old News – Most recent news article is dated 2013 Company is not progressive and dynamic. Nothing new, no innovation, no new ideas and just plain stale.
No Social Media links (not even Linkedin) Unapproachable, not friendly, not connected, nothing new and nothing to share

The Good News

Imagine what a professional, clean and mobile friendly site can do to add credibility to your organization and showcase your capabilities. How different the user experience will be and perhaps how your phone might starting ringing. Perhaps it’s time to get started.

Turn More Website Visitors into Customers with our TOP 10 List

By | Marketing, Mobile Web Design, NJ Web Design, Online Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, Web Site Design | No Comments

Website Conversions into CustomersMaking your website more engaging and effective can increase viewer engagement and turn website visitors into leads, prospects and customers.

When looking to increase business from a website we often think in terms of increasing traffic.  But increasing traffic may not be the answer. It is easier to increase your website conversions than to increase traffic.

Conversions and Conversion Rates

A conversion is the act of a website visitor performing a measured goal on your website.  A conversion can be a sale, inquiry form completion, quote request completion, newsletter sign-up, white paper down load, etc.  The conversion rate is the number of people who have completed a measurable action divided by the total number of website visitors.  For example, if 1,000 people visited your web site and 15 people completed your inquiry form, then the conversion rate would be 1.5%. You can set up Google Conversion Tracking in your Google Analytics. Conversion rates are the ideal way to measure how your website is performing.

10 Tips and Strategies to Get You Started

  1. Your site must be mobile friendly.  30% will be viewing your website on a mobile device.  Test your site at http://google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly.  If it does not pass the test you need to take action.
  2. Create a Compelling Value Proposition
    • Don’t waste your home page value space on “Welcome” or irrelevant images.
    • Answer the question “Why buy” and “What’s in it for me”.
    • This takes a lot of thought – think in terms of Newspaper headlines
  3. Obvious, but worth mentioning, your phone number should be prominent in both header and footer.
  4. Increase Trust 
    • Third party citations, testimonials, articles published.
    • Member organizations
    • Photos that convey trust and expertise, team pictures, location photos, awards, etc.
    • Current content – no old news
    • Credibility symbols, licenses, certifications, reseller, authorized dealer, etc.
  5. Remove Clutter and Remove Distractions
    • You want to keep website visitors focused on a single action (conversion).
    • You might want to eliminate some pages.
    • Review Google Analytics Behavior – Site Content reports and remove pages that are not engaging and viewed.
    • Be clear and concise and remove images without meaning.
  6. Focus on Fast Readability
    • Everyone is so busy – display page content in easy to read format with headings, sub-heads and bulleted lists.
    • Use headlines, sub-heads and bulleted lists
  7. Craft a Well Written About Us Page
    • About Us is one of the most important and most read pages.
    • Share client challenges, trends, market expertise, process
    • Awards and accolades
    • Testimonials, pictures add a personal touch
  8. If You Serve a Local Geography
    • According to Google 73% of all searches have local intent
    • Make sure on your home page the geography that you service is clearly displayed.
  9. Social media integration
    • Engage your network in social media- but bring them back to your website.
    • Building your brand and your content on your own domain increases exposure and search engine ranking.
    • Put the tease copy on Facebook – “Learn the 5 secrets to”,  “Get 10% OFF”, “Get the Code”, etc and then let them click to get the info on your website.
  10. Purposeful Design 
    • Use of negative or white space around objects or buttons focus attention
    • Big buttons for action items or goals
    • Limit choices
    • Placing the most important content above the fold (no scrolling)

Now it’s time to take action. First, make sure you have Google Conversion Tracking set up on your website. Select two or three items from the list and start making changes that will have long lasting impact. Too busy? Let BZA assist you.

BZA Launches WordPress Website for M Teixeira Soapstone

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M Teixeira Soapstone offers one of the largest collections of soapstone products available in the United States. Their online presence supports their three locations, New Jersey, Denver and San Francisco.  They offer soapstone slabs and  fabrication along with products like soapstone sinks, tile and kitchenware.

