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  • Out of date plugins can become incompatible with WordPress themes and WordPress updates.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>

New Jersey Web Design Firm BZA Launches WordPress Website for The Hearing Group

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

The Hearing Group in West Orange New Jersey, provides audiological evaluations, aural rehabilitation including hearing aid dispensing and repairs.

The Hearing Group, a long time client of BZA, had an early WordPress website.  At the time mobile websites did not exist.  As a short term solution the client had a separate mobile website built.  This was problematic as now they had two websites to update.

BZA built the new site utilizing a premium WordPress medical related theme.  We customized the theme to the client’s branding and added several new features that both educates and engages patients.
WordPress Website Features Include:

  • Appointment Request Form
  • Downloadable Patient Forms
  • Integrated Google Map Directions
  • Product Gallery
  • News Blog
  • Social Media Integration

WordPress Appointment Form

BZA provided personalized training utilizing the client’s own WordPress Admin Dashboard so updates can be easily performed by in-house staff.

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.

WordPress Site Maintenance

How to Maintain Your WordPress Website. What You Need to Know.

By | WordPress | No Comments

Once you are up and running with your WordPress website you’ll need to determine routine maintenance tasks needed to keep your site running at optimal performance. You can use the list below to get started.  Your decision should be based upon your availability, technical expertise, comfort with WordPress and budget. Typical maintenance tasks include:

  • Proactive WordPress updates
  • Proactive WordPress theme updates
  • Proactive WordPress plugin updates
  • Testing
  • Changes to content and image galleries
  • Performance optimization
  • Technical support
  • Security

For worry-free maintenance and support, many organizations choose to have their website professionally managed.

Benefits of a Professionally Managed WordPress Website

Peace of mind is the #1 benefit. Knowing that someone is watching your web site and taking care of it, while you are running your business. Benefits include:

  • Peace of mind and hassle free.
  • Best prevention for getting your site hacked.
  • A functioning website.  A broken site looses revenue.
  • Speed up your site
  • Increase search engine traffic.  A broken site hurts traffic and search engine ranking.

WordPress Managed Services

If you think of WordPress as a cloud based solution, you can easily understand the benefits of outsourcing support and upgrades.  Popular business cloud based solutions include Quickbooks Online, Salesforce, Google Analytics, FedEx, Adobe Creative, Dropbox and more.  These application services remove the business owner or manager from the day to day maintenance of  the application. According to Business Insider “Companies today use on average 16 cloud apps at work”.  So WordPress managed services are like any other managed service solution.

BZA’s WordPress support services can eliminate site maintenance burden. Not only will this save you time and money, but you’ll have a quality website that represents your business. The result _ giving you more time to focus on your business.

The best time to get started in now. 

BZA Launches WordPress WooCommerce Website for Artifacts by Design

By | Ecommerce, WooCommerce, WordPress | No Comments

Artifacts by Design, ceramics studio run by Peter Syak, produces gallery-quality Raku, custom-made ceramic tiles, functional tableware, pots, bowl, wall plaques and more . In addition to selling his Raku works of art, Syak also offers hand building and firing workshops at his studio in Bloomfield, New Jersey.

BZA built the Artifacts by Design website on the popular WordPress platform. We selected WooCommerce, which is built to integrate seamlessly with WordPress. WooCommerce currently powers over 37% of all online stores.

artifacts-hp-whole

BZA provided personalized training on the WordPress and WooCommerce admin dashboard that allows the client to update the product catalog, process orders and print shipping labels.

Be sure to check out his amazing artwork at Artifacts by Design.

BZA guided me through the process of developing a drop dead gorgeous site and made my work look fabulous.  _ Peter Syak, Raku Wizard

 

Four Easy Ways to Find Inspiration for Your WordPress Blog

By | Blogging for Business, WordPress | No Comments

It’s not alway ease to come up with news and blog content that is going to be interesting to your readers. Many website owners feel they have little to share.  With these four simple tips you’ll be on your way to developing great content in the least amount of time.

Facebook Feed

Your Facebook feed is packed daily with articles and content that is relevant to your business (because you’ve selected people and organizations to follow).  As your feed passes by day after day, notice how you can never find a post that was once there? Now, when you find a post that might make a great article, you are going to hit the little arrow to the upper right of the post and hit Save Link.  In no time you will have a collection of topics that you might want to write about.

Google Alerts

Google Alerts is a free online clipping service that allow you to monitor topics (via keywords or phrases)  that are of interest to you on the web.  Instead of having to scan the Internet for new and fresh ideas you’ll find that inspiration for new blogposts right in your inbox.

Google News

Let’s say there is a new development or technology in your industry and you want to know how others are reacting for your inspiration. Instead of just searching in the Google search box, search News, Search Tools, and select your time period.  The example below shows the news list results for Facebook Live over the past week. Which actually might be one of my next blog posts.

Industry Events

Trade shows and conferences are a great resource in which to obtain relevant topics in your industry. If you can’t attend a conference, review the agenda and workshop titles and descriptions to get some good relevant article ideas.

Why WordPress is the Best Content Management System (CMS)

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If you are looking to choose a reliable and easy to maintain platform look no further than WordPress.  Here are the reasons why:Why WordPress_sm

  • Proven Solution – WordPress powers 1 in 4 sites on the web
  • WordPress is built with proven programming languages PHP and SQL that can just about handle any web based application
  • WordPress offers a growing library of plugin that extent the function of your website at a very low cost compared to developing the function from scratch. Forty thousand plugins and growing
  • WordPress is free and the WordPress software package is licensed under the GNU General Public License(GPL)
  • WordPress is the CMS of choice for CNN, CBS New York, Harvard Business Review, Boise State University, New York Times, Dole, Glad, Mercedes-Benz and Vogue. If it is robust enough for them it should be able to meet your needs.
  • WordPress remains the fastest-growing CMS for five straight years.
  • WordPress is coded to be SEO friendly right out of the box.
  • Responsive WordPress themes provide an optimized mobile experience across all devices used to access the Web
  • Google’s latest ranking methodology gives ranking advantage to WordPress responsive sites.

Keep in mind that WordPress is installed on a hosting service. You own everything that’s created there. When BZA builds your site with WordPress we have unlimited creative freedom. What could be better?

WordPress 4.2.4 Security and Maintenance Update

By | WordPress | No Comments

Yesterday WordPress announced that WordPress 4.2.4 is now available. This is a very important  security release for all versions of WordPress.  And we strongly recommend site owners keep their WordPress software up to date. Cafe WordPress

The release addresses six vulnerabilities that can compromise a site. Without the update attackers can  lock blog posts and prevent site owners from editing them.

Site owners should make sure their sites are running 4.2.4 and if not perform a full back up and manual update.

Running the latest version of WordPress, your theme along with any plugins, will ensure that your site remains intact and performs at its best.  If you need any assist with the update, please contact us.

2015 WordPress Web Design Trends

By | NJ Web Design, WordPress | No Comments

recommendedWith 2015 half over, it’s a good time to reflect upon changes in the industry and how you can capitalize on the power of WordPress for you business.

What Can an Impactful Web Design Do for YOU?

When a visitor lands on your website they determine if your business is credible within seconds. According to an article published by IronPaper “10 Web Design Statistics”, 94% of users leave a site that is poorly designed.

Today’s Web Design Trends

Full Width Pages

With full width pages you can take advantage of the power of large impactful and eye catching images. Photo and project galleries can take advantage the expanded spaced. Take a look at our client http://losurdofoods.com. So images are so beautiful they make you hungry.

Home Page Slider or Featured Image

Sliders have been around for a few years, but now with full width capability they truly sing when combined with a message that resonates with the viewer. Take a look at http://www.bza.com home page.

Sticky Navigation

A sticky navigation bar is one that remains at the top of the screen while the user is scrolling down the page. This feature is one that is surely here to stay. http://accuratebox.com takes advantage of large home page images and sticky navigation.

Grid or Masonry Style Blog Posts

There are now more options to display blog posts. The list style heavy text blog post is now being replaced with posts in a grid or masonry style. Viewers encourage to click with larger images and text headlines. Check out http://theme-fusion.com/avada/blog-grid-full-width/

Bright Colors

Bright colors are the perfect combination with full page width and large featured images. A single action color used consistently for buttons and call-out guide the visitor on what to click. http://atlanticinfrared.com is not shy about being bold with their corporate branding.

You might be thinking can I have all these features on my website? The answer is simply YES.