With the continued growth of their business it was time to refresh their web presence with a new responsive design and mobile friendly website.

WordPress Website for M Teixeira Soapstone

M Teixeira Soapstone’s New WordPress Website

M Teixeira Soapstone has been a long time client of BZA since the early 2000’s. Their last website served them well through the years, but it was time to redesign the site and give it large visual impact.

BZA worked with M Teixeira Soapstone to develop a fully customized Responsive Design website that would include a content management system, quote request form, video, integrated e-commerce and a comprehensive photo gallery . Keeping the visitor experience in mind, the site is well organized with ease of navigation with a professional clean branding.

Personalized WordPress Training

BZA provided personalized WordPress training for the M Teixeira Soapstone staff. Utilizing the administrative dashboard their staff can  now update page content, product images, monthly sales, news and more.

WordPress and Responsive Website Design

BZA developed the site utilizing the popular WordPress platform with Responsive Website Design. M Teixeira Soapstone now provides website visitors the optimal viewing experience to all users, regardless of their device. These devices include smart phones, tablets and mini-tablets.

BZA Launches Custom WordPress Website for Panurgy

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Panurgy, New Jersey based information technology service provider, tasked BZA to design a new website that provided a positive experience for Panurgy’s visitors. They also wanted to leverage social media, promote their events and be able to easily update the site. The result is an elegant, clean and professional site that strengthens Panurgy’s brand image.

panurgy-lg

The home page features a custom slider animation that highlights Panurgy’s seven core IT services. BZA designed custom illustrations that highlight these services in a creative manner. Panurgy is also utilizing these icons in their printed collateral.

The website is built with the WordPress platform and features a news blog, events plugin, social sharing widget, e-mail newsletter sign-up, site search, client log-in, inquiry request form and more. You can visit the site at Panurgy.com.

What to Consider When Converting your Website to WordPress

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With all the bells and whistles that come with a WordPress website, it’s no wonder why business owners are jumping on the WordPress bandwagon.

Before leaping to the latest and greatest, here are some critical factors you need to consider in order to ensure a successful migration.

Design
Do you love the design of your current website? If so, then the look and feel of your WordPress website can remain mostly unchanged. If your website seems old, tired and dated then it’s time for a fresh look. At this point,  you can choose to have a custom designed website (totally unique to you) or one that is template based and customized to your brand. The latter is the lower cost option.

News, Press, Media & Articles
One of the main benefits of WordPress is that it is database driven.  This means your content can be organized by date, topic, category, etc.  As part of the conversion process you will want to move all of your news, press, media, articles, etc., from your old site to your new site. Search engines love content – so you don’t want to miss this opportunity.

E-Commerce
If you currently sell products online, or have plans to do so in the future, it’s important to understand if a WordPress plug-in shopping cart is one that will meet your needs. As a rule of thumb if you are selling 50 or less products a plug-in may meet your needs. If you plan to grow to over 50 products or have more than 50 products already, then a more robust shopping cart platform is a wiser solution. BZA can help you make the selection.

Site Search
Now more than ever we Google everything. So why not implement WordPress site search. WordPress search will display relevant posts across your entire website including pages, news and articles.

Mobile
What type of mobile access do you think your visitors require? WordPress out of the box will work on a mobile device. But if you want an optimized mobile experience than you may consider using a Mobile plug-in or add responsive WordPress to your requirements.

Search Engine Optimization
If ranking in search engines is important to your business then you will love the ability that WordPress gives you in terms of tweaking your pages and posts. You’ll get the ultimate control you need to customize URL naming, meta description and page keyword density and more. This is achieved through a WordPress SEO plugin.

Social Media
If you are a B2C (business to consumer organization) then social sharing is a must. WordPress with the proper social sharing plug-in will give you consistent sharing ability throughout your pages and posts. B2B (business to business companies) have been slow to adopt to social sharing. Keep in mind you can have social sharing on your website without having to have a business Facebook page or Twitter account.

If you would like to learn more about how your organization can benefit from WordPress, please contact us. We would love to show you some great case studies from satisfied clients.